5 Best Acoustic Guitar Pedals and Preamps- Adding new Dimensions To Your Sound
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The introduction of preamps to acoustic guitar has completely changed this centuries old instrument. Not only can you now amplify your tone with no hassle, but you can also manipulate it. There are plenty of pedals and other accessories designed to be plugged into an acoustic electric signal chain. Today we are going to show you our top 5 must have acoustic guitar pedals and preamps. Afterward, we will discuss how these add value to your tone and your performance in general. By the time you're done reading this guide,you should have a good picture about acoustic guitar effects.
Last Updated Oct-15-2018.
Top 5 Acoustic Guitar Pedals and Preamps
|Guitar Pedal / Rating
| LR Baggs Venue DI
Total of 4.88/5
A versatile and flexible preamp with loads of awesome features on board.
| BBE Acoustimax
Total of 4.80/5
A powerful preamp with plenty of goodies that add to its value.
| TC Electronic Polytune 2
Total of 4.78/5
One of the most advanced guitar tuners you can find right now.
| Ibanez Chorus Mini
Total of 4.65/5
A small and simple chorus that offers a truly amazing analog tone.
| Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180
Total of 4.70/5
A simple but very effective volume pedal from a rather respectable brand.
LR Baggs Venue DI. is one of those devices that can really boost your on-stage performance. With a complement of awesome features, this preamp represents a true multi-tool.
However, versatility is all Venue DI has to offer. Its performance is on a high level, with a very warm tone and plenty of range. LR Baggs has included a VU meter, which absolutely helps when you're trying to dial in levels for a gig.
There is also a built-in tuner with a large display and a fairly easy interface. In terms of tone shaping, Venue DI offers a four-band EQ with the addition of a presence control. Overall, one of these can definitely help you rake your tone to another level.
BBE Acoustimax is one of those preamps that's all about business. This is apparent from the moment you unwrap it. With a simple solid metal chassis and a clearly labeled controlpanel, BBE Acoustimax leaves very little to chance.
Once plugged in, it provides one of the warmest and most balanced sounds you can find. On top of that BBE has included a powerful three-band EQ with a semi-parametric mid control. Next we have their Sonic Maximizer technology that can give you plenty of low end boost.
The I/O is on the same level as well. You have everything from FX loops to tuner ports back there. At the end of the day, this preamp is definitely worth it.
TC Electronic has been pushing the envelope in many areas of guitar effects. One of these areas are guitar tuners. TC Electronic Polytune 2 is a very unique device that represents the future of stringed instrument tuning.
The entire thing is built around the technology that allows you to tune a guitar by playing as single chord. In other words, you no longer have to play each string at a time to figure out if there’s any need to correct your tuning.
TC Electronic Polytune 2 features a very bright display while navigating different modes and features is done by pressing a button at the back of the pedal. In practice, this tuner is incredibly effective and easy to use.
Ibanez is best known for their guitars, however they definitely know how to make a great guitar effect. We aren't talking about their tube screamers, but rather a compact little chorus pedal that packs great sound.
It goes by the name of Ibanez Chorus Mini, and it gives you a window into the analog world of vintage choruses. The pedal is very easy to use, small enough to fit any pedalboard, and capable of giving tangible girth to your guitar's voice.
When put to use, it's subtle but powerful. You can dial in a very fulfilling chorus that doesn't stick out, but still does its job. Add to that a true bypass switch and you have a great chorus pedal.
Volume pedals are a simple tool that can have a huge impact on the entire performance. When paired with acoustic electric guitars, these effects pedals tend to change the playing field.
Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 is a perfect choice for this application for a number of reasons. For starters, it is a fully passive pedal, meaning that it needs no external power. Then there's the 250k potentiometer that offers a very smooth performance.
There are two swell types available, which are more than enough to express yourself just about any way you need to. They even included a tuner input for silent tuning. Overall, Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 is a complete package perfect for acoustic electric stage performance.
Using Effects Pedals With Acoustic Electric Guitars
One of the biggest misconceptions about guitar effects is that they can only be used with electric guitars. That is simply not true. You can slap on stomp boxes to bass guitars, keyboards and just about anything that uses electric signal. One of the instruments in this category is an acoustic electric guitar. The root of this misconception is due to what most people think of when they imagine a guitar effects pedal, which is distortion. However, there are many other effects out there as you are probably aware.
Using guitar effects pedals with acoustic electric guitars opens the doors to a whole bunch of awesome things. You can expand your tone in so many different ways, just like you can with an electric guitar. With that said, there are certain effects which don't sit well with the acoustic tone. You probably wouldn't want to add a dist box or an overdrive pedal to your signal chain. Not that you couldn't, but at that point you might as well just get an electric guitar. The effects which are more suitable fall in the category of modulation pedals, temporal effects and similar. These tend to add most value to the entire sound, all while fitting well with the instrument.
