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Best Acoustic Guitar Preamp 2022? Yep – We Found The Best PA!!

Why do I need an acoustic preamp? Here's why you need a preamp for your guitar...

SPOILER: Tracking down the best acoustic guitar preamp isn’t always easy!

In fact, you’d need serious guts to even come out with such a broad claim; as simple as it sounds on the surface, outlining the ‘best acoustic preamp’ is nigh on impossible. Because aside from the fact no shortage of acoustic PAs (there’s SO many!!), no two have the same features, nor retail for the same price. Each is unique in its own right.

Hence why claiming something is the ‘best’ acoustic PA is (if you ask us) a bit narrow-minded. Do so & you’re basically doing the equivalent of saying: “Film X is the best ever made” or “Artist Y produces the best music”. Stating a valid (but albeit rather general) opinion. Exactly why if you want our advice, we’d encourage you not to believe everything you read on the internet – take it with a pinch of salt.

And that’s because the majority are actually asking the wrong question. Forget the ‘best acoustic pre’. There is no such thing. It’ the best acoustic guitar preamp for you & your style of play, that you should be hunting for. In which case, keep reading, as we’ve listed over 10 of the best acoustic guitar PAs + revealed what sorts of players they suit best.

After something specific about acoustic preamp pedals? Or just curious which is the best acoustic guitar preamp wen it comes to EQ or compression? Use the menu below to find all the answers you need in 1 click…

The best acoustic guitar preamps @ a glance…

Over 10 of the best acoustic preamps you can buy

No 2 acoustic preamps are the same.

Hence why narrowing your choice down to just 1, can be anything but easy. Aside from size, PAs all differ in terms of functionality, effects, inputs/ outputs, sound quality… the list goes on. Although that’s not to say choosing the best PA has to be hard. In fact, if you keep reading, it’s pretty easy…

Here’s a rundown of what we consider to be the best acoustic guitar preamps for sale today…

1: L.R. Baggs Paradi Para Acoustic DI Box

Who is this acoustic PA for?

The person who uses this acoustic preamp will likely be either a solo instrumentalist or someone who’s relatively new to the world of PAs. In short, this is a great piece of kit to start out with, as it works with virtually ANY acoustic instrument – not just guitar! Plus, thanks to its small footprint & all-metla build, it’s also a great pick for use on the road. Rugged, compact & dependable.

While those on the hunt for 1000s of effects & built in loopers may want to look elsewhere, but as a preamp, this DI box is hard to fault. Its HQ transformer gives you a high fidelity sound, which considering the price is good value to say the least. Then factor in that this pre is built to last, & as far a cheap portable solutions go, it’s pretty much perfect.

2: Fishman ProDeq Acoustic Preamp Pedal

Who’d favour this acoustic guitar PA?

The owner of this acoustic PA is likely a serious guitarist. One who’s not only after a solo preamp, but also a way to further enhance/ sculpt their sound. Not to mention condense their setup – being an all-in-1 pedal, means the ProDeq does a great job of streamlining virtually any pedal setup.

Yes, it’s not the smallest, nor the lightest PA out there, but considering what this preamp pedal offers, we’d be willing to overlook that. The EQ is precise, the effects sound incredibly professional (we didn’t come across 1 that sounded ‘cheesy’) & most importantly, the preamps themselves sound superb… clean, crisp & incredibly full.”

3: Fishman Aura Spectrum DI Effects Pedal

Who is this acoustic guitar preamp aimed at?

The person who buys this acoustic preamp is certainly not a beginner, but neither are they at the stage where they’re in need of every single effect/ parameter under the sun. In short, they’re after a preamp that’s a solid all-rounder & can be easily factored into to an existing pedalboard, yet still pulls its weight when used solo.

Sound is why you buy this preamp pedal. Being a product of Fishman, it really does sound the part. Yet in terms of dimensions, build quality & form factor, it doesn’t disappoint either. Then consider the £$€, & you really do unlock a lot of features with this device!! There’s few better all-round pedals out there today.

