To clear up some confusion, here’s the deal: hybrid guitars attempt to mix the best parts of both acoustic and electric guitars into one convenient instrument. So, why would you need something like that?
Let’s say you’re playing a gig, and your set list contains a few songs demanding both acoustic and electric guitars being played at different parts of the tune. Sure, you could play the acoustic parts on the electric, but that’s lame. And let’s just say that trying to play an acoustic through a cranked Marshall probably isn’t the smartest thing to do either. There doesn’t seem to be a really good answer, but you gotta do something, right?
This is exactly why a hybrid guitar may be in your future…
There really aren’t a ton of them on the market, so picking the best ones should be pretty easy…but, as with most things, it can be a bit of a challenge. Different hybrid models have different feature sets, and on top of that, some are pretty impressive while others really aren’t worth much of your time. It can be a daunting task for sure!
We’ll help you get to the other side of that road, because we’re going to take a look at some of the best hybrid guitars we could find. And you just never know…you may find that one of these tech-filled instruments is what it takes for your personal needs, wants, and desires (as far as guitars go that is…).
- Our Top Picks For Best Hybrid Guitars
- Hybrid Guitar Reviews
- How To Choose The Best Hybrid Guitar For You
- Final Thoughts on the Best Hybrid Guitars
Our Top Picks For Best Hybrid Guitars
Starting things off is the Michael Kelly Hybrid 55 – a hybrid guitar that has easily earned the distinction of being KGR’s ‘Best Value’. The brand itself truthfully isn’t one of the first ones that comes to mind when talking guitar talk, but you definitely shouldn’t let that keep you from seriously checking it out. It may look like just another Telecaster, but it has a set of impressive electronics that lets you coax realistic acoustic tones along with some serious Tele vibes as well. With all that you get for what you might pay, we think you may find the Hybrid 55 pretty hard to beat.
The Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster was a shoe in for the coveted KGR ‘Editor’s Choice’ award. If you’re looking to take things up more than a few notches, then this premium level model may be your answer. At first glance it appears to be a thin-body acoustic that has that classic Telecaster shape, but let’s just say it’s more than that. A LOT more than that, to be exact. With built in modeling ability that mimics several acoustic setups all the way to a full-blown classic Tele sound, the American Acoustasonic Telecaster is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Hybrid Guitar Reviews
Conventional looks with boutique performance.
This Telecaster style hybrid offers a combination of top quality woods and high end electronics, delivering fantastic humbucker growl from the electromagnetic pickups, and acoustic warmth from the saddle mounted piezo
- Solo or blended switching
- Dual or single-coil sounds
- Beautifully made
- Unbelievable price for the sonic variety on offer
With beautiful tonewoods and boutique features, the Michael Kelly Hybrid 55 is a sonically flexible gig guitar. The bolt-on maple neck is c-shaped with a compound radius of 10.5 -16 inches. The length measures 25.5- inches and sports 22 jumbo frets, it supports a rosewood fingerboard and is easy to scale thanks to the single-cutaway body shape.
The body is lightweight, cut from korina, (a type of ash), and has smooth telecaster curves decorated with a striking tigers-eye burst design.
The pickup configuration matches the original Michael Kelly 55 series. Pairing a Rockfield Mini Humbucker (neck position) and a Rockfield SWC Humbucker (bridge). This gives it some rowdier, beefed-up sounds that can be tailored with the 3-way switching found on the control plate with the push/pull volume and tone pots.
The acoustic hybridization comes in the form of a Fishman Power-bridge that has built-in saddle pickups. They can be used solo or blended with the hotter humbuckers, for classic, natural acoustic, spanky tones, and hybrid creations of your own. The powerbridge has a separate, dedicated master volume and a three-position toggle switch on the upper bass bout that lets you sculpt your acoustic tones to your preference.
Add to this the inclusion of a Great 8 mod that lets you split the dual humbucker signal in two at the flick of a switch, for single-coil tonality and you have a very versatile instrument to wield.
