The Best Cheap Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $200

The Highest Rated Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under $200

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Thanks to their built-in pickup system, acoustic-electric guitars allow you to get your sound amplified or recorded without the added complexity and cost of using microphones.

And in the sub $200 price range, having a pickup and preamp built-into a guitar is a feature that adds tremendous convenience and value to an instrument.

To that end, we feature the best of these affordable acoustic-electric guitars right here, updated for 2020, to help you get a good stage and recording ready acoustic right at the start.

The Best Cheap Acoustic Electric Guitars

Donner DAG-1E

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$130
Donner DAG-1E Dreadnought Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Donner DAG-1E is an affordable acoustic-electric guitar that follows the familiar dreadnought shape. As a conventional dreadnought, it features familiar tonewoods, which include mahogany for the back and sides, and spruce for the top. The neck is also crafted from mahogany with a "C" shape profile.

Electronic components include an under-saddle piezo pickup with an active preamp that houses basic EQ controls.

While all of the above are already good for the price, Donner bundles this guitar with a capo, guitar strap, a pickguard (so you have a choice if you want your guitar to have a pickguard or not), a bundle of picks, and an extra set of guitar strings.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought
  • Top: African Spruce
  • Body: African Mahogany
  • Finish: Satin
  • Bridge: Hardwood
  • Neck: African Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: C Shape
  • Fingerboard: Hardwood
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: Not Specified (Probably Similar to Full Size Dreadnought Specs)
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Electronics: Built-in Pickup and Preamp with 3-Band EQ
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
Many consider the Donner DAG-1E to be a great guitar for the money, most owners simply feel that they got more than what they paid for, in terms of quality, tone and functionality. The extras also help here, one-upping the DAG-1E's already good reputation for value. Playability is also often commended, which is good since this is aimed for beginners and students.

Cons
There are a few who complain about quality inconsistencies. While some owners report cosmetic and action related issues right out of the box.

Overall
If you're looking for a traditional looking acoustic-electric guitar that you can get for cheap then check out the Donner DAG-1E

Donner DAG-1CE

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$130
Donner DAG-1CE Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Donner DAG-1CE is a straightforward acoustic-electric guitar in the familiar dreadnought shape, only this one has a cut-away body and comes with some nice freebies.

It features standard wood configuration, which includes spruce for the top and mahogany for the back and sides. The neck has a slim C" shape profile for comfortable playability and it comes with a built-in active preamp with EQ controls for adjusting treble, bass and mids.

Finally, this guitar comes bundled with extras that include a guitar strap, a capo, a pickguard, an extra set of guitar strings and a bundle of guitar picks, all of which add to the already good value you are getting out of this guitar.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought with Cutaway
  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: African Mahogany back & sides
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: C Shape
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: Not Specified
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Electronics: Built-in Pickup and Preamp with 3-Band EQ
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
The Donner DAG-1CE gets a lot of compliments for its value for money, with many describing it as a great beginner guitar. It's acoustic and amplified sound are also well received by many users. Build quality is also well received, especially when considering the price.

Cons
Unfortunately, it is not without issues, as there are reports of improperly filed frets, and string height inconsistencies, the usual issues found in cheap mass produced guitars. Thankfully, these are issues that can be fixed with some work.

Overall
If you are looking for a good value full-size acoustic electric guitar, then the Donner DAG-1CE will meet, if not exceed your expectations.

Carlo Robelli F550 Thinline

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$150
Carlo Robelli F550 Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $200.

The Carlo Robelli F550 is an acoustic-electric guitar with a thinline cutaway body. The thinner profile of this acoustic makes it ideal for electric guitarists who want an affordable acoustic-electric guitar on the side.

Underneath its natural gloss finish are traditional laminate tonewoods, mahogany for the back and sides, and spruce for the top. The neck is crafted from okoume, with a standard size scale length of 25.5", a "C" shape profile, and dual action truss rod.

Built-in electronics include an active preamp with 3-band EQ, volume control and battery check light.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: Thinline Cutaway
  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Finish: Natural Gloss
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Okoume
  • Neck Profile: "C" Shape
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: 350 mm
  • Number of Frets: 21
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Electronics: Active Preamp with 3-Band EQ, Volume and Battery Check
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
From experienced musicians to young up starts, the F550's thinline body and low-action neck is well appreciated. So much so that positive comments about its comfort and playability abound in reviews. Most users are also pleased with its overall quality, including its plugged in tone, especially when considering its price tag.

Cons
There are a few who are not too happy with the fretwork done on the specific unit that they got. This is a common complaint among cheap acoustic guitars, and thankfully, most of these issues are easily fixed by proper setup and adjustments.

Overall
If you're looking for a quality thinline body acoustic-electric guitar, don't forget to check out the Carlo Robelli F550.

Washburn WA90CE

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$170
Washburn WA90CE Dreadnought Acoustic Electric Guitar

The Washburn WA90CE is part of their apprentice series of guitars, aimed at beginners. What separates this acoustic-electric guitar from other similarly priced guitars is its extra aesthetics, which include body and fretboard binding, along with a nice looking rosette.

This particular model sports a dreadnought with cutaway profile, following conventional tonewood configuration, mahogany for the back and sides and spruce for the top. The bridge and fretboard is crafted from rosewood, while the neck is also crafted from mahogany.

For plugging in, it comes with a built-in Isys+ preamp with tuner, volume control, basic EQ for adjusting treble and bass.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought Cutaway
  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Not specified
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: Not Specified
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Electronics: Isys+ Preamp with Tuner
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
Washburn knows how to please the eyes, and they do so even with their entry-level instruments. And this effort to make their instruments beautiful are always well received by guitarists, and is a common theme in many reviews. The WA90CE looks more like a premium acoustic, but it's not just about looks, because there are also plenty of comments about its tone, both plugged and unplugged.