4: NUX Stageman Floor Acoustic Preamp

What makes this acoustic PA special?

Team a clean set of clean preamps with multifunctional pedal & this is what you get. A budget-friendly acoustic preamp that comes equipped with what feels like every trick in the book, from various effects to a built-in looper! For anyone who’s looking to make an acoustic pre their 1st pedal, the Stageman Floor is pretty much ideal.

This pedal packs SO much into such a little space! And yet, if you went by sound, you’d find it hard to distinguish from its more expensive rivals. The pres are warm, crisp & crucially, do NOT feel flat. So if you ask us, this acoustic pre is a pretty much proof – size doesn’t matter!

5: Tonebone PZ-Pre Guitar Effects Switcher

Who’s the ideal buyer of the Tonebone PZ-Pre?

This preamp pedal screams 1 thing: “CLARITY!” So if for you, acoustic pres are less about gimmicks & more about smooth quality preamps, then there’s a good chance the ToneBone PZ-Pre will be up your street. For anyone who wants complete control over every tone in their sound, this acoustic pre makes a VERY convincing argument.

We struggled to find this type of clarity in any other preamp we tested. Even compared to PAs from the likes of Boss & Fishman, we’d say the ToneBone has the edge. And yes – while it’s by far the cheapest pedal on this list, it certainly delivers the most rich & detailed sound. In fact, this is a preamp we struggled to fault!!

Want to take a listen for yourself? Take a listen below…

YouTube video

6: Palmer Pocket portable acoustic preamp

Here’s who’d buy this Palmer Pocket preamp…

Much like the name suggests, the Palmer Pocket is all about form factor. So the person who’d buy such an amp as this, would likely be spending a lot of time on the road. Being battery powered, this amp modeller is pretty much ideal for that, & functions equally as well as a standalone DI box. Team that with the bulletproof build & you’ve got yourself a proper nice portable amp.

As far as pocket-sized amps go, this sound sweet. There’s a real rich tone to the sound that you don’t tend to get out of your regular pocket-sized amps. Hence the price, which while not the cheapest, is good value for this combo of sound, features & build. For those musicians ‘on the go’, this is well worth a look.

7: Zoom AC-3 Acoustic Creator & preamp

Who would this acoustic guitar PA suit?

1 word – bands.

For anyone with a multiple-instrument setup, this preamp modeller is pretty much perfect. Anyone who buys this preamp will most likely be attracted by more than just the sound. Sweet preamps aside, they’ll likely be fans of the serious amounts of portage (i.e. inputs/ outputs) you get with this pedal. Not to mention the wide range of effects & sound adjustment too.

The sound has good detail & the preamps really do pull their weight. For bands, this is pretty much on the £$€. It may not be the cheapest or the smallest, but as reliable piece of kit for the road, it really does fit the bill. This pedal is solid!

8: Behringer V-Tone ADI-21 Acoustic Amp Modeller

Who’d be a fan of this acoustic guitar preamp?

Find yourself limited by budget when searching for an acoustic PA? If so, then Behringer may be your saving grace. See, while this is (from a professional standpoint) worlds away from the best acoustic preamp, as far as budget-friendly options go, it’s a solid pick. One that has ‘Novice’ written all over it.

Despite the price, the sound of this preamp is reasonably clean. The tone isn’t too flat – something you often find with budget preamps. And when it comes to portability, well – it’s no slouch. Few preamps are more pocket-sized than the V-Tone.

9: BBE Acoustimax Acoustic Instrument Preamp

Who does this acoustic preamp appeal to?

Find the person who suits this pedal & chances are, they’re all about the acoustics. Because that’s what (in essence) this pedal is – a standard DI with a 3 band EQ that’s not dripping in effects. In fact, the only one you’ll find on this pedal is a sonic maximiser. Something that in layman’s terms, is a way of combining the high & low end together, to create what is overall, a more rounded sound.

That sonic maximiser really does its job! Not only does it make the sound tighter & more full, but it also brings out detail too. A perk that really does make all the difference, especially when gigging, as the low end isn’t hitting the audience at a different time to the high end. In other words, for a guitarist at least, this pre more ‘true’ to what you play.

