Instruments & Gear: Instrument Demos

Acoustic Amplification 101

Sponsored By

A basic guide to using pickups, preamps, amps, and PAs with acoustic instruments.

by Teja Gerken
January 05, 2017

Thanks to today’s advanced equipment, getting a great sound when amplifying acoustic instruments is easier than ever. But there are still several decisions you’ll have to make before you turn up the volume, such as choosing a pickup, deciding whether to use an amp or to plug directly into a PA, and whether to use a multifunction preamp or keep it simple. In this video, you’ll learn the basics of a typical acoustic amplification signal chain, with tips on how to make some of these choices. An acoustic guitar is used in this demo, but the basic concepts apply to amplifying mandolins, fiddles, and other acoustic instruments.

Starting with a discussion of two popular pickup choices for steel-string flattop guitars, you’ll hear a Fishman Rare Earth Humbucker installed in a Larrivée Parlor and an LR Baggs Anthem system in a Taylor 514c, and get an explanation of the different qualities of a magnetic soundhole pickup, undersaddle pickup, and a combination of undersaddle pickup and internal microphone. You’ll also learn how to connect to an amp or a PA, and the pros and cons of multifunction acoustic preamp/DI’s, using Fishman Platinum Pro EQ and a LR Baggs Venue preamp to demonstrate features such as ¼-inch and XLR outputs, built-in tuners with mute switches, EQ, and phase reversal functions. And a Fishman Loudbox Mini is used to demonstrate typical features found on acoustic amps.

Category: Instruments & Gear

Fender Acoustic 100

Compact acoustic amp offers great sound and clever features.

Fishman Resophonic Amplification

Mike Witcher on amplifying a dobro-style resophonic guitar using Fishman’s Nashville series pickup and Aura imaging pedal.

Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge

A great acoustic amp with a built-in rechargeable battery.

New D’Addario Instrument Cables

D’Addario adds the Braided Instrument Cable and Coiled Instrument Cable to its line of high-quality cables.

Fishman SA330x Performance Audio System

A powerful personal PA with an expandable design.

Fishman Rare Earth Mic Blend

Fishman’s legendary magnetic pickup/internal mic combination gets even better.

L.R. Baggs Synapse

A powerful personal PA for acoustic instruments.

Fishman Platinum Stage EQ/DI

A powerful and easy-to-use acoustic instrument preamp/DI.

L.R. Baggs Align Series

Four new pedals designed to enhance acoustic amplification.

Fishman Matrix Infinity Mic Blend

The latest version of Fishman’s legendary Matrix pickup adds an updated preamp and internal microphone.

Comments and Discussion

Posted by on
Just what I needed to hear. Learning more from Peghead all the time.
Posted by Mike Cargill on
Hi Teja: Just wondering if you have tried the Marshall AS100D or AS50D acoustic amps? I've tried several other acoustic amps including the Fishman Loudbox, Fender, and the Bose compact and I find they have a tendency to sound a little like the sound is coming out of a box and a little tinny. The Fishman seems to be the best of these three in my opinion, but still doesn't have what seems to be the fullness in the sound. Would love to have you feedback on this. Thanks, Mike
Leave a Reply

Captcha Code

Click the image to see another captcha.


Article Thumbnail
Dec 10, 2018
The award-winning guitarist and songwriter plays an original song live in the LR Baggs Nashville studio.

Start Learning Today

One Course: $20/month or $200/year
Two Courses: $30/month or $300/year
Access to All Courses: $100/month

Peghead Nation’s String School is your source for roots music instruction, bringing you full courses in guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, fiddle, and Dobro, featuring talented instructors, high-quality video instruction, accurate notation and tab, and fun songs to play right from the beginning. Enroll and become a Peghead today!