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Acoustic amp model?


ichasedx
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Hello to all,

  Due to a recent change to a venue I frequent, I will no longer be using an amp. They are doing sound system updates, which after completion will now have a "front of house" board and monitors. I exclusively use my acoustic guitars there, which consists of a Fishman performer amp and a small pedalboard. I use the onboard effects in the amp, so I will need to add a few pedals to my board and use the DI from my preamp out. I know I could use the DI out of the amp but would rather not hump the gear if I don't have to, (bad back!).. Basically my board is full, so instead, I'm interested in using my Helix, and for this venue, abandon my present setup altogether. At home I have my Fishman amp sandwiched between 2 PC+'s, for the ideal situation for an A/B comparison, and adjustments.

Now my question...Honestly, I understand the differences between the various amp models, but I don't understand what properties make an acoustic amp sound the best. I'm looking for some help in identifying the best or several amp models that would best mimic the Fishman, or an acoustic amp so I can have a starting point for my patch. I have stayed away from Ir's so far, and would like to keep it that way.

Thanks as always...

Mike

 

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As far as I understand, an acoustic amp for your acoustic guitar is simply a mini-PA.  It does not color the sound, distort it in any way, just amplifies the sound, that's why people use it for acoustic guitars.  There are of course exceptions where people run acoustic guitars through distortion, but typically you don't want to have it sound natural and warm, that's all.

 

So for acoustic guitars, Helix has a ton of stuff you may find useful.  For example, adding a compressor, EQ, delay, reverb, panning, will help you make your acoustic-electric have studio-like sound.

 

So I think in order to sound like a mini-PA, you simply should omit a traditional traditional guitar amplifier. Use the added ingredients to make your direct guitar sound good. 

 

"acoustic" guitar playing below... just for lols

 

 

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I appreciate your input. If you think this guy sounds good, quacking piezo, you should hear the pure beauty of a fine acoustic! It seems so many guitarists toil over every aspect of their electric "sound", but are satisfied with any resemblance of an acoustic sound. I was like minded for years until I had the resources and time to devote to achieving a tone worthy of accompanying a grand piano, violin, cello and choir. I love distortion and effects, but the purity of fine instruments and proper amplification cannot be overlooked. If you think a Ovation round back sounds cool, eg... we are on different pages. 

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3 hours ago, ichasedx said:

I'm looking for some help in identifying the best or several amp models that would best mimic the Fishman, or an acoustic amp so I can have a starting point for my patch.


Hi Mike,


You might want to investigate using the Studio Tube Preamp (based on a Requisite Y7 mic preamp), add an EQ block or two to mimic your Loudbox features - shelving treble, bass and notch filtering. Add a LA Studio Compressor, chorus, delay and dynamic reverb. That should give you a place to start recreating the tone that you already know.

 

I have used this setup for recording with my Fishman Rare Earth Blend equipped acoustic (one path for the pickup and the other for the mic), and another one a with K&K Pure system. It is also the starting point for when I am only using condenser mics. You will need to mess around to get it how it suits you, and works with  your instrument(s).

 

Hope this helps/makes sense.

Edited by datacommando
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8 hours ago, ichasedx said:

Hello to all,

  Due to a recent change to a venue I frequent, I will no longer be using an amp. They are doing sound system updates, which after completion will now have a "front of house" board and monitors. I exclusively use my acoustic guitars there, which consists of a Fishman performer amp and a small pedalboard. I use the onboard effects in the amp, so I will need to add a few pedals to my board and use the DI from my preamp out. I know I could use the DI out of the amp but would rather not hump the gear if I don't have to, (bad back!).. Basically my board is full, so instead, I'm interested in using my Helix, and for this venue, abandon my present setup altogether. At home I have my Fishman amp sandwiched between 2 PC+'s, for the ideal situation for an A/B comparison, and adjustments.

Now my question...Honestly, I understand the differences between the various amp models, but I don't understand what properties make an acoustic amp sound the best. I'm looking for some help in identifying the best or several amp models that would best mimic the Fishman, or an acoustic amp so I can have a starting point for my patch. I have stayed away from Ir's so far, and would like to keep it that way.

