6 Acoustic Guitars That Play like an Electric

acoustic guitar with an electric guitar playstyle

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While I do love shredding it on an electric guitar, the acoustic guitar has a whole lot to love.

It’s portable enough for impromptu beach jams not to mention that warm acoustic sound perfectly matches the vibe of the setting. With acoustic, you pick up and play.

With electric, you’ve got a whole checklist of things to set up before you can strum your first string. Plug in the amp, clean up the cables, and throw in some pedals or distortion to get the right sound. But once you get your gear in place, most musicians would agree that the electric guitar is easier to play compared to the acoustic- especially for beginners.

Acoustic guitars usually have thicker necks (which many folks find harder to get a grip on) and higher action which is a fancy way of describing the distance between the string and fretboard. Additionally, most acoustics have higher string tension which really makes you notice the thicker neck and higher action.

All combined these factors make acoustics harder to (literally) get a grip of.

But what if there was a guitar that combined the portability of an acoustic with the playing simplicity of an electric? You know, an acoustic guitar that plays like an electric? Well, they are out there.

Acoustic guitars that play like electric guitars include common electric guitar features like a lower action, thinner neck, smaller body, and easier-to-manage string tension. Ibanez, Godin, and Taylor are the brands that do it best but there are a variety of acoustic guitars that have an electric guitar feel. 

I’ll run you through our favorites along with everything you need to know about shopping for one on your own. But if you just want to see our 3 favorites you can check them out here:

Best Overall
Godin A6 Ultra
Godin A6 Ultra
9.9
  • Double chamber and unique design means this guitar can be played without amplification as you would with a normal acoustic guitar
  • Richlite fretboard feels smooth as butter (in a good way) in your hands
  • Large 16-inch fingerboard radius, 22 frets, and a 25.5" scale length for that electric-guitar feel
Runner Up
Taylor T5z 
Taylor T5z 
9.8
  • An award-winning guitar in both acoustic and electric categories
  • Extremely versatile with a three-pickup configuration (one is hidden), switching, and awesome tone controls.
  • 12-inch radius, jumbo frets, and a comfortable 24.875-inch scale length make this acoustic play like a comfortable electric
Best Budget Option
Ibanez Talman TCY10E
Ibanez Talman TCY10E
9.7
  • A true hybrid that gives you a little of everything
  • Can be played on its own or amplified with the Ibanez Undersaddle pickup
  • 9.8 inch radius and 25.59 inch scale length along with your usual acoustic guitar strings make this a familiar but still more comfortable playing experience

3 Types Of Guitars In The World Of Electric and Acoustic Hybrids

I know, you’re used to hearing about two types of guitars but we’re going to quickly define three types that will help us understand what we’re looking at when we get to the guitars.

First, you’ve got the classic acoustic guitar that you know and love. These are designed to be played without an amp and the only way to amplify your sound is with a well-placed microphone during your performance. Also in this group, you have acoustic guitars that can be played plugged in or unplugged. These are usually just acoustic guitars with a pickup installed along with the required knobs and endpin jack.

You might hear these referred to as acoustic-electric guitars which is a name that makes sense when you think about it. They’re acoustic first and then electric, thanks to the basic pickup. These aren’t exactly what we’re looking for since they play just like an acoustic guitar and the only real difference is the pickup.

Second, are thinline guitars that can feature an F-hole (like these examples) but they’re not able to be played as an acoustic. So right away, we know that this could be a problem but some of these can still get that acoustic sound with the right amp.

Finally, you have guitars that are referred to as electric-acoustic and in this case, it’s an electric first and then acoustic. These are still designed to be played with amplification but still give you some acoustic sounds. The design is much closer to an electric (which is what we want) but you’re not going to get a great sound out of these without amplification.

However, there are expectations here, and some of the guitars in the electric-acoustic category are just what we’re looking for and have an electric guitar feel when playing but produce an acoustic sound. Godin, Taylor, and Ibanez all offer guitars that fit this description but so do many other brands.

What makes this confusing is that not everything is such a stickler for the terms we’ve laid out and it’s easy to find someone that says “electric-acoustic” when they really mean and “acoustic-electric” and so on. But now that we’re on the same page, we have a better idea of what we’re looking for.