Verdict: With a Tele-style figure, a beautiful tigers-eye burst pattern and an electrical array that provides the ultimate flexibility the Michael Kelly Hybrid 55 is one of the best. A Fishman powerbridge gives it an authentic acoustic replication, while the mini and SWC Rockfield humbuckers give it a more raucous edge. You can switch from double to single-coil pick-up pattern in a heartbeat adding more sonic possibilities. The manufacturing is great and the price is a steal for the sonic versatility on offer.
Cutting edge technology and exceptional playability.
The acoustasonic range is the last word in hybrid guitars, and no model embodies that more than the american Acoustasonic Telecaster. It's comfortable, and considering how narrow the body is, offers excellent acoustic performance.
- Under-saddle piezo paired with a Fender N4 magnetic pickup
- 10 body-type tones
- Very versatile
- Acoustic-like appearance
The second beauty that we have selected is a Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster. The company has designed lots of models that sported its Acoustasonic trademark, but this is the first to present the aesthetics of an acoustic with a soundhole machined into the body. Featuring the familiar Telecaster body-shape, made from mahogany with an open-pore poly-urethane finish that still gives-off a wood-like character and feel. The top is sitka spruce and it’s available in a range of print finishes including union jacks.
The neck is 25.5-inches long, made of mahogany, and comes strung with a set of Fender 860CL Phosphor Bronze Dura-tone coated strings. The hardware is high-quality, you have a modern asymmetrical bridge with GraphTech Tusq pins and Staggered Fender chrome machine-heads.
The electronics consist of a Fender and Fishman collaboratively designed Acoustic Engine. Essentially you have a Fishman under-saddle Piezo and an Internal Fishman Acoustic Body Sensor that enhances the piezo and works as an acoustic pickup, they are topped off with a Fender N4 noiseless magnetic pickup that gives the instrument its hybrid nature.
Between them, they model 10 different body styles accessed by utilizing the on-board 5-way switching and Mod-knob which blends the pickups. You can achieve sweet, folksy sounds with the piezo that are harmonically detailed and interesting right up to the hot, fat, and gritty with the N4. The body sensor adds depth to the natural acoustic tone making it more like a traditional dreadnought despite its smaller proportions.
Verdict: The Fender American Acoustasonic is a premium hybrid guitar, that takes quality to new heights. The marriage between a Fender N4 pickup and a Fishman Undersaddle piezo with a body sensor, 5-way switching with a Mod-knob that blends between them creating 10 tonal, styles to choose from it covers just about every genre. Offering authentic Telecaster sounds, Nashville vibes, and a whole lot more.
A highly portable hybrid for guitarists on the go.
This is unique hybrid guitar designed for life on the road. If offers a full scale length with a recuced body size and headless design, making it incredibly portable, and even features a stethophone headset for silent practice without the need for power
- Compact Nech-thru-body design
- In-body tuning hardware
- Piezo & dual-rail humbucker
- Direct silent play
With its defiant, non-traditional looks, the Pro series by Traveler takes travel-guitars to a whole other level. Traveler has gutted just about every part of a bulky solid-body for smaller overall proportions with a one-piece, neck-thu-body, and a detachable lap-rest. They also rely on an in-body tuning system, so there is no denying its portability but how does it compare with full-sized traditionally-shaped hybrids?
This compact ax is pure mahogany, the neck is 24.3/4-inches in length so there is no sacrifice in terms of fret availability along its ebony fingerboard. The hybrid formulae comprises of a custom-made piezo bridge pick-up that can be blended with a low profile dual-rail humbucker, and each, of course, can be isolated and used separately. It has 3-way switching, so there isn’t as much on offer as some premium models but when this tiny terror, retails at half the price that is to be expected.
The sound sculpting capabilities, render it pretty practical for touring in back-packer fashion and covering a wider variety of genres than a regular electro-acoustic. You can go from the more soothing strums, with a sweet resonance, twangs of a country variety up to those tones of a bye-gone rock era with a thicker fuzz or a wailing screech. The higher frets really sing with the piezo settings and the humbucker has a lot of drive.
You can practice silently directly from the instrument itself without an amp with its unique internal resonant system and battery-free stethophone headset.
Our Verdict: Even if you’re not traveling the Traveler Pro-Series Deluxe is hands-down a superb hybrid electro-acoustic guitar. It has a range of tones to play with and the piezo is very responsive with great resonance and harmonics. The dual rail humbucker is scuzzy, dirty, and blended they present a lot of fun. However, if travel isn’t on the cards, then maybe opt for something else because in honesty the Pro Series Deluxe’s biggest selling point is its innovative design.
