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Using an effects pedal on your acoustic guitar will enhance the acoustic guitar’s natural sound by adding some interesting effects.  This could modify your guitar into something completely different and definitely (in a good way). 

It is pretty common to hear people ask whether they should use an effects pedal on their acoustic guitar or not. The answer to that ambiguity is that you most certainly can!

Not many people, especially beginners, are fully aware of the benefits that can be reaped through using effects pedals. 

When I first started playing an acoustic guitar, I was confused, but they gave a stable and exciting foundation to my performance once I began using effects pedals for an acoustic guitar.

This article will share the use and benefits of different kinds of pedals. So you can make a more informed decision regarding which effects pedal you need and which ones you can do without. You will find the following topics in detail: 

  1. Can you use effects and distortion pedals with acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars, respectively? 
  2. Are there separate amps and pedals for acoustic guitars? 
  3. Can you use electric guitar effects on acoustic?
  4. Several best acoustic effects.  

Can You Use Effects Pedal for an Acoustic Guitar?

You can definitely use effects pedals for an acoustic guitar. It will enhance the sound and tone of your acoustic guitar. Different types of effects will produce different sounds. 

When you connect an effects pedal with an acoustic guitar, it will sound like a normal acoustic guitar with the effect layered on top. 

There are various effects, and an effect will do what it is supposed to do. For example, an echo pedal will repeat, a distortion pedal will produce wave distortion. 

However, using an effects pedal will lead to your acoustic guitar producing a thinner sound and a lot more feedback than normal. 

Related article: 7 Tips For A Great Guitar Recording (With Effects & Pedals)

Can You Use a Distortion Pedal With a Semi-acoustic Guitar?

You can use a distortion pedal with a semi-acoustic guitar to produce a stunning sound if it is controlled properly. There are no limits to what you can do if it sounds good to your ears. 

A distortion pedal will produce square wave distortion when connected to a semi-acoustic guitar. You can either use distortion subtly or not so subtly, depending on the sound that you want to achieve. 

It is better to use it as a boost but with a bit of grit as it makes your guitar stand out a bit. 

Can You Use Electric Guitar Effects on Acoustic?

You can use electric guitar effects pedals with an acoustic guitar only as long as the acoustic has onboard electrics, which you can use to connect the cable. 

The sound produced when electric guitar effects are used on acoustic may be different and not the same as with electric guitars, so you should not be expecting the same effect because you are not using the same guitar. 

There are special and designated effects for acoustics, but if you have to use electric guitar effects on acoustic once in a while, there is no harm in doing so!

Can You Use an Overdrive Pedal With an Acoustic Guitar?

Overdrive pedals are a natural fit for electric guitars, but if they are used properly, they can add a bit of warmth to the sound of an acoustic guitar and make your tone more intense and powerful. 

There is no reason why you cannot use an overdrive pedal with your acoustic guitar amp, especially if you use your overdriven tone once in a while; then it’s ideal for you because it will ensure your instrument sounds best. 

But using an overdrive pedal with an acoustic guitar is not as easy as an electric guitar. Acoustic guitars are already prone to feedback problems, and any overdrive effect into the equation makes it even worse.

6 Best Effects For Acoustic Guitar

Here are some of the must-have guitar effects for acoustic (at least for me). If you want to get some pedals, I recommend looking into BOSS pedal. Most of my pedals below are from BOSS.

Related article: Veteran Review Of BOSS: Is It A Good Brand For Pedals?

BOSS Tremolo TR-2 Pedal

1. Reverb 

The reverb effect is an essential part of what makes an acoustic guitar interesting because an acoustic can sound dull. The reverb effect will drastically change the atmosphere and quality of your tone. 

Reverb will make you sound big and powerful, and it helps you transport your listener to a concert hall or intimate space as it makes you sound like you are playing in a larger room. It also gives extra warmth and shines to your sound. 


2. Delay

The Delay guitar effect essentially mimics whatever you are playing on your acoustic. It will playback anything that is fed into it within milliseconds. For example, if you ever scream ‘hello’ in a cave, you will hear a hello back several times, which is what a delay effect is. 

