My band has two guitar players. One often plays acoustic while the other one plays an electric guitar. There has always been a problem balancing the volume and the frequences. While both guitars play on a clean sound it sounds fine but when electric guitar changes to distorted, overdriven or crunched sound then even at a low volume the acoustic guitar is almost unheard. Is it a common problem or particulary our local one. Any solution?

By the way we tried playing bright tones on acoustic and tried EQing the distorted sound on the electric guitar.

Also, when a lead guitar is playing a solo part the second guitar is hardly heard too.

Both the acoustic and thr electric guitar go through an amplifier and into a mixer then line out to 4 speakers in corners of the room, so we have a quad sound as we are in the middle of tge room.

The acoustic guitar has bright steel strings and is mostly playing either chords or some arps. The electric guitar has very thin strings and mostly is a fender squire strat' and mistly plays either solo or power chords, sometimes rhythm on clean and some effects like tremolo, phaser and etc.

Sometimes there is need for a third and fourth guitar and i wonder how to balance that then.

  • Having four speakers won't necessarily produce 'quad sound'. If you use two stereo amps it might, but I guess you have the same sound coming out of each corner of the room. Why is this preferable to the more common two speaker p.a. set up?
    – Tim
    Apr 29, 2018 at 6:46

5 Answers 5


I think there are different way to deal with this.

  • Maybe don't. I think it's totally okay to have the acoustic guitar fade back when the electric one kick in with distortion or for a solo.
  • Another idea would be to set a compressor of the electric guitar to control the volume and the dynamics.
  • You can also play with pan, it's common to pan one guitar on the left and the other on the right. In your setup you could output one guitar on two speakers and the other one the other two speakers.
  • You said you've tried EQing the guitar, maybe cut a little bit of the bottom end of the electric guitar (between 200Hz and 500Hz) and add a little bit of 2.5k - 3.5k on the acoustic to get a little bit more presence.
  • We tried adding treble to the acoustic guitar.. It sounds like a xylophone, only the highs are heard. Panning is a good idea. I remember doing it with several synthesizer tracks to make more space. Unfortunately we already have a compressor in the pedal-board and it doesn't help much. The dynamics are flat but the electric guitar is still screening the acoustic one even at a quite low volume. I guess it will still be so... whatever we do. I wonder how people manage 4 or more guitars all at once. Jan 10, 2017 at 9:28

Often electric guitarists cannot play a distorted sound without cranking up the volume. Sometimes it's the limitations of the amp or pedals, but often it's the player himself. Can't control the volume! If your acoustic player is at the same volume for both scenarios, then that could be the problem.

As already stated, panning the separate tracks/guitars will help in the room, and even using one track of four for each. If each guitar is playing in the same pitch range, then they won't stand out against each other, but will blend into one.

There's also the Freddie Green scenario. He was guitarist playing rhythm in big bands (Count Basie). It was said that you couldn't really hear his playing, but if he stopped, you certainly knew he was playing before.


This is a musical problem rather than a technical one. Guitarists engage overdrive when they WANT to dominate. That's fine, but don't do it ALL the time! Not if there's an acoustic guitar in the band and you want to hear it! Everyone needs to listen, everyone has to be aware that another player may have something interesting to play, and therefore make space for it. Like turn down or - horror - even stop playing for a bit!


I think the problem or behaviour of Electic stringed musical instruments is loudness with excitement. Once the guitar gets louder than the acoustic it becomes distorted Sound. Compression would be the ideal action or Volume control from the

  • 1
    ...from the what, pray tell!!
    – Richard
    Apr 28, 2018 at 19:25

My impression of the advice offered so far, is that compression on the electric guitar may solve the problem. However, I have found through experimentation and practice that a compressor used on an acoustic can highlight the more fragile aspects of it's sound, which when amplified can better compete with an electric guitar. I advise plenty of trial and experimentation before trying it in public, because compressors used incorrectly can create serious feedback headaches.

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