Acoustic electric guitar

It’s not just a clever name. An acoustic-electric (aka electro-acoustic) is basically a regular acoustic guitar that you can plug into a guitar amp. Once upon a time, you’d buy a cheap magnetic acoustic guitar pickup and clamp it into the big gaping hole in the face of your acoustic guitar. These days, things are a bit more sophisticated.

Brands like Fishman and L.R. Baggs offer systems that accurately reproduce your acoustic guitar’s tone through an amp. Pickup types include a piezo strip hidden beneath the guitar’s bridge saddle; a sensor adhered to the underside of the guitar’s top; or a miniature microphone pointing at the strings from inside the instrument’s body.

Some manufacturers, Yamaha for example, offer all three options in the same type of guitar. These can be blended together to provide an authentic-sounding acoustic tone when amplified.

The pickups are just the start of the amplification process. Most modern electro-acoustics have a preamp that boosts the signal of whatever pickup type you have. It will be battery-powered, feature volume and EQ controls, and often include an onboard tuner. Also, look out for a phase switch. This clever little thing helps counter unwanted feedback, that hideous electronic squeal that drives audiences crazy.

You’ll also discover that many electro-acoustics come with a body cutaway. This allows all you showboaters better access to the upper frets on the guitar.



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