Playing acoustic gigs can be difficult and they can be simple.
You'd imagine that an acoustic gig is much more simple than a regular gig, so you arrive at the gig unprepared and not confident.
Here are the basics to playing acoustic shows live.
You want to get the best possible sound out of:
1) Your guitar
2) External processors
Unless you're playing for 2 people, you'll need a pickup of some sort and a mic for your acoustic. There are different ways to amplify your acoustic sound:
1) Piezo Pickup - These are found in most acoustic-electrics and are located under the bridge. These pickups often sound very sharp, so you'll need to do some EQ changes on your amp or use a preamp pedal for best results.
2) Soundhole Pickup - These are used mainly by classical guitarists, this pickup is placed inside the soundhole, and produces a much more natural sound. This is a good option if you don't own an acoustic-electric.
3) Dual-Source - These can be used together with a Piezo pickup, and can help the Piezo to create a more natural sound. But this often causes feedback problems.
4) Bespoke Systems - Some guitar companies such as Taylor have built-in pickups and an EQ on top of the guitar.
Once you've gotten a decent tone out of your acoustic you'll need to get the rest of your sound perfect too. This is done by using:
1) Effects - The most common effects used for acoustic guitars are delay and reverb. These effects are great for adding colour to your live acoustic sound. Another common effect for acoustic is chorus.
2) Vocal Processor - This is unnecessary for 2-song sets at an open mic or when opening for another band and only playing a few songs. If you're playing a long set and you don't have a soundman, a vocal processor is perfect. Vocal processors allow you to add gain, reverb, delay and other effects to your sound, and you can change settings between songs or even turn it off/on between songs.
3) Amp - Don't make the mistake of bringing an electric amp to your acoustic gig or just plugging straight into the PA. It will work but it is not recommended. Using an acoustic amp will create a better overall tone and acoustic amps recreate the sound of your guitar tone more accurately than an electric amp.
4) Condenser Microphone - If you don't use pickups on your acoustic, the best mic to use is a condenser microphone. COndenser microphones create accurate, natural tones, but often cause feedback problems and you'll need to stand relatively close to the mic and stand still.
What to do and what not to do...
1) Charge - Before the gig, make sure the preamp on your guitar has a battery.
2) Tube - If you don't have an onboard tuner, bring a tuner pedal.
3) Stand Up - Acoustic gigs aren't as exciting and energetic as your regular gigs, so standing up will animate your music more and you'll be able to sing better.
1) Be afraid to mess with your EQ - Don't hesitate to change your EQ if you don't like the sound. Acoustic gigs need to sound perfect in order for your audience to enjoy themselves.
2) Wear your acoustic the same height as your electric - This is recommended, but not a requirement. Having your acoustic slightly higher than your electric will help you handle the larger body of an acoustic guitar.
3) Use your electric picks - Don't use the same picks you use for electric. Use a thinner pick for acoustic. Nylon picks (0.60mm and 0.73mm) are a good option.
So now you know the basics of playing a live acoustic gig. Remember: Use your EQ, play gently, stand up, and have fun!