Do you own a beautiful sounding acoustic guitar that never quite sounds as lush when you amplify it? Do you have a budget electro and want to get a sweeter sound? Do you find that your under-saddle pickup sounds a bit thin and harsh?
If you own an electro acoustic and want to improve the amplified sound there are several approaches you could take. The first of these is equalisation. A good eq pedal such as the MXR Ten Band Graphic EQ is an ideal solution for tailoring the eq of the guitar. This will ensure it sounds better suited to your intended purpose. Having ten bands offers fine tweaking of the guitar’s tone. This will offer more control than the onboard pre-amp supplied with your guitar.
For strummed acoustic backing with vocals it can work well to cut some of the middle frequencies and boost the high and lows. This will allow the vocals to sit well in the mix as most of the energy of a vocal is in these mid range frequency bands.
For fingerpicking, you will want to highlight some of the midrange frequencies. This will bring clarity to your playing. Eq can also be good for reducing the frequency bands that are responsible for feedback. This will give a much clearer sound with the absence of woofy bass resonance, feedback and string noise.
The second consideration would be to get hold of a good quality acoustic pre-amp. Look at the LR Baggs Session Acoustic DI or Fishman Aura Spectrum DI Preamp. These feature studio quality compression and EQ tailored to the nuances of the acoustic guitar. The Fishman Aura Spectrum DI models any type of acoustic guitar from an under saddle pickup and sounds incredibly natural.
If you own a high end guitar you may find that the on board pickup system doesn’t get the depth of tone across when amplified. There is a fantastic new product out by Audio Sprockets calles the Tonedexter. It is in effect an acoustic guitar profiler. Think Kemper but for profiling acoustic guitars rather than amplifiers. The idea is that you take your prized acoustic guitar and mic it up with the mic or mics connected to the Tonedexter. You also connect the jack output of your guitar to the appropriate input. The Tonedexter learns while you play and listens to notes, chords and your dynamic levels of playing. It takes 5-10 minutes of playing for the Tonedexter to get the information to work its magic. Once you have finished playing in learn mode, the unit will store a Map (profile) of your guitar. Then, when you plug your guitar into the Tonedexter it will listen to the input from your pickup and change the eq to match the mic profile . If you have access to a studio setup with great rooms and top quality microphones and outboard gear you can make the profiles there. This would give you natural studio produced sound on the go. British Grove, Mark Knopfler’s recording studio have a few of them so that tells you how good they are. Mr Knopfler doesn't skimp on tone!
Having a better pickup system fitted to your guitar can definitely help produce better results. LR Baggs makes two natural-sounding systems. The LR Baggs Lyric is a clever little device that houses microphones inside the guitar behind the bridge. It has a phase cancellation system in the mic housing which reduces feedback . I have never heard a guitar with an internal microphone achieve so much volume. As the system uses only a microphone, the sound is incredibly natural. The means more of the unique sound of your instrument will be heard through the speakers. If you need more volume than this can provide then the LR Baggs Anthem system would be a wise choice. This system has both an under saddle pickup and the Lyric microphone system. These can be blended to your taste and the under saddle pickup will give you more on the volume front. With the Lyric mic blended in you will achieve a more natural sound. You will also hear more of your guitar’s acoustic qualities when plugged in.
All the gear mentioned here costs far less than buying a fancy guitar! Some cost less than a cheap guitar so get down and find out more!