Sunday, January 10

Acoustic Board? You bet!

As I alluded to recently, I've been thinking about my acoustic rig. Since I play acoustic in public way more often than electric, I thought it was silly to have a pedal board for something that never leaves the house anyway, and so this board was born!

The signal chain is: Breedlove acoustic -> Fishman Aura pedal (concert model) -> Boss GE-7 -> Tiny Virgin Mary (with humility controls) -> Voodoo Labs Tremolo ->Boss DD-7 (with tap tempo) -> Countryman Type 85 DI. I've used it out twice already, and it's fulfilling everything I need so far, but there are already upgrades to be made.

I'm convinced that the Fishman pedal is made up of equal parts transistors and magic. It sounds fantastic. I had a real problem adding something so blatantly digital and "fake" into a guitar's signal chain, but I decided that, when it comes right down to it, even the best piezo pickup sounds just awful. You get a lot of pick-attack, and almost none of the warmth and depth that make an acoustic guitar sound amazing. When in a full-band setting, that's not an issue because all of the other instruments cover up a lot of the frequencies that an acoustic rhythm guitar normally occupies: drums holding down the rhythm, bass taking the low, piano taking the mid-high, electric guitar taking everything else. In fact, the only sound that ends up coming through in a proper mix is...the pick attack. Which is, I think, the only real reason why this sort of technology hasn't been greatly researched and why the market is rather small. But for a solo artist, GOLD! If you get the chance, demo one. Definitely magical.

The other questionable thing in the chain, and the thing that will likely not be on the board for much longer, is the EQ. Don't get me wrong, I love EQ. But I also think that EQ is used mainly to correct any sonic problems. And I also also think that proper microphone placement and selection in recording can eliminate the need for any EQ. Like, say, the kind of microphone choice and placement being employed in the magic Fishman pedal. My gut tells me that, once I find the right image (there are 16 to choose from on the Aura pedal), I won't need any EQ at all. As of right now, it's being used as a footswitchable boost.

...which will come to an end once I get this. I am a firm believer that a little compression does wonders to an acoustic guitar, making finger-picking a bit more even and keeping even intense strumming manageable for the sound system. From all of the demos I've seen and heard online, this one seems to be subtle, clear and, above all else, really transparent. I'd love to find one around to demo myself, but I doubt that that's going to happen since it's such a new pedal. And, as an added bonus, boost switch! Clean, mid and treble. It's like a friggin' Swiss army knife.

Which the DD-7 is. It's hold mode is just enough for my looping needs, and it's got all the delay an acoustic guitar could want. And that goes into my DI, and to a board. When I have the OB.1, the EQ may still have a place on my board, if I chose to use it in creative ways (like laying down a sweet bass-line when building a song through the DD-7's hold mode), but that remains to be seen. And the tremolo is there for when I think a tremolo would sound cool. I still need to get in some quality time in front of a PA or an acoustic amp and figure out which setting on the Fishman is the best, but it's been working out so far.

Do you play acoustic way more than electric? Make an acoustic board! It's going to be an invaluable tool for coffee-house gigs, and it's made me way more versatile in a band setting.


  1. Wow, thanks for this post. The accoustic board makes total sense. Bet it's really versatile and would love to hear it.

    I play way more electric, so my electric board makes more sense to me (actually I've got two already (They keep increasing;D)). When I play acoustic I usually play straight into the board, as I've got a good preamp + eq + tuner onboard (some b-bend model) but I made good experiences with my limiter (Boss LM-2). In my opinion it sounds more natural than a real compressor as it doesnt pump that much. As you said, its magical for fingerpicking. I also like some reverb on my acoustic, but you probably get there with the DD-7 right?

    Thanks again for the post, great to learn from people who take their acousticsignal serious

  2. Oh, and could you please demo the fishman thing. I always wondered what it really does, but I bet it's awesome

  3. Bravo,
    I used a Barber Tone Press (compression)- a boost - TU2- and then Echo Park. It does everything I need it to do. Of course, I generally use this when its a small acoustic duo or "unplugged" night. :)
    BTW< thanks for the linkage!

  4. I could absolutely demo it, probably as easily as just plugging straight in to record and then engaging/disengaging the pedal. You will be absolutely blown away at the difference.

    As far as reverb goes, the Fishman pedal actually adds a lot of the depth/warmth that I've tried to use reverb to dial back in, so I'm going without right now. I do have a Verbzilla that I could use for reverb, but things just sound so great without it that it's not really necessary.

    And Larry, thanks for stopping by! I tried to link to the blogs that have taught me the most/are the most entertaining, so I was more than happy to put yours up there.