#1
Hi everybody, i was just wondering if I could plug an electric acoustic guitar in any type of speakers or if it matters if the pickup is passive or active?
#2
maybe i'm misunderstanding you, but with most guitars, active or passive, you need to plug into an amp, not directly into the speakers. there are a couple travel guitars i know of that have an internal amp, but not sure if any of these are acoustic guitars, and the amp inside the guitar won't be very loud.
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#3
patticake I meant speakers as in those in PA systems and I'm sure it is possible because I tried it out in a music store, problem is I'm not sure if they had amplification (active) or not.
As far as I remember my guitar has active pickup but I have to check when I get home.
Last edited by bluesmommajojo at Jun 26, 2016,
#4
Active pickups won't power passive speakers. In this case the active versus passive nature of the pickups and speakers are unrelated. Active pickups have a built-in preamp whereas passives don't. In speakers, an active speaker is one that has the power amp section built into the unit similar to a guitar combo amp. The active speaker requires a power amplifier to run, similar to how a guitar cabinet needs an amp head to make it work.

You would still need a power amp for the passive speakers, but you could plug a guitar directly into the amp. You can absolutely plug directly into a powered speaker unit though. Keep in mind that you may need a direct box or something similar in case the powered speaker or power amp only has XLR inputs. This is more likely with a power amp unit since powered speakers tend to have 1/4" inputs while power amps often don't, but it depends on the individual unit.

The one thing to keep in mind is that that is just from a "can it be done?" point. From a "will it sound good though?" point it depends on the speakers, what they have for EQ (powered speakers usually have at least high and low controls but power amps for passive speakers usually don't), the electronics on your guitar, etc. It won't be as favorable as an acoustic guitar amp for example.
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Last edited by theogonia777 at Jun 26, 2016,
#5
Quote by bluesmommajojo
patticake I meant speakers as in those in PA systems and I'm sure it is possible because I tried it out in a music store, problem is I'm not sure if they had amplification (active) or not.
As far as I remember my guitar has active pickup but I have to check when I get home.

Active speakers are powered speakers and they don't need an external power amp. Passive speakers require an external power amp.

You always need to amplify the sound. Whether you have active or passive speakers just dictates where the amplification happens. Active speakers are kind of comparable to guitar combo amps - the amp and the speakers are in the same unit. Similarly, passive speakers are kind of comparable to guitar cabinets - you also need an amp head to get a sound out of them.

You can use either, but if you have passive speakers, you also need a power amp. You could plug straight into active speakers. The type of your pickups is irrelevant.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jun 26, 2016,
#6
Quote by bluesmommajojo
patticake I meant speakers as in those in PA systems and I'm sure it is possible because I tried it out in a music store, problem is I'm not sure if they had amplification (active) or not.
As far as I remember my guitar has active pickup but I have to check when I get home.
OK, it's a fair bet to say that ANY factory equipped acoustic electric guitar has a preamp built in. This is because the electrical output from the piezoelectric type pickups are very low. Thus, plugging a piezo directly into a "line input", would require too much sensitivity, ("gain") at the amp. The result would be a noisy, weak, signal, and lousy sound out of the amp.

Magnetic "sound hole" pickups of the aftermarket type will work without an onboard preamp, as the pickup's output is sufficient to drive a guitar amp, (or PA directly.

Nonetheless, neither type of system has the output to drive a loudspeaker on its own.
Even guitar amps with "headphone outputs", have that output tapped AFTER their preamp and "tone stack" stages.

So NO, a guitar pickup won't drive a loudspeaker directly, no matter whether it's passive or active..

"Power amps", in the context of live sound applications, and also in direct definition of the term, have no tone or volume controls of their own.

So, with a "power amp" you would need a preamp, in addition to the one in the guitar to have any control over volume or tone whatsoever.

A modern solution to this is a "powered mixer". This is where a power amp is integrated into the mixing board itself. All the input levels, and EQ, are basically one very complex "preamp stage". This type of mixing board should make provisions for driving both types of loudspeakers. You would have the power output stage to drive passive speakers, and a "line level output" to drive "active" or "powered speakers".

