How Do I Turn An Acoustic Guitar Into An Acoustic-Electric Guitar?

As an acoustic guitarist, ever felt the need for installing piezo pickup and preamp inside your acoustic guitar? It means you keen to transform it into an acoustic-electric guitar. Good for you.

Perhaps you are wondering, how do I turn an acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric guitar? Don’t panic. It is too easy only if you have the right kit. Also, you made a great decision. It is better to use one instrument for most needs than investing in many.

Most guitarists may not afford to buy several instruments. That’s why they choose to turn their acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric guitar. Above all, you need to transform if you wish to play live. 

Fortunately, by using effect pedals, you can turn an acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric guitar. Today we are signing in with a complete guide to help you. Read on to know more.

Difference between an Acoustic and Acoustic-Electric Guitar

An acoustic-electric guitar is the same as an acoustic guitar. However, the differences are in its built-in pickups. Let’s know their differences before you learn how to turn an acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric guitar.

  • Amplification: An acoustic-electric guitar comes with a built-in preamp and input. It means you can plug a lead into an acoustic-electric guitar. Then play it through an amplifier. Conversely, an acoustic requires a mic to amplify the natural sound.
  • Cutaway: An acoustic-electric guitar usually has a cutaway in the guitar’s body. But, the acoustic guitar doesn’t have any as it doesn’t have built-in electronics. 

How to turn an acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric guitar?

With the help of advanced technologies, you may want to change the tone of your acoustic guitar. This can be done by either using pedals, fitting some pickups, or following some techniques. This is what we are going to discuss here. Let’s get started.

Using the Pedals

The easiest way to turn your acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric guitar is by using the effect pedals. For that, you’ll need to use the right pedal.

  • Synth Pedals

The synth pedal offers the best opportunity to try different sound effects. It changes the sound of your instrument to the sound of another instrument that you want to mimic. Synth pedals often create organ effects with the guitar.

It can recreate almost any effect you want. Synth pedals are so convincing that you may not distinguish between two sounds from two instruments. In a word, it gives you a more electric effect if you use the right technique.

You may use synth pedals to turn your acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric guitar. We suggest using the Electro-Harmonix Super Ego. It allows us to try oscillation, capture notes, glissandos, and more. 

  • Multi-effect Unit

If you need a variety of effects, you may consider using multi-effect units. It has lots of different built-in effects that allow you to experiment with most electric guitar-like sounds. 

It’s an excellent investment for any guitarist, as these units are versatile. Whereas other pedals offer one function, the multi-effect unit provides extra. Most of the time, you’ll get more than you need.

You may invest in a multi-effect unit to get the sound of an acoustic-electric guitar while using an acoustic guitar. We prefer to use the Zoom G5n Multi-Effect processor. It offers sounds like overdrive, distortion, EQ, reverb, flanging, phasing, Seq filter, gold drive, and more.

  • Distortion Pedals

Whenever you wish to have a classic rock-style feel on your acoustic guitar, you must consider distortion pedals. It can generate a “dirty” sound effect by using overdrive, distortion, or fuzz pedals. The effect is somewhere related to rock music.

Since you are going to turn your acoustic guitar into an electric-acoustic guitar, it may be the best choice. It makes the softer and warmer sound of an acoustic guitar into a classic rock one.

However, fuzz pedals can control the tone of an instrument better than other distortion pedals. It can hide the acoustic quality of your guitar and make it effective than others.

Fitting Some Pickups

You may try four types of pickups to get an acoustic-electric guitar like sound in your acoustic guitar.

  • Electromagnetic

Similar to electric guitar’s pickup that fits in the guitar’s soundhole. You may run a cable through the guitar’s body and then install a jack socket to get permanent installation.

However, electromagnetic pickups have their own sound like an electric guitar. These are good at feedback rejection. You may choose it in a live environment for loud music.

  • Piezo Soundboard Transducers

You may also use a soundboard “bug” transducer to amplify an acoustic guitar. These sound like an unamplified acoustic guitar than EM pickups. It has more feedback prone. The market has two types of transducer.

The first one is placed temporarily on the outside of the guitar. Else one is the more classy multi-transducer system that is installed inside the guitar.

  • Microphone

Using an internal microphone is also another option to rectify the sound of an acoustic guitar. These offer the most natural sound but are prone to feedback. You may also use external mics. Both types are great and easy to fit into the guitar’s body.

  • Undersaddle Piezo Transducers

These are the most common type of pickups in acoustic-electric guitar. It strikes a better balance between acoustic guitars sound and managing feedback. These are combined with an equalizer and active preamp to get added output volume.

Use Some Techniques

With the right technique, you can generate the illusion of an electric guitar into an acoustic guitar. Here are some methods to turn your acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric guitar. 

  • Using Power Chords

Power chords help you to create vintage rock and metallic sound in your acoustic guitar. Power chords use bass strings, which turn the music heavier. The resultant sounds resemble the sound of an acoustic-electric guitar.

  • Picking Patterns

The traditional picking patterns used in acoustic guitars won’t work for electro-acoustic guitar. You may need to try picking notes in the lead guitarist style. To create the effect of an electric guitar, you may try mixing pitches with power chords.


Still wondering, how do I turn an acoustic guitar into an acoustic-electric guitar? Well, reread the techniques and start applying them to your acoustic guitar. Regardless of the acoustic guitar brand you buy, you can get a high-quality sound like an acoustic-electric guitar. 

If you want to buy an acoustic-electric guitar in a low budget, then you should read our review article about the top low-budget acoustic-electric guitar. We think it will be helpful for you.