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

L.R. Baggs Align Series

Four new pedals designed to enhance acoustic amplification.

Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina

Large-diaphragm microphone optimized for performing with acoustic instruments.

L.R. Baggs Synapse

A powerful personal PA for acoustic instruments.

New D’Addario Instrument Cables

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

Ear Trumpet Labs Louise and Myrtle

Two microphones optimized for capturing acoustic performances.

Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge

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

L.R. Baggs Align Series Delay

New delay pedal made specifically for acoustic musicians.

L.R. Baggs Align Series Chorus

A great sounding, easy-to-use chorus pedal.

Fishman PowerTap Earth and PowerTap Infinity

New Fishman pickup packages add a soundboard transducer to popular magnetic or undersaddle options.


A unique effects processor that mounts directly to the guitar adds reverb and other sounds to the unamplified tone of the instrument.

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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