The acoustic guitar makes its own noise, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. If you want to play in front of an audience or in the company of other musicians, you might need one of the best acoustic guitar amps in this round-up.
What we are looking for is an amplifier that makes your acoustic electric guitar, or acoustic mic’d up through a condenser microphone, sound louder, sound better, but most of all sound like itself. That’s the thing. After all there is little point in agonising over which acoustic guitar is right for you and then plugging it into an amplifier that masks all those lovely transients and dynamics.
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We are also looking for an amplifier that can handle your vocals, too, with a second channel dedicated to an XLR input for your mic. That would be great, right? Well, you’re in luck.
The good news is that amp manufacturers get it. They know what you are looking for. And whether you intend on playing down the coffee shop or local club, busking on the high street or playing at church, there is an abundance of choice. So let’s have a look at 10 great choices and find the best acoustic guitar amp that’s right for you.
What is the best acoustic guitar amp?
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German acoustic amp titan AER manufactures a suite of incredible acoustic amps but for our money, and for the professional’s money, it’s the AER Compact 60 MkIV that takes the cake. It will bring out the best in your acoustic, delivering its tone amplified, untampered, and with all the mod-cons you need in a pro-quality two-channel acoustic amp. For the gigging guitarist and studio pro alike, this is the one. Used by the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, its small and portable but can fill a room.
A more wallet-friendly option and yet stage-ready out of the box is the Boss Acoustic Singer Live LT. It’s a more stripped down and budget-conscious entry in the hugely popular series but its performance – not to mention its portability and build – makes it a convincing grab-and-go amplifier, with two channels to handle both guitar and vocals, onboard effects and plenty of tone-tweaking options to tighten up your live sound.
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If you are new to acoustic amplifiers, one of the first things to note is that their modus operandi is a little different to their electric guitar amp counterparts. The goal with the acoustic amplifier is to amplify your acoustic guitar tone faithfully, with no distortion, no feedback, and none of the artificial twackiness that you can get when electro-acoustics are amplified.
Broadly speaking, this transparent performance places the acoustic amplifier at the mercy of your guitar; it’s only going to sound as good as your guitar. Where a great electric guitar amp can make a piece of firewood sound useable, the acoustic amp has to work with what it’s got. That is the rule of the thumb, and the platonic ideal is to own a great-sounding acoustic, right?
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But then there are a host of tone-shaping features to look out for that can save your tone on a day when, for example, you are playing with other musicians, and you need the EQ to brighten up your tone and help your fingerstyle pop through the mix. If you’ve got a smaller-bodied orchestra or parlour model then you could always dial in a little extra in the lower-mids to add depth to strummed chords.
Another fundamental difference between the electric guitar amp and the acoustic guitar amp is that the two-channel designs of the acoustic amp aren’t for having one clean channel and the other with a gain stage on it. More commonly it will because one will have a 1/4” instrument input jack and a XLR input for attaching a vocal mic or – if it has phantom power – a condenser mic for your acoustic guitar.
Many acoustic amps will have onboard effects – typically reverb, which adds a little space to your tone and brightens up a dead room, but also delay and chorus. If you are a card-carrying member of the next-gen acoustic players who are shepherds of an ever-growing pedalboard, an effects loop might be essential.
Most good acoustic electric preamps and acoustic guitar amplifiers offer some sort of prophylactic measure to stop feedback, such as a phase, notch filter and sweep. Feedback can be the bane of the acoustic player’s life, and it strikes when you least expect it. Sometimes it is the room that is the problem, but finding that troublesome frequency and taking it out will make your performances all the more enjoyable.
Amps such as the Marshall AS50D have a notch filter and a frequency sweep control to really give you control over it. Others will have phase switches, on/off buttons that cut some of the low-end frequencies that can cause mischief.
Outputs, battery power, and portability
There are other practical concerns that the acoustic guitarist needs to bear in mind. If you intend on busking, you’ll need a battery-powered amp. Here we have two choices for you, with the Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge an amp you charge at the wall and the Roland AC-33 taking a stack of AA batteries.
The best acoustic guitar amp for you can also be a question of outputs. If you are looking for a recording amp, or if you want to send a signal via PA speakers, you’ll need a line out or XLR DI output. Many of these amps will offer a variety of solutions here, with ground lift to kill hum and some with the option of choosing channels for the outputs.
