Jumbo Sunshade - Ezine

What's best for (steel-string) acoustic guitar; a passive DI or an active DI?

If i had to give a simple answer on this question then my short answer would be that an active DI is best with acoustic guitar.  I mean, even if you don't necessarily *need* it, a good active DI isn't going to have you sounding any worse.  But that's the real question though: what do you need?

For a longer answer, keep reading...

When you're talking about an active DI for use with a steel-string acoustic guitar, you're usually talking about one of these:

What we're looking at here are two things, fundamentally:
1. Some guitar-centric equalization.
2. A (hopefully) really good preamp. [some preamps are better than others]
You're not going to find either of these two things on a passive DI.  And, if it's the case that you don't need an active DI, it doesn't mean you're for sure gonna be saving a whole bunch of money; because passive DI's that use high-quality transformers aren't cheap.

A friend of mine is a working musician in Los Angeles.  His acoustic rig sounds amazing and he does not use an active DI.  His Martin dreadnought has an active M1 magnetic pickup and a ribbon transducer that he salvaged from another guitar (the UST is also active ala endpin preamp).  He sends both of those into a Whirlwind DIRECT2-JT passive DI and then on to an acoustic amp.
[He does run into some of the same feedback issues that all of us do and i guarantee he would benefit from a notch filter and/or variable Mid EQ.]
The cost of his rig excluding guitar and amp: $478


Here are some things to think about when deciding on whether or not to go with one of those active DI's pictured above:

Do you need a really good out-board preamp?
* Yes - if you don't already have a really good on-board preamp.

Do you need a DI with standard equalization (low, mid, high)?
* Yes - if you don't already have it on your guitar OR you're unhappy with your guitar's existing EQ.
* Yes - if you play solo/duo acoustic.
* No - if you play with a full band and aren't worried about the low & high end; just need to cut through the mix (mid range).
* No - if you're plugging into an acoustic guitar amplifier and hitting the board from there (if at all).

Do you need a DI with a parametric (variable frequency) Mid EQ?
* Yes - if you're not completely happy with your live tone.
* Yes - if you ever have mild-to-moderate problems with feedback.

Do you need a DI with notch filtering (narrow-band EQ)?
* Yes - if you ever have mild-to-severe problems with feedback.


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