10: NUX Bass Guitar Preamp & DI Pedal Melvin Lee Davis

Who does this acoustic preamp appeal to?

Audiophiles are likely to gravitate towards this pre.

And we say so, because aside from offering a lot of adjustability in terms of EQ, noise gate & cap simulation, this pedal even allows you to specify what preamps you use. Yep – this nifty device contains 2 (a Melvin Lee Davis pre & another amp by Aguilar). Both of which can be configured through this pedal’s included software.

This pedal screams “21ST CENTURY!” Something that alone could well make it the best acoustic guitar pre for sale today. Interchangeable preamps aside, this clever little pedal also comes equipped with a setting called ‘Drive’, that merges any distorted signals to create 1 clean signal. A noticeable perk that does a lot to thicken up the sound!

Other notable mentions…

11: Fishman Platinum Pro EQ/DI Analog Preamp Pedal

12: L.R. Baggs Venue DI Acoustic Guitar Preamp

13: NUX Optima Air Guitar Simulator (with preamp)

14: Boss AD-10 Acoustic Guitar Processor Pedal

Which acoustic guitar preamp is best? Our editor’s choice

As said at the beginning, the ‘best’ acoustic guitar preamp is actually quite a task to put your finger on simply because what one person values in a preamp is likely to be different to that of the next. So really, it’s more of case of which is the best acoustic pre for your situation.

Hence why our conclusion is quite ‘broad’ – that’s probably the best word to describe it. Something we hope should get you looking in the right direction. Speaking of which, if you’re not really that particular or you’re just after a solid all-rounder, then we don’t think you can go wrong with the…

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An acoustic preamp that crams the very best of what Fishman has to offer, into an incredibly compact package. And while of course the ProDeq is NOT the smallest preamp pedal you can get, considering its functionality, it’s footprint is pretty darn impressive.

Speaking of which, aside from a clean set of preamps, this pedal gives you pretty much all the features you’d find in a Fishman loud-box amp! So safe to say there’s enough to keep most guitar junkies occupied. This includes: 2 banks of effects (including a usable compressor!), a 3 band EQ & also a rather useful boost feature that allows you to instantly get an extra bit of solo gain. Nice touch if you want to bring your sound forward!

And that’s really what stands out about this pedal. It’s not just a few gimmicks bolted on to set of preamps. It’s a superb all-rounder, that enables you to really sculpt your sound & make it individual. In fact, we’d be tempted to call this the ‘Fishman Greatest Hits’, because despite how long this pedal has been out, we’re yet to hear talk of a version 2.

Perhaps a sign of just how good this pedal really is?

Although with that being said, if you’re after the ‘best’ sound, we’d actually say you can 1up the Fishman. All you’d have to do is opt instead for the…

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A guitar preamp that we were pleasantly surprised by.

And that’s because as far as we can tell, it’s the best out there for an acoustic guitar, especially when it comes to opening up your sound. Even with acoustic PAs from Boss & Fishman (above) we struggled to achieve a sound this wide. Something that all comes back to the preamps, which themselves are the star of the show.

The output is the most clear & detailed that we’re yet to come across. Combine this with the fact that the PZ-Pre also gives you dual inputs & through the eyes of a band it’s not a bad pick either. Heck, even the build feel solid & like it’d last the test of time. So much so that with this pedal, we really struggled to nitpick.

Hence why if you got us at gunpoint & forced us to disclose what we think is the ‘best’ acoustic guitar preamp, the PZ-Pre would be the words we’d utter in-front of your barrel.

It really is that good!!

Enjoy this best acoustic guitar preamp review and eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our Latest Music Kit Reviews, as well as the lowdown on all things Music Production. Recently we’ve also done a full in-depth guide to the Best Wah Wah Guitar Pedals + another on Ed Sheeran’s Guitar Gear, which may also be worth checking out!