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The Compact 60 has long been a favourite of professional players for its exceptional performance, delivering a crystal-clear transparency that doesn’t step on your acoustic’s tone.
Acoustic phenom Tommy Emmanuel is a fan. His signature model is based on the Compact 60, the only change in that the onboard delay is replaced with the reverb/chorus blend from setting 99 of a vintage Alesis MIDIVerb, and it costs about 30 bucks more than this MkIV. We could be tempted, but there’s plenty to be getting on with here.
The Compact 60 is super-practical. Its birch-ply cabinet is boxy but compact and light enough to take on public transport, and it is ideal for stage or the studio. Secondly, there are heaps of player-friendly features here and they’re all simple to use. There are four presets for the effects.
The MkIV is much the same as the much-loved MkIII. There is the Colour switch that can cut the low-mids and boost the highs to help accentuate fingerstyle playing, and this you can fine-tune via the EQ. And transparency is still the name of the game (set at noon, the Compact 60 is totally neutral). But the MkIV comes equipped with an auxiliary input with level control, a pre/post-FX switch to let you place your direct signal before or after the onboard effects, and 9V phantom power on channel 1 to supply instrument preamps without a battery.
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The Acoustic Singer series from Boss takes the bi-amp format to offer an all-in-one amp solution for singer-songwriters, and its excellent design, tone and value for money make it a hugely attractive choice for any electro-acoustic player.
When it was first launched in 2017, we believed that the Acoustic Singer Pro raised the bar when it comes to the best acoustic guitar amps. The latest addition to the series, the Acoustic Singer Live LT, was unveiled at NAMM 2020 and offers a stripped-down version of the Pro and Live formats. It has a smaller footprint, is more affordable, and while it does not have the onboard looper, vocal harmoniser or dual DI, it nonetheless has a suite of features that make it ideal for live performance.
There is a vocal enhance feature – a simple button adds some oomph to your voice – and delay, echo and reverb. You can make quick changes to your acoustic tone too via a trio of acoustic responses, each at the touch of a button also. The guitar channel has anti-feedback control, and delay, chorus and reverb, while both have their own 3-band EQs. You have also got a line out and USB connectivity for recording and an aux-in with a handy level control for adding external audio to the mix.
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Blackstar’s Sonnet series of acoustic amps was designed in collaboration with British singer-songwriter Jon Gomm, and if you are serious about your playing and want to take your acoustic electric sound to the next level, and yet need something more accessibly priced, the Sonnet 120 might just be for you.
Why? Well, the build quality is excellent. The built in tilt stand comes in very handy for the stage, and handier still is the ability to mount your amp on a standard 35mm PA stand via the SA-2 adaptor (which will set you back about 10 bucks).
The Sonnet delivers a naturalistic sound but offers ample tone-shaping features. There is a shape control for switching between a flat EQ and one with the mids cut and bass/treble boosted. Between this shape control, the high pass filter and brilliance controls, the Sonnet gives you plenty of options for dialling in a tone that works with other instruments. And there is an efficient filter and global phase control for eliminating feedback.
Elsewhere, you’ve got four excellent digital reverbs, a footswitch to control them and mute the instrument, plus Bluetooth and an MP3 input for jamming along to a backing track. Oh, and there’s an effects loop and phantom power, too.
Fishman has kept it simple with the Loudbox Mini Charge. There is not a cornucopia of inputs and outputs, just a single mix DI out, inputs for your guitar and mic, and an auxiliary input for playing MP3s/backing tracks. And with Bluetooth you might not even need the latter.
The idea is that the Loudbox Mini Charge offers a super-portable, easy-to-use amp for buskers who are serious about their tone. Simply charge it at the wall and it should last you for 12 hours at average volumes or 4 at maximum volume. That would be quite the set if you were to play for longer.
But you might want to; this is an excellent-sounding amp. On the guitar channel, there is onboard chorus and reverb, and a 3-band EQ for making those essential tweaks when you get to wherever you want to play. It’s loud enough for a busy street, and small enough to take on public transport.
The SFX looks like a breed apart from other acoustic guitar amps. It has a retro-minimism with its maple-ply cabinet evoking Danish modernism. This will look good in the home beside your Kaare Klint chairs, or the coffee shop, club, wherever you intend to play it.