Thanks as always...

Mike

 

 

7 hours ago, ichasedx said:

I appreciate your input. If you think this guy sounds good, quacking piezo, you should hear the pure beauty of a fine acoustic! It seems so many guitarists toil over every aspect of their electric "sound", but are satisfied with any resemblance of an acoustic sound. I was like minded for years until I had the resources and time to devote to achieving a tone worthy of accompanying a grand piano, violin, cello and choir. I love distortion and effects, but the purity of fine instruments and proper amplification cannot be overlooked. If you think a Ovation round back sounds cool, eg... we are on different pages. 

 

What did you end up settling on regarding equipment, effects, EQ, etc., to get your acoustic sound, when you had the resources? 

 

This doesn't answer your initial question directly, but I mostly ended up abandoning the idea of trying to emulate the sound of an acoustic guitar amp though my Helix. For me nothing beats a great sounding acoustic guitar through a well-positioned mic into the PA. However, the ease of use of my piezos through the Helix is what I have ended up playing for years now when I am not on electric. Consistent, predictable sound, no feedback, no bumping the mic with the guitar, no picking up random background stage noise. Also doesn't hurt that when I switch back to a Helix electric guitar preset, it mutes the acoustic by default.

 

Over the years I have tried various acoustic IRs and the Studio Tube Preamp and even the 'Jazz Rivet' (Roland Jazz Chorus) amp. Although I still select them now and then for a specific sound, I most often find myself dialing up my presets that omit preamps, amps, cabs and IRs and focus instead on getting the EQ, compression, chorus, reverb, & delay right. I always have a gain switch set up for solos; gotta have it for soling on acoustic with a full band. Going direct from the Helix has its advantages and gets a very respectable tone. 

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7 hours ago, HonestOpinion said:

What did you end up settling on regarding equipment, effects, EQ, etc., to get your acoustic sound, when you had the resources? 

Thanks so much for you comments. My acoustic rig is as simple as I could make it.  My two acoustic guitars are Taylor 914CE, and a Guild F-512E 12 string. On occasion I use a '57 Gibson ES-125T. My signal chain is simple, Peterson tuner, I use the built in effects with the foot switch from the Fishman performer, reverb and a little chorus when needed, and then thru a Fishman Platinum Pro EQ. Also have a looper and line 6 wireless. Thats it! I use the boost on the EQ set to 3db when finger or flat picking, off for strumming. My distorted rig seems like its always a work in progress, always tweaking, but this acoustic setup is rock solid! Beautiful tone and clarity every time...

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I don't know if this has been mentioned but don't forget the mic input in the Helix. You could mix and blend the piezo (if you have that) with a mic. There is a feedback danger with the mic so go in knowing that. But you probably knew that that would be normal anyway. Start with the mic preamp and some EQ. One thing I've done to varying degrees of success, is to run the Acoustic Sim in parallel with the guitar's main path. You can blend that in as well to help craft your tone. Not perfect maybe but you do have options. This not definitive either. As has been mentioned, there are IR's. I've often used cabs for "eq's". I'll quickly run through all of the cabs just to see what their effect maybe on the sound. Even try different amps, bass and guitar. It often surprises me what will pop out.  Hope this helps. I think it will work pretty well.  You just need to find what combination will work for you. I do think it's in there.

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8 hours ago, HonestOpinion said:

 

…... For me nothing beats a great sounding acoustic guitar through a well-positioned mic into the PA. However, the ease of use of my piezos through the Helix is what I have ended up playing for years now when I am not on electric. …

This has been my experience too. For recording, nothing beats a properly mic’d quality acoustic guitar. For live play I also like the convenience of the Variax. I’ve also found that I need to soften my playing style, especially strumming, to avoid some of the piezo nastiness. But very good results are achievable.

 

The possibilities with Variax and Helix are amazing. Jethro Tull’s song Aqualung is a good example. My preset uses the Variax mag pickups in standard tuning in one path as well as a custom tuned Variax acoustic model in the other path. The Helix onboard pedal is assigned to blend the two sounds so I can instantly move from the standard tuned electric to the capo’ed acoustic. I should probably assign the move to a footswitch rather than the pedal because you really don’t want the blend of different tunings,  but I’ve gotten used to the pedal and it works for me.

