Is the Vangoa VGE-1 the best beginner acoustic-electric guitar? Throughout this review, we’ll tear apart this cheap acoustic-electric guitar to see if it makes the grade!
A beginner electro-acoustic guitar needs to check a couple of boxes. Firstly, it must be affordable. Secondly, it should offer a good balance of sound and playability. At around $150, the Vango VGE-1 certainly satisfies the budget requirement. But what does it sound like, and how easy is it to play?
Let’s find out if it could be the best acoustic-electric guitar!
Disclosure: Vangoa was kind enough to send me this guitar to try out. I have tried my best to provide a fair and unbiased review. If the guitar sounds like a good match for you, I will earn a small commission if you purchase one through the links within this article. Thank you!
I have included links for both the left-handed and right-handed versions of this electro-acoustic. It is available through Amazon, or directly from Vangoa themselves depending on stock levels. Note that the right-handed model is called the Vangoa VCE-1, whereas the lefty is known as the VGE-1.
Vangoa VGE-1 Review
Who Is This Guitar For?
The Vangoa VGE-1 is a cheap acoustic electric guitar bundle that is absolutely perfect for new players with a small budget, or potentially for more advanced players who need a solid backup instrument. This bundle would be an excellent beginner acoustic-electric guitar, particularly for the following reasons.
- One of the most affordable electro-acoustic guitars available
- For the money, the construction, sound, and playability are excellent
- It is bundled with everything you need to get started
As a beginner instrument, the only real downside is that the guitar is dreadnought-sized. For most, this is actually the right choice, however, smaller players may find the dreadnought size a little bulky.
If you think a dreadnought acoustic might be a little large for you, check out my guide to the best left-handed beginner acoustic guitars. Here, you will find a few alternate choices that feature smaller-sized bodies.
Vangoa VGE-1 Unboxing
So, will the Vangoa electric acoustic guitar actually get to you without damage? The guitar ships in a standard triangular cardboard box, and is safely encased within a generously padded gig bag.
In addition, it came to me double-boxed, in a comedically oversized outer box. Seriously. It was so large that I had no idea what I was signing for when it arrived at my door.
With that amount of protection, it will be almost certain to survive all but the most heavy-handed of couriers! Although I did have a hell of a lot of cardboard to recycle when everything was unpacked.
Within the box, you’ll discover the guitar itself and the aforementioned sturdy gig bag. You’ll also find a bright red Vangoa branded canvas zip bag that neatly contains all of the bundled accessories.
With its black and white color scheme, the Vangoa is a very classy-looking guitar indeed, and certainly at least looks like it should be worth far more than its beginner-friendly price tag.
There are definitely some Les Paul Custom, tuxedo-type vibes about this electro-acoustic. It’s a great-looking axe.
The Vangoa-branded gig bag is definitely a cut above the flimsy nylon bags that came with beginner kits when I was a new guitarist! The carry handle, adjustable straps, and inners are all generously padded. There is even a removable padded neck cradle inside with a velcro strap to hold the guitar in position.
I watched a few review videos to check if other people were also blown away by the quality of the Vangoa. They were. But most notably, every single review raved about how good the gig bag is.
Although I haven’t tested it, the bag does look like it would protect the guitar from a light rain shower if you were caught out by surprise.
As far as storage is concerned, there is one large zippered pocket located on the front. It measures roughly 15.5″ x 12″ (40cm x 30cm). So, plenty of space for an A4 music book and a few other accessories.
In addition to this rather quality gig bag, the Vangoa also comes bundled with the following handy accessories.
- Zippered Carry Pouch
- Vangoa VT-01 Clip-On Tuner (Battery Included)
- Vangoa Capo
- Vangoa Strings (011-052 Gauge)
- Instrument Cable
- Cleaning Cloth
- Nylon Guitar Strap
- 4 Picks (Various Thicknesses)
- Allen Key (To Adjust Truss Rod)
- Scratchplate (Peel & Stick)
- Owners Manual
So, aside from guitar lessons, you’ve got everything you could possibly need to get started with the instrument.
The clip-on headstock tuner is your classic $10 generic model. It’s nothing fancy, but does the job, getting your guitar to pitch quickly. You don’t even need to source a battery as Vangoa has included the required CR2032 that the unit requires.
The adhesive scratchplate is a nice touch, although I wonder if a white color would have been the better choice considering you won’t be able to really see the black guard against the black guitar body. With a budget guitar like this, I doubt many will actually want to use it to protect the guitar’s body, instead choosing to use it for a bit of visual flair.
If you do decide to use it, know that you’ll only get one shot to place it in the correct position. So, make sure to practice placing it before you remove the adhesive backing.
Before we look into how the guitar actually plays, let’s dive into a few of the key specifications.
I did have a little trouble unearthing a few of the basic specs. Even Vangoa themselves only seemed to have a very vague list. However, as a new player, I would doubt very much that you care too much about what exact wood the bridge is made from.
As long as it plays and sounds good, right?
