Musicians often use various tips and tricks to achieve the sound they desire in a studio or live setting. This has led to some inventive arrangements and playing styles. Many guitarists in the musician community have pondered the question “How to make electric guitar sound like acoustic?”. This guide will examine various ways to get your electric guitar to sound similar to an acoustic one.
1. Get the Right Type of Guitar
Believe it or not, there are plenty of electric guitars that are designed to channel the sound and tone of an acoustic one. These instruments possess qualities of both electric and acoustic guitars, thereby letting guitar players straddle the line between the two types and come up with some convincingly acoustic sounds.
This includes guitars such as:
- PRS Hollowbody II Piezo
- Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty
- Godin Summit Classic Havana Brown A/E
Each of these guitars features a special “piezo” system that picks up the sound of string vibrations. This is similar to the system used to amplify the string sounds on acoustic-electric guitars. You should note that these guitars tend to be on the pricier side. If you want to make an electric guitar sound acoustic on a budget, consider checking out the other entries in this guide.
2. Acoustic Simulator Pedals
If you don’t want to invest in a brand new guitar, you can still achieve a convincing acoustic sound by purchasing an acoustic simulator pedal. Some popular models that excel in this area include:
- Boss AC-3
- Hotone Omni AC
- Koogo Acoustic PAC1
You might be wondering how exactly these pedals are able to recreate an acoustic guitar’s sound when an electric one is plugged into them. The BOSS AC-3 is able to do so using a combination of reverb and equalizing. It helps produce those warm and full-bodied mid-range frequencies we love and associate with acoustic guitars.
Such pedals often contain extra options to simulate the sounds of different types of acoustic guitars. For example, the BOSS AC-3 features four different sound modes: standard, jumbo, piezo, and enhance. Consider investing in an acoustic simulator pedal if you want that acoustic sound with minimal effort.
3. Roland GR-55 Guitar Synthesizer with a GK-3 pickup
Guitar synthesizers have been around for many decades. These are typically guitars that possess MIDI capabilities, meaning that they can be run into different devices to produce synthesizer-like sounds.
The Roland GR-55 is a special pedal designed to be used with their GK-3 pickup. This pickup can be added onto an ordinary electric guitar to convert the string sounds to MIDI signals that are then sent to the GR-55.
This system allows you to turn your guitar into just about any instrument. You can make your electric guitar sound like a synthesizer, a violin, and even an acoustic guitar with just a few button presses.
4. Adjust Your Amp Settings
Each of the methods listed above require you to purchase an instrument or piece of equipment. However, if you already own a guitar amp, you may be able to achieve a fairly convincing acoustic guitar sound by making just a few tweaks.
Most clean sounding amps should be able to get you relatively close to that acoustic guitar sound. However, some are better at achieving this than others. For example, the Fender Hot Rod is known for its pristine clean tones that feature a bit of sparkle.
Choosing the Right Channel
The first step in achieving that acoustic tone is to run your guitar through the amp’s clean channel. You should be running this channel with little to no added gain, as gain may add unwanted distortion to the sound.
You should note that many guitars produce little to no sound when the gain is turned all the way down on the amp. Therefore, you can increase the gain until your guitar sound is just about audible. You can then turn up the volume knob to set your desired loudness.
Set Your Treble
The treble control on your amp sets the amount of high-frequency sounds that come through your speaker. Increasing the treble produces a brighter and crisper sound, which is associated with acoustic guitars. However, you will want to avoid turning your treble to the max as it can cause an imbalance in your tone.
A good rule of thumb is to set your treble to around 6 or 7 and make minor adjustments from there. It may also help to listen to an acoustic guitar as reference when making these adjustments.
Set Your Bass
The bass control on your amp sets the amount of low-frequency sounds that come through. Increasing the bass adds some low end rumble to your tone. However, it can also introduce some of that fullness associated with the acoustic guitar sound.
Be sure to take things slow as you increase the bass on your amp. We recommend setting it at around 4 before making further adjustments. Increasing the bass can add some fullness to your tone, but it may also add some unwanted muddiness. Spend some time refining your sound until you hit that sweet spot between fullness and boominess.
Set Your Mids
The mids control on your amp adjusts how many mid-frequency sounds come through in your tone. Mids are super important for guitar tone as these are frequencies that guitar strings channel the most. Increasing the mids can thicken your guitar tone. Setting your mids low will leave you with a darker or “scooped” tone. However, many would consider an acoustic guitar’s tone to be similar to this scooped sound.
We recommend setting your mids to around 3 and then making adjustments from there.
Add Some Presence
Some guitar amps have a setting called “presence”. This controls the amount of upper midrange and treble frequencies that come thorough in your tone. Increasing presence can make your electric guitar tone livelier and reminiscent of that acoustic guitar sound. Consider adding a bit of presence if the EQ tweaks above aren’t quite getting your sound to where it needs to be.
5. Change Your Guitar Strings
Another affordable way to make your electric guitar sound more acoustic is to swap out the guitar strings for a different type. Acoustic guitars generally use bronze and steel strings while electric guitars typically use nickel and steel strings. You should avoid using bronze strings on your electric guitar. However, you can try swapping between nickel and steel strings to find which ones fit that acoustic sound better.
You should also consider going for slightly thicker gauge strings, as acoustic guitar strings tend to be thicker than acoustic ones. Note that thicker strings tend to produce a darker sound, so you may need to compensate for this by tweaking your amp’s equalizer.
As you can see, there is no shortage of ways to make an electric guitar sound acoustic. Consider trying some of the more budget-friendly methods mentioned above before choosing to invest in a new guitar or a guitar synthesizer system for that heavenly acoustic guitar sound.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.