An acoustic amplifier makes all the difference to your sound
The acoustic amplifier can play a vital role in your performance, yet for some reason the use of an acoustic amplifier is an afterthought by even the most avid of guitarists. When you have an acoustic guitar with a pickup installed, often you’ll think just plugging into an electric guitar amp will do the trick and help you achieve the tones you want, but it’s simply not the case. An electric guitar amp is designed for just that, whereas a dedicated acoustic guitar amp offers your guitar the perfect partnership to sound exactly how it should. An acoustic guitar amp is perfect for adding that extra volume and stability you need for live playing, but where should you start?
Hopefully our guide to acoustic guitar amps will help.
Today we’re looking at a range of acoustic guitar amps that will help you get the sound you’re really looking for.
Before we get into the actual amps, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for when purchasing an amp, namely the likes of Feedback controls, dual channels for microphones as well as a guitar and some built in effects.
Why do I need feedback control?
Due to the fact the signal from an acoustic guitar comes from a pickup or through a microphone, there’s chance of feedback, couple that with the resonating chamber inside an acoustic and you have a recipe for some serious feedback. This is why Acoustic amps are almost always fitted with anti-feedback controls.
Why do I need dual channels for microphones as well as guitars?
The mic/line input feature on an amp is an important part of any acoustic amplifier as it gives you the option of using an XLR cable and in some cases a phantom power option. This use of an XLR input allows you to turn your acoustic amp into a self-contained PA system, meaning you can balance your vocals and guitar playing with ease. Just another great, but not necessarily vital feature that is probably more ideal for the more professional or gigging musicians.
Why do I need built in effects?
You don’t always need built in effects, but they can really help you out when it comes to performing live or recording – especially when there isn’t a sound engineer or fully equipped PA system to help you out. The likes of reverb are a musician’s best friend and adds a depth and quality to your vocals and guitar playing that almost all – if not all will use at some point. The likes of a looper system or chorus is also very handy, the looper especially as you can lay down multiple tracks and perform with a host of backing instruments at your control, whether pre-recorded or gradually built up as part of your live set Ed Sheeran style.
So, if you’re thinking “what acoustic amps are best for me?” Let’s take a look at 5 options perfect for beginners right the way through to professional musicians.
1. Redwood A-15C Acoustic Guitar Amplifier
As far as beginner acoustic amplifiers go, the Redwood range really offers you a lot for your money. Built in a retro style brown/gold finish, the Redwood A-15C acoustic amp not only looks the part but sounds great too. You have 15 watts of power to use – perfect for the bedroom player or the open mic enthusiast cutting their teeth on the live scene. Super portable with a built-in chorus effect for that extra oomph you need as well as easy to use Bass, Middle and Treble controls to help you sculpt your sounds. If it’s your first acoustic amplifier, this is a great place to start.
2. Roland AC-33 Acoustic Guitar Amplifier
The Roland AC-33 is quickly becoming the industry standard in acoustic guitar amplifiers offering a really natural stereo sound, which is exactly what an acoustic guitarist needs. It can be powered by 8 AA batteries, as well as a standard adapter (included), which means you can take it anywhere – to gigs, jams or on the road. You can plug in your acoustic guitar as well as a microphone and mix them separately – perfect for singer songwriters and even connect an MP3/CD player to the stereo Aux input for performance. The built in Phrase Looper is a fantastic addition offering 40 seconds of loop time – more than enough to add a variety of phrases to your set or for jamming along to chord progressions.
3. Blackstar ID Core Beam Bluetooth Combo Amplifier
Since its release, the Blackstar ID Core Beam has really become a go-to piece of equipment for musicians of all levels. Although it can also be used for bass and electric guitar, the ID Core BEAM – which stands for Bass Electric Acoustic Music, is a great acoustic amplifier that is filled with a host of features perfect for the acoustic guitarist. Simply plug in and play and sculpt your perfect sound using the on-board FX controls. Choose from Modulation, Reverb, Distortion and Delay to add extra features to your acoustic playing and enjoy clear sound through the Super Wide Stereo speakers. Oh, and it’s even got a chromatic tuner on-board too! Brilliant.
4. Fishman Pro LBC 500 Loudbox Mini Acoustic Guitar Amplifier
You may have heard of Fishman before, they’re the company responsible for pretty much all the pickups you’ll find in the new Fender Paramount acoustic range and a whole host of other electro-acoustic guitars. Well, they’re experts in creating acoustic amps too. The Fishman Pro LBC 500 Loudbox is a professional grade amp that won’t break the bank. You have 60 watts of power, so larger acoustic gigs won’t be a problem and the option of two channels, one for your guitar and one for your vocals which can both be mixed independently. In addition, you have a built-in reverb channel to give your vocals that little bit extra and a chorus effect to add depth to your guitar. The controllable gain pot allows you safely use guitars with active preamps as well as passive pickups helping with feedback issues and allowing you to add a bit of punch when needed. The perfect gigging amp at the price of a practice amp.
5. Fender Acoustic SFX Amplifier
When you want to break into the big leagues, you need the acoustic amp to go with it. When it comes to making amplifiers, Fender have been getting it right for decades and the Fender Acoustic SFX amp is another brilliant string to their proverbial bow. You have everything you need – two separate channels which you can use for guitars and acoustics, effects such as chorus, delay, Vibratone, reverb, and phase switches for both channels to help reduce unwanted feedback. The curvature of the amplifier and the inclusion of 3 independent speakers is the real highlight here though. The curved construction improves overall sound output when partnered with 8 inch Low-Frequency Driver, a High-Frequency Tweeter and a Side-Radiating 6-inch speaker. It offers a for more multi-dimensional sound not previously heard in acoustic amplifiers and helps really breathe life into what you’re playing. One for the professionals for sure.
To view the full range of acoustic amplifiers, visit the Dawsons website here.
Lee Glynn is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Liverpool, England. After moving to the UK from Perth, Australia, Lee enjoyed a successful career as guitarist in Liverpool based rock band Sound of Guns.
After releasing two albums, a myriad of EPs / singles and touring extensively around the world for 6 years including stops at Glastonbury, Latitude Festival, as well as the coveted Reading & Leeds Festivals, Lee decided it was a time for a change of scenery.
Utilising his experience in music journalism, Lee now works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he can still relay his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons blog and social media. Lee is still an avid guitar player and writer.