- Body Size: Dreadnought (Full-Sized)
- Body Woods: Sapele w/ Spruce Top
- Saddle: Bone
The Vangoa VGE-1 is a full-sized dreadnought electro-acoustic guitar, which for most new players is the best shape to opt for. A dreadnought gives a loud, and well-balanced sound that is suitable for a wide variety of genres and playstyles.
However, smaller people may find the larger size a little uncomfortable to handle. Read my beginner acoustic guitar guide to find a few smaller-bodied options if you think this might apply to you.
The sapele and spruce pairing is a classic, tried and tested body tonewood combination. It offers a well-balanced tone that should be able to handle any genre of music.
The body (and neck) are finished in a really slick black satin coating for a classy aesthetic. This gives an effortless, smooth feeling whilst playing as opposed to that stickiness that thick gloss finishes can often give.
The only downside to the finish is that it easily picks up fingerprints and skin oils. This means it can end up looking a little dirty under a certain light. Still, that’s what the cleaning cloth is for, right?
In addition, the satin finish is more prone to picking up scratches compared to a gloss option. On the plus side, the finish is so thin (0.15mm according to Vangoa) that the guitar should be able to resonate freely, resulting in an improved quality of sound.
From a distance, the body has the appearance of being fully bound, however, this is not the case. These are simply areas that have been masked off during spraying to reveal the body wood underneath.
Finally, the addition of two strap pegs means we can easily attach the supplied strap if needed. A small point, but cheaper acoustics often don’t feature that front strap peg, so this was a nice bonus.
- Neck: Okoume
- Frets: 20
- Scale Length: 25.5″
- Nut: Bone
- Nut Width: 43mm (1.7″)
The fretboard on this guitar looks absolutely superb. Firstly, the fingerboard ends in a pointed shape rather than the usual straight edge. Furthermore, we have the same ‘scrape binding’ as the body with the addition of a lighter-colored purfling inside.
It really does give off a very premium vibe.
The Vangoa website lists the fretboard as being ‘scientific wood‘, whatever that means. When I asked for clarification I was told it was actually walnut, a softer alternative to ebony.
As is standard on most acoustics, the scale length is 25.5″. Unsure why this is important? Make sure to read my guide to guitar scale length.
The tuners are Vangoa’s own and are nickel-plated with an 18:1 ratio. Personally, I would have liked to see a black option to continue the classy aesthetic of the guitar. In my opinion, the nickel looks a little out of place on the package as a whole. A minor grievance!
- EQ: EQ-7545R 4-Band (Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence Sliders)
- Pickup: Under-Saddle Piezo
The guitar comes equipped with a 4-band equalizer with sliders to control bass, middle, treble, and presence. There is also a volume knob and battery check button and LED. Unfortunately, there’s no built-in tuner on this model, but we do have the clip-on tuner bundled instead.
Vangoa has included a battery for this unit which is already inside. The battery is encased in a protective wrapper, so you’ll need to pop it out and remove this before using the electronics on the guitar.
On the left-handed version of this guitar, the EQ will be upside-down in the playing position due to the design of the unit. Not a massive deal, but something to be aware of.
- Length: 41″ (104.5cm)
- Width: 16″ (40.5cm)
- Depth: 4.5″ (11.6cm)
- Weight: 4.4lbs (2kg)
At 41″ long and 16″ wide at its widest point, the Vangoa is your standard dreadnought acoustic size. Weight-wise, mine comes in at around 4.4 lbs which is also pretty average for an electro-acoustic.
Is The Vangoa VGE-1 A Good Guitar?
I’ll be the first to admit that for an instrument costing around 10% of most of my other guitars, I didn’t really expect too much from the Vangoa. However, this fun little dreadnought really impressed me both in terms of playability and sound.
Out of the box, all this guitar needed was a quick tune-up and it was ready to go. The string height is nice and low without any unwanted buzzing, there are no sharp fret ends, and the intonation is spot-on across the entire fretboard.
I often find that on cheaper guitars like this one the frets can feel somewhat scratchy when performing bends or vibrato. So, it was nice to find that the Vangoa doesn’t suffer from that issue – vibrato feels great on this axe.
The frets on this guitar are the smallest I have ever seen – seriously, they are tiny. The advantage here is that the lower frets do allow you to have a nice and low action without any buzz, making strings easier to fret. An excellent plus for a new player and their callus-free fingertips!
The disadvantages are that their lifespan will be less, and bending will be slightly harder. Are these major disadvantages on a beginner acoustic electric guitar? I’d argue that they aren’t. You’ll most likely upgrade to your next guitar well before the frets are worn away.
The slim profile Okoume neck feels great in the hand and is super-easy to slide up and down thanks to the smooth satin finish. Similarly, due to the finish, you never get the old forearm stuck to the soundboard issue that often occurs during sweaty sessions on a gloss-finished instrument.
Thanks to the cutaway, access to the upper frets is very good. Playing in the higher frets still offers a rich and perfectly intonated tone, something I often find lacking in cheaper guitars.
