acoustic guitar

TC Electronic BodyRez Pedal Review

Released in 2015, the TC Electronic (TC-E) BodyRez Acoustic Pickup Enhancer is, according to the manufacturer: “Designed to restore the natural acoustic resonance of your instrument when using under-saddle pickups.” The name is clearly an amalgamation of the words body and resonance and pretty much sums up the mission of this pedal: to restore these qualities to the sound of an undersaddle pickup on an acoustic instrument. Continuing in the marketing copy, it apparently does this through “…a vast amount of pre-configured filters combined with subtle quick compression in order to bring your amplified tone back to life.” More on that later. At time of writing the full user manual (as opposed to the quick start guide) is not available on the TC Electronic website; however, I managed to track down a copy on manualslib.

Let’s start with the basics: the pedal measures (as in, I actually measured it) 44mm/1.74″ in width, 94mm/3.70″ in length and 45mm/1.77″ in height, from the base of the pedal to the top of the single control knob. It is thus quite a small pedal and readily disappears into the string pocket of a gigbag or guitar case. Here it is alongside my MXR bass preamp and one of the newish Fishman pedals:

Size Comparison: MXR Bass Preamp, TC-E BodyRez, Fishman Acoustiverb

As expected, a pedal of this size cannot accommodate an internal battery: there is a power input on the right side for any standard pedal power supply, i.e. 9-volts, center-negative, 100 milliamps minimum. A simple power supply is included with the pedal. Above the DC input is located a mini (not micro) USB connector for firmware updates. As of September 2023, TC-E have not released any for this pedal. And no, you cannot power the pedal using a USB power supply connected to the USB port; I’ve tried. The input and output sockets are on the right and left sides of the pedal respectively and are not labelled at all – this could be confusing for pedal newbies. On the plus side, the sockets are offset to allow for closer pedal spacing with other TC-E mini pedals such as the polytune mini or hypergravity. Thoughtful!

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Blackstar Sonnet 60 review

As a live sound engineer I’ve encountered and used all sorts of amplification systems for acoustic instruments, from powered PA speakers to Roland keyboard amps to various dedicated ‘acoustic’ amplifiers. When I first started out in the early 2000s these usually resembled electric guitar amplifiers, but with fullrange drivers, perhaps a tweeter or two and a control panel that included a microphone input. Typical of these was the Marshall AS50D, which was good and loud but definitely on the heavy side at 16 kilos/35 pounds. As time has gone by, live sound equipment and instrument amplifiers have both become more compact and lighter in weight, and in May 2022 I decided to purchase a Blackstar Sonnet 60 to see what the state of the art was.

Blackstar Sonnet 60 (blackstaramps.com)

Coming from old-school acoustic amps, a couple of things that impressed me from the outset were the size (345mm wide x 310mm high x 250mm deep, or roughly a 1-foot cube) and the weight of 7.7 kilos/16.9 lbs. This was significantly less than the 10.5 kilos/23.1 lbs of the Boss Acoustic Singer pro, another amp I was considering. When you are carrying guitar, microphone stand, cables, power extension etc every kilo makes a difference, especially in Singapore, where load-ins often involve stairs and narrow doorways.

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Acoustic Guitar Preamp pedals section added to Amazon Links.

Over the past 10+ years I have been on a constant search for the ideal acoustic guitar preamp pedal when playing out without an amp. Unlike electric guitar or bass guitar effects pedals, there are not THAT many of these on the market, especially from reputable manufacturers. I think this may have something to do with the fact that they are actually quite difficult to design!

An acoustic instrument produces a very fullrange signal in comparison to an electric guitar or bass, and getting this to translate well through a pickup/preamp system has challenged engineers for decades, to the point where using a pickup is still seen as a concession to the exigencies of live performance. No self-respecting recording engineer would ever track an acoustic instrument purely using a pickup system – a microphone would always be employed in the first instance.

Fishman and LR Baggs have ruled this arena for decades, alongside Taylor and Takamine who produce their own proprietary pickup systems. This section contains my thoughts on some of the pedals I’ve used over the years, together with buying links if you would like to support my work.

Boss AD-2 Acoustic Preamp Review

Released in late 2016, the AD-2 is one of the more compact acoustic guitar preamps available. It follows the familiar Boss form factor, being 73mm wide, 129mm deep and 59mm tall. This means that it will fit on standard pedal boards alongside your other floor wizardry, and gives it an advantage over its numerical big brother the AD-3, which takes up significantly more space. The pedal features a notch filter, ambience and acoustic resonance effects and a balanced line out in addition to the standard unbalanced output, making it the simplest pedal of this type available from Boss.

Input impedance is 10 M ohms which means that the pedal can accept passive piezo pickups directly with no need for an additional buffer in the signal chain. This would also allow the pedal to act as a backup in the event that your onboard preamp were to go down. Of course magnetic soundhole pickups will work fine too. The pedal features a buffered bypass which means that it will not pass signal if the batteries fail completely, but in my experience the pedal knows when the juice is about to run out and stitches off the effects in order to keep the buffer alive. Nevertheless an external power supply is to be preferred if at all possible. Battery life is stated to be 6 hours of continuous use.  Continue reading