If an acoustic guitar is played in the forest, does anyone hear it? Well of course they will but depending on the size of the crowd gathered to listen to said instrument, it might not be very well.
All debating of Zen philosophy aside, there should not be much debate in the concept that adding an acoustic amp to your tool box can greatly enhance the experience of live performance for the audience and the performer alike.
Picking an amp for your guitar is like finding the blind date for a friend. You want to make sure they are compatible. You want to make sure they bring out the best in each other. You want to make sure that at the end of the day, no matter what, they make sweet, sweet music together. Your guitar deserves the same considerations as your friend.
You have decided to buy an acoustic amp? Great, now you need to ask yourself a few basic questions first.
Where am I am going to be playing?
How loud/how much power I am going to need to achieve the sound I want?
Do I want simple plug and play or do I want to be able to mold my tone?
How much do I want to spend? (A question on every list no matter the topic)
Let’s look at some amps and see if we can answer some of those questions.
Designed in the US, the Ultrasounds are a great entry in acoustic amps and a tough, all around great amp for performance. They offer a good range of price points and size starting with the Ultrasound AG-30 to the Ultrasound PRO-250.
Ultrasound AG-50DS4 amp
Fishman has been helping acoustic musicians craft their sound since the early 1980’s. Our selection of Fishman amps is going to give you a higher powered option over some of the entry level from Ultrasound amps. Fishman offers choices such as the Fishman Loudbox 100, which runs a very nice 100 Watts or the Fishman Loudbox Performer which is going to step you up to 130 Watts of room filling power. Fishman recently has brought out something that I must admit my own fondness for, the Fishman SoloAmp. For singer/players the Fishman SoloAmp provides 220 Watts of power in a single tower that acts both as an Amp and a P.A. At only 25 pounds, it is a breeze to transport and set up at your next gig.
Fishman Loudbox 100
Stands for Audio Electric Research and boy have they done theirs. This is a “high end” amp. If you are looking to jump into amps this perhaps might not be the end of the tone pool you want to dive into. If you have experience with amps and know the sound and the voice you are looking for the Acousticube III is going to deliver 120 Watts from a solidly built cabinet with top notch electronics. Need a little less power? The Compact 60 is going to give the same craftsmanship at 60 Watts. If you know what you want and you know your sound, do not let the “high end” label of AER keep you from checking them out.
AER Compact 60
The best for last? Depends on who you ask, but many will let you know their opinions on Schertler without hesitation. Also helping musicians find their amplified voice since the early 80’s, Schertler offers some very fine examples of acoustic amplification. The Schertler David brings you 80 Watts of pure joy. Do not let the power ratings fool you. This thing will fill a venue. If you think the David is not enough, the Schertler Unico model 185 jumps you up to 185 Watts of power.
Now that you can have an idea of the choices available to you for selecting an amp, it is time to figure out the answer to those questions. For the sake of brevity in this article, I pointed out the power specs on the amps mentioned above. This is going to help you answer question number two from above. Do you need enough power to fill a club or large venue? Or are you looking to perform for smaller, more intimate locations. The Watts while not always a true reflection of the sound from the amp, is a great starting point for knowing what the amp can achieve. Once you have answered that question, you will be able to move onto the other questions.
Are you going to be performing solo? Do you need more than one instrument input? Do you want to have effects and ability to mold the tone? These are all going to be up to you the performer to decide upon and the great thing is, these builders have given you the options you need and want by giving you options in the model and size of the amp you choose to buy from them.
As musicians, whether it be for hobby or career, we are all lucky that we have been given a passion that offers many options and tools for us to find our voice. This can be daunting at first, given so many choices, where do you begin? But once you take a step back and realize that those choices are purposeful, that you are given the choices so that you can find the tool that best fits your voice, the world of music may open up just a little big wider for you.
When choosing an acoustic amp the best advice we can give is to make a list of some or all of the questions in this article, write them down and answer them before you begin your search. Once you have the idea of what your sound is to be, who it is to be for, and how you want to achieve it, searching for your next acoustic amp will not be as daunting a challenge as it may have originally seemed.
Why I amp? There is nothing greater for some then sharing their music with the world. And by adding an acoustic amp to your collection, you just may help them to hear it.