If it's an acoustic guitar, why do you need an Acoustic Guitar Amp?

The COMPLETE Story On The Acoustic Guitar Amp.

An acoustic amp sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it? But if want to be loud enough to be heard, you need an amp. You may be thinking "I've got a Marshall half stack, I'll just use that". Well you can, but it probably won't sound right.


There's a difference between an electric guitar amp and an acoustic guitar amp. With an electric guitar amp distortion is desirable.

Even if you're playing with a clean tone setting some distortion is desirable. It gives a fullness that you can't get with a purely clean tone. That's one reason so many electric guitarist prefer tube amps.

It's also one reason that makers of solid state amps try to mimic the sound of tube amps. So it's a good thing for electric guitars. Acoustic guitar amplification works differently.

Acoustic amps have more in common with keyboard amps than they do with electric guitar amps. In fact, if you're in a bind you can use a keyboard amp for your acoustic.

The reason is that for both you want to have a lot of headroom. Headroom is a term that means how much available power an amp has before distortion begins.

The reason that you want a clear sound is because you want an accurate representation of what your guitar sounds like. If you have a guitar that you like the sound of, and pickups that reproduce the sound of the guitar, then the amp should make that sound louder.


Solid state amps are the norm in amps for acoustic guitar. Solid state amps are cheaper to produce than tube amps and amps with more than enough power can be produced without it driving up the cost.

A side benefit is that transistors are lighter and not as fragile as tubes. You really appreciate the light part if you ever have to carry your amp any distance.


What features should you look for in your new rig? There are several. First is power. If you work as a single in coffehouses and resturants you can usually get by with 50-60 watts.

If you're playing in a band situation you may find that 100 watts is needed. I personally prefer to have more power than I need.

The performance of the amp doesn't suffer if it's not turned up and the extra circuitry to increase power doesn't add to the weight of the amp, so why not? I've used the same 100 watt amp playing solo fingerstyle and playing in a 5 piece band.

There are features in acoustic guitar amps that you don't find with other amps. One of these is a notch filter.

A notch filter is a control that eliminates low-end feedback. It does this by getting rid of the frequency that's feeding back. Because you are only getting rid of the frequency that is feeding back, you don't affect the tone. That's a good thing. If you've got a nice sound, you don't want to get rid of that just to dump the feedback.

Another feature that is sometimes available, is a control to choose between an active and passive pickup. If you're using a passive pickup it will boost the signal a little bit.

The simple way to tell if your pickup is active or passive is if it has a battery or not. If it's got a battery it's active, if it doesn't, it's passive.

Most acoustic guitar amps feature some sort of digital effects. At the very least, there will be reverb. This is desirable because using a little reverb or delay can make your guitar sound big, especially in a solo setting. There may also be an effects loop.

It's very common for acoustic guitar amps to have low impedence inputs. These are typically used for a microphone. This is a great feature to have. It allows the amp to work as a little P.A.

You can run a vocal mic through it. If you want to use an external mic to amplify your guitar, you have that option too.

On the back panel of the amp you'll usually find a couple of desirable features. On is a direct line out. The other is an input jack for an external speaker.

With the direct out you can run your amp directly into the P.A. This lets you use your amp for a monitor. It also allows you to E.Q. the sound of your guitar before it goes to the board. Of course, what happens after it gets there depends on the sound man.

Sometimes it's good to be able to run a second speaker. You may not need more volume as much as you need to spread the sound around. Having the ability to use a second speaker can really help with that.

The equalization used on an acoustic guitar amp is different than what you find on an electric guitar amp. Acoustic guitar amps frequently have either a graphic E.Q. or a parametric E.Q.

The graphic may seem more familiar to some players because it uses rotary knobs. The graphic E.Q. uses sliders instead of knobs.

Once you get used to it, the graphic E.Q. offers more control than the parametric. They will both do the job, it just depends on what's comfortable to the player.

Acoustic guitar amplification is up-dated and improved all of the time. Acoustic guitar publications and internet reviews are a good way to keep up with what's out there.

Of course, it's ultimately up to the player to decide what's right for them. Educate yourself about acoustic guitar amps and then try them out yourself.

When you do try out an amp, try to use your own guitar or one like it. That's how you'll really figure out what's right for you.

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