It’s also worth pointing out that a hybrid of any kind isn’t pure by definition. In other words, if you want that warm acoustic sound but the feel of an electric then you either need to sacrifice sound or make some smaller modifications to your acoustic. You aren’t going to be able to change the body but you can change the action of the guitar or change your strings out something easier to play which usually means a thinner gauge.

So rather than picking up an entirely new guitar, you may be better off just making some smaller adjustments.

5 Reasons Electric Guitars Feel Easier To Play Than Acoustic

Acoustic guitars are harder to play and it’s not just in your head.

But why?

There’s a long list of reasons but it all starts with the heavier average string gauge that’s found on acoustic guitars. Those thicker strings impact everything else on the guitar from the action to the neck and everything in between.

I want to look at a few of these in more detail not only because it’s interesting (at least for the guitar geeks out there) but these are also the factors we need to keep in mind in our search for an acoustic that plays like an electric.

1. Electrics Guitars Have A Lighter Average String Gauge and Shallow Nuts

Thicker, heavier strings are harder to play-and especially harder to play fast. Your standard medium gauge acoustic guitar string has a diameter of 0.012 .056″. Compare that to .011 to 0.050″ for electric guitar strings (also medium gauge).

I know, we’re talking about small differences so those numbers might seem impressive but they can be even higher (or lower) depending on the string. And even though the numbers are small, they make a big difference when playing.

Heavier strings mean more volume when played and it’s one of the many factors that help acoustic guitars produce a rich sound without amplification. We only have so much room to mess with string gauge when it comes to finding an acoustic that plays like an electric before we lose that acoustic sound.

But if we’re willing to sacrifice some of the classic sound (or at least less volume), switching up the strings for a lighter gauge can help. Even though you might get some dirty looks from acoustic guitar purists, you can even put electric guitar strings on an acoustic guitar assuming your acoustic has the appropriate nut slots. Nut sluts are usually wider on acoustic guitars to allow room for the heavier gauge so switching the strings isn’t always as easy as just changing them out and calling it a day.

2. Acoustic Guitars Have Higher Action That Require More Pressure To Play

Heavier and thicker strings also require a higher action to prevent strings from vibrating against the fret (aka fret buzz). Higher action means more distance between the strings and the fretboard so it’s hard to musicians to hold down strings. For new guitarists, this can make a major impact and has ended the interest of many a hobbyist guitar player.

We have some room to adjust the action on any guitar but for an acoustic that plays like an electric, we’ll want to keep the action in mind.

3. Electrics Guitar Have Thinner Necks That Are Easier To Handle

Because acoustics have heavier strings, they usually have thicker more durable necks to support that extra tension. Electrics guitars, on the other hand, have thinner necks that are easier to play. Once again, the impact of heavier strings trickles down into numerous (and sometimes unexpected) parts of the acoustic guitar design.

4. Acoustic Guitars Have Flat Fretboards That Aren’t As Ergonomic

It can vary a bit, but most acoustic guitar have flatter fretboards which can make it a little harder to play. This is typically described as the fretboard radius and you can see exactly what I’m talking about in this image from The Fellowship of Acoustics:

fretboard radius difference electric vs acoustic

The rounder fretboard is more common on electric guitars and most guitarists find it easier to use as the higher radius more closely matches the curve of your hand.

5. Electrics Have Shorter Scale Length Which Is Easier To Play

Electric guitars usually have shorter scale length. Reducing scale length reduces string tension and makes electrices easier to play. Especially when you combine it with lighter strings and everything else we’ve already covered.

You can see exactly what we’re talking about when it comes to string length in this image:

showing exactly how to measure scale length on a guitar

Scale length varies a lot between brands so it’s usually best to think of it in relative terms and compare it to whatever you’re used to playing.

Best Options For An Acoustic Guitar That Play Like An Electric

Now that we have all our vocabulary out of the way, we know exactly what features will help an acoustic guitar feel more like an electric.

Best Overall: Godin A6

Best Overall
Godin A6
  • Double chamber and unique design means this guitar can be played without amplification as you would with a normal acoustic guitar
  • Richlite fretboard feels smooth as butter (in a good way) in your hands
  • Large 16-inch fingerboard radius, 22 frets, and a 25.5" scale length for that electric-guitar feel

The Godin A6 definitely wins plenty of style points with a maple body, cedar top, and a mahogany neck. In other words, this acoustic/electric hybrid looks amazing.