Out of all accessories you can plug your acoustic electric guitar into, preamps are probably the ones that will have most impact on your tone. A preamp, or preamp pedal as they are sometimes called, is a device that boosts the signal from your guitar, but also does a few more things in the process. An average preamp will have a built in EQ that is designed to be used with acoustic electric guitars, a section that helps you notch out unwanted frequencies and more. Sometimes you will even see actual guitar effects built into these, but that depends on the model you for.
The reason why preamps are so essential is the fact that it levels the playing field. Every pickup on every acoustic electric guitar is different. By putting a preamp pedal between your guitar and your amp, you can boost that tone to a level that you need, as well as shape it to your liking. There is also a matter of feedback prevention and other things you definitely want to avoid during a live performance. A preamp pedal is an essential component in any performing artist's tool box. Simple as that.
Must Have Guitar Effects
Preamps aside, you could say that there is a category of must have guitar effects pedals. These include a variety of modulation effects, all of which have been used successfully with acoustic electric guitars. We are going to go over each one in depth and talk about how it adds to the sound. You will notice that some of these are subtle while others are quite overt. We have even included some on our list above. The most important thing is to figure out which effects work well with your genre of music and overall playing style. With that said, lets jump right into it.
No matter what kind of stringed instrument you are playing, having a good and reliable tuner is a must. With acoustic electric guitars, your options span much further than clip-on models or sound hole tuners. As a matter of fact, a pedal tuner is usually going to be a much better solution. The trick is to find one that works best for you. Every tuner pedal has its own way of displaying pitch and pitch discrepancies. The one we have included on our list is at the very edge of modern guitar tuning. With that said, you don't have to go with a polytune model. The only thing to remember with tuners is to have them at the beginning of your signal chain. In order to get the best possible results, you should always feed the tuner with a raw signal coming from your guitar.
Chorus is one of the most interesting modulation effects out there. Having one chorus pedal in your signal chain will have a lot of impact on your tone and overall performance.For those who don't know, a chorus effect multiplies your signal, adds a very small amount of delay and then merges all of those signals back together. The result is an illusion that there are more than one guitars being played. It doesn't require much to realize how awesome this effect can be in practice. Since a good portion of acoustic guitarists perform solo, a chorus pedal can be a real force multiplier and add more substance to the piece that is being played. When it comes to how complex or advanced a chorus should be, it all depends on what you are looking for. That Ibanez on our list is a great but simple little chorus that gets the job done. With that said, there are much more advanced pedals out there.
Reverb is among the oldest guitar effects in existence. It has been used for a long time in all genres of music you could think of. Adding a reverb to your pedalboard is a great way to spice up your music. Whether you want to add that subtle width or achieve a really reverberated sound, this pedal is pretty much the only way to do it. If you are not that big into reverbs, you could always try delay pedals instead. Although these two effects are fairly similar, they are definitely not the same. At the end of the day, a simple reverb can get you a long way if you spend enough time exploring its capabilities. We strongly suggest you look into these pedals. You won't regret it.
Along with reverbs, delays are the most prolific temporal effect pedals in use today. As their name says, the purpose of this effect is to add delay to your sound. However, that is not the only thing these do. Some models are simple, such as your standard analog delays, while some are much more complex. What all of them have in common is the ability to delay the sound in increments of your choosing. Delays generally work with just about any instrument you can plug them into. In case of acoustic electric guitars, they can really expand your creative expression to a whole new level. Pair them up with other effects and you have a truly powerful setup at your disposal.
Even though they aren't incredibly popular, volume pedals can be incredibly useful on stage. Since most acoustic electric guitars don't have a volume knob, having a pedal dedicated to this task is the only practical way of manipulating your output levels on a whim. One thing most guitar players like to do with volume pedals are swells, especially in combination with a delay. Generally speaking, volume pedals tend to give you more control over your tone, all while allowing you to experiment in some new ways.
When it comes to selecting a volume pedal, it is important to look for those designed to work with passive electronics. If you accidentally get a volume pedal made for active systems, you won't be able to tap into its full potential. Another cool thing about passive volume pedals is that they require no power in order to work. That means you can forget about batteries as well as power adapters. The model we have listed above represents one of the more basic, but ultimately reliable pedals from Ernie Ball. There are, however other awesome brands and pedals out there.
Owning an acoustic electric guitar and not taking the full advantage of its nature is the worst thing you can do. Adding even one guitar effect into your signal chain can change the way you see this instrument. Naturally, more is usually better. The models we've shown you on our top list are some of the most popular and practical guitar effects you can get for this application. Each one has been used with acoustic electric guitars for years and is a proven choice. As you develop your style and taste, the list of effects in your arsenal will grow.