Ask the Expert – Acoustic pedals for alternating pick and finger styles
Rev Graham Hunter from London asks:
“When leading worship on acoustic guitar, I sometimes want to adjust the tone to reflect the change between strumming with a plectrum, and then finger-picking. Should I get an EQ pedal, or a compression pedal, or both? And what do you recommend – both in terms of make / model and also settings? (I play a Maton EM325c, and sometimes a Tanglewood SJ5.) Thanks for your help!”
I’d probably go for an EQ pedal in this instance. I would leave it off for strumming and then kick it in for picking. A good set up starting point would be to boost the volume and mid frequencies to help the picking come through over the band. A compressor pedal could do a similar job but a lot of them are designed mainly for electric guitars and could wreck your original acoustic tone. Plus if you compress it too much it gets difficult to adjust the natural volume of your picking hand dynamics. A volume pedal will do a similar job but of course you won’t be able to boost and cut individual frequencies.
There are few EQ pedals out there of differing qualities but the general rule is the more bands (sliders) you have the more control over your tone. There are a few models available so do a bit of research first. Also get one that works off a standard negative tip 9v supply so you can easily hook it up with other pedals. MXR do great quality stuff and good old Boss have offered an EQ for years and although it’s intended for electric I’m told that a $20 mail order mod from Monte Allums does wonders for the transparency if you can solder.