By Jesse Frei
The acoustic guitar amplifier might look a lot like a traditional electric guitar amp but there are a few major differences. The first major difference is an acoustic amplifier usually has a high frequency driver or tweeter, while a standard electric guitar amplifier does not. This tweeter or HF driver provides more treble allowing for a crisp and bright sound. If you plug an acoustic into a standard electric guitar amp without the tweeter, you will hear a darker or muffled sound. The other major difference is headroom. Electric guitar players normally like some gain or distortion to their tone, while an acoustic guitarist is looking for a loud yet very clean tone without distortion. The acoustic amp is right in between an electric guitar amp and a P.A. system, taking features from each to help you amplify your acoustic guitar. Below are some popular categories of acoustic amps and how they might fit your needs.
Battery Powered Amps
For the acoustic player on-the-go! Roland makes a few great battery powered acoustic guitar amps for the player who’s busking down in the subway, or the player who’s always on the road.
The battery powered Roland AC33 amp is one of the world’s first battery-powered amps made especially for the acoustic guitarist in mind. It runs on eight AA batteries, and packs a punch at 30 watts through twin 5 inch speakers. It also comes in an attractive Rosewood finish for that added touch of class.
For the guitarist with that might just be starting out, and is looking to expand their sound – look no further than the compact Roland Mobile AC battery powered amp. This hand-held amp is 5-watts and features two 4 inch speakers, and is able to produce a surprisingly large and lush stereo sound. You can also connect a portable media player to the AC input and jam along to your favorite tracks!
Roland AC33 Battery Powered Acoustic Chorus Guitar Amplifier
Roland AC33 Battery Powered Acoustic Chorus Guitar Amplifier
Roland Mobile AC Acoustic Chorus Battery Powered Guitar Amplifier
The stage amp is the classic amplifier for the acoustic player. They are generally high-wattage combo amps that give you plenty of headroom to give you a crisp, clear tone. The acoustic stage amp also features a tweeter in addition to the drivers you would normally find in your electric guitar amp. Roland, Fender, Marshall, and Fishman make some of the most recognizable and best-sounding acoustic amps.
The Fishman Loudbox Artist is a new take on the classic Fishman Loudbox 100, but with added power and portability. The Loudbox Artist packs 120 watts of clear sound, and a ton of headroom. It features two inputs, an 8” woofer with a 1” tweeter all in a compact 25lb enclosure for ultimate portability.
The Fender Acoustasonic 150 is perfect for the performing guitarist who’s looking for a loud, lightweight and versatile amp. It packs 150 watts of stereo power with its dual 8” speakers and tweeter. It also features Blackface, Tweed, and British amp settings so you’ll have a ton of versatility in your tone. You can also tweak the voicings to simulate the tonality of parlor, dreadnought and jumbo acoustic for even more options. The feedback elimination control will keep your guitar sounding great as well. It comes loaded with effects such as reverb, delay, and chorus so you won’t even need your pedalboard!
Roland has been one of the leaders in acoustic amp design for some time, and their popular AC series amps are one of the most popular on the market. The AC90 is the big brother of Roland’s smaller battery powered line of AC amps. It features 90 watts of stereo power, two 8” speakers, two 3 x 2” tweeters, and built-in FX. The amp is equip with an anti-feedback control that will give you maximum power without the risk of feedback. The AC90 is also lightweight, weighing in at a mere 25 lbs so it’s also great for the mobile performer.
Marshall designed the AS100D for use with a variety of acoustic instruments, it can accommodate instruments with magnetic pickups, piezos pickups, and microphones. The AS100D is a 100 watt stereo powered amp featuring twin 8” speakers and two high fidelity polymer dome tweeters. It also features excellent-sounding digital effects (Reverb, Delay and Chorus), for added versatility. Also included in the amp are anti-feedback controls, including a phase switch for each channel and frequency controllable notch filters with selectable extra depth for channels 1 & 2. It gives you the power to perform, but with sound so natural you'll forget you're even plugged in!