But what sets the SFX apart from other grab-and-go two-channel acoustic amplifiers is the Stereo Field Expansion tech that gives it its name. The SFX has two identical channels with combo inputs that can be used with a 1/4” instrument jack or an XLR microphone input. There is a three-band EQ, reverb, effects level, volume and phase control for cutting feedback, while the effects are controlled by a centre panel that offers two types of delay with tap tempo (one with a vintage echo vibe, the other a little longer with more repeats), stereo chorus and a digital Fender Vibratone effect.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The SFX knob on the control panel works in conjunction with the side-radiating speaker to dial in how much stereo spread you want from the amp. You can leave the SFX off and have your tone poking right at your audience, or dial in a bit or spread it wider with the SFX for a more ambient in-the-room sound. Using the SFX with the Vibratone brings forth some lush wobble and rotary speaker swirl.
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The AS50D is a stage-ready acoustic amp and arrives with all kinds of features to make your life easier. This is a two-channel set-up, with independent bass and treble controls for both channels, with phase and an anti-feedback sweep control to keep your performance uninterrupted.
You’ll also find a dedicated DI/line out for going straight to the PA should you need to, or straight to the desk for recording.
Marshall lets you decide which channel to apply the chorus and offers depth and speed controls. But of course if you want to hook up a delay or what have you, there is an effects loop on hand. The AS50D is one of the best acoustic guitar amps for those who like a few effects with their acoustic. While the reverb is global, the Reverb Balance Control lets you pan the reverb and/or the balance of the parallel effects loop to either channel.
Like the Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge, you can take this amp anywhere, with the choice of AC power via an adaptor at the wall or 8 AA batteries. The batteries are housed in a removable carriage and can be recharged. It’s not quite as elegant a solution as charging the Loudbox at the wall but bear in mind that should you leave your charger at home you can get batteries anywhere at a pinch.
Sound-wise there is a lot to get into with the AC-33. It was launched in 2010 but was stacked with features as to somewhat future-proof its performance. You get two kinds of chorus here, but it’s Roland chorus so it’s super-lush. There are ambience effects to add a sense of space, and there is a very respectable digital reverb, too.
Speaking of space, the stereo sound really fills a room, and that is one of the reasons why the AC-33 has remained such a popular choice for the gigging guitarist. There are two-channels, a built-in tilt to aid projection further, and a 40-second looper. Serious loop-heads might want more, but it is enough for most of us and a nice tool to have on hand.
There is a lot to like about this small but powerful little 50W combo. It is light enough for public transport, has independent three-band EQs for both channels, stacks chorus and reverb on one dial for a quick splash of warble and depth if needed, and you’ve got the all-important phase switch to help cut feedback.
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The VX50AG is loud enough for small gigs and is pleasingly articulate – perhaps a little mercilessly so. It’ll punish sloppy playing but the other side of that ledger is that it really makes your tone pop. Fingerstyle guitarists will love its crisp response. Singer-songwriters will like the blend of both channels. Gigging players will love the red LEDs to warn you if it’s clipping. And heck, everyone will like the price.
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The Acoustasonic 15 is Fender’s entry-level acoustic combo and it shares much of the cool, understated style of its more sophisticated siblings. It is a simple 15-watt combo with a little 6” whizzer cone speaker that does an admirable job in projecting the full frequency dynamic of your instrument.
Those 15-watts are deceptively loud. If you needed a little no-fuss combo for playing in a room, a small party or pokey little coffee shop, this would get you through it. Of course, it’s ideal for practice situations when you have to be heard above other instruments – horns, strings, and so forth.
The control panel holds little mystery. There is a 3-band EQ, onboard chorus for adding a little width and depth to your tone, and an XLR input so you can hook up a vocal mic, too. The instrument and mic channels each have their own volume control so it’s easy dialling in the mix that you want.
The Rosette 300 One:Ten is not for everyone. It’s expensive. It has a lot of options, more than many of us would need. But for the serious gigging musician it presents pretty much everything you would want from an acoustic combo.
There is heaps of volume and gin-clear definition to maximise the dynamic and harmonic potential of your instrument. It’s a two-channel affair, with channel one switchable between XLR and 1/4” instrument jack and channel two for your instrument alone. The semi-parametric EQ setup affords full control over your signal through both channels and there is an effects loop to cater for the growing band of electro-acoustic pedal freaks.
Options include a 2x 8” speaker model for around 150 bucks more. The build is exceptional and Mesa/Boogie has done a great job in packing all this into an amp that weighs under 13kg.
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