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Is your acoustic show lacking something that you can’t quite put a finger on? Believe it or not, guitar pedals can add another dimension to a live acoustic performance.
That’s right, guitar pedals aren’t completely limited to use with electric guitar, which is a common misconception. If you’re unsure of what pedals are worthwhile using with an acoustic, you’ve come to the right place.
The following pedals all provide something valuable that any acoustic guitar player can find a use for.
Table of Contents
LR Baggs Venue DI – Best Overall
If you’re performing live, you’re going to need a direct box to preserve your tone. These boxes provide a suitable signal that can then be plugged into a mixer for amplification.
The Venue DI preserves your tone and gives you complete control over how the guitar sounds. This is a sort of Swiss army knife that any performing acoustic guitarist needs in their rig.
For starters, the Venue DI has a built-in tuner that can be engaged with the press of a button. Your guitar’s signal will remain muted when this function is engaged.
This pedal also comes equipped with a boost function. Every acoustic player knows that there are some instances where extra volume would be nice, especially during solos.
Already, with the features outlined, the Venue DI makes for a worthwhile purchase. The best part is, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the pedal’s features.
You’ll have a 5-band EQ that you can use to shape your guitar’s overall tone. You can even adjust frequency parameter levels with the provided bandpass filters.
If that wasn’t enough, the Venue DI allows you to adjust the volume of the overall signal. In addition to this, you can also add or subtract gain to your signal as needed.
Feedback is usually inevitable during acoustic performances, but the Venue DI can remedy this. It comes equipped with a phase inverter to eliminate any feedback that might be present.
The Venue DI also comes equipped with support for an effects loop. A standard XLR output is provided to connect the signal to a mixer for live performances.
What’s So Great About The LR Baggs Venue DI?
With this pedal, you’re essentially getting tons of utility at a fairly reasonable price. This pedal manages to combine many different functions into one housing.
Why buy multiple pedals that have one function when this offers everything in one box? A solution like this can really save some space on the pedalboard.
Sure, some multi-effects pedals can be a bit hit-or-miss. The Venue DI stands apart from those pedals by offering pure utility that will most definitely always be used.
Some direct boxes cost just as much as this pedal and don’t even offer adjustable parameters. This has multiple control parameters and even has a boost and a tuner.
To top it all off, the Venue DI even comes with a protective carrying case. This product was meant to be used for live performances and it has all the essentials one would need.
The Venue DI might be a fair bit more money than what you might be willing to spend on a pedal. It might seem like this is a gamble, especially considering that some pedals often aren’t worth their high prices.
This pedal is one of the exceptions and it should be considered seriously. If you’re performing live, you are probably pretty familiar with the flaws in your signal chain and set up time.
Something like this can prove to be the solution to many things that might be ailing you. It’s not often that you find a direct box that offers tonal adjustability, a tuner, and feedback prevention.
For that reason, the Venue DI is one of the absolute best pedals that any acoustic player could add to their rig. You certainly won’t regret this purchase, though it is probably best suited for working professionals.
Strymon BigSky – Best Premium
Reverb is an effect that can really expand the sound of an acoustic guitar. A tasteful reverb can be the difference between a moving performance and something that was uninspiring.
With the BigSky, you’re getting much more than just a basic reverb pedal. You’re getting 12 reverbs that can be morphed in any way your heart desires.
The reverb types featured on the BigSky include:
As you can see, the BigSky includes both classic reverb sounds and some truly unique varieties. Once you factor in the adjustable parameters, the sky truly is the limit regarding all of the pedal’s possibilities.
If you’re a person who loves spending the time to craft some distinct reverbs, the BigSky is perfect for you. The pedal includes up to 300 memory slots so that you can save the settings you have come up with.
To make the most of this, Strymon has included 2 foot switches to shuffle through the memory banks. This means that you can easily recall settings for use during live performances.
The BigSky is stocked with other features you might find useful. One is the fact that it has stereo output, which can really make your guitar take on another dimension.