Cons
There are a few who report string setup and action related issues like fretbuzz, thankfully these can be remedied by minor adjustments or having the instrument professionally setup.

Overall
If you want to get an affordable guitar that doesn't look and sound cheap, check out Washburn WA90CE.

Mitchell O120CESB

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$180
Mitchell O120CESB Auditorium Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The Mitchell O120CESB is an auditorium with cutaway profile guitar, sporting a body that's sleeker and compact. This makes it ideal for those who find big body guitars to be uncomfortable.

Nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to its specs, the top is crafted spruce, while the body and neck is made from mahogany. For the price, this guitar has some nice aesthetics, including multi-ply body binding and abalone soundhole rosette which meshes nicely with its high-gloss vintage sunburst finish.

Finally, the built-in preamp comes with a 3-band EQ and tuner.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: Auditorium with Cutaway
  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Finish: High Gloss
  • Bridge: Hardwood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: "C" Shape
  • Fingerboard: Jatoba
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.7"
  • Electronics: Preamp EQ with 3-band EQ, Phase filter and Tuner
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
Those who rate this guitar highly are happy with its sound quality, especially when plugged-in. Some even describe it as being comparable to more expensive acoustic-electric guitars that they have. There are also many who appreciate its good looks, and they report that they are satisfied with its overall build quality.

Cons
There are a few complaints about the guitar's fretwork, mostly from those who are used to the more polished frets of expensive acoustic guitars.

Overall
If you're looking for a budget-friendly and comfortable but not too thin acoustic-electric guitar to play with, then check out the Mitchell O120CESB.

Yamaha APXT2 3/4 Thinline

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 350+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Yamaha APXT2 3/4 Thinline 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The Yamaha APXT2 3/4 Thinline is a compact acoustic-electric guitar that's meant to appeal to younger players, or to those who just want a small grab-and-go instrument.

It is based on Yamaha's popular APX500 guitar, only this one is 3/4-sized, ideal for smaller hands or for those who want an affordable and portable acoustic-elecric instrument. It's thinline body has a distinct cutaway, and sports meranti back and sides, and a top crafted from spruce.

Electronics include ART-based preamp and System 68 contact pickup with built-in tuner.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: APX Thinline 3/4
  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Meranti
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Bridge: Rosewood
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: Standard
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 21
  • Scale Length: 22.835"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"
  • Electronics: ART-based Preamp with System 68 Contact Pickup
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
Portability and easy playability are the most commended traits of the Yamaha APXT2. While many of the positive reviews are from satisfied young guitarists, there are also a good chunk of experienced players who are impressed with how fun and easy it is to play with this guitar. Coming from Yamaha, most owners feel that the quality of this instrument is worth more than what they paid for. Finally, the electronic component of the guitar is well received, stating that it gets the job done even for gigs.

Cons
Ironically, there are a few complaints about the guitar's action being too low. And since it has a small thinline body, don't expect it to have the same volume and balanced unplugged sound as a dreadnought.

Overall
The Yamaha APXT2 is the most compact acoustic-electric guitar to get high enough ratings to make it to this list, well worth checking out.

Things to Consider When Buying a Budget Acoustic Electric Guitar

  • Basic Tonewood Overview

    There are many different wood types used in guitar construction, and they have a big impact on the resulting sound, especially when talking about acoustic guitars. Unfortunately, there aren't many different tonewood to choose from in this price range, but most of the guitars come with the familiar combination of a spruce top and mahogany (along with its other variants) on the back and sides.

  • Laminated vs Solid Wood

    Acoustic guitars with solid wood tops are preferred by many because of the open and vibrant sound they produce, on the flipside, laminate wood are cheaper and more resistant to weather changes, making them ideal for entry level guitars. Ideally, every guitar should be made out of premium solid wood, but real world budget constraints, especially in the entry level market, along with various environmental factors call for cheaper alternatives.

  • Body Shape

    Physics dictate that different body shapes of acoustic guitars affect the overall sound. Generally, bigger and thicker guitars like those with the familiar dreadnought shape have more low end and projection. Thinner and smaller ones emphasize the upper mids and highs, and they are also lighter and often times more comfortable to play. Most entry level guitars come in the dreadnought shape, probably because beginners are easily impressed with volume projection - that is until they develop ears for nuances.

  • Passive vs Active Pickups

    Active undersaddle acoustic guitar pickups are generally preferred for their realism and overall volume. And this is true both in the upper and lower spectrums of the market. The downside to these pickups is their power requirement, which entails having to use batteries. On the other hand, passive pickups are more discrete, but they don't offer the same tone, controls and features as active ones.

  • Common Fretboard Issues

    More often than not, manufacturers of cheap acoustic guitars tend to cut cost by skimping on fretboard quality. And there are plenty of reviewers who go out of their way to drive this point home. Thankfully, fretboard issues like high action, fret buzz, and sharp fret wires are often times easily corrected.

Cheap Acoustic-Electric Guitar Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on June 21, 2018 written by Alexander Briones who also wrote the latest major updated version which we published on March 20, 2020.

The scope for this guide includes acoustic-electric guitars in the sub $200 price range that can readily be purchased from major US music gear retailers. And for this update, we ended up with a short list of 15, which required the gathering and analysis of over 1500 relevant rating and review sources, including the most recent from experts and actual users, up to March of 2020. All these data were then processed by the Gearank Algorithm, resulting in scores out of 100 that best reflect current market sentiment. We then used the Gearank scores to further cut the list to just the cream of the crop, as presented above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

Comments

Today we removed a guitar

Today we removed a guitar from our recommended list above due to its price having increased above $200, but you can still read our analysis of it: Ibanez PF15ECE.

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