It also plays great too and this video gives a great overview of the Godin A6 along with a nice demonstration of how it sounds without amplification (and it sounds great):

If you take a few minutes to watch that video (or even just skip around) the sheer versatility of this guitar should really stand out. From the classic warm acoustic sound to the dirty grim of a metal riff in just a few seconds. That’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.

Not only do you get the acoustic sound but you also get the comfortable setup of an electric with a 16-inch fingerboard and a reasonable 25.5-inch scale length. The scale length isn’t anything to write home about but the 16-inch radius on the fingerboard will feel great and helps this acoustic hybrid play like an electric. The richlite fretboard also gives this guitar a buttery smooth feel on your fingers and makes faster playing even easier.

There’s a tone of versatility here thanks to the option to go unplugged or use the Humbucker and Piezo bridge pickup. Tone control out the wazoo and just about everything else you’d need.

The other thing I love about this acoustic/electric hybrid is the price. You’re getting a premium rig without having to mortgage the house and while it’s not in the budget category you’re getting a whole lotta guitar for your money. Compared to other guitars in the acoustic/electric category, the price is very reasonable.

You can read more reviews, take a closer look at the design and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.

Runner Up: Taylor T5z 

Runner Up
Taylor T5z 
  • An award-winning guitar in both acoustic and electric categories
  • Extremely versatile with a three-pickup configuration (one is hidden), switching, and awesome tone controls.
  • 12-inch radius, jumbo frets, and a comfortable 24.875-inch scale length make this acoustic play like a comfortable electric

Another brand that’s on a mission to bridge the gap between electric and acoustic guitars, the Taylor T5z does a little bit of everything…and it does it really well!

According to Taylor, which might be a little biased, the T5z won awards across multiple music publications in both the acoustic guitar category and the electric guitar categories. If that’s not a good sign for folks that want an electric-feeling acoustic guitar then I don’t know what it is. In other words, this guitar can stand on its own in either category.

When it comes to playability, you have a nice plump radius the 3 inches larger than the Ibanez Talman along with a shorter scale length at 24.875 inches which means less string tension. It also comes stock with Elixir NANOWEB Electric medium gauge strings which are some of my favorite. I know, not a big deal to change but that’s nice to have.

Besides the electric-friendly design of the guitar, what really makes this hybrid stand out is its versatility. You have a lot of options with detailed tone control but a thin-bodied guitar, you’re going to need an amp. This video from Sweetwater does a great job explaining the versatility of this guitar:

It’s not going to have the same rock bottom pricing that we’ll see in the next guitar. However, this guitar can do just about anything you need so it could actually function as your only guitar. Still, the premium pricing means that the Taylor has grabbed our runner-up recommendation instead of our best overall spot.

You can read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.

Best Budget Option: Ibanez Talman TCY10E

Best Budget Option
Ibanez Talman TCY10E
  • A true hybrid that gives you a little of everything
  • Can be played on its own or amplified with the Ibanez Undersaddle pickup
  • 9.8 inch radius and 25.59 inch scale length along with your usual acoustic guitar strings make this a familiar but still more comfortable playing experience

While most guitar brands tend to stay in one lane or another, Ibanez isn’t afraid to mix things up. I always associated Ibanez with heavy metal music thanks to their RG series of guitars. It should be no surprise then that many of their guitars come out of the factory with low action and are easier to shred on.

The entire Talmon line is designed to bridge the gap between electric and acoustic guitars and Ibanez notes on their Talman sales page that “Electric players looking to add an acoustic-guitar dimension to their arsenal go headover- heels for this distinctive hybrid.” I know, it’s sales copy but it does clearly state the mission behind these hybrid guitars.

As a starting point, I’d suggest checking out the TCY10E and even though I love the TCM50 it’s out of stock everywhere that I know to look so it’s no longer a good option. But the TCY10E is still a great option.

The scale length isn’t especially short at 25.59 inches but it’s not especially long either so we don’t need to worry about excessive string tension. The radius is comfortable too at 250mmR even if that’s significanlty different from the 430mm that you’d see on their ready-to-shred electric from the RG line. Still, that’s definitely closer in the electric direction than many other acoustic guitars.

