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What Is an Acoustic Amplifier?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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An acoustic amplifier is a device that can be used with acoustic instruments, typically a guitar, to enhance and amplify the sound produced by the instrument. These devices are available in a wide range of sizes and can produce varying levels of volume depending on the model used. Although these amplifiers are often designed for use with a single instrument, multiple input connections can allow additional instruments or devices to use a single amplifier. An acoustic amplifier is often used to retain the rich sound quality of acoustic audio in a large venue for which a standard acoustic guitar may not be loud enough.

Also called simply an acoustic amp, an acoustic amplifier is typically designed to “amplify” the sound created by an acoustic instrument. While some amplifiers and other devices may be created with options that allow a musician to modify the audio in some way, many amps are created to increase the volume of the instrument with as little alteration to the overall sound as possible. Small amplifiers are often available for a reasonable price, which allows a performer to have his or her instrument more easily heard in a small club or public venue. More powerful models of acoustic amplifier can be quite expensive and provide a significant boost to the volume of the instrument.

A simple and basic acoustic amplifier is usually designed with a single input connection for one instrument, often an acoustic guitar. In addition to this connection, multiple control knobs can be included that allow a musician to change the volume of the amplified sound. This can include one knob for overall volume as well as additional knobs for specific controls over treble and bass. Additional input connections may be included on an acoustic amplifier to allow multiple instruments to be connected to a single device, usually with individual volume controls for each guitar.

There are also more expensive and elaborate types of acoustic amplifier that provide musicians with far more options during a live performance. This can include an input for an auxiliary device, such as a media storage and playback component. Musicians can use such an acoustic amplifier to connect a personal media player and play a song that includes various instruments, other than a vocal and acoustic guitar track. During a live performance, a musician can then play a guitar and sing live, while additional musical accompaniment is provided by a pre-recorded track played from the media device through the amplifier.

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Discussion Comments
By Soulfox — On Nov 26, 2014

@Vincenzo -- The same principal applies for bass amps or keyboard amps. Those are made with specific interests in mind and don't mix and match all that well. There are exceptions, but the general rule is to buy an amp made specifically for the instrument you want to amplify.

By the way, if you are buying an acoustic guitar amp play it loud in the guitar store to test it. The problem with acoustic guitars is that they are hollow and that can result in terrible feedback (i.e., squealing) if an amp is not built to deal with that.

By Vincenzo — On Nov 26, 2014

Do not be fooled into thinking a typical electric guitar amp will double as an acoustic one. Plugging an acoustic guitar into one of those things will typically result in muddy, terrible sound.

Why? The pickups used in acoustic and electric guitars are usually radically different and feature very different tonal qualities. Electric guitar amps are built with electric guitars in mind.

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