Playing an acoustic guitar should be an intimate experience. There’s no need for all the fancy bells and whistles you need to get for an electric guitar. And, most importantly, you aren’t tied to a stage in the same way as an electric one either.
This gives you the freedom of practicing and performing that you can just carry on your back wherever you go.
Whilst technically you can do the same with its electrical counterpart, you’d best be prepared to carry an amp on your back, or deal with subpar sound on your journeys!
However, if you find yourself on stage, or if you are performing to a large audience, you may need something extra. There is a reason that this is the home turf of electrical instruments, after all!
By amplifying your acoustic guitar, you can share that sound with an entire room, a big concert hall, or simply compete with those electric instruments in a band.
However, if you have been a sucker for acoustics for most of your musical career, you may need some help finding the right equipment and the right setup, as they are several options out there for helping your acoustic instruments go electric.
In this article, we are going to cover some of the ways that you can amplify your acoustic guitar to make it stage-ready, as well as some other general
If you are just starting understanding how to amplify an acoustic guitar so that it can be played on stage, the first thing that you are going to need is some kind of pickup for it.
Guitar pickups allow for the sound your guitar strings make to be transmitted into an electrical signal, which can then be sent to an amplifier or speaker of some kind and be converted back into amplified sound signals that your audience will be able to hear.
Some electric guitars are made with pickups in-built to them, but most acoustics do not come as standard with this feature, so you’re going to need to find a suitable pickup for it.
Several options are available for most guitars:
Magnetic Acoustic Pickups – These tend to be fitted across the soundhole of the acoustic guitar, to capture the best possible noise. They are also very resistant to feedback, which makes them ideal for guitarists that prefer to play at higher volumes
For a decent example, check out the Fishman Rare Earth Humbucker pickup.
Internal Mics – Internal mics are exactly as you think they sound, and are usually placed inside the body of the acoustic guitar that you will be playing. They have great feedback resistance, so are great for louder playing, but also tend to have lower sound quality than other pickups on the market.
Soundboard Transducer – These pickups tend to be installed on the bridge plate of your guitar. The sound these pickups reduce has an almost ‘woody’ quality to it, making it great for maintaining that classic acoustic guitar sound.
However, they also tend to be more susceptible to feedback at louder volumes, so just keep this in mind whilst you are looking for one of these.
For a good pickup of this type, check out the DiMarzio Piezo pickup
The Amps/PA Systems
Of course, if you are going to be playing on stage, you’re going to need a good amp to send that music out as far as possible. As with pickups, there are a few different options that you can go with for playing your guitar:
Amplifiers that are made with built-in speakers, these are an easy go-to option if you need to play through an amp of some kind.
They can also be small enough and compact enough to travel on the go with you, making them great gear to bring to pretty much any show you are performing at.
They can also function as an in-between device if you decide on using a PA system at a show, as many often can route signals from your guitar to both the amp and a PA system.
Check out the Fishman Pro Speaker here.
These are setups that you are more likely to find in larger venues, and will often include a mixing board of some kind that can handle many inputs at once.
Depending on the model that you are using, you may find that support monitor speakers too. These are ideal for a larger crowd, thanks to their feedback resistance.
If you need to find an amp of this kind, check out the JBL Professional EON610 system.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Plug In My Acoustic Guitar To A PA System?
Plugging your acoustic guitar into a venue’s PA system may come with its risks, as you never know what you are going to get. The PA system may be brand new, yet it could be old and worn out which will result in a lackluster sound.
If you are stringent about your sound then you should bring your PA system as you can rely on the sound and there should not be any surprises.
If you do need to make some tweaks, then work with a good-quality pickup and preamp that you can take with you.
Should I Buy An Acoustic Preamp Pedal?
If you want to keep a portable rig, then you should consider buying an acoustic preamp pedal. These can help you exert control over your sound so you can tailor it even when you have to rely on someone else’s PA system.
It may not make the whole difference yet it may make it a situation that is easier to bear.
As you can see, there’s plenty to think about for performing with acoustic guitars, so get out there and find the right gear for you!