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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Acoustic Guitars

11. The Electro-Acoustic Guitar

Let’s make the distinction clear - an ‘electro-acoustic’ guitar is designed to sound like an acoustic guitar when amplified. Most are also fully functioning acoustic guitars when unplugged. A ‘semi-acoustic guitar’ on the other hand, is essentially an electric guitar that happens to be hollow or semi-hollow.

Until the Sixties, acoustic guitarists had to sit or stand in front of one or more
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphones
to achieve amplification via a PA system. This remains the preferred option for studio recording, but these days most players use an electro-acoustic guitar for live performance. While some early electro-acoustics used magnetic
PickupA device for converting sound into an electronic signal, usually by direct contact with the instrument body or by magnetic interaction with the strings, as opposed to a microphone which picks up sound vibrations in the air.
pickups
clamped across the sound-hole - and this remains an option for fitting to expensive acoustic guitars without ‘surgery’ - most magnetic
PickupA device for converting sound into an electronic signal, usually by direct contact with the instrument body or by magnetic interaction with the strings, as opposed to a microphone which picks up sound vibrations in the air.
pickups
do not do justice to the acoustic guitar sound. The modern version is the ‘piezo-electric transducer’, in which a crystalline or ceramic material converts vibration into electric
CurrentThe flow of electrons or charge in an electrical device, measured in amperes (amps); defined as the voltage applied divided by the resistance in the circuit.
current
. Most
PiezoA ceramic transducer, often used in acoustic instrument pickups. Piezo technology can also be used to make small speakers.
piezo
PickupA device for converting sound into an electronic signal, usually by direct contact with the instrument body or by magnetic interaction with the strings, as opposed to a microphone which picks up sound vibrations in the air.
pickups
take the form of a strip placed under the
BridgeThe part of a guitar where the strings are fastened to the body. Vibrations from the strings are transmitted through the bridge to the body or soundboard of the guitar. 'Bridge' is also the name for a transitional piece of music connecting two parts of a song.
bridge
SaddleA component of a guitar bridge. The saddle is the point which defines the end of the string's vibrating length. Acoustic guitars usually incorporate a single saddle made of a thin plastic or bone ridge; electric guitars often have a separate metal saddle for each string, so that intonation and action may be adjusted independently.
saddle
which ensures an efficient mechanical connection to the strings. Because this direct connection also interacts with the vibration of the body,
PiezoA ceramic transducer, often used in acoustic instrument pickups. Piezo technology can also be used to make small speakers.
piezo
PickupA device for converting sound into an electronic signal, usually by direct contact with the instrument body or by magnetic interaction with the strings, as opposed to a microphone which picks up sound vibrations in the air.
pickups
capture the acoustic sound much better than magnetic
PickupA device for converting sound into an electronic signal, usually by direct contact with the instrument body or by magnetic interaction with the strings, as opposed to a microphone which picks up sound vibrations in the air.
pickups
, although still far from perfectly. Most piezo-based electro-acoustics do produce at least an acceptable sound for live rock and pop work though, and some recent models from Yamaha and others add an internal
MicrophoneA device which converts airborne sound into an electrical signal.
microphone
which can be blended with the
PiezoA ceramic transducer, often used in acoustic instrument pickups. Piezo technology can also be used to make small speakers.
piezo
signal for added depth.

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