Or if your heart’s set on an acoustic PA, keep reading to discover even more about why you should make such a device part of your music setup…

The lowdown on everything acoustic guitar preamps + how to choose one…

While a lot of preamps these days are multifunctional, the core purpose of a preamp is to amplify (i.e. boost) your original analogue signal. However, that’s just the start.

See, preamps come in lots of types. All of which do different things for your sound. Some may be more orientated towards boosting your original sound, whereas others may be more focused on retaining that analogue warmth. A characteristic of your sound which can often get lost with cheaper preamps.

What’s more, the majority of preamp pedals also come with a whole host of effects & EQ options, to allow you to tailor your sound down the slightest tone. All great perks to have, especially if you need to adjust your sound to suit a live setting.

with acoustic electric you can play either with, or without a preamp.

Although one of the main advantages to doing so, is the control the preamp gives you over your sound. Aside from making your sound louder & more pronounced in a live setting, you can also add effects & tailor your sound to suit the mood of what you’re playing. Useful if you don’t want to be switching between multiple instruments during a live set.

However, the way to tell some of the best acoustic preamp pedals, is by their sound. You see, retaining that analogue warmth, as well as detail & clarity, is no mean feat, especially when your input is being heavily amplified. So while we would say that acoustic electric guitars don’t need a preamp, we’d certainly say they’d benefit from one.

However, whether that’s the right decision for you, all comes down to your guitar & choice of preamp… no pressure!

As you can probably tell by the name – no. You cannot use a preamp without an amplifier.

Why that’s the case simply comes back to how each device functions. See, the preamp doesn’t actually create any sound on its own. Think of it as a bypass in-between your instrument & the amp, which enables you to shape/ alter your final sound.

In many ways, it’s much the same as a midi controller. A keyboard that doesn’t make any sound, but feeds your input into a DAW. Much the same process – different type of music.

The difference between a preamp & an audio interface is actually quite substantial.

See, a preamp isn’t a pedal. It’s just one of the major components that you find inside both a pedal & an audio interface. As for it’s job, that’s actually pretty simple – amply the signal that’s fed into it. Yep – that’s virtually it.

Everything else is down to the audio interface or pedal in which the preamp is installed. So that means that the effects you find in a pedal or the functionality you get with an audio interface, are all a bolt-on extras that have nothing to do with the preamp. That simply supplies the audio.

And it’s this which is why buying an audio interface or preamp pedal, largely comes back to the quality of the preamps. Because in the end that’s what determines the quality of the raw sound & thus is pretty much what you’re paying for. so while effects can enhance your sound, the sound itself (i.e. the most important part of the whole equation) comes back to the preamps.

So if you want our advice, if you’re buying either a pedal or an audio interface, make the preamps the crux of your buying decision. Get them right & you should be able to achieve the best results first time round.

Tracking down the best acoustic guitar preamp pedal isn’t a straight forward as it might seem. In fact, when searching for the right PA for you, there’s a LOT of factors to consider. Here’s just 3 to get your brain ticking…

  • Preamps, preamps, preamps – When it comes to the raw sound of a pedal, the preamp is the most important factor to consider, as it’s here where raw sound is both read & amplified. Invest in a pedal with poor quality preamps & straight away you’re at a significant disadvantage when it comes to sound. Ask us & to scrimp on your preamps, is basically a way of cheating yourself. So take it from us – do your research!!
  • Build quality & size – Another aspect of quality to consider when buying a preamp pedal (bar sound) is that of build & materials. Invest in a pedal that’s built to last & not only will it be more reliable, but also work out as better value for £££ in the long run. Add up the cost of a few cheap pedals & pretty son you have the RRP of a top of the line modeller, aimed at bands or professional guitarists.
  • Popularity – Now, while we don’t always advise following the crowd when it comes to making purchases, in the case of preamp pedals, it’s actually worth taking other people’s views into consideration. For instance, if a pedal is repeatedly said to have some of the best acoustic preamps on the market, or favoured by those that play your type of guitar, then chances are it’d be a wise bet. Or at the very least, something worth checking out.