Effects pedals are most commonly associated with electric axes, but there is an abundance of quality acoustic guitar pedals out there too. These stompboxes can give you more sonic options when using an electro-acoustic axe on stage and in the studio.
When playing an acoustic guitar plugged into an amp or D.I box, you are relying on the pickup to amplify the signal accurately. With the addition of an acoustic guitar pedal, you gain extra control over the output. Let’s explore the best options available.
The Best Acoustic Guitar Pedals
The Small Clone by Electro-Harmonix is a popular pedalboard addition for acoustic and electric guitarists. Made popular by none other than Nirvana's Kurt Cobain in the early '90s, this chorus stompbox has stood the test of time due to its unrivaled quality.
Adding chorus to an acoustic guitar gives your tone a certain warmth that can’t be produced by any other effect. The Small Clone produces a spacey chorus that is completely analog, adding to the pedal’s authenticity.
This versatile acoustic guitar pedal can be used to add a slight shimmer to your tone, or a more extreme rhythmic wobble effect. There's a lot of room for maneuver, so you won't get bored of experimenting with what the Small Clone has to offer.
A large part of the Electro-Harmonix Small Clone’s charm is its simple layout. The centerpiece rotary knob controls the rate of the chorus effect, and the depth switch adds or removes color from the output.
With true bypass switching, your clean tone is preserved. The Small Clone acoustic guitar pedal can be powered by a 9-volt battery or a dedicated power supply.
LR Baggs is a fast-growing manufacturer of quality acoustic guitar pedals. Their Session DI is essentially an all-in-one mixing box for your acoustic axe, allowing you to tweak all of the main aspects like a sound engineer at a mixing desk.
Built around a series of easy-to-operate rotary controls, the Session DI doesn’t take long to familiarize yourself with. Each control adjusts a different aspect of your guitar’s processing.
There’s a saturation control that can push your tone to breaking point, perfect for stomping riffs in the lower octaves. Then there’s multiband compression, which evens out the dynamics of your playing and limits any spikes in the audio.
Another control adjusts the selective resonance filter, which is an invaluable tool for keeping those unwanted feedback noises from creeping in to the mix – a common issue with amplified acoustic guitars.
The detailed options of this LR Baggs acoustic guitar pedal don’t stop there. With a variable highpass filter, you can emphasize the treble of your guitar playing whilst muting the bass frequencies. Then there’s a mute switch which is useful for swapping between guitars or for intervals in your set.
The SoulMate by T-Rex is arguably one of the most comprehensive acoustic guitar pedals on the market. Granted, it’s also one of the more expensive options, but you only have to take a glance at its stacked features to see why.
If you want complete dominion over every aspect of your acoustic guitar’s tone, then I’d highly recommend the SoulMate. This multi-effects pedal is fitted with a FET preamp so that your amplified sound is crystal clear and powerful enough to fill a room.
In terms of effects, there is a total of 7 premium processing options. The compressor controls the dynamics of your guitar, the modulation gives you access to chorus and detuning, and the 3-band parametric EQ adjusts the frequency response of your instrument.
Additionally, there's a delay unit that produces a variety of trails after you play a note, reverb which adds a spacey element to your tone, a boost which increases the presence of your guitar, and a 5-minute looper for creating backing tracks.
The processing options don't stop there. This all-in-one acoustic toolbox also has a gain control, polarity reversal, and impedance switches. Not to mention the feedback suppressor that takes care of unwanted noises caused by the pickup.
T-Rex has also installed a chromatic tuner to ensure you stay pitch-perfect throughout a performance, and the pedal has dual stereo outputs so you can use it as a signal splitter if you wish.
Adding reverb to an acoustic guitar creates a satisfying tone. With the Align pedal from LR Baggs, you can bathe your guitar in smooth reverb of the highest quality. It features a unique, wood-finished appearance that matches the class of the reverb it produces.
LR Baggs designed this reverb pedal to be responsive to the natural frequency range of an acoustic guitar. Unlike your average reverb pedal, it hones in on the rich mid-range, sweetening the overall output.
The trio of controls can be used to shape the spacey effect of the reverb. Decay allows you to control how long it takes for the effect to tail off after you’ve played a note or chord, and the Tone control boosts or reduces certain frequencies.
The addition of a Volume control knob means that the Align pedal doubles up as a dynamic processer. You can use it to limit or add more volume to the overall mix.
TC Electronic’s range of pedals is highly respected by electric guitarists, and with the Flashback Mini delay, they bring their expertise into the world of acoustic guitar. This compact stompbox offers versatile delay effects to transform the timing and special aspects of an instrument.
