Instead of adding compression and distortion, an acoustic guitar amp should recreate your guitar’s tone as faithfully as possible, with minimum or no changes.
7 Best Acoustic Guitar Amps for that Perfect Tone
There are many models out there, built for different purposes and scenarios. Keep reading to know about my suggested models, as well as a buyers' guide.
Table of Contents
- 7 Best Acoustic Guitar Amps for that Perfect Tone
- Choosing One Based on the Purpose
- Size and Shape of Your Guitar
- Mono vs. Stereo
- Number of Channels
As all guitarists can attest to, hauling the amplifiers to and from a gig can be downright exhausting, especially if they’re big. However, powerful amps don’t have to be big and heavy. If you’re on the hunt for a lightweight amp with lots of power, check out the Fishman Loudbox Mini.
The Mini is a 60W 2-channel combo that weighs a little more than your average practice amp. It is a compact and elegant unit, with the controls and inputs located on the front panel. The back panel, on the other side, is where the XLR input for active mics, Aux In (1/4” and 3.5mm), power cable receptacle, and power switch are to be found.
The guitar channel has the standard 3-band EQ, as well as the digital reverb and chorus effects. On the other hand, reverb is the only effect on the microphone channel. This is a great solution for solo singer/player performers who want to minimize the weight of their equipment.
40 to 60W amplifiers are powerful enough to get you through most acoustic gigs. If you’re looking for a well-built mid-priced amp that’s durable and reliable, then the Marshall Acoustic Soloist AS50D could interest you.
The vintage-styled Acoustic Soloist AS50D has elegant looks and the iconic “Marshall” logo on the grill. Under the hood, this is a modern solid-state amplifier with a tube-like tone.
The AS50D has two channels: one for the guitar and one switched. The second one allows you to choose between another guitar and a mic. Besides the master volume, each channel has its own 3-band EQ. The effects have unified controls, though you can choose to run them through one or both channels.
Affordable practice amps rarely use tube circuitry, which would require expensive electronic components rather than mass-produced integrated circuit boards. Nonetheless, some solid-state practice amps are good at imitating the coveted tube sound.
If you’re looking for a practice amp with a smooth tone, basic onboard effects, and good connectivity, you might want to take a look at the 2-channel Fender Acoustasonic 15.
The Acoustasonic 15 is the smallest of the three amps in the Acoustasonic series. It is oriented towards practice and songwriting sessions, though its tone wouldn’t embarrass you at a small gig either. The amp is a 15W unit with a small 6” speaker in the front. It is lightweight and exceptionally portable as well.
Along with volume and EQ controls, the Acoustasonic 15 also has built-in chorus effect, which is a nice addition for when you need that extra oomph. Microphone and headphone jacks complete the control panel.
The watts are there for more than just volume. While they can play pretty loud, powerful amps also grant you a clearer tone than a weaker amplifier at the same volume. Also, more powerful amps tend to be sturdier and better built than their smaller brethren.
Another Fender amp on this list, the Acoustic 100 is designed for acoustic guitar players who are looking for a serious performance amplifier. It offers two channels and a single 8” speaker with a whizzer cone for excellent clarity at high output. In terms of connectivity, you can connect the 100 to a computer via USB if you want to stream or record.
Aside from the standard 3-band EQ, both channels feature a number of effects. The list includes hall reverb, vibratone, delay with repeats, room reverb, delay and chorus, chorus, tape echo, and delay and hall reverb. The effects are controlled through the FX Level and FX Select knobs.
Compact amplifiers are a great choice for practicing and songwriting tasks. They’re usually light and you can easily carry them to a gig if you need to warm up before the show. If you’re looking for more than just a simple room amp, you might find the Behringer Ultracoustic ACX1800 interesting.
The amp is a combo box. It has 180W of output, two separate channels, great controls, two integrated digital FX processors, and excellent connectivity options. You can also hook up a microphone along with the guitar if you want to play and sing at the same time or if you’re rehearsing with a singer. The amp also has a ¼” CD input that lets you jam to your favorite tracks. The standard headphones output is also there.
The ACX1800 rocks Behringer’s proprietary Virtual Tube Circuitry that gives a warm tube-like tone. As for tone modeling, the standard 3-band EQ is at your disposal. Downstairs, the Behringer is outfitted with a couple of 8” Bugera speakers with wide frequency response.
6. Donner DGA-1
Many guitar amplifiers, acoustic guitar amps included, feature front controls, inputs, and switches. Some manufacturers, however, like to position them at the top or even the back in order to not mess with the design of the front panel. If you’re into this type of styling, then the Donner DGA-1 might be interesting to you.
The DGA-1 is a small practice/room amplifier with 2 channels, a 6.5” main speaker, and a simple controls layout. The first channel is reserved for the microphone as it only has an XLR input. The second channel is reserved for the guitar. The channels have independent volume controls, though they share the EQ. Also, you can add chorus only to the instrument channel.
While the volume and tone controls are located in the back, the headphones out and the on/off power switch are located on top. The package also includes an instrument cable and a set of four guitar picks.
