Question of the Week: Acoustic Emulators

I’ve been asked and have run across the same question several times over the last few years. Effects pedal manufacturers have a product out called an Acoustic Simulator or Emulator. They were created so that solid body electric guitar players can have the sound of an acoustic steel string guitar by merely using this pedal.

It’s a simple pedal with four control knobs (function is Boss’ description of what they do):

  1. Level: controls how loud the signal is
  2. Body: controls the resonance
  3. Top: controls brilliance & harmonics
  4. Mode: adjusts how large of a guitar body this is supposed to emulate.


I bought the Boss AC-2 (same as AC-3 nix the reverb) and tried in on the NS Design Electric Upright Bass here are my impressions:

On the EUB, it most obvious thing that it does is EQ everything so that the lows are boosted. Different ‘body’ settings boosted the lows differently. It’s a clean boost, but it didn’t do anything that turning the bass knob on the amp couldn’t have done.

There was no pecievable resonance on the lower octave on the bass. Lows just sounded boosted.

Three octaves up is where I heard a slight hint of resonace when the knob was turned to ‘Jumbo’. It’s not the type or amount that you would hear on a regular upright bass.  It’s almost like the resonance that you would hear on a hollowbody EUB. By hint, it means that I had to really listen to hear it. Your average non-upright playing joe would not perceive this readily. Any other ‘Modes’ than ‘Jumbo’ and the resonance is imperceivable.

Brilliance really didn’t do anything perceivable except add noise (hiss) when boosted and act like a treble knob.

Here’s the problem with the pedal, it’s noisy. I used it for a few casual gigs to try it out and it didn’t do anything odd or bad to the sound. The slight resonance was a welcomed add. I stopped using it after a while because while the resonance was not easily perceivable by most, the hiss was.

I wouldn’t completely discount the pedal since there were no compatibility issues with the NS upright bass, but the benefits weren’t enough to outweight the negative for me. If you do decide to try this on your EUB, I wouldn’t recommend it on with any EUB with a high impedance pickup. The NS has a built in preamp to drop it to low impedance, but you may get a undesirable dirty sound if you plug a high impedance source into electronics designed for low impedance signals.

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