Best Affordable Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $200

Best Affordable Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $200

I think you can’t do any better for a first instrument than an acoustic electric guitar.

Not only can you take them with you anywhere, but you can plug up into an amp and effects pedal for exponentially more tones to experiment with.

Believe it or not, there are some great affordable acoustic electric guitars under $200 that will be all you need to get started with this great versatile instrument.

We’ve put this list together to show you the best options of electro acoustics under $200, outlining all their specs, pros, and cons, with a review of their sound and playability so you can make the perfect choice for you.

Our Recommendation

For under $200, your options are admittedly limited, but there are still several good choices in beginners’ realm.

Probably the best deal available today is the Glen Burton GA204BCO Player’s Pack.

For just over $100 you get everything you need to start playing electro acoustic, including a decent guitar, a fresh set of strings, several guitar picks, a strap, a gig bag, a clip-on tuner, a truss rod tool, an instrument cable, and even a 10 Watt Amplifier.

At this price, you’ll probably still have money left over for a capo and a multi-effect pedal to really take your sound variety to the next level.

Coming in at last place is the Jameson Full Size Thinline.

It plays fine, but the spruce + nato tonewood combo leaves me wanting a lot more from the tone, and the model I played had a few frets that needed grinding — a big no-no in my book.

To find out more about the Jameson Thinline, the Glen Burton GA204BCO, and all the acoustic electrics in between, read on to see why these guitars made our list of the best electro acoustics under $200.

The 5 Best Acoustic Electric Guitars Under $200  – Overview

#5 Jameson Full Size Thinline Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Laminated Spruce
  • Body – Nato
  • Neck – Maple
  • Fingerboard – Rosewood
  • Electronics – Jameson design piezo pickup

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • Rosewood fingerboard for smooth playing
  • Thin body design for comfortable performances

Cons

  • Bottom-line pickups for below-average electric tone
  • Sharp fret edges need ground down

Review

You may have never heard of R.W. Jameson Guitars Company, and you’re not alone in this.

They’re not a very big name in music, unless you’re intimately familiar with the different exclusively budget-end brands.

Nonetheless, they make some pretty decent models, and their prices are low enough for musicians on the tightest budgets.

Their Thinline Acoustic Electric is a fine model if you’re really trying to save on costs, and although it’s not exactly stage-worthy, it’s a fun acoustic to have at home.

For those just starting out, the sound quality isn’t going to be noticeably substandard.

They use a laminated spruce top paired with nato back and sides for this model, which form a tone overall in line with what you can expect from a guitar in this price range.

Acoustic pickups come in several varieties, which you can read about here.

In this Jameson model, they use a piezo pickup mounted underneath the top.

It’s enough to transmit your acoustic tone through an amp, but not much else. It’s totally fine for playing at home, but it’s not a clean enough sound for me to recommend playing any shows with.

Jameson doesn’t go into great detail about their instruments’ specs and I didn’t bring my tape measure with me, so I can’t tell you the neck radius or body length

I can tell you that the body is about 3 inches deep, which is roughly 1.25 inches thinner than the average dreadnought. This is great for small bodied players or any beginner who feels that the standard acoustic is just a bit too big for them.

#4 Jasmine S34C NEX Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Laminated Spruce
  • Body – Sapele
  • Neck – Nato
  • Fingerboard – Rosewood
  • Electronics – KMC Music CP-100 bridge plate piezo

Pros

  • Slim neck profile for fast, easy playability
  • Grand Concert body with cutaway for easy access to upper frets
  • Smaller contoured body shape great for small players

Cons

  • No EQ controls

Review

This is another affordable acoustic electric that is great for those with strict finances.

The Jasmine S34C NEX electro acoustic is a really nice guitar in all ways related to playing comfort.

It’s got a Grand Concert style body, a bit smaller than the traditional dreadnought, with smooth contours that allow it to sit very comfortably across your thigh.

They designed it with a slim neck profile that is much easier to grip chords on than the standard dreadnought neck, so beginners who are susceptible to playing fatigue can practice for extended periods of time.

Like most guitars at this price point, its pickup system is nothing special, but gets the job done for playing at home while affording a tone that won’t burn you out.

Unfortunately, the S34C NEX lacks any kind of tone or volume controls, so all of your EQ tweaks will have to be done on the amplifier.

Unplugged, it’s got a good tone that’s fairly balanced in the low to high ranges, but can sound a bit jangly in the upper reaches.