Of course, it sounds pretty darn good too and you can play it with microphone amplification (like you would with a normal acoustic guitar) or use the Ibanez Undersaddle pickup (which is a piezo-style pickup). You can see both versions of this in action in this video:

It also helps that the Ibanez brand is usually pretty easy on the budget while still delivering good quality. The TCY10E is no different and it’s pretty easy on the budget. That’s especially helpful since a lot of folks want an acoustic that plays like an electric as an additional guitar rather than their main instrument.

You can take a closer look at the specifications and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.

Honorable Mentions

It might seem a little rare at first, but there are actually a lot of acoustic guitars that have an electric feel. I shared my favorite options above and they’re also the ones that I have the most experience with but I also wanted to share some honorable mentions that are still worth checking out too. There isn’t a specific order here but I will touch on the pros and cons for each.

Ovation CE44P-FKOA Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Ovation has a reputation for making acoustic-electric guitars that come with a factory standard low action and have a thin neck which makes the playability very similar to an electric guitar.

While that’s a good start, the CE44P has a radius of 10 inches which is a bit smaller than we’d normally want to see in an electric-feeling acoustic guitar.

The guitar looks great, which definitely helps, and the rosewood fingerboard feels great but still isn’t as smooth as the synthetic richlite that we saw in the Godin. I know, it’s  a shame to prefer a synthetic material over a natural one but I’m trying to stay objective here!

The Ovation CE44P is most closely related to the Godin A6 from our top three but with a bit less versatbitiy. Still, this is a great looking acoustic that does have many electric guitar accents and it’s coming in at a very reasonable price too.

Guild BT-258E Baritone Deluxe Acoustic-Electric Guitar

The Guild BT-258E is an acoustic-electric hybrid that leans much more heavily towards the acoustic style. You get some of the playability of an electric in acoustic form thanks to the thin neck and 16-inch radius. But with a 27-inch scale length, there’s going to be more string tension than we saw in our top three picks.

If you’re willing to sacrifice some of the electric guitar feel in order to get that acoustic look this could be a good option.

Fender Acoustasonic Stratocaster

This is a guitar that could have certainly been a contender for our top three. But a premium brand like Fender is going to come with a premium pricing and I didn’t think this was a good match for most folks that were looking for an acoustic that plays like an electric.

The Acoustasonic is a newer offering from Fender and they certainly stirred things up when it was first introduced. Still, there’s a lot to love here and I’m especially a fan of the shorter 25.5″ scale length. If you’re a committed Fender fanatic or you just want the big brand, it could be worth checking out.

Can’t I Just Set Up My Acoustic Guitar To Play Like An Electric?

Not everyone is ready to drop the cash on a new guitar no matter how versatile it is…so is there a way to modify your acoustic to play like an electric guitar even if it wasn’t designed that way?

You can make some small changes to change the feel of your acoustic, but you’re still not going to come close to an acoustic guitar that’s designed from the very start to feel like an electric. As if often the case, this comes to expectations and preference.

We already covered this a bit before, but the easiest way to change the way your acoustic plays is to change the heavy gauge out for something lighter. That will make the strings a little easier to press down but it will also change the sound of the guitar. You should expect the overall volume to decrease and the tone won’t be as warm since it’s the heavier strings that help give the acoustic guitar its warm sound.

Remember too that nut slots are wider on acoustics and you may run into some problems if you add strings that are too thin for the space.

Lowering the action is another option but can require some skill to really fine tune and avoid excessive fret buzz. You can also expect some change in tone but adjusting the action even if you don’t end up with fret buzz.

There are other options but they’re definitely not for novice guitarists. This includes things like sanding the neck to make it thinner and other modifications that can’t be undone. I can play Born To Run like I was born to do it but beyond that, I’m not very good with my hands. In other words, this is outside my area of expertise and if you want to make bigger modifications to your acoustic guitar in order to give it an electric feel I’d suggest reaching out to a professional.

Conclusion

If you are looking for an acoustic guitar with the features of an electric guitar (low factory action, thin neck, and more), you have a lot of options.

We tried to add as many acoustic-electric guitars here as possible but there are a lot more out there. On top of that, it’s going to depend on your preference, and for some folks just having a thinner neck will be enough to get that electric guitar playstyle while others will need thinner strings, short scale length, or some other part of the equation.