This post is inspired by in interview I just did with Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson, a cool dude and a deep player. I’m digging the band’s new album, World Boogie is Coming. (And for better or worse, that praise comes from someone who hates almost all modern blues albums.) You can read the interview here.
Anyway, Luther was talking about how his entire style is a quest to create a loud, electric version of acoustic country blues. He mentioned how he was more drawn to the Mississippi blues players who went electric by slapping DeArmond pickups on their acoustics, as opposed to, say, Muddy Waters, who swapped his acoustic for a Telecaster. Luther also mentioned that DeArmonds are still his favorite way to amplify an acoustic guitar
At some point it occurred to me that I’d never actually played an acoustic with a DeArmand. So I picked up a 1950s RHC-B and popped it into my old Martin 0-18. Have a listen:
I’m a longtime fan of magnetic pickups on acoustic guitars. I had a Sunrise in my Lowden for 15 years and loved it, but it croaked last year. I replaced it with one of those hybrid models that combine a mag pickup with an internal mic, and it works fine. But after a year or so, I don’t think I’ve ever used the mic sound. I just like the way the mag pickup sounds.
But is it still acoustic guitar? I’m not sure. I increasingly view amplified acoustic as a guitar category unto itself, residing somewhere between acoustic and archtop.
And the DeArmond? Between its noisiness and reticent highs, it’s probably not the best choice for every occasion. It’s also a bigger pain to install and remove than modern mag pickups. But I dig how it sound in the video, and I’m definitely keeping it!
So what’s you experience with amplifying your acoustic guitars?