There’s a wide variety of pedal-format devices available to improve your acoustic guitar’s amplified tone, including Fishman’s Aura, Line 6’s HX Stomp, and LR Baggs’ Voiceprint DI.

From DIs to multi-effects processors to IRs, there are plenty of ways to make your sound golden.

Whether you’re a professional player, weekend warrior, or a once-in-a-blue-moon open miker, you will likely be put in a position to play both electric and acoustic instruments on a gig. As you’re looking to build your switch-hitting pedalboard, you may find that electric and acoustic guitar processing haven’t exactly been treated equitably in the marketplace. Even a bog-standard electric guitar rig these days is populated with three overdrives du jour and a gaggle of space-age DSP-driven effects culled from a market saturated with bobs and bits intended to fatten your sound and thin your wallet. When compared to the smorgasbord of electric guitar processing products, the selection of acoustic-guitar-specific offerings may seem a bit spartan.

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All 9V blocks are not created equal. Here's what to look for to avoid hiss, hum, and crackle.

(Originally published April 22, 2020)

At the dawn of the guitar-effects age, powering pedals was relatively simple. If an effects pedal didn't take a standard 9V battery like your AM transistor radio, it plugged into the wall like your avocado-green toaster. Forever dissatisfied, guitar players eventually grew weary of changing batteries, and plugging stuff into the wall was kind of a drag, too.

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Yes, there's a lot of value variance, but there's an upside, too.

In your guitar pedal dealings, you may have heard the phrase “component tolerances.” Nearly every component in a pedal is marked with a value, and ideally every component in your pedal would be that exact value, not one bit more and not one bit less. So, every 1k-ohm resistor would be exactly 1.0000000000000k ohm and every 10 µF capacitor would be exactly 10.0000000000000 µF. In this supernatural circuit situation, every pedal would sound identical. There would be no deviations from each component’s intended value, and there would be no deviations from the effect’s intended sound (all other things being equal). Unfortunately, we cannot hope to achieve this sort of metric perfection in the real world. While perfection may not ever be attained, it is also not often required, and all the circuits we interact with day in and day out can tolerate some sort of variation in their components’ value.

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Fig. A

When power cables and signal paths tangle, the results can be noisy. Here are some easy fixes.

In my previous State of the Stomp ["The Shocking Truth About Ground Loops," October 2021], I discussed how ground loops can be formed between the amplifiers in a multiple amp setup, and how to safely address them with an isolation transformer. As a brief reminder, a ground loop is created whenever two electrical circuits that theoretically have the same ground potential actually have a non-zero potential between them in practice, and that often results in hums and buzzes that are harmonically related to the mains voltage frequency in your part of the world.

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