The tuners are just fine. They’ll get the guitar up to pitch with no problem, but they’re not the smoothest to use. I found that quite a lot of turning was required to get much of a change in pitch, so tuning up generally takes longer than I’m used to. A minor quibble.
I also found that the guitar was very stable, holding near-perfect tuning for the month or so that I’ve had it. And that’s saying a lot as it has been sat in direct sunlight for almost the entire time!
For the money, there’s nothing to complain about as far as playability is concerned. It’s certainly one of the best acoustic-electric guitars I’ve come across for players on a tight buget.
As you’d expect from a dreadnought-sized acoustic, the sound produced by the guitar is nicely balanced with a strong bass tone and crisp trebles. It has a bright and energetic quality, especially when digging into the strings closer to the bridge.
It wouldn’t be my first choice as a fingerstyle guitar, as the boomy dreadnought body tends to lose a little clarity when using fingers alone. However, it excels at strumming chords and would also be ideal for jamming with friends in a band where its sound will easily cut through the mix.
Plugged in, the budget 4-band EQ and piezo pickup do a good job of putting out some solid tones. Personally, I found that the sounds tended towards the treble side of things. So, it would perhaps have been a little more useful if the EQ could add a little more bass to the mix.
As a beginner player are you likely to be playing with the guitar plugged in often? I highly doubt it. The guitar sounds a lot better unplugged in my opinion. A mix of both acoustic and plugged-in tones is also a pleasing way to practice.
However, this cheap and cheerful unit will allow you to easily record yourself, mess around with effects, or play live without the need for a microphone. So, it’s definitely a bonus to have the facility available should you ever need it.
I did find at first that certain frequencies would cause some slight internal rattling sounds when playing. This is an issue I’ve experienced previously on a Breedlove electro-acoustic where the battery would sometimes vibrate inside its casing.
However, I found that once the protective wrapping was removed from the battery the issue disappeared. Something to keep in mind if you find that yours experiences the same problem.
If you’d like to hear a few sound samples from the Vangoa, check out the excellent demonstration video below.
The Best Beginner Acoustic Electric Guitar?
Is the Vangoa VGE-1 the best beginner acoustic-electric guitar?
For new players on a tight budget, it certainly could be the best acoustic-electric guitar! In terms of sheer value for money, you really are going to struggle to find many other instruments that can go toe to toe with this beginner bundle.
The majority of beginners will be looking for a guitar at an accessible price point, with good build quality, and a pleasant sound. It’s definitely a ‘check‘ for all three points for the Vangoa.
Will it sound and play as well as an all-solid Taylor or Martin acoustic? Of course not! But you wouldn’t expect it to at this sort of price. This is a guitar that is designed to give you a solid introduction to the hobby that you can upgrade from a year or two down the line.
Alternatively, it would also make a great option for a cheap guitar for more advanced players to leave around the house without worry of it being damaged. I’ve been playing for over 20 years and would be perfectly happy sitting on the couch with the Vangoa.
At such a low price point, many of the alternatives could essentially be considered toys. Vangoa has somehow managed to keep costs low without sacrificing sound and playability.
And when you consider that the instrument comes bundled with literally everything you need to get started with guitar, the value on offer here is absolutely stellar.
For us southpaw players especially, there really isn’t a whole lot else to consider at this sort of price range. In terms of electro-acoustics, the next step up the ladder would be the Fender CD-60SCE. That guitar costs over twice as much and has no bundled accessories whatsoever.
I certainly wish that a package like this was available when I was but a fledgling guitarist. It really is phenomenal how much better the quality of choices available to new guitarists has become.
TLDR. If you are on a tight budget and require a beginner acoustic electric guitar then I can highly recommend the Vangoa VGE-1. For the money, it looks stunning, plays well, and sounds great.
What I Like/Dislike About The Vangoa VGE-1 Acoustic
- Includes everything you’ll need to get started with guitar.
- Low price without sacrificing quality and features.
- 1-year warranty.
- Classic sapele and Sitka spruce dreadnought body will give a versatile tone suited to any genre of music.
- Has the look of a guitar which is much more expensive than it is.
- Also a good option for intermediate players after something less pricey that they don’t have to baby.
- Dreadnought body size may be a little large for smaller players
- Brand snobs may not approve.
- Tuners aren’t the smoothest to use.
- Satin finish is a fingerprint magnet.
- EQ is slightly lacking in bass.
Check out the links above to find current pricing on the Vangoa VGE-1.
Other Models To Consider
If you can afford to spend a little more then you may want to also check out my guide to the best beginner left handed acoustic guitars for some additional choices.
Here you will find guitars with solid wood tops, rolled fretboard edges, electronics, and other desirable ‘upgrades’. We’ll also compare the Vangoa with Fender alternatives plus many others to see how the budget acoustic stacks up against the competition.
I also have a guide to the best left handed electric guitars for beginners if you would prefer to go down that route.