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One of my guitar teachers is strictly classical. I know he owns an acoustic amp. Im thinking of buying one of those gretsch hollow-body guitars and lending it to him, will he be able to play it trough the acoustic amp or are there pitfalls?

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The main issue with using an electric guitar through an acoustic amp will be the the use of overdrive / distortion pedals, and not the fact that the guitar itself is considered "electric".

The main difference between acoustic and electric speakers is that the acoustic amp will generally have a tweeter to extend the higher ranges and give a more hi-fi like quality - similar to a good PA system.

The problem with overdriven guitar is that it generates many overtones at high frequencies and will sound very harsh through an acoustic amplifier. An electric guitar amp will generally start to roll off at 3kHz, and this removes the extreme high frequency content. Things like the line 6 pod will have a speaker simulator that basically rolls off the highs to allow it to be put directly into PA systems.

However with just a direct guitar it will sound fine - as long as a distortion pedal is not added.

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    Electric guitars aren't overdriven. It's the amp that does that, and generally acoustic amps aren't designed to overdrive and distort. – Tim Feb 18 at 16:32
  • Hi Tim, yes that's true - I guess I was trying to account for the fact that electric guitar players will often use overdrive into an acoustic amp and then think "this sounds awful". I'll clean up my answer – TheMachinist Feb 18 at 16:35
  • Bear in mind that the OP's teacher is 'strictly classical' ! – Tim Feb 18 at 16:38
  • That implies that the OP is not strictly classical though right? – TheMachinist Feb 18 at 16:40
  • Probably true. However, OP is lending teacher the guitar to play, sounds like it's not for OP. Wish my students would lend me quality guitars! – Tim Feb 18 at 17:02
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No pitfalls, and actually acoustic amps can make a good match sound wise with archtop/hollow body type of guitar and bring out more of an acoustic qualities of these instruments.

  • this is a bit too vague to be useful. – Carl Witthoft Feb 18 at 14:45
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    I don't think it's vague - it's true and a very valid response, an archtop is essentially an acoustic guitar. – Oliver Dungey Feb 18 at 14:56
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The eq on acoustic amps is slightly different from that on electric guitar amps - and that on bass amps, too. Having said that, any amp will amplify any electric guitar - and obviously, an electro-acoustic guitar is electric!

There should be sufficient tonal control to get a decent sound that way, especially for playing in a studio, and teaching with. At worst, a simple eq pedal will help restore any lost tone, but it should be fine - given that the pitch range of an acoustic guitar is close to that of an electric.

  • There is an impedance-matching question, as well as an input voltage range question, so it's not guaranteed in all cases. – Carl Witthoft Feb 18 at 14:43
  • This isn't really true - it's not the EQ that's the fundamental difference, it's the speakers too: acoustic amps have full range speakers (like bass and keyboard amps and PAs). Often called FRFR (Full Range Flat Response). Electric guitar amplifiers have speakers that drop off a load of the high end frequencies that aren't needed. – Oliver Dungey Feb 18 at 15:00
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    @OliverDungey ahhhh, terminology. An "amp" does not have to include a speaker. When there's a combo box (electronics and speaker) it should be called something else. – Carl Witthoft Feb 19 at 14:24
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    @CarlWitthoft - good point - except that when it's actually a combo (electronics and speaker), it will be called a combo, won't it? Get off that programming! – Tim Feb 19 at 14:38
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First, find out what your teacher is using as a source - a microphone strapped to his acoustic guitar, a piezo pickup, etc. See if the output impedance and voltage of whatever guitar you're lending to him is directly compatible with the input specs of his amplifier.

It may turn out that a preamp is required to match those parameters. It's rather like the difference between a passive and an active output from a solidbody electric (with mag pickups).

  • If it's a traditional archtop it will have a single coil or humbucker pickup in it, no mic needed. But that's not to say it doesn't need a preamp :-) – Oliver Dungey Feb 20 at 16:04

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