I hope that helps to contribute to the good information the others have already given you.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jun 26, 2016,
#7
I don't know if I recall having ever seen a power amp unit for sale without a volume knob for each channel. Also you can absolutely plug straight into powered speakers and you can plug directly into your power amp unit if you are using passive speakers.
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#8
Quote by theogonia777
I don't know if I recall having ever seen a power amp unit for sale without a volume knob for each channel.
It makes sense that power amps sold by themselves would have volume controls. This because of the unpredictability of the expected input levels in general.

However, power amps for permanent installations may or may not have volume controls, as the final amps input levels were/are set by the preamp. In the case of home high fidelity equipment, it was expected that you would buy any maker's preamp & power amp units in combination, rendering volume controls on the "final" sort of moot.

These Crown units don't have volume controls on them:

But I also located power amps by the same maker which do.
#9
I'm all for the natural sound of the acoustic guitar so " It won't be as favorable as an acoustic guitar amp for example. " - I'm not sure I can agree. I tested both an amp and a PA system and holy crap the latter sounded amazing, so warm and clear. Of course, it depends on what settings the amp had at that time, the guy at the store however looked like he knew what he was doing, so I trust he gave me the optimal settings on the amp. Well, anyway. I think I understood what all of you explained to me. Thanks a lot!
#10
Quote by bluesmommajojo
I'm all for the natural sound of the acoustic guitar so " It won't be as favorable as an acoustic guitar amp for example. " - I'm not sure I can agree. I tested both an amp and a PA system and holy crap the latter sounded amazing, so warm and clear. Of course, it depends on what settings the amp had at that time, the guy at the store however looked like he knew what he was doing, so I trust he gave me the optimal settings on the amp. Well, anyway. I think I understood what all of you explained to me. Thanks a lot!
I'll try and explain some of that to you.

First, the preamp in an acoustic electric guitar, has one primary function. I raises the pickup's signal above the noise floor, and allows for long cable runs. The EQ, phase switching, & tuner are obviously desirable attributes. But, without the preamp, the dynamic range of the signal would be more limited, and it would ingest much more noise on its way to the amp.

An amplifier designed for acoustic guitar, really has more in common with a PA amp/system, than it does with an electric guitar amp. The big difference in PA amplifiers, as opposed to electric guitar amps is, They're designed to be "clean", or in other words, to faithfully reproduce an input signal, without coloration or distortion. Many electric amps are more or less, "distortion generators", and designed to be so.

Now, Fender electric amps are notoriously clean and bright, OTOH, "metal amps", such as the Peavey 6505, pretty much don't have a clean channel, they simply pump less crud in the "clean channel", than they do to the "gain channel".

Moving along, a large acoustic guitar amp is very clean, and has EQ and input mixing. Therefore, it has more in common with a PA system, than it does with an electric guitar amp anyway.

Now, assuming 2 things, your guitar has EQ and volume controls, and the PA you're connecting to has 1/4" inputs, you're golden. PA systems normally have large low frequency drivers. As the low E-6 on a guitar is only 81 Hz, IMHO, you need 12" woofers to get its message across, particularly if you're playing a solo gig.

Now, as for input style, the only concern would be if the PA system only has "XLR", or microphone style inputs.

Ironically, Ibanez AE guitars notoriously, and mostly in point of fact, sound like shit unplugged. However, many of their AE preamps are equipped with XLR outputs, and their guitars sound great when plugged in.

I completely disagree with these acoustic amps with 6" speakers, as I don't believe they can pass enough bass to allow the guitar to give of its best.

To this end, I bought a Berhinger, (yes, that awful brand), electric guitar amp. It has a glorious, sparkling clean channel. This is the first amp I've owned which would make my 12 strings sound good. When you start pushing a twelve through 8" or smaller speakers, they are horribly nasal. The big bottom end of the 12" 60 watt Berhinger balances that out nicely. Since this amp is clean on top of more clean in channel one, I feel I'm getting the same benefit as plugging into a good PA. Now PA speakers, most of which have high frequency horns, would be unnecessary in the home, (where I play), as you don't need very much high end to penetrate crowd noise.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jun 27, 2016,