Fishman LoudboxArtist Acoustic Guitar Amplifier 8 Inch 2 Way 120 Watts
Fender Acoustic 200 Combo Amplifier 2 Channel 2x8 200 Watts
Roland AC90 Acoustic Guitar Amplifier
Marshall AS100D Acoustic Soloist 100 Watt Stereo Guitar Amplifier
For the performing musicians playing in venues without a sound system, the Personal PA will project your sound to everyone in the room. There are many different systems with different features to consider. You’ll want to factor in room size, portability, sound quality and whether you want an all-in-one unit or a system with separate mixers/speakers/subs. Let’s explore some of the options you can choose.
The JBL EON One has a patent-pending configuration of six 2” drivers and an unobstructed 10” woofer that channels strong Class-D amplifier power for exceptional sound coverage. The professional onboard 6-channel mixer, 3-band EQ, and Bluetooth connectivity for device streaming is ideal for solo musicians, small touring acts, and assists in your public speaking - the ultimate self-contained system that can easily be assembled, taken down, and transported with ease!
The Bose L1 compact system is a portable line array PA that will deliver balanced sound to almost any small to medium sized venue. It features an integrated power amplifier, mixer, and six small drivers mounted at precise angles for optimum sound coverage. The L1 is portable, and lightweight making it easy to transport. The entire system is two interlocking parts (the power stand, and the loudspeaker array), which are adjustable to two set-up positions making set-up and break-down easy.
Another great line array PA system option is the LD Systems Maui 28. It offers plug-and-play convenience (the mid/Hi speakers connect to the powered subwoofer base via a multi-pin connection), extremely high feedback resistance and 120° horizontal coverage eliminating the need for dedicated monitors. It’s loaded with two 8” drivers, sixteen 3” speakers and a single 1” horn tweeter and delivers a peak output of a hugely powerful 1600 watts.
EVOX8 is the professional RCF answer to small satellite-subwoofer or column style portable speakers. The RCF EVOX8 is a 1400 watt portable compact line array PA system featuring eight 2” full range transducers in the line source satellite and a deep sounding 12” woofer in a bass reflex enclosure. The system is designed to be the perfect portable solution for live music. It delivers coverage of 120 degrees which gives a perfect listening experience to the audience. It weighs in at 51 lbs., making it a bit bigger than the other PA systems, but still easily transportable.
JBL Eon One Powered Linear Array PA System With 6 Channel Mixer
Bose L1 Compact Portable Line Array Compact PA System
Fishman SA330x Performance Audio System
RCF EVox 8 Portable Compact Line Array PA System
For venues and performances with a full-sound system, instead of lugging an amp or PA around, you can bring along a compact preamp pedal. Using a preamp is the best way to ensure you get a professional, consistent sound from your acoustic instrument in every venue, with every sound system. They generally feature an EQ, built-in tuner, boost, and feedback control system.
The Fishman Aura Spectrum is an acoustic DI preamp that offers the complete tone solution for musician who wants the best possible acoustic tone at all times. It features a three band EQ, compressor, automatic anti-feedback, built-in chromatic tuner, 16 user-configurable Image locations giving you the option to shape your tone in a multitude of ways. The Aura Spectrum DI is not only incredibly versatile, but it also delivers the most realistic acoustic sound available for stage or studio.
The Radial Tonebone PZ-Pre is compact, easy to use, and designed for the acoustic musician in mind. Radial makes some of the best DI’s on the market, and the PZ-Pre is no different. The magic of the PZ Pre lies in the combination of high performance 100% discrete class-A piezo boosters, an ultra-quiet preamp circuitry that will adapt to any pickup system. It features two inputs for quick instrument changes on stage, a powerful yet warm sounding semi-parametric EQ to tailor your sound, plus a host of feedback eliminating controls. It has a tuner out with mute switch for quiet stage tuning.
The LR Baggs Venue DI is a versatile DI that’s basically 3 Pedals in 1 Professional Box! It features a full chromatic tuner, an EQ specifically tuner for acoustic guitars and a variable boost control that will perfectly compliment your playing style. It’s built like a tank and features. 100 percent Discrete Circuitry and EQ for sweet, transparent and ultra-quiet sound.
Fishman AuraSpectrum DI Acoustic Imaging Pedal
Radial ToneBone PZ Pre Acoustic Preamp
LR Baggs Venue DI Acoustic Guitar Preamp Pedal