Finally! You saved enough money for that guitar you long waited to buy.
You go to the pawnshop and after a thorough meditation, decide that an electro-acoustic will be the right choice for you.
Back home, you go to your bedroom and plug that beauty in, expecting to create wonderful melodies with it.
Dreams turn into nightmares when you realize something is missing.
“Why is my guitar not sounding properly?” you ask.
Hours of research lead you to the realization that what you’ve been missing all the time was a battery.
“A battery?? Acoustic guitars need batteries??!!”
Yes, and there’s a reason why.
Acoustic guitars require batteries because of their preamps. This preamp is in charge of modifying the sound and boosting the signal. Therefore, the battery is there to power the preamp, and although you can still play it acoustically, unplugged, it will require a battery to make any sound when plugged in.
Now, don’t panic.
Batteries are easy to get.
But let’s forget about it for a moment.
Instead, let’s analyze this topic more deeply to understand why and how everything works in such a way.
Not all acoustic guitars require batteries
Indeed, not every acoustic guitar needs a battery to work properly.
The only acoustic guitars that do demand batteries are electro-acoustic.
Electro-acoustic guitars are the ones that can be plugged into an amp or PA system.
Standard acoustics, on the other hand, cannot be powered to amplify their sounds (unless you use an external microphone, for example).
Bear in mind, though, that there is one type of electro-acoustic guitar that won’t need batteries to magnify its sound.
I’m talking about the ones that have magnetic pickups.
As the name explains, these pickups contain magnets wrapped with a wire coil, which generates a magnetic field.
As a result, when strings vibrate, the magnet field perturbances are converted into an electric signal, which eventually becomes sound.
So remember: if you want an electro-acoustic that doesn’t need batteries, try looking for one with magnetic pickups.
If not, you still have more options to look for.
Electro-acoustic guitars have a built-in preamp that needs battery power
While regular acoustics cannot boost their sound, electro acoustics can.
The preamplifier and the battery are behind the ultimate sound the guitar can produce.
There’s a whole process that makes this possible.
At first, it seems to be a complex process, but it is easier to understand than you believe.
Picture it this way.
You play a chord with your electro-acoustic.
That chord, of course, produces sound.
The pickups installed in your guitar receive that sound and converts it into an electric signal.
However, that signal is rather weak, which means that it requires something that can increase its power.
That something is the preamp, which is already installed in the guitar.
You think it stops there but it doesn’t, because preamps cannot work on their own.
They need a power source.
That source is the battery.
A battery provides the energy that the preamp requires.
So, to sum up, pickups receive sound, preamps boost that sound, and batteries give life to the preamp.
Simple as that!
What kind of batteries do electro-acoustic guitars use?
Generally, the battery needed for an electro-acoustic is a 9-volt battery.
They are the ones used for walkie-talkies, smoke alarms, and transistor radios.
This means that they are easily obtained in any store, not just music stores.
Some guitars can also take AA batteries.
Why do electric guitars don’t need batteries then?
Electric guitars don’t need batteries because most of them have passive electromagnetic pickups.
When dealing with passive instruments, then all you need to do is plug them into an amplifier or PA system.
That’s it. Quality sound is bound to happen.
However, it’s important to know that not all electric guitars have passive pickups.
Some of them use active pickups, which means that they do need batteries because of their built-in preamp.
Long story short, either regular electric or electro-acoustic will require a battery as long as it has a preamp.
Always ask before buying.
Can you play an electro-acoustic without batteries?
An electro-acoustic can work without batteries or electricity.
Needless to say, it will work as a regular acoustic.
In other words, you won’t be able to play it as a normal electro-acoustic because batteries are a must.
However, if you plan to practice in your bedroom, then sure, don’t worry about getting them.
After all, you are not playing in front of a big audience.
You don’t need to be heard except by yourself.
Consider the following, though.
If the battery is dried up and you plug in your guitar to an amplifier, don’t expect any sound to come out.
It doesn’t work that way.
The other option is to get a guitar with magnetic pickups.
As mentioned earlier in this article, those guitars don’t require batteries for sounding properly when amplified.
For more information on acoustic guitar pickups and their different types, please check this other article. It will come in handy!
How long do batteries last in an electro-acoustic?
If you take care of the battery properly, expect it to have a lifetime of 40 hours approximately.
Half the time, if using AA batteries.
Some claim, though, that batteries can last up to 100 hours.
Certainly, this number will be drastically reduced if you don’t turn off unused features or unplug the instrument after playing.
And that last thing is fundamental: Know that leaving your acoustic plugged in will drain its battery.
It’s very common for acoustic players to forget their instrument plugged in after soundcheck and come a few hours later to find a dry battery and a dead guitar.
Check before leaving the room.
You might think having to buy a battery for an electro-acoustic to function is menial work.
After all, you already spent money and time looking for strings, picks, and cables.
You want to play, that’s all.
This is understandable, but if you ask me, I think it’s pretty fascinating how everything functions.
A simple battery is a key to unlocking a boosted world of sound.
And if you happen not to have a 9-volt with you, who cares?
It’s not as if it could stop you from practicing.
If you were unsure whether to get an electro-acoustic or not, I sincerely hope this article has helped you on taking action.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.