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.
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