Instruments & Gear: Instrument Demos

Acoustic Amplification 101

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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

Fishman Rare Earth Mic Blend

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

Fishman Loudbox Mini

An affordable, powerful, and portable acoustic amp with pro features.

Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge

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

Fender Acoustic 100

Compact acoustic amp offers great sound and clever features.

L.R. Baggs Synapse

A powerful personal PA for acoustic instruments.

Fishman SA330x Performance Audio System

A powerful personal PA with an expandable design.

Fishman Platinum Stage EQ/DI

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

L.R. Baggs Session DI

DI pedal adds studio tones to your live rig.

Fishman Resophonic Amplification

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

Grace Design Felix

A great-sounding two-channel instrument preamp with a bevy of smart features.

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
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Feb 15, 2018
Two guitar masters perform an original tune from their 2014 album, “Avalon.”

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