The Best Cheap Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $200

The Highest Rated Acoustic-Electric Guitars Under $200

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Getting a starter acoustic guitar with built-in electronics is a good investment because it can accommodate your skill growth, even up to the point when you're ready to perform with an amp or through a PA system. It saves you from having to get a separate stage guitar early on, and more importantly, it allows you to use your starter guitar, the main instrument that you're comfortable with, as your stage instrument.

Here we feature the best acoustic-electric guitars in the sub $200 range to help you get a good stage and recording ready acoustic right at the start.

The Best Cheap Acoustic Electric Guitars

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Ashthorpe Full-Size Cutaway Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar Package

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 1850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$123
Ashthorpe Full-Size Cutaway Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar Package

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $200 along with the Oscar Schmidt OA10CE.

This package features a dreadnought style acoustic-electric guitar with cutaway, but with a thinner 3" deep body to make it more comfortable to play.

While there are many like it in the entry-level market, this one got high enough ratings to secure a spot in this guide.

It has a spruce top with X-bracing, paired with basswood back and sides.

It comes equipped with active electronics, with a preamp that houses volume and 4-band EQ controls including presence, treble, mid and bass.

The neck is crafted from okoume and it comes with chrome tuning pegs.

This package also includes essentials like a guitar cable, guitar strap, medium & heavy picks, an extra set of strings and a soft nylon gig bag.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: Thinline Cutaway
  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Basswood
  • Finish: Sunburst, Black, Blue, Red, Natural
  • Bridge: Not specified
  • Neck: Okoume
  • Neck Profile: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: Not Specified
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Electronics: Active Preamp with 4-band EQ and Volume Controls
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
Most of the comments point to value for money as the main reason why they rate this package highly. It is often commended for being a good beginner's instrument given its price and comfortable thinline body. While it's not fair to expect this to sound high-end, there are many who are impressed with how good it sounds, both when plugged in and un-plugged.

Cons
Most of the complaints point to issues with string quality, and can be remedied by replacing the default strings that it comes with ASAP. There are a few who report quality control issues like high action right out of the box.

Overall
This beginner-friendly package is a super affordable entry-way into the world of plugged-in acoustic guitar playing.

Carlo Robelli F550 Thinline

89
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$150
Carlo Robelli F550 Thinline Acoustic-Electric Guitar

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.

Oscar Schmidt OA10CE Mini Auditorium Acoustic-Electric Cutaway Guitar Bundle

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$180
Oscar Schmidt OA10CE Mini Auditorium Acoustic-Electric Cutaway Guitar

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Acoustic-Electric Guitar Under $200 along with the Ashthorpe Thinline.

The Oscar Schmidt OA10CE is an acoustic-electric guitar with a mini-auditorium body, which is smaller than regular dreadnought. This makes it a bit more comfortable to play for younger players, while still retaining a full scale neck.

It sports a flame maple top with cutaway that allows for easier access to the upper frets. And it is available in a variety of gloss finishes, including Natural, Cherry Sunburst, Trans Black, Trans Blue and Trans Purple.

It is equipped with an active pickup and preamp system with 3-band EQ which is accessible on the upper bout.

It also comes bundled with a clip-on tuner, picks, a 10ft guitar cable, a gig bag, polishing cloth and instructional Books/DVDs.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: Mini-Auditorium with Cutaway
  • Top: Flame Maple
  • Body: Catalpa
  • Finish: Natural, Cherry Sunburst, Trans Black, Trans Blue, Trans Purple
  • Bridge: Not Specified
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck Profile: Not Specified
  • Fingerboard: Rosetech
  • Fingerboard Radius: Not Specified
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: Not Specified (Full-Scale)
  • Nut Width: Not Specified
  • Electronics: Barcus Berry EV-T with 3-Band EQ
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
Most owners find the overall craftsmanship to be impressive, especially the finish. It is described as gorgeous and beautiful in reviews, pertaining to how it looks right out of the box. Many are also impressed with its tone, stating that it sounds lively and full, more so than what they expected given its price tag. There are also plenty of thumbs up for the value added by the bundled accessories.

Cons
There are some concerns raised about frets with sharp edges, which they remedied by getting the frets setup properly.

Overall
If you're looking for a nice looking yet affordable starter acoustic-electric guitar, then do check out the Oscar Schmidt OA10CE.

Mitchell O120CESB

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ 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 600+ 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 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, only this one is 3/4-sized, ideal for smaller hands or for those who want an affordable and portable acoustic-eletcric instrument. Its 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. Coming from Yamaha, most owners feel that the quality of this instrument is worth more than what they paid for. 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.