You can also connect an expression pedal and/or MIDI controller to expand on the BigSky’s capabilities. You can unlock the tap tempo feature by using the pedal in this manner.
Despite everything that is offered, the BigSky is powered by a standard 9V power supply.
What’s So Great About The Strymon BigSky?
When it comes to reverb pedals, there really isn’t anything that rivals the BigSky. This pedal really does have it all, providing every type of reverb imaginable.
One of the best things about this pedal is that it’s suitable for all types of players. Those who enjoy a low-maintenance rig can easily find usable tones with the BigSky.
On the other hand, pedal-setting tweakers are going to be right at home here. The BlueSky not only encourages experimentation, it rewards you by allowing you to save hundreds of presets.
Strymon did a fantastic job creating a pedal platform that can be easily used. It’s no trouble at all to shift through your memory banks using the provided dedicated foot switches.
If you’re a guitarist that feels better knowing they are using unique tones, the BigSky is a no-brainer. Not many reverb pedals offer this kind of in-depth functionality.
Plus, the BigSky not only performs well, but it sounds amazing on top of everything else. Whether you use the mono or stereo output, you can guarantee that your guitar will be sounding quite excellent.
It might cost a fair deal more than what some people are willing to spend for a reverb pedal. However, this pedal is likely going to be the only reverb pedal you’ll ever need.
If you should find that the BigSky isn't everything you ever wanted, it does retain its value fairly well. This means that you can retain a decent portion of the initial price you may have paid to purchase the pedal.
This probably isn’t the most practical pedal for somebody who is just starting out. However, if you’re recording or playing live, the BigSky is a worthy asset to have in your signal chain.
TC Electronic Ditto – Best Budget
This loop pedal is not only easy to use, it’s also one of the most affordable available on the market. For that reason alone, the Ditto is worth being on any guitarist’s pedalboard.
The Ditto has a very simplistic design, which can be a little deceiving considering what it is capable of. For starters, there is only 1 knob, which controls the volume of the loop being played by the pedal.
So, how does the Ditto work, exactly? You’ll be using the single foot switch to record loops, undo loops, and start/stop the entire sequence.
This can seem confusing at first, but once you try it, you'll see that it’s actually quite simple to use. The status indicator light can help, with green meaning the pedal is on, and red meaning that it’s recording.
To begin recording, simply press the button and begin playing. Pressing the button again will stop the recording process and immediately begin playback.
You can then add recorded layers by repeating the process. Each loop’s maximum length is dependent upon the length of the original loop.
Keep in mind, you don’t need to always be recording loops. When you’re not recording, your guitar signal passes through the pedal just as it would if it was off.
As a whole, the Ditto can record up to 5 minutes of audio. Each loop is recorded in the highest quality possible to prevent any tonal degradation during performance purposes.
A standard 9V power supply is required to power the Ditto. This does not come included with the pedal.
What’s So Great About The TC Electronic Ditto?
If you’re a solo performer, you can likely sense the advantages that the Ditto can bring to your performances. This pedal essentially allows you to be a one-man band, crafting complex layers in real-time.
When paired in use with other effects, you really can sound like a full band when using the Ditto. This turns your boring performances into something fertile with excitement and possibilities.
Even if you don’t wish to use it live, the Ditto presents massive benefits for any guitarist. This pedal allows you to practice a multitude of different things on the guitar by providing a real-life simulated scenario.
Playing with other people is crucial to a musician’s growth, but sometimes, that’s not always a possibility. The Ditto provides the opportunity to try new things out over your own custom chord progressions.
There really are far more benefits here than what could be listed. Every person will utilize this pedal in their own beneficial way.
By far the best thing about the Ditto is that it is extremely affordable. There are few things as inexpensive that will help you progress and grow more than the Ditto.
Plus, the Ditto has a small-sized form factor, which can save space on any pedalboard. Many loop pedals are massive, sometimes taking up to 1/3 of the space of a reasonably-sized pedalboard.
You almost can’t afford to not have the Ditto in your signal chain. This is one of those rare pedals that can be utilized as if it was an instrument itself.