You’ve got a cutaway for easily playing in the upper frets, which is a feature you’ll really appreciate once you start learning to run advanced scales.

Price considered, I like this guitar a lot, but again wouldn’t feel comfortable playing it for a crowd.

#3 Washburn Classical Series C5CE Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Laminated Spruce
  • Body – Catalpa
  • Neck – Mahogany
  • Fingerboard – Engineered Wood
  • Electronics – Barcus Berry EVT preamp + pickup

Pros

  • Nylon strings for soft playing feel
  • Smooth gloss finish for easy transitions up and down the neck
  • Cutaway classical body shape for comfort

Cons

  • No EQ, but does have an on-board volume control
  • Engineered wood fingerboard reduces responsiveness and clarity

Review

There aren’t many affordable electric classical guitars on the market, but Washburn is filling the void with their C5CE model.

In many ways, it’s a standard classical guitar, with a 52 mm nut width, a classical body shape and size, and of course nylon strings.

However, it shakes things up a little by having a cutaway, unconventional tonewoods, and a Barcus Berry preamp + pickup system.

With a spruce top and catalpa sides, you get a clear, crisp tone, with added warmth from the mahogany neck bringing it more in line with the traditional classical guitar tone.

As a cost-saving technique, Washburn has used a rather cheap fingerboard made of engineered wood, which is the most fatal flaw of this guitar in my opinion. I just really prefer my fretboards to be rosewood or ebony, and the engineered wood make of the S5CE doesn’t cut it for me in this area.

This guitar does have more pros than cons though, and its tone is pretty truly replicated through its EVT piezo pickup.

Would I play a show with this? Maybe not a true paying gig, but I’d hit an open mic for sure.

#2 Ibanez Talman TCY10E Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Laminated Spruce
  • Body – Sapele
  • Neck – Mahogany
  • Fingerboard – Purpleheart
  • Electronics – Ibanez AEQ-2T preamp with Ibanez under saddle piezo pickup

Pros

  • Super cool double cutaway body design
  • 2 band on-board EQ controls
  • Slim Ibanez neck design for quick riffs and fast licks

Cons

  • Weak high end, not much sustain

Review

Ibanez makes some killer guitars, and this is one of the best acoustic electrics you can get for under $200.

Known for their fast playing necks, they’ve created this Talman TCY10E with comfort and playability in mind, while giving you the best tone you can expect at this price range.

It’s still not going to rock anyone’s socks off, but for super small gigs and open mics, their spruce + sapele + mahogany tonewood combo is just fine.

Being primarily an electric guitar company, Ibanez really knows its electronics, so the under saddle piezo pickup in the Talman TCY10E is the best electronics setup we have on this list.

The TCY10E is a really unique looking electro acoustic, with a smooth double cutaway body that feels as cool as it looks.

This is my favorite guitar on this list, but when we take a look at everything included in the next model, you’ll probably understand why it had to take 2nd place.

#1 Glen Burton GA204BCO Player’s Pack Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Laminated Maple
  • Body – Basswood
  • Neck – Catalpa
  • Fingerboard – Rosewood
  • Electronics – Glen Burton Active 4 Band 7545 preamp + pickup

Pros

  • Decent tone, great price
  • Huge accessories bundle
  • Dependable electronics

Cons

  • Cheap tuning machines need an upgrade

Review

Now, this Glen Burton guitar on its own is basically comparable to the first two on the list, and would not have the number one spot if it weren’t for the range of accessories it comes with.

In particular, I’m won over by the 10 watt amp included in this bundle, as it can be hard to find an amplifier in this price range at all.

With the instrument cable, tuner, picks, and strap, you literally have everything you need to start using this acoustic electric to its full potential, and the price is so low that you can easily buy an effects pedal to really take you on the full ride.

Tone-wise, the GA204BCO is about the same as the Jasmine S34C, but a bit brighter thanks to its maple top. In a guitar in this price range, brighter can be a detriment because there’s not a lot to fill out the lower end, but the basswood body helps balance things out.

And if you still find yourself with too much treble, the onboard EQ can help you even out the mix.

If you’re a beginner with your heart set on an acoustic electric, I think this is your best bet for under $200. It’s great to get your package and start playing plugged in right away, and with the Glen Burton GA204BCO, that’s possible straight out of the box.

Buyer’s Guide

What Should I Look for in an Acoustic Electric Under $200?

At this price range, you can’t expect a lot of over-the-top features or super high quality construction.

They’re budget instruments for a reason, and the main thing you should be looking for is playability.