Top level fit and finish with sonic performance to match.
If you only have room for one guitar and you're unsure whether you want acoustic or electric, this model truly lets you have both. As an acoustic it's warm and resonant, and as an electric guitar it offers fat, stageworthy tones.
- Spalt maple
- Chambered mahogany
- Telecaster body-shape
- 3-way switching
- Expert craftsmanship
We have our eyes set on another Michael Kelly hybrid, that was released as a 10th anniversary edition. With a gorgeous spalt maple top, chambered mahogany body with a natural spalted burst finish, and the curves of a Telecaster, it is a feast for the eyes. Originally manufactured as a savvy gig-worthy guitar that serves a dual purpose, it lets you streamline what guitars you take on tour without axing any songs from the setlist. The practicality of the hybrid design also brings with it good versatility.
As far a the gear goes, it marries a Fishman under-saddle pickup with Rockfield SWC humbuckers with push-pull tap coils. The 3-way switching gives it a user-friendly functionality, letting you choose between an acoustic edge, a warm fuzzy blend, or just downright hot and heavy.
The dials, allow for a little coloration of each pickup setting and between them, you can create a decent set of sounds to jam with. You can find some bespoke woody tones as well as roaring leads. The dials don’t have any markers so you’ll have to play it by ear. You can use a Y-lead to split the signals to two different amp channels for further sound exploration.
The set-neck is c-shaped, crafted from mahogany, and fitted with a smooth, 12-inch radius, Pau Ferro fingerboard that allows for quicker slides. There are 22 accessible, medium jumbo frets at a scale length of 24.75-inches it has extra-large, mother-of-pearl block-style inlays. The bridge is a rosewood Pau Ferro MK acoustic and tuning keys are from Grover.
Our Verdict: The Michael Kelly Hybrid Special is another stunning hybrid model that just screams high-quality at you, from its wood choices and chambered body, to its block inlay mother of pearl. Serving a buffet of delicious tones with its 3-way switching and combination of under-saddle piezo and humbucker pickups, it has plenty to offer any multi-genre guitarist.
Incredible tones and a familiar feel.
PRS has always been an innovative maker, and this SE Hollowbody Piezo proves it. It gives you PRS humbucking pickups and an LR Baggs piezo that can be blended or separated entirely, resulting in a huge range of tones that simply aren't possible with a standard electric or a standard acoustic.
- Hollow body-shape
- Great acoustic resonance
- 2 individual outputs
- Stunning looks
- Reasonable price
The last head-turning hybrid we have on our radar is a slightly more cost-effective PRS SE Hollowbody (full review here) in a jaw-dropping peacock blue. With a hardy 5-ply laminated maple top, angled mahogany sides, and distinct f-holes it is a glossy good-looking guitar. The build quality is impressive so don’t be put off by it being from the imported SE line rather than constructed at home in Maryland. From the woodwork and hardware to the mounting of electronics under the hood, everything is tip-top – hence it’s inclusion on our recent round up of the best hollow body electric guitars.
The acoustic resonance has good depth thanks to the hollow body design that gives the sound waves somewhere to bounce around before the piezo magnets catch them. The piezo is the custom-designed brainchild of a PRS and LR Baggs collaboration and deals with the natural acoustics of the slim-profile instrument. The humbuckers on-board are two powerful, vintage style PRS 58/15 “S” pickups that you can unleash.
There is a mix/piezo output which you can plug into and adjust the blend of both with the two volume controls, with the Mag volume set at zero you have an acoustic snappy and clean sound. You can blend the two incrementally layering them in either direction to create some great expressive and textured sounds. There is a separate output labeled Mag that bypasses the piezo for when you just want to shred. You can feed the outputs to separate amps for flexible stage use, when you route it in this manner then the mix/piezo becomes a piezo-only signal.
The PRS SE Hollow body sports the companies wider-style neck, it has 22 frets laid upon a 10-inch radius ebony fingerboard that is smooth and permits faster fingerwork. The balance is good it doesn’t dive on you and presents great playability. There are abalone “old-school” birds along the length of the mahogany set neck.
