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I'd like to get electric and acoustic sounds from one guitar.

The Fender Acoustasonic is too expensive...$2k.

Does one get better results turning an acoustic into an electric or vice versa?

Do the options change if it's a 12 string?

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    The most popular way to do this is to put a piezo pickup in the bridge of a semi-hollow electric guitar, like some PRS guitars Jul 8 at 2:53
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    I won't out this as an answer, but... why would you want to get a Fender Acoustasonic? You can get very similar quality at a fifth the price.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jul 8 at 19:19
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    Mayhem, it's not just a thin-bodied acoustic guitar with a body shaped like an electric. Not anymore. There's modelling in there as well, so you can sound like a dreadnaught or jumbo while playing something thinner. And the last position sounds like an electric, so you can get your Malcolm Young out for the big chorus. Jul 8 at 19:37
  • line 6 variax does something like this, giving you a soundalike of a semi-acoustic Jul 9 at 8:41
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    It's not even just odd though. It's difficult and expensive. The time and effort and equipment required to get your single omni-guitar isn't worth it. Just spend 150 bucks on a budget acoustic, simplify you life. When you start playing an acoustic with a fuzz pedal at gig levels the sound engineer is going to hate you, and it's going to sound... unique :/ Jul 13 at 14:23
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Second question first: your options shrink when you go 12-string. They always shrink options. They can be cool, but they are specialized gear.

I asked my rep at Sweetwater about adding a piezo bridge to a Fender Player Tele, and the quote put an $800 guitar to a $2000 guitar, with the custom wiring, the routing, etc. If I did it myself, the labor costs go away and it gets cheaper, but then it becomes my wiring, my routing, and I'm not a pro at those skills.

There is the Fender Power Telecaster, which has a Fishman piezo "Power Bridge". Fender made them in the late 90s and early 2000s. You can find 'em on Reverb for $700 or so. How good are they? Fender doesn't make them, and you can buy them on Reverb for $700.

Looking new, I'm seeing piezo bridges on Danelectros for cheap and on Schecters for half the cost of Acoustasonics. These prices will change because that's what prices do.

The question is, what do you expect to do with this? An acoustic guitar in a rock band has a very specific role: give the singer something to do with his hands if he's not going to dance. Beyond that, it's kinda tuned percussion. The Acoustasonic strategy seems to be to allow the singer/rhythm guitar to add a bit of grinding electric guitar to the one song in the set where you need it. It is not to allow you to switch easily from being Jimmy Page to being Doc Watson.

If that later idea is closer to the idea you want, using the same signal chain for your magnetic and piezo pickups will not give you satisfactory results, for at least two reasons:

  • magnetic pickups are less spiky in attack and have longer sustain
  • guitar amps emphasize that midrange, while acoustic amps and PA systems tend to be more even across the range

If you're going the Acoustasonic route, you're likely going into some reverb or something, then into a DI box, and having the guitar pretend to be electric can stay there. But if you're electric-first, then you have a Y-cable, separate effects, and another amp or DI. This is going to be an expensive decision.

Right now, if you're thinking "I want these sounds and only want to bring one guitar to the gig", the Acoustasonic is the easy solution, and if you fit in that niche, it's good.

Going the other way, you can get magnetic soundhole pickups for acoustics. I had one. It was okay, but it did not sound like a solid-body guitar. Acoustic guitars work by getting the strings to impart vibration to the top, and heavy strings do this. Magnetic pickups don't behave the same way, so things liked Slinkys were invented.

Acoustic guitars and electric guitars are separate instruments with separate roles that just kinda play similarly. I'm personally interested in what you can do with piezo pickups, which is why I can go on like this with minimal research. But "electric and acoustic sounds from one guitar” is a big ask, because that covers a wide range of sounds and styles, and no solution has ever drawn a huge audience.

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    I think this hits the nail on the head with "what do you expect to do with this?". You're not going to sound like James Taylor by running an ESP through a acoustic simulator, and you certainly won't sound like Slash running a steel string through a Marshall Stack. You might get an interesting sound either way but they are fundamentally different instruments. Jul 11 at 15:58
  • “magnetic soundhole pickups for acoustics... did not sound like a solid-body guitar” – yes, but a large part of the reason is that they're designed to not sound like electric guitar. Namely, they have deliberately a much lower inductance, and/or decouple the windings from the cable with an active amp. That's why they lack the typical 2nd-order lowpass filter character. But that can be easily added with a suitable filter pedal, in fact a wah-wah at fixed position can do the job. Of course it still won't sound exactly like a solid, but much closer. Jul 12 at 9:39
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I've made my acoustic steel string sound like a solid-body electric for years by using a soundhole electric pickup and carefully-tuned effects, especially EQ, sustain, overdrive and cabinet simulator. I like the Markley Pro-Mag magnetic pickups a lot for this. I run the pickup through a multi-effects pedalboard which works as well as individual pedals. The problem you will see with brass-wound strings is a drop off in volume but you can overcome this with nickel-wound strings. One problem you will see is that the acoustic guitar will get more feedback under high sound levels on stage. Some people view this as a feature (cf. Jimi Hendrix) but if it's a problem then you may have to go with a different magnetic pickup and a soundhole cover.

As for folks that claim that an acoustic guitar with a magnetic pickup will sound like a hollow-body guitar, all I can say is that first, audience members can't seem to tell the difference and second there's been quite a few hard rock careers built on hollow-bodies.

I also have a K&K piezo pickup installed on the guitar but I have to completely mute the piezo if I'm playing with much overdrive or it will squeal like crazy. My preference is to mic the acoustic and mute the mic when I'm playing heavy. But personally I hate the sound of transducers, I really hate that crispy crunch.

But the Pro-Mag and K&K combo shouldn't run you more than a couple of hundred bucks.

As for 12-strings, I've had a 12-string and I decided that using good chorus and poly-octave pedals meant I didn't have to haul that big old piece of furniture to gigs.

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  • Just got a Mosaic as the 12-string I want is $5k (Guild F-512). Jul 20 at 7:35

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