The classic use of electro-acoustics in rock music occurs as follows: the singer, a sensitive soul, wants to take things down a notch mid-set. The drummer buggers off for a smoke, and the glow of Zippos lights an arena awash with hormones.
That's if you're Bon Jovi circa 1988. These days, you can't smoke in a venue and phones are used in place of a lighter. Still, the fact remains that it's likely you'll want to use an electro-acoustic at some point - even if you're not a purveyor of power ballads.
Budget electros used to mean passable woods, passive electronics and rudimentary controls.
Inflation? We'll take the active pre-amps, digital tuners and real EQ circuits over the dogs of yore any day. The trouble is, these features are no longer groundbreaking at this price point.
You might not expect a company with a tradition steeped so heavily in hard rock and metal to do the business with an electro-acoustic.
You'd be wrong, as the AW250-ECE proves. Solid cedar is the choice for the top, with laminated mahogany on the back and sides. The low gloss satin finish, sparse appointments and wooden rosette make this guitar look like it's been plucked from the you-can't-afford-it section of your local guitar shop.
As well as having a well-stocked preamp (a Fishman Sonicore with three-band EQ, Shape control, Phase switch and Tuner), you can choose between its jack or XLR output. The preamp is mounted towards the waist pinch, which seems like an odd placement until you start to play.
Then you find your picking arm's natural playing position forms a pleasant arch away from the controls.
It offers a balanced tone: lively and vibrant trebles, a solid yet controlled midrange, and just the right amount of bass to sound powerful but not overbearing. It's consistent across the dynamic range too, so even when you're picking softly, it maintains character.
There's an easy way to get the measure of a great acoustic guitar - it's the one that you keep coming back to.