Three-bending test has been performed on the standard specimen and welding specimen with defect of low-alloy and high-strength steel in order to simulate the failure process of structural parts under loading, and the AE activities (number of hits) and stress-strain curve were measured during the whole loading process. The law of acoustic emission signals at different deformation stages has been investigated and the relation between AE characteristic parameters and the different deformation stages has been established. The typical AE waveforms such as friction noise, plastic deformation, welding microcrack initiation and propagation are obtained, which are analyzed by using spectrum characteristics analytical method. The spectrum characteristic parameters such as average frequency, peak frequency and frequency centroid, energy percentage of frequency spectrum part I and III of the typical AE defect signals are extracted, the distributing range of which are initially set. Study shows these five parameters have a closely relation with the nature of the AE signals, and based on these characteristics parameters different AE sources can be preliminary identified correctly. The study can provide some guidance to the practical application of AE acoustic emission technology in the industrial field.