Using an acoustic guitar with an electric guitar amp might sound like a convenient idea if you already own an electric amp.
But can you do it?
And if you do will you damage any of your equipment?
And what will the sound be like?
Can You Use Electric Amp with Acoustic Guitar?
Short answer is yes you can.
But would you want to?
That will be answered later. But for now let’s just say that they are perfectly compatible in terms of the cables you use. The input jack for an electric guitar is the same size as it is for an acoustic guitar – so no problem there.
Do People Actually Do it?
Absolutely, there are people who use their acoustic guitar in an electric guitar amp.
Whether they do it for convenience, because they don’t want to or can’t afford to buy an acoustic specific amp, or if they are actually looking for a certain sound, depends on the individual guitarist that is doing it.
Is it Common?
I would say it’s not uncommon, but most people I know would have a specific acoustic guitar amp. So it’s more common to use a specific acoustic guitar amp but it’s not uncommon to use an electric guitar amp either. I’ll get into the reasons why later in this post.
Will I Damage the Guitar?
Absolutely not. The signal runs from the guitar to the amp. There is no danger to damaging your acoustic guitar by plugging it into an electric guitar amp.
Will I Damage the the Amp?
No you won’t damage the amp either. Electric guitar amps are fine with the signal from an acoustic guitar.
The Sound that You Want
Now, knowing that you can use an electric guitar amp with your acoustic, and it won’t damage either the amp or the guitar, let’s ask the question – and this post is full of questions after all! – will you like the sound of an acoustic plugged into an electric amp?
The answer to this question really depends on the sound you are after – but generally speaking the answer will usually, but not always, be no.
Sometimes You May be Looking for that Sound
I remember going to see Jay Mascis (from Dinosaur Junior but doing a solo show), opening for Sonic Youth, playing an acoustic guitar but he had it running through an electric amp.
Not only was he running it through an electric amp – he was distorting the crap out of it – and playing some wicked solos I might add.
But that was the particular sound he was after. You don’t necessarily have to play distorted if you are running through an electric amp. You can play through the clean channel – and you can adjust the EQ to an extent to get a better sound.
And some people do actually prefer the character of an electric amp with an acoustic. But those are the few, not the many. If you are looking for that kind of sound, then this is a great option.
But Most Acoustic Guitarists Aren’t Looking for that Sound
However, if you are looking to get the best sound out of your acoustic – in terms of bringing out all of the tonal qualities of the acoustic – and to get an authentic acoustic sound (particularly if you just want the guitar to sound like the guitar except amplified), then an amp designed specifically for an acoustic guitar will be the way to go.
The sound that you get out of an electric guitar amp through an acoustic will also depend on the electric amp, of course.
Specific Acoustic Guitar Amps
Acoustic guitar amps are specifically designed to amplifier the natural sound of your guitar. They have different tonal qualities and don’t focus on compressing and distorting the sound, as a lot of electric guitar amps do.
Most people want to replicate the sound of their acoustic unplugged – particularly if they have a nice acoustic.
An acoustic guitar amp will do this job much better than an electric amp.
Which Acoustic Amp is Best?
If you decide to get an acoustic guitar amp, the one that you get will depend on a number of factors – like the guitar you have, the purpose you are going to use it for (home, small solo gigs, playing with a band, etc) and the budget you have to spend.
How to choose the best amp is a topic for a whole post – check out the post below to learn more about choosing the best acoustic amp for you.
A lot of acoustic guitarists plug straight into the PA when doing shows. This might not be an option if you want to practice plugged in at home or for band practice if there isn’t a PA.
But if you only ever need to plug in when playing live then just plugging into the PA is definitely an option.
If you want to plug your acoustic guitar into an electric amp, that is definitely an option. Depending on the sound you are looking for and with the right electric amp and some tweaks to the EQ settings, you might even get a sound that’s just right for you.
However, if you are looking to create a sound that brings out the natural sound of your acoustic, then an acoustic guitar specific amp is definitely the way to go.
What do you think?
Would you plug in to an electric amp with your acoustic?
Have you done this or know someone? What did you think of the sound?
Any other comments or questions very welcome, just leave them in the comments section below.