Acoustic Guitar Into Electric Amp with Pedals: Distortion, Delay & More

Acoustic Guitar Into Electric Amp with Pedals: Distortion, Delay & More

Can you play an acoustic guitar through an electric amp? Can you run it through effect pedals? You bet you can! Should you do it? Well, we’ll let you decide…

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What’s up everybody? I’m Scott from Stringjoy Guitar Strings and today is a new gear day at Stringjoy. Albeit a very inexpensive new gear day. We got this Fender FA135CE acoustic guitar for like a $140. Mainly just ’cause I needed an acoustic electric around the office to do videos with. But it’s a pretty interesting guitar. It’s not a terrible guitar. There’s some issues with the edges of the frets and some comfort things like that but overall it doesn’t sound too bad.

But, knowing us, once we got this thing, the first thing we wanted to do was plug it into an amp and put some fuzz on it. So today we’re going to talk about whether you can put an acoustic guitar signal into an electric guitar amp. Hint, you can. But moreover, we’re going to talk about what it sounds like and whether there’s any value to doing so. So let’s jump in.

All right. First off, these guitars are made in China under license for the Fender name. They have a Fishman preamp in them with a three band EQ and a nifty little three light super simple tuner on them. Regular quarter inch output down here as well as a nine volt battery to power the whole thing. Again, it’s not so bad. The strings on it are a little bit junky for my taste. This literally came out of the box like 30 minutes ago. It still smells very plasticky and almost formaldehyde-y but I think that’ll probably wear out over time. But again, sans the strings and maybe doing a little bit of work on the frets here to make them a little bit more smooth, there’s not a lot that I would change on the guitar and for $140 I don’t think it’s too bad of a deal.

But, what does it sound like through a fuzz pedal. Let’s find out. So first off let’s check out what our clean tone sounds like. We’re running to this little Ampeg GVT, it’s a five watt guitar amp even though it’s got the Ampeg name on it it’s not a bass amp like a lot of people probably think. Though it does kind of have that look. But anyway, it’s a very clean amp with a lot of headroom which I suspect is going to sound just fine with this guitar. So let’s take a look.

So, not too bad. Honestly I think it probably sounds just as good as this little preamp ever could running through a PA. Maybe even a little bit better since it’s got the warmth from the tubes and all that sort of good stuff. But we’re going to lay into some effects. We’re going to kind of start at the back end on the more ethereal side of the chain and take a listen to what they sound like with this thing.

First up we got this Strymon El-Capistan which is an awesome tape delay that you probably heard of. We get a lot of people asking whether or not you can put delay on an acoustic guitar and in my opinion you absolutely can. Let’s take a listen.

So again, I think that sounds great. Let’s take a listen to some really spacey reverb out of this awesome Caroline pedal.

Again, that sounds pretty great. Let’s try out some compression.

Yeah, I always love compression on acoustic guitar. I used to record bands back when I was in college for a little bit of extra money and always felt like an acoustic with just a touch of compression really fit really nicely in the mix. So that works really, really well. That’s the Keeley compressor. Let’s see what it sounds like with some chorus which is something that I’ve been really, really curious about.

Cool. So not bad. Very 80s with the chorus on it. But it gives it a lot of really nice width. And now that we’ve kind of tested out all the other pedals I have on my little board here. Let’s see what it sounds like with some distortion finally. Let’s take a listen.

All right. So as expected not my favorite crunch sound in the entire world but it could sound worse for whatever that’s worth. Now for our final test I want to put it through some fuzz and see what this little $140 Fender sounds like.

That was interesting. Obviously we get a lot of problems with feedback which is something I’m talk about in a second but again that was the McCaffrey Audio Green Vodka. It sounds even better on not an acoustic guitar but it sounded kind of cool on an acoustic guitar. So if you’ve ever wondered whether or not you can play an acoustic guitar through an electric guitar amp, I hope we’ve shown you that you definitely can. It’s not my highest recommendation in the entire world. Anything that comes with crunch or especially fuzz or anything like that doesn’t sound nearly as good as it does through electric pick ups but it will work.

One thing I should mention though is that this acoustic like a lot that you’ll see has probably a Piezo style pickup underneath the saddle here. And that will work okay with an electric guitar. If you get some nicer acoustics where they have microphonic pickup systems inside the guitar or anything like that, that’s going to not sound great because the number one reason people don’t use acoustic guitars instead of electric guitars is feedback.

If you have a semi-hollow guitar or a full on hollow body or anything like that, you’re probably familiar with the fact that they get a lot more feedback than solid body guitars do and acoustic guitars of course are fully hollow and have very, very thin wood protecting the inside so you’re going to get a ton of feedback if you’re amplifying acoustics.

Now you’re not necessarily that much worse off than you are if you’re just playing your acoustic through a sound system. Anybody who’s played an acoustic that way for a long time knows that feedback is always kind of a trouble. It’s really hard to get a lot of acoustic in your wedge because it really just starts to feedback as soon as possible. You’ll see some things like sound hole rings or things like that that try to get the feedback problem under control but they don’t really solve things entirely. The thing is, when you’re sitting right next to a guitar amp and you’re using a lot of distortion or overdrive or God forbid fuzz pedals, you’re going to get a ton of feedback out of an acoustic guitar and for that reason alone it’s not generally that much recommended.

But if you’re screwing around at home, you’re not worried about playing too loud or anything like that, you can try your acoustic guitar through an electric guitar amp. It can be fun. If you keep it clean and just use it for delay or reverb amplified, I think that can actually sound pretty cool. But when it comes to things like fuzz and all that this has been fun but your probably not going to see me using an acoustic guitar through a bunch of fuzz pedals again any time soon.

So what do you think? Have you ever played an acoustic electric guitar through an electric guitar amplifier before? Or through any sort of pedal or stomp boxes or anything like that? What’s your take? Do you like the way it sounds? Do you hate the way it sounds? Let us know however you feel down in the comments.

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