While we know acoustic guitars are capable of some serious volume without any amplification, there will always be a time when you just need that little bit more. It could be that you’re taking to the streets for a spot of Saturday morning busking, or you may have a slot booked at your local coffee shop. Either way, the ability to amplify an acoustic guitar is extremely liberating. To do this, you’re going to need one of the best acoustic guitar amps around.
While you could technically use an electric guitar amp, there exists a sub-category of amplifiers dedicated entirely to acoustic guitars. Here we’ll show you some of the best acoustic guitar amps around, and offer some tips on how to choose the one that’s right for you.
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Which are the best acoustic guitar amps?
There are a few basic, mandatory requirements from an acoustic guitar amplifier, namely that it has a clear, transparent sound which allows your guitar’s natural tone to shine through, and that it is built to handle the demands of being transported from show to show. On top of that, each of the amps below offers two channels so you can hook up a microphone, making them the ideal partner for singer-songwriters.
We’ve opted for the Boss Acoustic Singer Live as our pick of the bunch, as it delivers everything you could need in terms of functionality, with some amazing Boss effects thrown in, at a price which we feel is extremely sensible. The Boss Acoustic Singer might not look the most exciting compared to the Blackstar Sonnet or Fender Acoustic Pro, but for sheer sound and practicality, it was the perfect choice for us.
Best acoustic guitar amps: buying advice
Unlike with regular electric guitar amps, acoustic players generally aren’t looking for something to shape an entire tone. After all, we spend time and money seeking out the acoustic guitar we want primarily for the way it sounds unplugged. What we want instead is a way to take that glorious, natural tone and elevate it to louder volumes without sacrificing anything sonically. Whereas electric players spend time sculpting their perfect tone, in the acoustic amplification world, simplicity, clarity and cleanness are king.
Acoustic guitar amps differ from their electric cousins in their form too; each of the amps in this guide is a combo, meaning the speaker is built into the unit itself. This greatly reduces the amount of gear that needs lugging around from show to show. Many performers further benefit from this portability by using an amp which takes a microphone input too, moving it firmly into the realms of a miniature PA system.
The amount of power the amp has – and the amount you’ll need – will vary depending on the situation. For basic home practice, a simple amp with no more than 30 watts will more than suffice – if playing unplugged wasn’t already. For small to medium size venues, look nearer to the 60-watt area and above, and also check if the amp has the ability to connect directly to the house PA system. If it does, you can play any size venue regardless of the amp’s size.
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Many of the best acoustic guitar amps will come with a set of included effects. This could be as basic as a spot of reverb, or there could be compression or modulation effects to help you find the right tone.
Finally, look out for some kind of feedback control on the amp. Acoustic guitars are particularly prone to that familiar high frequency oscillation feedback, especially when playing at high volumes, so having the ability to tame the squealing beast is something you – and your audience – will be thankful for. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best acoustic guitar amps available today, with amazing options from the likes of AER, Fender and Yamaha.
The best acoustic guitar amps available today
As an all-in-one tool for the gigging singer-songwriter, the Boss Acoustic Singer Live takes some beating. This amp combines two separate channels – one for guitar and one for vocals – and throws in a bunch of genuinely useful tools. We loved the built-in looper, in particular, for creating those Ed Sheeran-esque solo sessions, while the included effects sound as good as you would expect from Boss.
There isn’t much to dislike about this amp. It does what it promises very well, has a few neat tricks, plenty of connectivity and a superb sound which removes some of that inherent toppy piezo style tone.
The AER Compact 60 is one of the best-known acoustic guitar amplifiers on the market. Now in its fourth generation, it offers users two separate channels – one with XLR and one with jack – meaning it’ll suit singer-songwriters perfectly, while the dedicated EQs for each section mean you can get things sounding the way you want them.
A small selection of useful onboard effects, including two reverbs, delay and chorus, mean you can add some sparkle to your sound, and the included gigbag means you can protect it from knocks and scrapes as you travel between performances. All told, a very grown-up amplifier with a few real touches of class.
We’re big fans of Blackstar here at Guitar World, yet we’ve always felt there was room for an acoustic amp in their range. Step forward the Blackstar Sonnet 120, which is the brand’s take on a two-channel acoustic guitar amplifier which comes with plenty of interesting tricks up its sleeve.
Tonally, Blackstar has aimed to make the Sonnet range as transparent as possible, focusing instead on projecting the natural sound of your guitar. We were particularly taken with the Bluetooth connectivity, making it ideal for playing along to backing tracks, while the four different reverbs each added a nice polish to our sounds.
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Old Fender acoustic amplifiers, like the Acoustasonic, were great at what they did, but man they were ugly. Step forward the Fender Acoustic 100. Looking more like an example of Scandinavian furniture than a piece of music gear, the Acoustic 100 packs in enough power and performance to make it ideal for large gigs.
We particularly liked the Bluetooth connectivity, meaning it makes use of the 8” flat frequency speaker and allows you to stream backing tracks from your phone or tablet. It’s a large amp, no two ways about it, but it is a good place for anybody looking for a decent, gig-ready acoustic amp to start.
Electric guitar players will be well familiar with Mesa Boogie, thanks to exceptional amps like the Mark V, which marry elite-level tones with high levels of tweakability. With the Mesa Boogie Rosette One:Ten, that same quality is evident, along with an incredible level of options regarding routing and connectivity. That might not sound exciting, but for the professional user it means this amp can happily serve you in any situation you find yourself in, be that studios, small shows or stadium performances.
There is a lot to like about the Rosette, and with this amount of control over your sound, there genuinely is a tone for everyone here.
Fishman is a big name in the acoustic world, mostly on account of its famous acoustic guitar pickups, however with the Loudbox Mini it has proven it knows a thing or two about amplification too. The Fishman Loudbox Mini is a compact, simple to use, two-channel acoustic amp which would be ideal for solo performers.
We found it to be incredibly versatile, on account of the Bluetooth connectivity and additional 1/8” jack input, while it could feasibly support you at any sized gig thanks to the XLR DI output for connecting up to PA systems. Hard to find fault here.
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Orange certainly knows a thing or two about electric guitar amplifiers, yet with the new Orange Crush Acoustic 30 the British brand has applied its considerable talents to the world of acoustic guitars. There are some visual flourishes Orange fans will be instantly familiar with, like the famous orange tolex (there’s also a black version) and graphics on the top panel, but otherwise this is an entirely new beast.
The Crush Acoustic 30 is a two-channel amp with separate inputs for both a guitar and a microphone, along with separate EQ sections for both and a couple of nice effects thrown in for good measure. As a home practice amp, the Orange Crush Acoustic 30 is a great choice, but medium to large gigs might be a stretch too far for it.
Not every acoustic player needs an amp for performing. For some, the need to record the guitar is as much of a driver as anything and the Yamaha THR5A might just be the perfect partner for home recording, thanks to its included models of classic tube and condenser microphones. The THR5A also boasts plenty of included effects, and Yamaha has even bundled all the software you’ll need to record with.
Clearly, you’re not going to be hitting the local gig scene armed with just one of these, but as a well-made, great sounding tool to accompany your home recording sessions, the Yamaha THR5A is hard to beat.