Red Dog Music | Oct 9, 2018 | 0
Hands on with the Boss AC-3 acoustic simulator
I’ve got a gig coming up: an intimate, laid back session and the band decided to go acoustic. Now, I have a Faith Saturn HiGloss CE that I absolutely adore, but my ability to play lead lines up the top end is, well, a bit limited shall we say. Now, this isn’t a problem for shorter sets – I can get by with the few licks I can play – but for a longer set, things could get a bit samey. Time to take an electric. Time to take the Boss AC-3 acoustic simulator pedal.
The Boss AC-3 review!
Yes, yes, I know. The Boss AC-3 was released in 2006, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth talking about here. You may have forgotten about it, never heard of it, or simply been hibernating, perhaps in a state of suspended animation or stasis, waiting for a time when human civilization reached a zenith of progress; a time when Tom Hiddleston would portray the great Hank Williams and the world’s most awesome hair would be running for president.
I’ve not used an acoustic simulator for a long time. The last one was in a cheap multi-effects box from the mid-’90s and you couldn’t really say it was convincing.
The plan was to play with the electric and take a minimal stock of pedals – tuner, compressor and delay/boost – then go from the line output of the AC-3 straight into the PA. Not having a PA at home though, I started off by using the amp output straight into my Vox AC15.
I started playing, kicked in the pedal and – well, let’s just say it didn’t sound like putting a U87 in front of a D28. In fact, it didn’t really sound like an acoustic at all, it just sounded like a different sort of electric. Now, that said, it sounded like a good different sort of electric and, all of a sudden, my Marshall DSL15H had reverb!
I was a bit worried about the impending gig.
Escaping the guitar amp
However, all fears disappeared down the plughole of doubt and vanished round the U-bend of should have tried it properly in the first place when I used the line output option and ran it directly into my soundcard inputs, into Live 9, hit record and listened back.
It sounded like an acoustic!
Again, not like a nice mic in front of your favourite actual acoustic, but certainly comparable to some piezo-equipped electros I have played quite happily with plugged in to the PA.
Faith restored, gig pre-gig worry reduced to normal levels.
Using the line out option and going through a full-range speaker really is what you need to do to get those acoustic sounds coming through loud and proud. I preferred the sound of the ‘Standard’ option and left the ‘Body’ and ‘Top’ controls at quite close to 12 o’clock and was, with the ever-present threat of expectations of incredible-realism in my head, very impressed with the results.
The Boss AC-3 on the gig
Well, Saturday night rolled around, and it was time to get set up and playing. I’d gone with a subdued semi-hollow guitar, more to be in keeping with the aesthetic of the night and got plugged in via a simple tuner – delay – AC-3 path then straight into the PA.
A quick soundcheck later and our live sound pedant (in exactly the right sort of way!) bassist gave the nod from out front. That in itself was good enough for me.
After that, I nearly forgot it was there, apart from when I was playing a few 1 1/2 step bends up the top end that I would never be able to on my acoustic. And nearly three hours later, after a couple of shouts for more songs, it was time to call it a night.
So, if you’ve got a gig coming up and you need an acoustic sound without an acoustic guitar, I really would recommend you give the Boss AC-3 a shot, I’m certainly keeping hold of mine!
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