Acoustic Guitar Live Set Up


I’ve been playing for around two years now and getting along well. But would like to push myself and want to set up my Acoustic / Electric for live performances.

So I’m looking for guidance on how to set things up, ie, what speakers, what pedals, how to bring the vocals etc.

I’ve been looking at hundreds of videos and although I’ve made some progress I’m still completely confused on how to set myself up.

By the way, I would like to include looping in my setup.



Most venues will have a “sound guy” to talk to. There will also be other players familiar with the venue to talk to. What you hear on an Internet forum or from these folks at the venue should not be the final word.

Practice with tone at home. I use TC Electronic Mic Mechanic for vocals, and my regular delay and reverb pedals (same ones for electric guitar) When I played at a bar pre-covey I went in with just my tele or an acoustic and left it up to the sound guy. We were keeping folks entertained while they were supporting the bar. It isn’t as complicated as launching a spy ballon. :slight_smile:

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Thanks Clint,

I guess my question is even more basic. What pedals do I need as a minimum, to enable me to turn up at a venue for a sound guy to set up. And more importantly for me to practice with before any performance.

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My response is very basic – show up with your guitar and let the sound guy set your levels. I like having an acoustic electric guitar with some EQ that I can adjust if the sound is too brittle. That’s about all I need really. Less is more. Some venues may be different.

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What do you have now. An acoustic with pickups?

At the most basic level as Clint says just turn up with your guitar. Obviously depending on the event it’ll either be an acoustic only ( so no sound amplification) or more likely they’ll have a PA and mixer. For the performer you’ll have a mic to sing into and if you’ve got an electro acoustic you’ll be able to plug in to the PA. If not electro acoustic they’ll probably have a second mic for the guitar.

In terms of preparation for an event with a PA I’d get used to at least singing with a mic. For home a small basic mixer and basic monitors would give a minimum setup to practice at home. If you can’t stretch to that id just attend some events as a member of the audience to get a feel for how it works. Have a chat with the person running it if you’ve got questions.

Most Open mic type events give you around 15mins or three songs.

I’ve done close to 100 open mics now. All I’ve ever needed was my guitar. Sometimes I’ve also needed a feedback buster.

I found it challenging at first because the sound I heard amplified was definitely different than playing unplugged. Over time I acquired the same mic I was mostly coming across and a good quality acoustic amp and started rehearsing with those before an open mic and that helped heaps. Not really important at the start.

obviously if you want to have a pedal board I would think about the following

  • eq/booster/gain
  • compression pedal
  • some reverb pedal of choice

You can obviously go more but those are probably the most likely ones

Rob, I play a Taylor 314ce but also have a 114ce.

Both electric / acoustic.


Ok so assume you’ll be plugging into a PA - this will be using the on board pickups/

Have you heard what they sound like? Is that OK or do you want something changed?

Remember there are quite a few variables between the PA (pickups or mike) and the acoustics of the venue etc

Thanks Tony

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Thanks Rob, I guess this is what I was thinking.

No not plug them in yet, but have been reading that it’s worth having control of the guitar through a pedalboard before plugging into the venue PA system.

So I’m looking on advice on what’s best to get on the pedalboard to help control the tone I send to the venue system.

something like that would be worth a read though.

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Excellent call out here! We were getting some crazy feedback on occasion so I started using one of these as well.

Yes, my epiphone has two pickups, a neck pickup like an electric guitar and an under bridge piezo. There are times when a piezo can get really brittle sounding, hence my habit of either blending the two or using the neck pickup. EQ on an electric acoustic can come in handy as well. This idea that you don’t need an acoustic electric is crazy IMHO – along with EQ you usually get a built in tuner.

Are you planning on mic’ing your guitar?

As @Rossco01 states, it is optimal to know the venue. Once you play there with just your guitar you will get a better sense of what you might want to add next time around.

Hi Gary,

of course you know about GAS. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome). You can likewise get G(e)AS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome. :wink:.

A lot depends on the quality of your on board pre-amp, and the setting where you gig. There would be three different scenario’s to consider:

(1) you only play at home
(2) you play through the PA system.
(3) you play through an Amp suitable for an Acoustic. (e.g. an AER, or a Schertler etc.)

If you only play at home, in case you don’t already do this, start recording yourself, and equip yourself with an audio interface and a DAW. That will help your playing immensely. Any effects you buy subsequently including loopers, are easily accommodated by that setup.

In case you play through the PA system, it may be worthwhile to invest in a DI box, which connects to the mixer using an XLR cable. A lot of DI boxes have some controls on them, such as an analog equaliser, or even more advanced electronics that try to emulate the ‘pure’ acoustic signal, so as to improve on the sound quality of the piezo under saddle pickups of acoustics. Look at LR Baggs for very high end offerings on this.

You’ll have to experiment with that, you could do that at home using an audio interface if you are already in home recording, which is in anyway ‘the thing to do’ if you want to record yourself in your guitar learning. Mind you, many of the higher end acoustics already have very powerful pre-amps on board, combining microphones and under saddle pickups, and you would not really need the DI box.

Obviously there are very good loopers, and they are good fun, and they are great for getting some percussive effects and rhythm pieces in so you can add some solo leads and riffs on top of that. At home however you then you would benefit a lot of having the acoustic amp, rather than the audio interface / headphone combo to practice with it.

Which brings me to (3), if you would be gigging and bring your own Amp, in which case you would need to have both your microphone for singing and the guitar inputting into the acoustic amp. Then you would need the typical singer songwriter, pub-corner/bookshop/busker set up, with a microphone, stander, acoustic amp etc.

There are some specialised pedals for singer songwriters, providing not only effects for the acoustic (looping, reverb, on-board tuner etc.) as well as for the singer (harmonise etc.). There you will be looking at something around 400 EUR.

I hope this helps you.


Thanks for this great advice and much appreciated.