There’s just something in the natural tone of an acoustic guitar that can’t be replicated by an electric guitar, no matter how many effects pedal you use. Unfortunately, using an acoustic guitar as part of a band on stage is not as easy as simply plugging in. There are two main problems when it comes to using an acoustic guitar on stage – hearing yourself over the rest of the band and feedback. With the quick tips below, you should be able to better craft the response and sound of your acoustic in order to help make it a natural fit on stage.
We are actually pretty lucky that many of today’s acoustic-electric guitars come equipped with a good variety of EQ controls that let you sculpt your tone in many different ways. But all the controls in the world won’t help you if you don’t know what to boost or cut. For example, if you were to attenuate some of the frequencies in the 100 Hz to 300 Hz range, you will be able to cut out some of the woofiness in the sound, which would also remove feedback prone frequencies. This range is going to get drowned out the by the bass regardless, so pulling it out for better acoustic guitar tone and less feedback is essentially a no loss proposition.
If you’re having trouble getting your notes heard, you can adjust the midrange and high mid frequencies. Adjusting the high frequencies will also allow you to add some sparkle, which works great at getting an acoustic guitar heard through the mix.
If you plan on using your acoustic through a PA, you can ask the sound man to prepare your EQ fixes on the console. Even then, it’s not a bad idea to invest in an onboard system or EQ pedal, especially if you’re going to use on stage amplification.
While the tips above might not seem like much, they will definitely make a huge difference over simply going in blind. An acoustic guitar has a soul all its own that all the electric guitar pickups in the world can’t replicate. Don’t let it get lost in the mix!