PHIL KEAGGY - Grammy nominated and seven-time Dove Award winner, is one of the world’s great guitar players and a pioneer in contemporary Christian music.
- February 20, 2017
These days you might as well go ahead and get an acoustic with a pickup already in it. If you’re a beginner you can save a little to buy a guitar without one, but if you excel and your teacher wants to feature you in a recital, it’d be nice to already have a pre-amp on board. A preamp/piezo pickup is available from most acoustic-electric guitar builders. Adding a pick up later could be expensive. $250 would be the average cost of adding one later. You can pick up an M1 from LR Baggs and just put it in the sound hole but you still have to install the input jack and it’s still $250 or so. The difference in the price with or without a pickup at the store is sometimes only $75 or so. It’s wise to go ahead and get an acoustic electric guitar.
Acoustic Electric Guitar Starters
There is an abundance of starter acoustic-electric guitars that are priced at and around $500. Ibanez, Washburn, Fender, Epiphone, Luna, Breedlove, Taylor and even Martin are making these cheaper guitars with a pickup to get you playing amplified. Here’s the deal: if you’re playing an acoustic that doesn’t have a pickup, your only option is placing a microphone in front of the guitar. If you’re in the studio that’s perfect, but if you’re live and playing in a band, that’s not the best route. You can’t compete with other instruments like electric guitars and drums with only a microphone. By the time you get your playing loud enough to hear, it starts feeding back. This only works when you’re the only instrument on the stage or if you’re in an all-acoustic group like a bluegrass band. Still, you'd be better off running direct with a pickup.
Many bluegrass pickers and acoustic die hards still stand by their Martin D28 and/or D35 and with the biggest strings, it can handle at a high string action. With this setup, they make their guitars as loud as possible. That’s great if that’s what you’re about. You’re certainly not going to cut a hole in your dad’s old Martin to add a preamp, so you can either add an LR Baggs M1 for $250 or some other slide-in-the-sound-hole portable pickup. With the Baggs, you still have to bore a 1/2 inch hole where your endpin is to add the input jack. If this bothers you, you’ll just keep putting a great condenser mic in front of the guitar at the gig. The main trouble with a condenser microphone is you usually need phantom power from the PA console and, like we said before, you will deal with feedback.
Benefits of an Acoustic Electric Guitar
The main benefit to purchasing an acoustic electric guitar is the pickup is already in the guitar from the factory. You may want to play several guitars before settling on the one you like. You may find a guitar that you love the sound of and enjoying playing but the pickup just doesn’t do it for you. That happens a lot because not all pickups are equal. Some come with a tuner built in which is nice and others have notch filters allowing you to find the frequency that’s feeding back and filter it out. Some come with phase buttons to reverse the phase. Some come with sweepable mids to help you dial in the tone you’re looking for. The preamps can have tons of bells and whistles but the main thing is you have the ability to amplify.
You can add these features by simply adding a direct box that gives you these and many more options like the LR Baggs Para DI or the Fishman Platinum Pro. There are many of these acoustic DIs that will give you added adjustability to your acoustic pickup.
Cost of an Acoustic Electric Guitar
You can expect to pay $200 - $400 for an acoustic-electric guitar in a pawn shop. There are plenty of Ibanez, Epiphones, and Washburns etc. hanging on the wall of many of these pawn shops. Just make sure the neck is good and the strings are close or adjustable and check the pickup to make sure it works. You can find a gem in these dark corners of the world. If you’re looking for a new acoustic electric guitar, you’ll need to take some time to go to Guitar Center or some local music shop and play several to find the one in your budget. $500 - $1000 is a reasonable price range for a decent acoustic-electric guitar that is new. Breedlove, Fender, Yamaha and even Taylor are offering great guitars in this price range.
Finding the Right Acoustic Electric Guitar
Here are a few of our favorite acoustic-electric guitars that are affordable and we think you’d do well to own: Breedlove Discovery, Epiphany PR-SE, Luna Art Deco Series, Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat, Ibanez Exotic Wood Series. Actually, these guitar companies provide you with a lot of options in wood, color, and style. You may be a little surprised and/or exhausted when you start looking into a purchase. Take the time to sit in the acoustic guitar room at Guitar Center or a similar store. They have plenty of options and you’ll find several that you might want to take home. Then it’s just finding the acoustic-electric guitar that speaks to you.
Once you’ve found your own special acoustic-electric guitar, you can decide whether to invest in an acoustic DI and or an acoustic amplifier. There are several companies that make great acoustic guitar amps, including Line 6 and Fender. These acoustic guitar amps allow you to plug in and get a killer acoustic guitar sound that inspires you on stage but allows you a direct out to the PA system too. As you can see, it’s not as easy as plugging in. You can add effects like chorus or reverb if you like and there are tons more to choose from. First, start with the best acoustic guitar sound you can get and then add all the fluff. You will find your ax, just be patient but persistent.
When you’re trying to become a better guitar player, it’s great to have the best equipment. Whether you use an acoustic electric guitar or not, you really need to know how to use your instrument of choice. That’s where guitar lessons come in. Pro Lessons offers you the instruction you need from a variety of skilled teachers. Check out our affordable rates and the skill levels we cater to by clicking on the icon below.