Whether you’re a performer or somebody looking to build their chops, the Ditto is an invaluable tool.
There’s a reason why this pedal was so revolutionary when it first hit the market. Simplicity really does steal the show here.
LR Baggs Voiceprint Acoustic DI
As you might expect, this pedal has functions far beyond standard direct box capabilities. But, as a direct box, this is one of the best money can buy.
You can have peace of mind by knowing that your natural tone is being preserved in the best manner possible.
The Voiceprint Acoustic DI has a parametric EQ that can be used to shape your tone to your liking. On top of that, the pedal includes measures to prevent feedback from interrupting your gig and hurting an audience’s ears.
Connect the Voiceprint Acoustic DI to your smartphone and the pedal begins to truly show its versatility. LR Baggs has an application that will automatically analyze the parameters inherent in your tone.
After the application has finished its analysis, it comes up with settings best suited for your instrument. You can then save these settings for instant recall in 99 available memory slots.
It goes without saying that if you frequently perform at a number of different venues, this will come in handy. You can set up your guitar’s tone in minutes by recalling the settings you used in the past.
The Voiceprint Acoustic DI supports connection with an effects loop, allowing it to be separate from other pedals. It has both 1/4” and XLR outputs so you can use the signal as you wish.
Another convenient aspect here is that the Voiceprint Acoustic DI is powered by a standard 9V power supply.
If you’re playing with a loop pedal, you’re probably going to want some different sounds to play with. An octave pedal comes in handy for this, allowing you to play tones that a bass guitar would play.
The OC-5 certainly has its fair share of usable upgrades. But, let’s start with the basics.
On this pedal, you’ll have controllable parameters over 3 octaves (2 below, and 1 above, which is a new feature). If you combine these settings, you can come up with some unique flavorings to really elevate a song.
To control the blend between the signal and the pedal’s signal, a level knob is provided. Using this in combination with the octave settings can make all the difference in the world.
By far the best upgrade here is that the OC-5 can be switched between 2 different modes. Each of these modes has its own distinct sound that can easily be used in a number of settings.
One mode (vintage) doubles the guitar, effectively producing 2 pitches. For reference to this tone, think of Hendrix’s song Burning Of The Midnight Lamp.
The other mode (polyphonic) tracks the pitches of the notes you are playing and replaces them. This effectively replaces your guitar’s tone with something that doesn’t necessarily sound like a guitar.
If you’re familiar with the OC-3, you’ll know that this feature isn’t necessarily new. What is new, however, is that the tracker is much more accurate and can accommodate chords.
The OC-5 is worthwhile for anybody needing a bit of low end in their performances.
TC Electronic Hall Of Fame 2
This might look like a generic pedal, but don’t let this fool you. The Hall Of Fame 2 is actually loaded with secret features that you’re going to love utilizing.
For starters, the Hall Of Fame 2 is packed with 8 different delay types, including:
TC Electronic has provided 3 different controllable parameters, covering decay, tone, and level. These adjustment knobs are all you really need to find some incredibly versatile reverb sounds.
But, if you thought that’s all this pedal has to offer, think again! The Hall Of Fame 2 comes with a pre-delay toggle switch, allowing you to change between short or long settings.
One of the most unique functions of the Hall Of Fame 2 is actually in the pedal’s footswitch. This isn’t your standard switch, though it does turn the pedal on and off as you would expect.
The switch is actually sensitive to pressure, which TC Electronics calls “mash”. You’ll find that this allows you to use the switch much like an expression pedal.
On top of all of that, there are 3 programmable presets that you can use to load in custom settings. This pedal has linking capabilities with the TonePrint app, allowing you to create and download some unique tones.
When you factor in the TonePrint functionality, the Hall Of Fame 2 becomes a rival to the famed BigSky. You’ll have options for classic reverbs as well as some reverbs you’ve never thought to be possible.
Capability for stereo input and output is truly the cherry on top.
Is your acoustic’s tone missing something that you can’t quite put a finger on? It might be time to look into getting a compressor.
