If you’re an acoustic guitarist, there are a few things you should know in order to get the best live sound. In this article, we will answer 10 common questions about acoustic guitars. We’ll cover topics like amplification, strings, and picking the right guitar for your needs. So whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been playing acoustic guitar for years, read on for some valuable tips!
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Introduction To Acoustic Guitars?
The acoustic guitar is a stringed instrument, the sound is created by the vibration of the strings, which are picked or strummed to create a sound.
When a string is plucked, its vibrations are transmitted from the bridge to the top of the instrument, resonating throughout it. It is also sent to the side and back of the guitar, which resonate through the air inside the body and create sound from the sound hole at the front of the instrument in a similar manner to a speaker.
To play an acoustic guitar at a live gig or in a large room the guitar will require acoustic amplification. This means that the sound is created by the vibration of the strings, which are picked up by pickups or a mic and passed through an amp or PA system. Acoustic guitars can be played unplugged, but they usually need to be amplified when playing live.
10 Questions and Answers For Live Performance Playing Acoustic Guitars
How do I get the best live sound on my acoustic guitar?
If you want the best acoustic guitar live sound, you need to use an acoustic amplifier. You can also try using a microphone to amplify your acoustic guitar.
Amplification can be tricky especially if you want to maintain the natural sound that the acoustic guitar produces, but with acoustic amplifiers and some experimentation, you should be able to find a sound that works well for you.
What is the best way to mic an acoustic guitar with vocals?
If you’re using a microphone to amplify your acoustic guitar, it’s best to position the mic in front of the soundhole, some experimental work will need to be done to establish the distance from your guitar. There are specific acoustic microphones for the acoustic guitar that provide a great response to the sound created by the guitar. It is important to choose a mic that has a flat response so that the guitar sounds as natural as possible.
When singing and playing an acoustic guitar setting both mics up correctly is important, the guitar mic will need to be plugged into a separate channel on your PA System, or into an acoustic guitar amplifier.
Little or no effects will be needed to keep a more natural sound. If you are using a PA set all the tone controls on the PA to centre, then experiment to create the sound required for your songs.
Some large rooms can create echo or reverb naturally so always play with your settings at each live gig, this is achieved more simply by having someone at the back of the room to advise you on your sound quality.
The vocal mic will need to be plugged through a separate channel on the PA and will require some echo to achieve a better performance sound quality.
There are different mic setups for singing and playing acoustic guitar such as a mic stand with a lower boom for the guitar and an upper boom for vocals. Two separate stands can be used for easier positioning, an acoustic guitar mic stand and a boom mic stand for vocals, or you can also opt for an acoustic guitar mic stand and clip-on mic, or headset mic for vocals.
What do I need to play solo with an acoustic guitar at a live gig?
Playing solo with an acoustic guitar will require amplification either through an acoustic guitar amplifier or PA system. Depending on the type of music you play you may need backing tracks to achieve a full sound for your song choices.
A microphone, acoustic guitar Pick up or an electro-acoustic guitar can be used to achieve the desired volume level depending on the size of the room you are playing. Acoustic guitar amplifiers usually have built-in effects that can be used to create a fuller sound for various types of songs. If you are using a PA system, make sure the acoustic guitar is routed through the acoustic channels and not the electric guitar channels.
What amplifier should I use playing acoustic guitars live?
A dedicated acoustic guitar amplifier will always provide a more natural acoustic sound for your guitar, most modern guitar amplifiers will have a DI output allowing you to use the acoustic guitar amplifier but send that signal directly to the PA.
This means you do not need a large guitar amplifier as the PA will give you the power you need for larger rooms.
Feedback can be a problem when amplifying acoustic guitars; using acoustic guitar amplifiers with a built-in Feedback Destroyer will help to eliminate any feedback issues. Acoustic guitar pickups can also be used to avoid feedback, by positioning the pickup near the end of the soundhole you will get a more natural amplified acoustic guitar sound without too much distortion.
Your stage position can also have a bearing with feedback, try not to position yourself directly in front of a speaker, and if you use stage monitors to hear your overall sound when playing position them to the sides of the stage and not in front of you.
What gauge strings are best for acoustic guitars?
The gauge of acoustic guitar strings will depend on the type of music you are playing, for example, if you are playing classical or folk music then a lighter gauge string is recommended. Heavier gauge acoustic guitar strings are better for blues and rock music.
Should I use an electro acoustic guitar or mic playing live?
There are pros and cons to using both an electro-acoustic guitar or a microphone when playing acoustic guitar live. An electro-acoustic guitar will allow you to plug straight into the PA system or acoustic guitar amplifier, this means there is no need for any additional equipment such as a microphone. However, an acoustic guitar sounds more natural when amplified using a microphone.
An electro-acoustic guitar very often has volume and tone controls which can be very useful for playing live because you have control over the overall sound of your guitar whilst you are playing.
Which guitar picks are best for playing acoustic guitars?
There are many different types of guitar picks available on the market, and it is important to find the one that suits your playing style. Picks made from plastic are a good starting point for beginners as they are durable and provide a good grip. Heavier gauge acoustic guitar strings will require a thicker pick, while lighter gauge acoustic guitar strings work better with thinner picks.
Are acoustic guitars better than electric guitars?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, it really depends on what type of music you are playing and your own personal preferences.
Acoustic guitars tend to be better for strumming and rhythm playing, while electric guitars are better for lead solos and distortion.
It is important to check out your setlist when deciding what guitar is best for your performance, in some cases an electric and acoustic guitar may be required to create the right sound for specific songs.
Having two types of guitar electric and acoustic on stage will require that both guitars are set up correctly before starting your gig and a couple of guitar stands will ensure each guitar type is easily accessible to you on stage.
Are nylon strings better than metal strings for acoustic guitars?
Nylon strings are often recommended for acoustic guitar as they provide a warmer, mellower sound than metal strings. Nylon strings are also less likely to cause any damage to the acoustic guitar and are easier on the hands than metal strings. However, some acoustic guitars can be strung with either nylon or metal strings so it is important to check the acoustic guitar specifications before purchasing new strings.
If you are looking for a louder, brighter sound when playing acoustic guitar then metal strings may be the best option for you. Metal strings also last longer than nylon strings so they may be a better choice if you play regularly.
Once tuned correctly metal strings will stay in tune longer than nylon strings and don’t seem to be affected so much by varying room temperatures.
There are many different things to consider when playing live using an acoustic guitar, type of mic set up, choosing acoustic or electro acoustic guitar, amplification, and sound for live performances. Hopefully, this article has provided some useful tips that will help you make the right choices for your next acoustic guitar performance.