Delay is one of the most malleable effects available to guitarists, and the Flashback lets you control every aspect. You can create psychedelic, long-tail delays, or dial it in for a tighter, vintage tape echo style.
The pedal has true bypass to ensure that your clean tone isn't compromised in any way when it is not in use. You can use the various controls to adjust the length, depth, and rhythmic nature of the delay.
A bonus of the Flashback Mini is its compact size. It takes up very little room on a pedalboard, and for such a detailed pedal it's impressive that TC Electronic has managed to cram the controls into such a minute housing.
Fishman is best known for its top-end pickups and acoustic guitar electronics, so it's hardly surprising that they offer great-sounding effects pedals too.
The Tone DEQ acts as a multi-effects pedal for your acoustic guitar, controlling everything from the dynamics, EQ, and processing effects. It's designed to enhance the sound produced by your electric-acoustics' pickup, without losing any of the quality.
With a 3-band onboard EQ, you can tweak the bass, mid, and treble frequencies to create the perfect blend for the setting that you are playing in. The EQ unit also has a low-cut filter, ideal for fingerpicked styles in the higher frets.
The dreaded appearance of feedback is also controlled by the Tone DEQ. With a phase switch dedicated to eliminating unwanted noise, you can rest assured that your acoustic guitar won’t damage any ears in the audience.
There are also multiple digital effects included with the Tone DEQ. These include reverb, saturation, and delay. A switchable gain boost gives you the option of ramping up the volume of your instrument instantaneously. Overall this detailed pedal would make a brilliant addition to your live and studio guitar rig.
7. MXR M109S
Adding the MXR M109S to your pedalboard gives you control over 6-bands of EQ to perfectly tailor the frequency output of an acoustic guitar. Equalization is essential when playing an acoustic instrument, as it smoothens out any harsh tones that might be caused by the pickup.
The M109S also doubles up as an adjustable boost for those moments during a set when you need your guitar to rise above the other instrumentation. You can add or remove up to 18 decibels from each slider, providing ample headroom.
A common issue with an amplified acoustic guitar is that the pickup interacts differently with whatever amplifier or direct input it is plugged into. By simply adjusting the sliders on this graphic EQ, you can tailor the tone in real-time and avoid any harshness.
The aluminum housing ensures that the M109S will stand up to any wear and tear it encounters on the road or in the practice room, and the low-noise circuitry delivers a clear and crisp representation of your instrument.
The addition of extra-bright LED indicators on each slider means that you can visibly see the settings even if you’re playing on a stage with minimal lighting.
The Fender Smolder pedal brings the legendary manufacturer’s touch of class into an acoustic stompbox, providing warm overdrive and multiple cab simulations. As you’d expect from a Fender pedal, the tones produced are filled with authenticity and natural quality.
Adding saturation to acoustic instruments is much more difficult than their electric counterparts, due to the inevitable appearance of undesirable overtones and their tendency to produce feedback. With the Smolder, Fender has combated these issues effectively.
Tailored to suit acoustic guitar with piezo pickups, but compatible with other pickups too, the Smolder has a wide range of gain which enhances the subtleties of an acoustic guitar’s output.
The overdrive produced ranges from gentle and warm, to sustain-driven break-ups. To dial in the effect, Fender has included onboard EQ and Tone controls. These are useful for tweaking the settings to match the acoustics of the room you are playing in.
Along with the aforementioned controls, you also get a Blend knob which is great for mixing the processed audio with the natural sound of an acoustic guitar. All of the controls are backlit with LEDs, and the brushed aluminum housing gives this pedal an elegant appearance.
Acoustic Guitar Pedals: Amp vs. D.I
If you ask multiple acoustic guitarists whether they prefer to use an amplifier or plug their pedals straight into a direct input onstage, you’ll likely receive mixed answers. Truth be told, both methods have their respective pros and cons.
Plugging your acoustic guitar pedals into an amplifier is beneficial because it allows you to tailor the settings of the amp in the practice room, thus providing you with an idea of how it will sound on the show night.
The only disadvantage of this is that the amplifier might interact differently depending on the acoustics of the room, and the number of people that are present to absorb the sound.
Plugging your acoustic guitar pedal straight into a D.I box eliminates any of the issues that might arise from using an amplifier, but it’s harder to predict what your tone will sound like on the night.
If you have a sound engineer present, they will likely prefer you to use a D.I, as they can then mix your sound at the desk and adjust it accordingly during the set.
Adding pedals to your acoustic guitar setup can make you stand out on stage. It's a sure-fire way to make your set more interesting, whether you are a solo musician or part of a band.
All of the pedals listed in this article are of the highest quality, so I’m confident you will find the right one to take your acoustic guitar playing to another level.