These effects work by balancing the volume parameters of different ranges of your overall tone. So, if you have too much bass and not enough treble, this can really work to even things out.
The Xotic SP is based on the Ross Compressor, which is one of the most famous compressors ever made. Those pedals were highly regarded because of the transparent nature of the effect itself.
That same, great functionality is present with Xotic’s faithful reproduction of the classic Ross. It has an extremely simple design, with only a few different adjustable parameters to have to worry about.
The volume control affects the overall output volume coming from the pedal itself. However, the blend effectively allows you to blend the wet and dry signals according to taste.
There is also a 3-way switch to change the operating mode of the compressor itself. These settings range from low, medium, or high.
You’ll find that these simple controls are more than enough to find a suitable setting for your tone. If you find that they aren’t, the pedal does have internal dip switches for expanded adjustment parameters.
Another excellent feature here is that the SP has a miniature form factor, saving space on any board. These types of pedals are frequently used as an always-on utility pedal, so this is a nice touch.
The Xotic SP can’t be recommended enough. There is definitely magic inside this pedal.
What To Look For When Buying Acoustic Guitar Pedals
Because pedals are mostly associated with electric guitars, people are unsure of what to be mindful of for acoustic guitars. The acoustic guitar is most commonly thought of as having a pure acoustic tone without effects.
However, you’d probably be surprised to find that even some of the biggest names utilize pedals with acoustic guitars. So, what exactly should somebody be looking for when using pedals in this way?
The reality is that shopping for acoustic pedals is very similar to how you’d approach the same purchase for electrics. So, if you’ve bought pedals for electric guitars, you’re likely safe employing the same strategy.
If you haven’t, the following information will serve as a guide to help you find the best pedal for you. This information can serve as a great reminder to those who are already familiar with the landscape of the market.
When buying any pedal, you must have an idea of what the pedal actually does. Otherwise, why are you buying it?
This might seem like an obvious thing, but believe it or not, many people actually do this. It’s become common enough to have to be mentioned, but its reasoning goes beyond the obvious.
Some guitar pedals just work better with electric guitars compared to acoustics. This probably isn’t much of a surprise, especially considering that people are more accustomed to hearing a pure acoustic tone.
However, you are urged to keep an open mind when it comes to the possible pedals you might actually buy. Some pedals are bound to surprise you in just how well they can color an acoustic guitar’s tone.
Because of this, some experimentation is a requirement as you’ll never really know a pedal’s capability without trying it out.
Outside of that, you also need to consider the essentials. What kinds of pedals are frequently associated with acoustic guitars?
You might not have too much missing from your tone/performance, so some utility pedals might do the trick.
A general rule of thumb is that you should cover the essentials before venturing out to find the weird oddities. The essentials tend to be used all the time, while the oddities might get used once during an entire performance.
Again, you must try pedals out to really get a grip on how they can work to your advantage. Pay a visit to your local shop, and you can try any pedal in stock at absolutely no cost.
Definitely do not be shy about this process, shops usually employ guitarists who understand your scenario. They also understand that they can make a sale if you are allowed to find what you are looking for.
It’s almost a running joke by now that guitarists are expected to have pedalboards stocked edge to edge with pedals. Let’s face it, pedals are fun to play with, and they can provide crucial elements a particular musical passage needs.
However, it becomes quite easy for guitarists to start amassing a large collection of pedals. These are usually attached to a pedalboard out of convenience.
What frequently ends up happening is that the guitarist will run out of open space on the pedalboard. This should signify the completion of the guitarist’s never-ending quest for tone.
But, we all know that there’s going to be another pedal that catches the eye. So, what do you think happens?
Usually, it results in a long internal battle, weighing out what pedal should be removed to accommodate the new pedal. This can actually become quite a frustrating experience, especially if all of your pedals are essential to your sound.
Because of this, how big the actual pedal is will be another important factor that you must take into consideration. Pedals come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, all affecting the amount of space on a board.
The majority of pedals do seem to come in a standard size, but this isn’t always the norm. There are actually plenty of pedals that have bulky sizes and odd shapes.
