What Is an Acoustic Electric Guitar?

Hey folks, are you roaming around the market to pick your first guitar? You seem to like the playability of an acoustic guitar and the volume of an electric guitar. So, your options getting stuck between acoustic guitar and electric guitar?

At this point, you can consider an acoustic-electric guitar. The name looks the same, but wondering what is an acoustic electric guitar? What is different about it?

Let us clear the confusion and give you all the information about an acoustic-electric guitar. There we go.

What Is An Acoustic Electric Guitar?

An acoustic-electric guitar is a typical acoustic guitar equipped with a pickup system or on-board microphone. It also refers to a plug-in acoustic guitar since it is plugged into a soundboard.

Without the need for microphones, these guitar amplifies the signal using an inbuilt preamp. The basic difference between acoustic and acoustic-electric guitar is the ability to amplify any sound.

Its built-in electronics are the reason for amplified sound. The guitar includes pickup fitted in the bridge, and controls are on the edge or side of the body panel. An acoustic-electric guitar provides the sound like an acoustic guitar but the volume like an electric guitar.

Besides, the acoustic-electric guitar has controls for tone, volume, tuning, and equalization. Other than that, both acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars are identical in properties, construction, and components.

Acoustic-Electric guitar

Acoustic-Electric Guitar Pickups

The acoustic-electric guitar has three types of pickups, which contributes to increased sound amplification. These are;

  • Magnetic Pickups

The acoustic-electric guitar includes magnetic pickups similar to an electric guitar. These pickups utilize a coil to sense the magnetic vibration of the guitar strings. Then, the magnetic pickup translates the vibration into sound.

These are mostly clipped on the corner of the soundhole and right underneath of the strings. Moreover, the installation of these pickups is faster and easier. It doesn’t require any preamp.

  • Piezoelectric Pickups

Piezoelectric pickups are the most common type of pickup used in an acoustic-electric guitar. These are installed underneath the bridge and on the body of the guitar. It is easy to install and remove these pickups.

Piezo pickups can make more natural sound quality magnetic pickups. They require a preamp system because of the low output and feedback problem.

  • Built-in Microphones

Some acoustic-electric guitar has a microphone mounted inside the guitar. The microphone captures the sound made by the guitar and simply amplifies it. These built-in microphones are much reliable and convenient than any typical microphones. That’s what helps to provide a warm and rich tone similar to a natural guitar tone. 


How An Acoustic-Electric Guitar Works?

Similar to acoustic guitar, acoustic-electric guitar features a hollow body with a deep soundhole. It provides greater sound resonance. Unlike an acoustic guitar, the acoustic-electric guitar can generate ample volume needed for live performance.

The design and construction are the same as acoustic guitar. However, its pickup or in-built microphone differs the guitar from others. When you hit the strings, it produces magnetic vibration.

Then, the pickup senses the vibration and converts it into electrical signals. This electric signal goes to an amplifier or soundboard. In between the process, signals are amplified with a preamp. Finally, all you get is the amplified, loud sound like an electric guitar.

Why Play An Acoustic-Electric Guitar?

An acoustic guitar proves to be an excellent option to a certain extent, like within your studio or bedroom. But, when you need to go beyond that, it can’t somewhat cut the mustard.

Especially while you are likely joining any live performance. An acoustic guitar restricts your static movement. Besides, insufficient sound projection on a large area and harmonic overtones make an acoustic guitar a wrong choice.

On the other hand, an acoustic-electric has so many things to offers for playing in an extended area. Above, we mentioned its greater ability to amplify the sound without any microphone. So, what else are the reason people goes for it?

The answer is the consistency and versatility of the acoustic-electric guitar. Since it has a built-in pickup system, you can plug it directly into an amplifier. It makes sure the continuous tonal output from the guitar.

This also gives you better control in live situations. Above all, an acoustic-electric guitar allows you to produce a range of tones with a single instrument.

Acoustic & Electric guitar

How to Choose an Acoustic-Electric Guitar?

There is no straight answer to this. When you choose to buy an acoustic-electric guitar, then comes a lot of consideration. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind.

Playing Style

No matter what you are a pro or a beginner, you likely have your own playing style. For example, some prefer guitar with a massive body and others like soft nylon strings than steel strings. You also need to keep your playing position in mind.

Pickups or Microphone

Any acoustic-electric guitar may either have a pickup or a microphone. We already told you the role of these two. When you choose a guitar with pickups, it will not give you sound exactly like a standard acoustic guitar.

The pickups sound more like an electric guitar rather than the essence of an acoustic guitar. Conversely, the in-built microphone provides the full resonant sound like an acoustic guitar. But it can have a feedback issue as well.

Blender System

If you want to take advantage of both pickups and microphones, choose a guitar with a blender system. Some acoustic-electric guitar includes both, and you can use them at a time.

Those units also allow you to adjust the sound picked up by both microphones and pickups. So, you can get a better sound without any feedback issues. 


The cutaway is the distinguishing feature of an acoustic-electric guitar. It’s a hollow in the guitar body placed next to the neck. This feature gives players more comfortable access to the higher frets of a guitar.

Moreover, it can also change the sound’s character by reducing resonance and volume. There are also some models without a cutaway, but mostly you’ll find it.

Check for Volume and Tone Control

The most acoustic-electric guitar provides the option to control the sound, tone, and effects. Check on the guitar’s body, whether it has a volume control knob. You can raise or lower it to change the volume without changing the settings on the amp. Then, it should have a tone control knob which comes handy for switching optimistic and fuller tones.


Lastly, the price does matter when you are buying an acoustic-electric guitar. Any basic models will cost around $80 to $150. However, professional options with great sound may cost about $300 to $600.

If you need an acoustic-electric guitar to learn or practice, you can choose the best cheap acoustic-electric guitar. We’ve already reviewed our top 5 picks of affordable acoustic-electric guitars. You can check it.

Final Words

Hitherto you possibly learn that what is an acoustic electric guitar? In a word, it’s a combination of an acoustic and electric guitar. Many people prefer using an acoustic-electric guitar on a live stage or in-studio. When you want volume like an acoustic guitar with more volume, an acoustic-electric would be the best option.  

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