Verdict: The PRS SE Hollowbody presents another beautiful hybrid guitar to consider. The sonic options, that come from the PRS/LR. Baggs piezo and 58/15 “S” humbuckers have real range and versatility. The separate outputs only add to that fact tenfold.
How To Choose The Best Hybrid Guitar For You
Hybrid guitars are getting more and more popular, but a lot of people, particularly newer players, find themselves confused when it comes time to shop for one. Not only are you looking for acoustic features, but also electric.
For that reason, we’ve put together this hybrid guitar buyer’s guide to coach you through what it is you should be looking for when buying your next guitar.
What Are Hybrid Guitars?
Hybrid guitars are, as the name suggests, a hybrid between an acoustic and an electric guitar. However, they aren’t the same as an acoustic-electric guitar!
Hybrid guitars make use of traditional electromagnetic pickups used in electric guitars, as well as transducers, microphones, or piezo pickups that are in place to capture the natural acoustic vibration of the guitar.
The signals from each pickup can usually be isolated and played as pure electromagnetic, or transducer sounds, or, they can be blended, resulting in some really full and interesting tones.
Why Use a Hybrid Guitar?
By using a hybrid guitar, you are effectively able to have 2 guitars in one. Players can switch between acoustic and electric tones, without having to change guitars, which is ideal for those who switch between these tones live on stage, or perhaps anybody who might be short of space at home, and want the use of both electric and acoustic guitars.
Hybrid Pickup Types
There are a few main types of hybrid guitar pickups available, and unlike electromagnetic pickups, they usually aren’t visible from the outside of the guitar. We’ve included the most common below.
Undersaddle pickups literally sit under the saddle of the guitar, and detect the direct vibration of each string. This results in a very natural tone, and even enables line in amplification of nylon strung guitars.
Body Sensor Pickups
Like undersaddle pickups, body sensor pickups are hidden from view, but instead of being located under the saddle, they are usually stuck to the underside of the guitar’s soundboard, and detect the vibrations from the top, rather than directly from the strings. This results in a more earthy, warm tone that sounds a lot like an unamplified acoustic.
Some manufacturers use microphone pickups, which are exactly like they sound. Small microphones are located inside the body of the guitar to capture the sound at source. They sound very similar to a mic’d up acoustic, but they take the hassle out of the setup, and allow for free movement on stage.
The construction technique and the materials used are far more important on a hybrid guitar than they are on a standard electric. While tone woods do influence the sound of a regular electric guitar, they don’t have as much impact as they do on an acoustic, or indeed a hybrid guitar.
Alder is a lightweight wood that provides good sustain and clarity
Mahogany is a heavier wood, and gives the guitar a warmer sound. The neck is typically made from maple, which is strong and durable.
Sitka spruce is a real favorite amongst guitar builders and players alike; it is incredibly strong and resonant, with a bright, clear tone.
Maple is less commonly used, but it provides a bright, punchy sound that cuts through the mix.
How to select the right tone wood for your instrument.
Cedar is a highly resonant and lightweight wood, with a mellow tone, and is popular with classical type and nylon strung guitars.
Ash is another popular tone wood for hybrid guitars; it has a bright, articulate sound with lots of sustain.
Rosewood is a heavy, dense wood that produces a warm, deep sound. It’s a very expensive wood, so it’s rare to see outside of fretboards on hybrid guitars.
Final Thoughts on the Best Hybrid Guitars
Hybrid guitars can be incredibly versatile tools in a guitarist’s arsenal. They unlock tones that would otherwise not be possible from a single instrument. Whether you’re trying to downsize your collection, or you need to be able to be dynamic on stage, a hybrid guitar can help you achieve those goals.
To recap our favorites from this roundup. If you’re looking for a solid all rounder at a great price the Michael Kelly Hybrid 55 is a great choice. It offers a great array of tones, and an extremely comfortable playing experience, too. If you’re looking for the best there is and you’re happy to pay for it, the Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster, our Editor’s Choice, is the guitar for you. It offers incredible acoustic performance as well as super amplified tones. It’s a high tech option and it looks fantastic.
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