Most genres of music use acoustic guitars at one point or another. From rockers like Lita Ford to jazz fusion artists like Dave Matthews, musicians have to re-create recorded acoustic tracks during live concerts. Small concert venues, however, present serious issues when bands try to amplify an acoustic guitar. This is due to the proximity of the guitar to microphones, amplifiers and public address systems. But with a little planning, acoustic feedback can be minimised.
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Things you need
- Guitar input cable
- Sound hole acoustic pickup
- Acoustic guitar amplifier
- Sound hole cover
Directly input the guitar's signal to the PA system with a guitar input cable instead of using a microphone to pick up the guitar's ambient sound. According to Scientific American.com, this will prevent the guitar's sound from being caught in a loop among the microphone, amplifier and PA system. The loop works like this: As the PA system broadcasts the guitar's sound, the microphone picks up the sound coming from both the guitar and the PA system. The amplifier heightens both signals, thus causing uncontrollable feedback. Eliminating the acoustic guitar's microphone eliminates this cycle.
Install a sound hole pickup into guitar. A sound hole pickup mounts to the edges of the guitar's sound hole and picks up the vibrations directly from the guitar's strings. According to GuitarRepairShop.com, most acoustic-electric guitars come equipped with an "under saddle" piezoelectric pickup, which is a wire that is placed under the guitar's bridge saddle. The guitar's sound is picked up via that wire. Piezoelectric pickups do a good job of eliminating feedback but in smaller venues a sound hole pickup will give the maximum amount of feedback suppression.
Use an amplifier that is designed for acoustic guitars. Most live setups require the acoustic guitar to go through the PA system. In smaller venues, however, many people will opt run the guitar through a guitar amplifier. A standard guitar amplifier is not voiced for an acoustic guitar and is not equipped with the suppression technology needed to help prevent feedback. A quality acoustic amplifier will have built-in technology that is not needed in a standard electric guitar amplifier.
Install a sound hole cover when using a piezoelectric pickup. An acoustic guitar's sound hole emanates sound from the hole, which can cause ambient vibration of the strings. This can cause feedback. Because a piezoelectric pickup gets sound from the guitar's bridge, the sound coming from the sound hole is not needed, so the hole can be completely covered to block all ambient sound from affecting the strings. The sound hole cover is plastic or wooden cover that plugs the hole in the guitar.
Tips and warnings
- Microphones used for broadcasting vocals and drums can sometimes pick up an acoustic guitar's sound and can cause feedback. Using directional microphones to broadcast vocals and drums will help to reduce this. Making sure that all microphones being used are not directly placed in front of the acoustic amplifier or PA system will also help to reduce acoustic guitar feedback.
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