When buying any new instrument, the first thing you need to check for is that everything is undamaged and in working order.

That means to look it over for chips, scratches, dents, gashes… you get the idea.

If it’s free from these defects, just make sure it feels good to hold and play. If you’re just starting out, you probably can’t tell if it feels good to play because you don’t know how to play, so the most you can do is to make sure it’s not too big for you.

If it is too big, we’ve got this article on guitars for smaller players.

Tone-wise, you’re not going to get a lot out of an electro acoustic. Since manufacturers include pickups, they often opt for cost-cutting laminate tops — a sonic downgrade from solid tops.

So, just check to make sure all the frets work and there’s no horrible buzz. If there is a buzz, or if it’s not properly intoned, a guitar tech can set it up for you, or you can do this yourself if you’re feeling motivated. Acoustic Guitar Magazine has a great article explaining how to set up an acoustic guitar.

To sum it up, for under $200, you’ll get a guitar that sounds ok, but not great, and that may need a little work to get it in perfect playing condition, but should be free from any major problems.

Should I Buy an Acoustic Electric for Under $200?

You’ll have to understand that for under $200, your chances of finding a new guitar that is stage-ready are pretty slim.

There’s a standard of quality that you should bring to any live performance, and guitars in this price range usually don’t meet it.

Their sounds are too flat, lacking in harmonic and overtone complexity that people love to hear in an acoustic.

This doesn’t mean that these guitars are worthless.

If you’re only looking to spend $200 and below on a guitar, chances are you’re probably not trying to start gigging anytime soon.

As far as practice goes, you don’t need to impress anyone but yourself, and the tone on these instruments is totally acceptable for working on developing your skills.

This is a great price range for beginners or for intermediate players looking for a new travel guitar.

If acoustic electric is the instrument you’re set on getting, the under $200 category is fine for personal use, but you should probably look at our list of electro acoustics under $500 if you’re thinking of playing live.

What’s the Difference Between Acoustic and Electro Acoustic?

In general, the difference is that acoustic guitars don’t have any means of amplification except an external microphone, while electro acoustic guitars have a built-in pickup.

Most acoustic electrics have a cutaway, while this is a feature that acoustics may or may not have. There are exceptions of course, and you can find acoustic electrics that have the standard dreadnought non-cutaway body shape.

Specifically, in the under $200 range, the differences go just a bit further.

Non-electric acoustics under $200 have a pretty good chance of being constructed with solid tops, some of which you can read about in this review. There are, no doubt, many models out there with laminate wood tops, but more and more makers are starting to recognize that players prefer solid top acoustics, even at the under $200 budget.

In electro acoustics, things are a bit different. Because they’re made with pickups, manufacturers have to find another way to save on production costs, so it’s quite rare to find an acoustic electric guitar in this price range with a solid top. If you do, let me know about it! For solid top acoustic electrics, you’ll need to start looking at the under $300 price range, which we’ve covered in this review.

Can Acoustic Electric Guitars for Under $200 Be Upgraded?

The most I would do to upgrade a guitar in this price range is to change the tuning machines, and many instruments under $200 need this upgrade.

Manufacturing costs in electric acoustics under $200 are saved by opting for laminate instead of solid tops and by using low-end tuning machines. The first thing, you can do nothing about — your laminate top will stay a laminate top.

But, you can pretty easily change your tuning machines for a better quality set up, and this can greatly increase your playing pleasure and decrease the amounts of frustration you’ll feel when you have to pause your practice to re-tune every 10 minutes.

Aside from upgrading the tuning machines, I wouldn’t waste much more money and time and effort trying to improve an under $200 guitar.

If this is the price range you buy in, your energy and expenses will better be saved for upgrading to an entirely new instrument a couple years down the road when you’re ready to take your musicianship to the next level.

The Final Word

Largely a beginner’s budget range of instruments, these are the best electric acoustics for under $200.

They’re all fine affordable acoustic electric guitars, and can be fun to play for any experience level, but are ideal for those just starting to learn.

You can keep your purchase extra low and opt for the simple Jameson Thinline for a slim-bodied acoustic guaranteed for comfort, or go a little more expensive for the Glen Burton GA204BCO bundle that will jump start your electro acoustic adventures.

If this isn’t a price range that has what you want, you can find some higher quality guitars in our best value acoustic electrics review.

Whatever choice you make, I wish you the best and know that any of these guitars will bring you many hours of practicing pleasure.

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