"Why doesn't my acoustic guitar sound any good when I plug it in?"

"Why doesn't my acoustic guitar sound any good when I plug it in?" />

'The LR Baggs VTC acoustic pickup... one of the popular & natural sounding pickups on the market.'

It isn’t unusual for a customer to come in & say “I’ve got a Brand X (or Y or Z) pickup up in my acoustic guitar but I’m not happy with my sound… what other pickups do you have I can try?”.  Often we find they already have a really good pickup so why doesn’t it sound any good?   

The first question we will ask is “What kind of amp are you plugging it in to?” & almost always the answer is “the same amp I use for my electric guitar”.  And therein lies the problem.  

Amplifiers for solid body electric guitars are designed to amplify the signals coming from the magnetic style pickups used on electric guitars. They are also designed to produce “distortion” very easily whereas for amplifying an acoustic instrument you need something that will reproduce a very natural, “clean” & even sound such as you get from transducer style pickups.  The same goes for amplifying violins, ukuleles or any other acoustic instrument for that matter.  

Consequently, if you plug an acoustic guitar into an electric guitar amp it will sound thin & "not very clean" & muffled... not really like an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar.  Vice versa, if you plug an electric guitar into a good acoustic amp, while it will work, it will sound very strange as well... & nothing like a solid body electric guitar.   

When you are amplifying an acoustic guitar what you are looking for is a very natural, almost hi-fi quality, tone that sounds natural to the human ear... something that has what we would call a very flat signal.  In this case a "flat" signal doesn't mean dull or colourless, it means that all frequencies are being amplified evenly & at around the same level so the tone is very even & ideally, just like the sound produced by the guitar when it isn't plugged in... only louder.  The best way to get this is from an amplifier designed especially for the acoustic  guitar.  Most major brands on the market including AER, Fender, Marshall, Laney & many others have excellent models specifically designed for exactly this purpose.  Most even have a microphone input as well as for the very same reasons your guitar will sound much better though an acoustic amplifier, so will your voice.   They will also work very well through keyboards or bass amps which are also designed to reproduce a very even, flat signal, & also of course through any PA system. 

The German made AER brand of amplifier one of the finest acoustic guitar amplifier on the market & is the choice of many of the worlds top acoustic players including Tommy Emmanuel, Dave Hole, Jake Shimabukuro & many others.  

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