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1 hour ago, ichasedx said:

My two acoustic guitars are Taylor 914CE, and a Guild F-512E 12 string. On occasion I use a '57 Gibson ES-125T. My signal chain is simple, Peterson tuner, I use the built in effects with the foot switch from the Fishman performer, reverb and a little chorus when needed, and then thru a Fishman Platinum Pro EQ. Also have a looper and line 6 wireless. Thats it! I use the boost on the EQ set to 3db when finger or flat picking, off for strumming.

 

The Fishman performer is just a nice sounding "full range" set up with a few EQ frequencies carefully chosen for acoustic. EG: It's a small PA/Monitor. Unlike guitar amps, It doesn't (nor should it) have any special character of it's own other than simply sounding good. 

 

This is easy to assemble in the Helix..... (IMO)

  • Preamp > Mic > Studio Tube Pre   (emulates a console input, and includes hi/lo cuts)
  • Choose an EQ (or two) of you liking to emulate the tone controls on the Fishman. A parametric should be all you need....it just won't be as simple as the fixed controls on the Fishman. 
  • Add effects to taste... reverb, chorus, etc... etc... 
  • Add a GAIN block as a BOOST for when you need it.
  • (optional) Add an LA Studio Comp to the chain to polish the final tone a little. 

Don't over think this one :) 

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All good tips. Keep it simple in the Helix. But the single-most important tone shaping for live acoustic guitar is the pickup. And different guitars work best with a specific pickup. As an example, I use an Alvarez Yairi live, and experimented with many pickups before settling on a B-Band A2.2 double pickup system. For some reason it sounded better than some pickups costing twice as much. Also, don't rule out sound hole magnetic pickups, some of them sound decent.

 

Acoustic guitar "quack" normally from piezo pickups, and is difficult to dial out using EQ. If you can get a good sound straight into an amp, 90% of your tone battle is won. Then you can find a simple, supportive chain of blocks in Helix to give you power into the PA.

 

Also, if your guitar is prone to acoustic feedback, try using a simple sound hole blocker (mine looks and smells like it was made out of old tires!). Then you can turn your pickup up louder (which can improve Helix response), with minimal impact on the guitar's tone.

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5 hours ago, silverhead said:

This has been my experience too. For recording, nothing beats a properly mic’d quality acoustic guitar. For live play I also like the convenience of the Variax. I’ve also found that I need to soften my playing style, especially strumming, to avoid some of the piezo nastiness. But very good results are achievable.

 

The possibilities with Variax and Helix are amazing. Jethro Tull’s song Aqualung is a good example. My preset uses the Variax mag pickups in standard tuning in one path as well as a custom tuned Variax acoustic model in the other path. The Helix onboard pedal is assigned to blend the two sounds so I can instantly move from the standard tuned electric to the capo’ed acoustic. I should probably assign the move to a footswitch rather than the pedal because you really don’t want the blend of different tunings,  but I’ve gotten used to the pedal and it works for me.

 

I get the most mileage out of acoustic IRs when using a Variax or electric guitar to emulate an acoustic guitar.  Like you, I bring a Variax for alternate tunings and songs that require quick changes between acoustic and electric. For purely acoustic songs though I always pack an acoustic guitar. My challenge has been getting a strummed sound that I can really love through anything but an acoustic guitar. Fingerpicking, solos, or gentle strumming works fine but the second I need to beat out a rhythm my sound gets artificial and thin. I seem to be able to get satisfactory, as in close enough for rock & roll, but not great tones for strumming. I have seen videos and heard clips of other players who have pulled it off really well but for some reason that magic formula has always eluded me unless I am using an actual acoustic.

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I take two guitars to my acoustic gigs: a regular acoustic (the Alvarez Yairi), and a Variax Acoustic 700. The Variax I use for alternate tunings. And even though it was designed for acoustic guitar sounds (and does a damned good job), it can't beat the sound of the Alvarez.

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