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Tech Talk

True Tone: Why You Might Need an Acoustic Amp

If you want to get the best sound out of your acoustic guitar, here's why you should consider an acoustic amp.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need a little more oomph out of your acoustic guitar, you might need to introduce an amplifier into your simple setup.

Surely, you can just plug your acoustic instrument into the amp that you use for your Stratocaster, right?

Yes, you can. It won’t hurt the guitar or the amp, and people do it all the time. Even some of the most notable artists have used an electric amp for their acoustic guitar.

So … you can. But if you want to get the purest sound of your acoustic guitar, then the answer is no.

The reason is because when playing acoustic, you want to amplify the tone of the guitar, which largely comes from the hand-picked tonewoods used to build the instrument.

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The goal is to make your acoustic’s natural tone louder, not necessarily different, like when you plug an electric guitar, which has pickups and controls that greatly affect tone, into an electric amp, which are tuned to highlight midrange and treble frequencies that provide distortion.

“Acoustic guitars, like most instruments, benefit from full-frequency reproduction and distortion-free sound,” said Fender Director of Product Development - Amplifiers Shane Nicholas.

“Electric guitars, with magnetic pickups, especially solid bodies, sound best to most of us through a tube amplifier with a traditional, simple, paper-cone speaker. There is an emphasis on midrange frequencies, and definite harmonic distortion if the amp is pushed hard, or even if a basically ‘clean’ sound is dialed in.”

Like home stereos or PA systems, many acoustic amps—including the Fender Acoustic SFX—feature woofer and tweeter arrangements that are specifically designed for low-frequency and high-frequency sounds, respectively.

But what sets acoustic amplifiers apart from a PA are the extra specs that cater to the specific needs of an acoustic player, such as additional inputs for microphones and mobile devices, and on-board effects.

All of these features will ensure that you get the best representation of the natural sound of your acoustic guitar.

As Nicholas summed up, “The best acoustic amps reproduce ‘the low lows and the high highs’ with no distortion.”