5 Ways to Destroy Your Acoustic Sound
November 8, 2014
Why class up your act by adding some beautifully organic acoustic-guitar textures to your performance? That’s boring. If you really want to make an impression on an audience, here are some tips for using your acoustic guitar to send them running for the exits.
The sound of a great acoustic guitar captured by a quality microphone is a
beautiful thing—when you can somewhat isolate
the instrument in a recording studio. Club
stages, however, are typically full of renegade signals—your band’s other
instruments, air conditioning, audience chatter,
bar noise, room reﬂections, and so on—
that can leak into the mics and play havoc
with your lovely acoustic-guitar tones. If
you blow mic selection and placement in an
open and raucous environment, your source
sound has a fabulous chance of sucking.
Onboard, pedal, and rack preamps for acoustic guitars typically offer EQ, and
that many players start futzing with tone
tweaks mere microseconds after strumming
their guitars. Equalization is a powerful tool for improving and/or enhancing
frequency spectrums, but boost the mids too
much and—shazzam!—you just crap-iﬁed
the natural tone of your acoustic.
You might think that smoothing out your
attack by compressing an acoustic guitar’s
signal will produce a balanced, shimmering tone. In many cases, you’d actually
right. But if you don’t know how to apply
compression artfully, you may increase
the level of low-frequency resonances, fret
buzzes, and ﬁnger squeaks—none of which
are very pleasant to listen to.
A lot of acoustic guitarists have made excellent use of effects such as reverb, delay,
chorus, and overdrive. Not-so-excellent
deployment of processing can transform your performance into an operatic
of indistinct muck.
Don’t be a sissy. Turn up that acoustic just
like you would an electric solidbody and rock
hard. Losing your guitar a bit in the band’s
onstage mix? No biggie—simply send your
acoustic to the monitors and crank those
up, as well. And don’t forget to give the
crowd a thrill by leaning over the wedges
at the edge of the stage and strumming
your heart out. Hey, if they can’t stand the
feedback, that’s their problem.
Think About It!
Seriously. Do you really want to offend
potential fans with ugly acoustic-guitar
sounds? Hopefully, the answer is “no.”
But if you dive blindly into processing,
miking, and other live-sound applications without at least understanding the
basics, you run the risk of tanking your
tone. So do some homework, use rehearsals to experiment and reﬁne (rather than
just jam), and get your sonic act together
before you step onstage.