I had a question from a reader of my blog posts on electric guitar amps asking what acoustic amps I would recommend. Here are my thoughts:
For an acoustic amp I use an Ashdown Radiator 1 which I bought for around £200 ($300) and I think is great. It has two channels, DI out, both XLR and jack inputs plus reverb. I’ve used it for all sorts of situations and I’m really happy with it. Its small light and portable so will work well if you find yourself needing it for say, a school assembly. Ashdown also do a bigger version for around £400 with more features which is worth checking out too.
Other options could be a used Trace Acoustic amp. These were the pioneers of acoustic amplification and although they haven’t been in production since Trace Elliott were bought by Gibson they are still in demand and are good used bargains on Ebay. In fact the Ashdown is based on the Trace and offers a really pristine sound. You could also check out amps by AER, SWR and Marshall who do the 50 watt model pretty cheaply now. You do get what you pay for so check out a few different models at different price points to see what you like the sound of.
For cheaper options a used keyboard or bass amp can do the trick but try to get a model with a ‘tweeter’ (small speaker just for the high end frequencies) or your tone might lack a little sparkle.
Another alternative may be a portable mini-PA like the Mackie SRM 150 or the Carvin S400 Stagemate. These can accept 3 or 4 inputs for instruments, mics, Ipods etc and can be used as a monitor or stand-alone portable PA for small venues. Not having to lug multiple speakers, desks and cables to small meetings, practices, coffee houses etc becomes a huge advantage if you play regularly. So do think of what application you really need it for. If you always play through a PA with monitors that someone else sets up then you might just want to buy a decent pedal that shapes your acoustic guitar tone like one of the Fishman Aura units or the Sansamp or L.R Baggs Acoustic DIs.