How to make an Electric Guitar sound like an Acoustic

Published : - Author : Dan Kopilovic
Posted under: How-To

If you own an electric guitar, and an amp, there are ways to make your electric guitar sound like an acoustic. Some ways are more complex and expensive than others, but among the options listed here, you should be able to find one that suits your budget and needs.

Today, even professional guitarists opt for this option, just to avoid having to switch from an electric to acoustic guitar, or vice versa, when playing live concerts. For example, Greenday guitarist Jason White often plays “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” on his electric guitar, and Brian May of Queen has an electric guitar built specially so it would sound like an acoustic.

Please note that we are not directly sponsored by any of the companies producing the products listed here, but we might get a small kickback if you purchase one of the products via our affiliate links.

How can I make my electric guitar sound like an acoustic guitar?

You can make your electric guitar sound like an acoustic either by using an effect pedal that simulates a sound of an acoustic guitar or by adding a special pickup to your electric guitar that would make it sound like an acoustic.

Option 1 – Use an Effect Pedal to make the Electric guitar sound like an Acoustic

Before we begin, you might be wondering – do acoustic simulator pedals actually sound realistic?

Let’s just say if you closed your eyes, listened to any of these pedals, and then listened to an actual acoustic guitar, you would be able to tell a difference. Regardless, these pedals are awesome for small gigs when you want to quickly play an acoustic part in a song, but that’s about it. Don’t plan on doing any serious recording with these effects.

Boss AC-3 Acoustic Simulator Pedal

Boss AC-3 is probably the best-known, and most widely used acoustic simulator pedal. If you’re unfamiliar with guitar effects and all the big names – Boss is basically what Samsung is in the world of Android phones. They control a large portion of the market, and they created a number of iconic pedals in the past, such as the Boss DS-2 distortion, the TU tuner, and many more.

The AC-3 Acoustic Simulator Pedal has four different sounding acoustic modes, named Standard, Jumbo, Enhanced, and Piezo-equipped. The two first modes are self-explanatory – they replicate the sound of a standard or a jumbo-sized guitar. The enhanced mode provides what Boss describes as “a sharper attack than the standard tone”, so in theory, it should be suitable when you want to stand out in a mix. The last, “Piezo-equipped” mode sounds really bright and is supposed to replicate something like a resonator guitar.

The pedal also has a built-in Reverb effect, controlled with a separate knob.

Does it sound like an acoustic guitar, and is it worth it?

The pedal sounds okay. It sort of sounds like you bought a very cheap microphone and played your acoustic guitar through it. The sound is “smushed”, but it does resemble an acoustic guitar.

Is it worth it? Well, it’s a Boss, and it’s among the simplest options that you have out there to turn your electric guitar into an acoustic. If you want a simple and quick solution, that’s also very versatile, it’ll work. The pedal is pretty expensive though, at around $180.

Mooer Acoustikar

Mooer Acoustikar is a pedal very similar to the Boss AC-3 but a lot cheaper, a lot smaller, and with fewer features. It has three of Boss’ four modes – Standard, Jumbo, and Piezo, and it doesn’t have onboard Reverb. Also, the Boss can be powered with a 9v battery, while the Mooer is powered strictly with a power adapted (or a power bank).

Both pedals do a pretty decent job of simulating an acoustic guitar. Boss AC-3 seems a lot more diverse, and you notice a bigger difference when switching through the modes. Also, even though they are trying to replicate the same sound with these modes, it’s funny how different they end up sounding. So, obviously, it’s a subjective thing – there’s no one scientific way of how an acoustic guitar should sound.

Mooer Acoustikar vs Boss AC-3 – Which one to buy?

You should buy the Boss AC-3 if you want more diversity of sound and if you need reverb. If you don’t need those things, and you want to pay a lot less, you should buy the Mooer Acoustikar. Compared to the Boss which is $180, the Mooer Acoustikar is only around $50 or so.

Option 2 – Install a Custom Pickup + Preamp to make the Electric guitar sound like an Acoustic

All the systems listed below work in a similar way. All they do is add some sort of piezo pickup to your electric guitar, plus a preamp that amplifies the signal.

A piezo pickup is a type of pickup that “reacts” to vibrations, as opposed to a magnetic pickup (pickups that you have in your electric guitar already) which reacts to the disruptions in its magnetic field.

One this that sucks about these systems is that, generally, they sound pretty bad when played through an electric guitar amplifier. So even after doing all this to your electric guitar, you should get an acoustic guitar amplifier if you want to achieve the best possible results.

Graph Tech Ghost System

Ghost Graphtech is a relatively simple system for adding an acoustic-sounding pickup to your electric guitar. Depending on what kind of guitar you have, whether it’s something like a Stratocaster or a Les Paul, you basically just replace the original bridge saddles with the saddles that Graphtech sells, and you’ve done the first part of modifying your electric guitar to sound like an acoustic.

Then, you also need to purchase the “Acoustic-Phonic” preamp, which is this little board that basically does all the magic, by amplifying the signal and making it sound more “acoustic”. To the board, you need to connect a battery, a toggle switch, and/or a volume pot, and all this stuff needs to be placed somewhere in your guitar.

This all can be a daunting process for someone who never did anything electrically related, and if you find yourself in that group, the smartest thing to do would be to just bring your guitar to a local guitar luthier.

How much does the Graphtech Ghosty system cost?

Based on the prices posted on the Graphtech website, a set of six saddles is $137, and the basic pre-amp kit is $87. That comes to a total of $224. It’s a relatively cheap system compared to the others, but it’s one of the best-sounding ones out there.

Fishman Powerbridge

Fishman Powerbridge is a system that works relatively similarly to the Graph Tech Ghost. But, instead of replacing just the bridge saddles, here you replace the whole bridge. And, instead of having a separate board, on the Powerbridge, the board is attached to a volume pot, that you obviously have to install somewhere on your guitar.

This board is actually optional, as you can choose to run the Powerbridge in a passive mode – without the board and the battery. This limits how the system sounds, and especially how loud it is, but it still works ok (you generally want to go with a pre-amp though).

If you end up installing the board, on most guitars, this mod can be very unobtrusive, as you can get rid of one of your tone pots, wire the guitar to one “master” tone, and use the empty tone slot for the Fishman. Of course, this requires some knowledge of how to wire a guitar, and if you don’t have any, you might need to seek help.

Also, when installing the bridge, there’s only a single wire that you need to worry about. So, on a Strat, you can tuck it in easily below the bridge, and on a Les Paul, you just make a little hole in the plastic cover of the pickup, and you route the wire through there.

How much does the Fishman Powerbridge cost?

Depending on the model of the bridge, it will cost you around $210, and the additional board, or the “PowerChip” as Fishman calls it, is $120. So, a total of around $330 if you go for the complete package.

L.R. Baggs X/T-Bridge

L.R. Baggs is basically the mix of the two systems mentioned before. It consists of two parts – a bridge, and a preamp. The bridge has the piezo pickup built in, and you connect the bridge to a preamp. As opposed to on Fishman Powerbridge, on the L.R. Baggs, the preamp (Control-X) is an actual little board, separate from a pot. So, plan on having a space for that board, plus a 9v battery, somewhere in your guitar.

One thing that sucks in the L.R. Baggs system, if you plan to use it on a Les Paul (the T-Bridge version), is that there are six separate wires coming off the bridge, as opposed to only one on the Fishman. This is not a huge deal, but it’s obviously easier to route one wire than it is to wire six of them.

How much does the Fishman Powerbridge cost?

The bridge alone costs around $200, and the preamp is around $90 – so a total of $290 for the whole system.

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