6 Best Acoustic Simulator Pedals for Achieving Clean Sounds
An acoustic tone can really break up a full electric set. But lugging around two guitars isn’t always an option, especially when playing on smaller stages or when you have limited room in the car.
That’s where an acoustic simulator pedal can help.
These handy pedals allow your electric guitar to simulate an acoustic sound. This can add some extra color to your set and make your overall playing more versatile.
Simulating that Acoustic Tone – Best Pedals
Of course, an acoustic simulator is no good to you if it can’t offer that clean and rich tone. I’ve examined six that I think will make great additions to your pedal board.
1. Boss AC-3
The four simulation modes stood out for me with the Boss AC-3. You get a choice of jumbo, piezo, and enhanced to go alongside the regular acoustic tone. All offer really clean tones with minimal fuzz.
The other three knobs let you make further tweaks to the body, reverb, and top-end. This offers even more control over your acoustic sound.
Furthermore, the pedal has two out ports. With the right setup, you can use these to directly bypass other effects so you can switch straight into the acoustic mode.
It’s not perfect though. Using anything other than single coils generates a hiss when you play, as does adding any gain to your playing.
The pedal also requires plenty of tweaking. You’ll need to adjust the EQ settings based on the room if you’re going to find the right tone.
The beautiful vintage style ensures this pedal stands out on any board. However, don’t let this design work fool you. The zinc alloy casing also means it can take a beating and still perform well.
This pedal focuses specifically on the “wooden” tone that you get with acoustic guitars. As a result, you get a nice and clean sound that’s perfect for playing in churches and during similar events.
You also get the choice of piezo and jumbo tones, but it’s the dreadnought setting that stands out. This emulates acoustics with larger bodies, leading to a richer and more vibrant tone. It may be perfect for when you’re trying to fill a room with sound.
There’s not a lot wrong with this pedal, in all honesty. The only bugbear I can find is that it’s on the small size. As a result, it can get lost in large pedal boards.
Like most of the pedals on my list, this comes with the standard, jumbo, and piezo settings. There’s no enhanced setting though, so this may not be a good choice if you need a really loud and rich sound.
Reliability is the key here, as the MAC1 has a full metal casing. Not only does this protect the pedal when you’re traveling, but it also means it can take a heavy stomp without showing any ill effects.
It’s also a simple pedal, with big knobs to help you control the level, top, and body. The pedal has one input and one output port. This adds to the simplicity, but also means you may not be able to get it to bypass other effects while playing.
Unfortunately, it falls down a little when you increase the volume. The pedal produces a tinny sound at higher volumes, so this may not be the best choice for playing shows.
It’s also on the smaller end of the scale, which may present the same issues as the TPSWOOD.
It’s the little flap at the top of the JF-323 that really makes it stand out for more. Once you’ve found the right tone, you can knock the flap down to protect the pedal’s knobs. This protects them from errant stomps, plus it means you don’t accidentally change the pedal’s settings while playing.
It also offers plenty of controls, with bass, high, and mid all accounted for. These allow you to change the mood of your tones depending on the performance you’re staging.
It has one input and one output port, so it’s on the simple side of the scale. It also doesn’t have anything beyond a standard setting, though there’s plenty of ways to configure the pedal to achieve the sound you want.
Generally speaking, it offers a deep and bass-heavy sound. However, it’s worth mentioning that it has no internal battery. Furthermore, you need an adapter (which doesn’t come with the pedal) to plug it into the mains.
Like the JF-323, the AAS-3 needs a 9V power supply to get up and running. Unfortunately, also like the JF-323, the adapter you need for this doesn’t come as part of the package.
So, what do you get? The pedal offers a choice of the piezo, jumbo and standard settings, which you move between using a little switch at the top.
You also get three knobs, which control the volume, top, and body. You’ll need to tweak these quite a bit in standard mode, as the pedal can struggle to hit the right tone at times.
Because of this, it may not be the best choice for performing. However, it does a good job as a practice pedal for those who don’t want to buy their own acoustic guitars.
The pedal does offer input and output ports, as you’d expect. It’s also solid enough, though perhaps not quite so sturdy as some of the other pedals on my list.
Another cost-effective option, the AC-8 does a decent job of simulating the acoustic sound. However, it also keeps things simple. As a result, you don’t get any jumbo or piezo settings.
It does have four knobs, which allow you to adjust the bass, treble, top, and level. However, there’s a lot of space between the knobs, which leads to a bulky pedal that takes up a lot of space on your board.
I did like the stainless steel casing, which has a quality seal to prevent dust from getting into the pedal. You also have a choice of powering it via battery or a power supply. Unfortunately, you have to buy the battery and power adapter separately
It’s decent as a practice pedal, but you may find that it doesn’t produce a rich enough sound for playing shows.
Acoustic Simulator Pedals - Things to Keep in Mind
It’s Just a Simulation
The important thing to remember with an acoustic simulator is that you won’t get the same sound as you will with an acoustic guitar. Many manufacturers claim perfect sound, but that’s simply not the case.
The best pedals come as close as possible and lack tininess. Just remember to manage your expectations.
Most buy acoustic simulator pedals because they don’t want to carry a bulky acoustic guitar around. As a result, it needs to fit into your pedal board without adding too much weight.
I find that a lot of people overlook portability in their acoustic simulator pedals. The whole point is to make traveling with the pedal much easier, so a hulking behemoth won’t do the job.
All acoustic pedal simulators come with the standard mode, which makes your electric guitar sound like an acoustic.
However, some also have the following two modes:
- Jumbo – Adds a deeper bass sound to the guitar. A lot of metal players prefer this setting because it offers a balance between texture and heaviness.
- Piezo – This goes in the opposite direction, creating an even cleaner sound. It’s bright and emulates the sound you might get if you changed the pickups on a real acoustic.
When it comes to modes, it all depends on how varied your play-style is. You don’t need to shell out extra for other modes if you know you won’t experiment too much.
The Final Word
Think about your requirements before buying an acoustic simulator. If you want to use it to play shows, the pedal should have several settings in addition to multiple output ports. If it’s a practice pedal, you can usually cut some of your cost by going for a simpler pedal.
Each of the pedals on my list does a good job of simulating the basic acoustic tone. Which you choose will depend on how much you want to be able to mess with that tone.