Delay will transport you into a fantastic time wrap. You get an echo-like effect when the audio signals are delayed.

Delay will add sheen and thicken your rhythm while you are playing. In addition, instant snappy playback of what you play makes it sound more relaxed and exciting. 


3. Tremolo

Tremolo is a regular volume dip in your guitar signal. It rapidly increases and decreases your guitar’s volume and creates a sensation of motion. 

The tremolo effect is usually a must-have for one for slow songs. It feels as if you are talking into a fan. In addition, the tremolo effect has a strong emotional impact on the whole vibe of the song.


4. Chorus

A chorus effect is produced when a sound that you play is resampled a few seconds after the initial note is played. 

If you like the sound of your acoustic guitar and you wish there were more of them, then what you need is the chorus effect. It makes your single acoustic guitar sound like a group of guitars. It adds body and completeness to your guitar. 

These sounds create an illusion that several instruments are playing, which adds an interesting texture to the sound you are playing. 


5. Pitch Shift

The pitch shift effect is when the pitch of the sound is raised or lowered by a present interval. It essentially shifts the pitch of your guitar. On the one hand, there is the note that you are playing and alongside plays another note that is either up or down in pitch. 

It can make your acoustic guitar sound bass and give it a heavy and deep sound that you may be looking for. However, pitch shifts are not for everyone, but they create great sonic textures and add some creativity to your playing sessions. 


6. Distortion 

Distortion is used to alter the acoustic guitar’s sound; this is done by adding gain, which pushes the signal beyond its gain. 

It may sound odd, but it adds the right amount of dirt and grit to the sound that makes it interesting and allows you to add an exclamation to whatever you are playing. 

There are alternate ways to play effects and achieve distortion without pedals.

Few Ways to Use Effects With Your Acoustic 

1.Get Creative

Pedals can be used to enhance the natural sound of your instrument and allow you to experiment with new sounds, add textures to sounds, and get creative while playing. 

Try to use different effects to add value to your sounds and make them more attractive. 


2. Start Clean

It is better to start with an acoustic guitar with a good pickup so you can get through the effects easily. 

Some pickups may sound brittle and be more prone to feedback, but that can be controlled.

Do You Really Need Effects Pedals? 

Guitar pedals are really useful and can add value to your acoustic guitar, but not all guitarists need them. Also, you can achieve a good tone without using pedals with your acoustic. 

Pedals can enhance your acoustic guitars’ sound and make them more interesting and appealing to the ears with the help of different effects such as distortion, pitch shift, and others discussed below. 

However, it is not absolutely necessary to have pedals connected to your acoustic. For example, some guitarists plug their guitars directly into the amp and produce different tones using it.

Which Guitar Pedals Do You Need? 

For most cases, especially for beginners, tuning, drive, and delay pedals are the essentials. Once you get a good drip on these effects, you can move past the other ones. 

Due to various effects and different types and qualities of pedals, it can get overwhelming for a beginner to choose which effects to have and which ones to skip. 

Instead of getting confused and ending up getting all the effects that you would not know how to use, it is better to start with a few essential ones like tuning, delay, and drive, and once you get a good grip of these, you can move to the other ones. 

There are a number of common reasons and fixes to pedal crackling, popping, and buzzing that you should know before buying your first guitar pedal.

Final Thoughts

The world of effects pedals on acoustic can be confusing, overwhelming, and simply intimidating. Still, once you get the hang of different kinds of effects and find the right pedals, then your acoustic guitar will transform into something much better. 

Suppose you want to modify your acoustic guitar into a more interesting and cool instrument and eliminate the standard sounds. In that case, it will be ideal for you to spend some time learning and researching about the right effects pedal for your acoustic.

Ifandi S.

About Ifandi S.

Ifandi started Strumming Bars to answer all the questions of a guitarist. As a self-learned guitarist, he remembered how frustrating it was to not find answers to his many questions in the journey. With Strumming Bars, that's no longer the case!

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