Most of the larger pedals do tend to have multiple functions for use, but again, this isn’t always the case.
Fortunately, miniature pedals do exist, offering the same functionality in a smaller form factor. These can save space, but can also be viable for when you need a pedal but lack sufficient real estate.
Part of your decision also comes down to your aesthetic tastes, too. Some pedals just have an iconic look.
Any convenience a pedal might be able to add to your performance will be an invaluable tool. You should always be paying attention to what a pedal has to offer beyond the basic effect itself.
Another thing to keep an eye on is what is required to actually use the pedal effectively. Does the pedal provide multiple foot switches, or does it rely on 1 switch for multiple purposes?
Some pedals offer excellent functionality beyond your wildest dreams but require you to remember sequences for proper operation. If the sequence is confusing, it could cause a problem during actual performances.
These types of things aren’t typically thought of during the purchasing period. If proper attention isn’t given to this, you could end up with a post-purchase regret.
Most guitarists tend to have a small laundry list of things they wish were different about their gear. Your list won’t be quite as long if you really pay attention to how the pedal itself works.
The adjustable parameters are another aspect to be mindful of when shopping for pedals. Pedals can range from being extremely simplistic to offering a complex number of controls.
Having more or less doesn’t really determine whether the pedal is good or bad. Some pedal functions don’t actually require much in the way of adjustment anyway.
You should rather pay attention to its performance and function in combination with its adjustable parameters.
Another thing to be mindful of is your personal preference regarding the amount of control you have over your tone. Do you mind spending 2 hours shaping tones, or do you prefer a minimal setup so you can get to playing?
There are pedals available to suit every single guitarist’s preferences. Knowing your own can help to guide your purchasing decisions.
Most guitar pedals are usually powered by a standard 9V power supply. However, you really should take the time to check what the actual power requirement is for the pedal.
You don’t want to purchase a pedal under the assumption that it uses 9V to find it requires 18V. This would leave you unable to use the pedal until you could locate a dedicated power supply.
If you have a power brick with your pedalboard, you should be mindful of what power capabilities it can provide. Never assume that you can power the pedal with a battery.
You only need to spend a little time in the pedal market to know that some pedals are insanely expensive. Because of this, you really do need to be mindful of the kind of ideal budget you want to work with.
There are worthwhile pedals to be found in just about every price range. And, always remember, more expensive does not always equate to a better pedal.
If you’re wanting to save the most money, you should check what is available on the used market. You’ll often find barely used pedals going for a serious fraction of the list price for a new pedal.
Doing this will put you in touch with other guitarists in your local network. Most musicians know that it can never hurt to know another musician.
Plus, you can utilize this used market to sell pedals of your own. This will allow you to retain some of the money you initially spent to purchase a pedal, be it used or new.
Best Brands For Acoustic Guitar Pedals
If you’re unsure of where to begin your research, it’s best to start with some of the biggest names. Every market has brands that are the most reputable, and the guitar pedal market is certainly no different.
The following brands have an excellent reputation for creating quality guitar pedals suitable for acoustics. It’s worth your time to explore their catalog during your formative research stage.
LR Baggs is a very well-known manufacturer of acoustic guitar pickups and preamps. This company’s products are some of the best quality that money can buy, offering a truly pristine acoustic tone.
For that reason, it makes sense that LR Baggs is one of the best brands for acoustic guitar pedals. It has produced pedals that are designed to be used specifically with acoustic guitars.
TC Electronic has a long history of producing quality effects pedals. Since the mid-1970s, the company has focused on the creation of effects and how to deliver them to musicians.
Aside from the guitar, TC Electronic specializes in creating effects for recording, broadcasting, and live sound.
Top Acoustic Guitar Pedals, Final Thoughts
There really isn’t anything like the sound of an acoustic guitar, everyone can agree on that. But, do keep an open mind towards what a guitar pedal can do for the sound of your acoustic guitar.
Some pedals enhance, some expand, and others can be played like an instrument. All of these are helpful tools that any acoustic guitarist can find to be incredibly invaluable.
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