Fender FA-125CE 6-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Fender FA-125CE 6-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

It's interesting how an affordable acoustic guitar like the FA-125CE can carry the Fender brand, while for electric guitars, the Fender label is reserved for expensive models.

With the FA0125CE you are getting a genuine Fender labeled acoustic at a very generous price, and on top of that it comes with Fishman electronics (one of the leading brands).

Speaking of electronics, the preamp doesn't take too much space on the body, yet it has enough space for 2-band EQ, volume control and a nifty tuner.

It has a dreadnought body with spruce top, and basswood back and sides.

It also has a cutaway for easier access to higher frets, a feature found in many acoustic-electric models.

Another distinct feature of this guitar is Fender's Viking bridge which extends a bit further on the sides compared to regular bridges.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: Dreadnought with Cutaway
  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Basswood
  • Finish: Natural
  • Bridge: Viking Style Walnut
  • Neck: Nato
  • Neck Profile: Not specified
  • Fingerboard: Walnut
  • Fingerboard Radius: 11.81"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 25.3"
  • Nut Width: 1.69"
  • Electronics: Fishman Pickup with 2-band EQ
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
Many users are impressed by the Fender FA-125CE's build quality and tone, it surpassed what they were expecting given the price tag. The main theme in reviews is that it is a great beginner guitar, and this sentiment is shared by both students and experienced players. There is also plenty of kudos for its plugged-in tone, courtesy of its Fishman brand electronics.

Cons
There are a few reports of minor cosmetic quality control lapses. There are also some who wish that it came with a gig bag, but it doesn't.

Overall
If you're looking for an affordable option that doesn't look and sound as cheap, then this should be high up in your list.

Ibanez Talman TCY10E Acoustic-Electric Guitar

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 700+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Ibanez Talman TCY10E Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Ibanez is known for pushing guitar design boundaries, and acoustic guitars are no exception, as exemplified by the Talman TCY10E.

Far from conventional, it sports a thinline double cutaway body that's closer to electric guitar shapes, while retaining the full hollow design of acoustics.

This distinct Talman body results in a light and comfortable instrument that feels like an electric guitar, but still has acoustic projection through the soundhole.

The top is crafted from spruce, while the back and sides are from sapele. Okoume wood is used for the neck, while the fretboard is made from purpleheart.

As expected from Ibanez, the neck profile and string action are set to be as easy to play as possible.

Other features include having the AEQ-2T preamp with 2-band EQ and built-in tuner, and it comes with Ibanez' Advantage bridge pins that are specially designed to be gripped easily for removal.

Specifications:

  • Body Shape: Talman Double Cutaway
  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Sapele
  • Finish: Black, Blue, Ivory, Lavender, Pink
  • Bridge: Purpleheart
  • Neck: Okoume
  • Neck Profile: TCY
  • Fingerboard: Purpleheart
  • Fingerboard Radius: 9.8"
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.692"
  • Electronics: Ibanez AEQ-2T
  • Pickup Type: Active

Pros
As expected from an Ibanez made guitar, playability gets commended a lot, and the positive ratings come from musicians of different ages and skill levels. It even impresses experienced guitarists who are looking for an affordable and easy to play acoustic. Build quality and value for money also gets a lot of thumbs up, with many stating that the Talman TCY10E looks more premium than it actually is. Amplified tone is also commended, with some noting that this is a good acoustic-electric guitar to play lead lines on.

Cons
With its thin profile body, it goes without saying that its non-amplified sound will comparatively be lacking in bottom end. Also the shape will surely be a turn-off for those who prefer classic acoustic guitar designs.

Overall
The Ibanez Talman TCY10E will appeal to guitarists who mainly play electric guitar and want a quality yet affordable acoustic-electric guitar on the side.

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. For more information on this topic see our advice here.

  • 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. And while most entry level guitars still come in the familiar dreadnought shape, those with smaller and thinner bodies tend to get better reviews in the entry-level market, as evidenced by the many thinline guitars topping the ratings and taking up multiple spots in this guide.

  • 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

The first edition was published in 2018 and the latest edition was published on March 19, 2021.

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 2021 update, we ended up with a short list of 17, which required the gathering and analysis of over 6,800 relevant rating and review sources, which is over four times more than the previous update. The data we analyzed include the most recent ones from experts and actual users, up to March of 2021. All these data were then processed by the Gearank Algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 that reflect market sentiment. We then used the Gearank Ratings 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.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the Fender FA-125CE, Carlo Robelli F550 and Mitchell O120CESB.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

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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