Guitar amps rated at 10 to 25W are generally considered practice amps and, more often than not, offer only bare-bones features. This helps reduce the price of the amp and make it easier to use, especially for beginners. Experienced players who are searching for a no-frills practice amp might find the Stagg 15 AA DR very interesting as well.
The Stagg looks very similar to electric guitar amps of the same class, sporting a black/tan styling and modern knobs and switches. Under the hood, this amp offers 15W, one speaker, and a single channel. There isn’t a microphone jack, though the front panel features the standard Aux and headphone jacks.
Digital reverb is the only built-in effect. The 3-band EQ, gain, volume, and passive/active switch complete the controls lineup. While it won’t burn the house down, the 15 AA DR offers decent volume and clean tone.
Choosing One Based on the Purpose
The first thing you should consider when buying an amp for your acoustic guitar is what you need it for. An amp that’s made for practice and writing differs considerably from a recording/studio amplifier. In turn, they’re both different from amps that are made for club gigs or street performances. Let’s take a closer look into each type.
Practice and Songwriting
Amps that are made for practice and writing sessions tend to be among the smallest and the simplest of the bunch. Since you’ll mostly be alone in a room while practicing or writing your next masterpiece, you won’t need as much power as you would playing to an audience of several hundred people.
The amps in this category tend to range between 10 and 25W. They use integrated circuits to cut down on costs and feature only the basic tone modeling options.
However, a practice amp can have a dedicated microphone channel for singer/players. In the effects section, you might see chorus and reverb. Rarely will a practice amp feature additional effects.
Recording and Studio
If you need an amp for recording or studio rehearsals with a band, you should look for something powerful with dual channels and onboard effects.
If your aim is to record acoustic guitar, the additional power and high signal-to-noise ratio will give you a clearer tone at higher volume and more stability at low volume. This is of paramount importance when you’re trying to nail that perfect take, especially if your song has calmer verses and loud choruses. Also, the onboard effects will make it easier to dial in the right tone.
When it comes to studio rehearsals, the best acoustic guitar amps should offer enough power for you to match the volume of the drums, bass and guitar. Therefore, you’ll need a fairly powerful amp. If you sing and play, a two-channel amp might be in order. Finally, look for an amp that has your favorite effects to avoid the hustle of buying additional effect pedals.
Some clubs and concert halls are equipped with a quality PA system, but you can’t always rely on that. Sometimes you’ll have to play in venues without a PA system and places that aren’t intended for gigs. To cover this sort of gigs, you should buy an amp that’s both powerful and sturdy.
It is a good idea to buy an amp with onboard effects that you commonly use. Finally, if you sing and play, a two-channel amp is recommended. In most cases, a 100W amp will suffice, but some guitarists that play large venues or with electric bands may need 200 or even 300W models.
Selecting the right amp for street performances can be quite tricky, as you’ll have to balance many factors. First, you’ll need ample power, especially if you’re playing in a large square or boulevard.
Next, have in mind that you’ll have to haul your entire equipment to the place where you play and then back home. Therefore, the amp needs to be fairly light and easy to lug around.
If you move around, many times you won’t have a power outlet near you. So, you might want to consider investing in an amp that can run on batteries. Aside from that, you should also look for onboard effects if they’re your thing. Finally, feedback control is a must for this type of amps.
Size and Shape of Your Guitar
The size and shape of your guitar should also play a role in your final choice. For example, if you play a jumbo or a dreadnought, you won’t need to strum as hard to get the same projection and volume as someone who’s playing a parlor.
Therefore, if you’re in an acoustic band with two or more guitarists, you should match their amps. Of course, you can always go for a powerful amp and keep the volume and gain knobs a couple of notches down.
On the other hand, if you play a smaller guitar in the band, you will need extra power to make up for the projection and volume disparity.
Mono vs. Stereo
Should I get a mono or a stereo amp? The choice here should rest squarely on your artistic taste and preferences.
If you love rotating reverb or ping-pong delay, then you should definitely go for a stereo amp. But if you are a more conventional player, then a mono amp will do just fine. Finally, you can use a stereo amp and split your signal without ever using stereo-dependent effects.
Number of Channels
The number of channels is another important thing to consider when buying an acoustic guitar amp. If you only play the guitar and have no ambition to add singing to your repertoire then, by all means go for a single-channel amp. However, if you sing and play, a two-channel amp is simply a must.
Two channel amps, at least the affordable ones, have separated channels for the instrument and the mic. Usually, all or most of the effects are only available on the instrument channel. Also, budget amps commonly don’t support passive mics.
More powerful and expensive two-channel amps might offer XLR (mic) and instrument inputs on both channels, as well as making all built-in effects available for both channels.
Regardless of the price of the amp, separate volume, gain, and EQ controls are a must.
It is important to pick the right amp for the task at hand. A good choice can save you a lot of grief down the road, as well as a few bucks.
Finally, the price tag doesn’t guarantee quality or satisfaction. In fact, some of the most memorable and beloved pop and rock songs were recorded through highly affordable amps that simply “had it”.
So, shop around and make sure to check out as many options as you can to find the amp that gives you the desired tone.