Acoustic Guitar Amp Buying Guide

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Acoustic Guitar Amp Buying Guide

Acoustic Guitar Amps are amplifiers catering specifically to the acoustic guitar, as opposed to those for bass, or electric guitars. Often made from different materials and using different technology, acoustic guitars need specialised amps which can create the best sound.

About Acoustic Guitar Amps

The first guitar amplifiers intended solely for acoustic guitars were made by Marshall in the 1970s, aimed at the country and western market which still favoured acoustic guitars. But officially, the first specific Acoustic Guitar Amps weren’t seen until the late 1980s, early 1990s. Peavey, Trace Elliot and Guild were the trendsetters.
Acoustic guitars are designed to be played without an amplifier, but have been modified so that they can be. Whilst musicians can play acoustic guitars through a regular amplifier, the results won’t replicate the clean sound of an acoustic guitar. With every brand, make, and model producing a different sound, it was necessary for Acoustic Guitar Amps to be manufactured.

Choosing an Acoustic Guitar Amp

Choosing the right Acoustic Guitar Amp will depend upon a number of things, but will inevitably be personal preference. With the right knowledge as outlined below, experiment with a number of models and track down the perfect sound.

Usage of Acoustic Guitar Amp

There are two main ways to use an Acoustic Guitar Amp, both needing different types of equipment and technology to achieve. The first is a Combination or Combo, the second is a Stand Alone set-up.

Combination

Also called a combo unit, a combination set-up is an Acoustic Guitar Amp which features both the Amplifier (head) and the speakers (cabinet.) Popular amongst beginners and those working with smaller budgets, combo units offer an easier route into electric playing. Combination units are less expensive than a complicated stand-alone set-up, allow for easier transportation and take us less space if intended for domestic practice. Whilst combination units are less favoured amongst professional musicians, modern manufacturers have been producing products which can be expanded upon with extra speakers and units; like stand-alone set-ups.

Stand-Alone

Stand-alone Acoustic Guitar Amps are individual units which only amplify the sound. The first Acoustic Guitar Amps were stand-alone and they remain the preferred choice of professional guitarists. Using an amplifier and connecting it to a number of different speakers or cabinets allows for greater customisation and tailoring of the sound. This type of configuration represents a significantly higher cost but affords the guitarist more control over the sound. For larger venues, stand-alone units are needed to produce the necessary volume.

Acoustic Guitar Amp Technology

Acoustic Guitar Amp technology has evolved rapidly since their invention, but the core mechanic function of the amplifier has always been only one of two options.

Tube

The first amplifiers were designed and manufactured using tubes. This analogue technology is still favoured by professionals today for the cleaner sound, particularly at high volume. Acoustic Guitar players universally prefer solid state amplifiers as they don’t distort the sound like tube amps are designed to. Tube amps are more expensive than modern solid state products and also suffer from fragility, which can be a problem when travelling to, and playing at, regular events.

Solid State

Solid state amplifiers have only been around for around thirty years, having been first produced in the 1980s. Solid state amplifiers are considerably cheaper than their tube counterparts, take up less room, weigh less, and are more resistant to knocks and shakes. Solid state amplifiers can suffer from a loss of clarity at higher volumes when played with an electric guitar because of the distortion, a problem rarely encountered with Acoustic Guitars.

Amps (power) of Acoustic Guitar Amp

The necessary power rating of an Acoustic Guitar Amp will depend upon the intended usage of the amp itself. Amplifiers which are suitable for home practice won’t cut it at a large venue; it’s necessary to choose the right power for the desired output.

Novelty

The novelty market for Acoustic Guitar Amps consists of small, very low powered units designed for bedroom practice and novelty. These amps often clip onto belts or are less than ten inches in size, rarely offering more than 10 or 15W.

Home Practice

For practice within the home without any accompanying instruments, Acoustic Guitar Amps of up to 40W are suitable. These are often labelled as starter or beginner amps and are rarely stand-alone units, instead offering the speaker as integrated within the unit itself.

Studio Practice

When playing with accompanying instruments, Acoustic Guitars can suffer from drown out; the loss of sound against deeper instruments like bass guitars and bass drums. The power rating of an Acoustic Guitar Amp for playing in a band at a studio should be no less than 60W or 70W, with 100W to 120W being strongly recommended.

Small Venues

Small venues require Acoustic Guitar Amps of above 200W when playing with accompanying instruments. In this more generous range of wattage, stand-alone units are generally preferred to properly tweak the sound.

Medium – Large Venues

To play a large venue with a band, Acoustic Guitar Amps need to offer 400W of power at the least.. The acoustics of large venues require significant power to resonate the relatively weak sound of an Acoustic Guitar. With this considerable wattage, professional musicians rarely opt for a configuration that doesn’t feature stand-alone solid state amplifiers with external speakers.

Differences between Electric Guitar and Acoustic Guitar Amps

Modern technology allows for catered amplifiers to each individual instrument. Electric guitar amplifiers won’t be suitable for an acoustic guitar, for reasons outlined below:

Circuitry

Acoustic Guitar players prefer solid state amplifiers as they feature solid state circuitry. This kind of technology is designed to produce as clean and as natural a sound as possible, much like amplifiers designed for keyboards. Solid state circuitry exists only to amplify the sound rather than distort or apply effects to it.

Frequency

A lot of Acoustic Guitar Amps are manufactured with an installed tweeter. A tweeter amplifies the higher frequencies produced by an Acoustic Guitar to avoid the muddy or damp sound that can occur when increasing the volume of an instrument.

Preamps

Acoustic Guitar Amps avoid colouring the sound of the guitar by using a notch filter, which eliminates the feedback produced by amplifiers. Preamps in Acoustic Guitar Amps act like PA systems and offer a natural reproduction of the feed.


Acoustic Guitar players would enjoy more success using a Bass Guitar Amp or a Keyboard Amp in a situation when an Acoustic Guitar Amp isn’t available. Both of these amplifiers, in particular the Keyboard Amp, are designed to amplify the sound with little external colouring or distortion.

Find an Acoustic Guitar Amp on eBay

To find an Acoustic Guitar Amp on eBay, first open the All Categories directory from the homepage by clicking the link in the top left. Navigating down the page to find the Musical Instruments link, click this to open up a number of sub-categories. Avoid specific instruments as Acoustic Guitar Amps are mostly found within the Pro Audio Equipment directory and specifically in the Amplifiers section. Once within this section, results can be refined by a number of filters including Type, Brand, Condition, Price, Power, and many more.
Alternatively, Acoustic Guitar Amps can be found by searching for keywords using the Search bar at the top of every eBay page. It may also be useful to use the dropdown on the right of the Search bar to specifically search in the Musical Instruments category to find any Acoustic Guitar Amps erroneously listed in the Guitars or Accessories/Equipment categories.

Conclusion

With such a number of makes, models, and manufacturers of guitar amplifiers on the market, finding the right Acoustic Guitar Amp can be difficult. Using eBay to conduct the search is one of the most effective methods of doing so as it allows easy comparison in terms of price and cost against other brands. Always make sure to contact the seller with any specific questions before committing to purchase, and always check the warranties, guarantees, and returns section to ensure no post-purchase problems. With the information listed in this guide, finding the right Acoustic Guitar Amp should be made a simpler affair with knowledge and preparation to aid in the process.

 
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