ToneWoodAmp Review – Reimagining the Acoustic Guitar

One of the best things about the acoustic guitar is it’s portability- the ability to take your guitar out wherever you go, pull it out on the fly and play some tunes. The one downside to this is the acoustic’s lack of effects. An acoustic always sounds like, well, an acoustic!

An electric guitar has pickup switches, tone controls, and an infinite array of effect pedals to experiment with and plug into. The problem? Portability.

There are very few products these days for the acoustic guitar that are truly innovative. And this is where the ToneWoodAmp comes in-it is truly revolutionary. It brings the best of two worlds into one, portable, capable unit. It essentially turns the body of your guitar into an amp.To hear effects coming organically out of your guitar is a game-changer.

The ToneWoodAmp provides a host of acoustic guitar effects, even distortion, unplugged. This provides the inspiration every guitarist and songwriter desires to do their best writing, and playing, without the hassle of plugging in. No more messing around with cables, laptops, effect pedals and amps. It’s the simplicity of plug and play that we all long for.

It sounds almost too good to be true, so let’s dive into the review.

How it works

When you strum or pluck the strings on an acoustic guitar, it causes the top of the guitar to vibrate. The back and sides of the guitar act as the housing for these vibrations to bounce around in, similar to a drum. This is why the back and sides of acoustic guitars are usually made from a much harder wood than the top; they need to be stable and solid, while the top needs to be able to move and flex in order to vibrate and transfer the frequencies throughout the guitar. The top reacts to the movement of the strings, and the body acts as the amplifier for the movement of these tones and frequencies. It can also be compared to a speaker box; a speaker is far louder when placed inside a box or housing.

The ToneWoodAmp works in a similar way, by, according to their website, ‘exciting the wood of the guitar’. It then produces its own sound waves through the instrument, with effects like reverb and tremolo, and they are emanated naturally and organically through the body of your guitar.This is why you don’t need an amplifier, just your guitar!

Have a look at it in action:

There are 8 different on-board effects to choose from, whether you prefer the dream-like quality of a big reverb to jam on your favourite open tunings, or the distortion effects to fatten up your tone and make your lead playing stand out-so often a battle on acoustic guitars. Also available are a few different delay’s, which add a whole new dimension to acoustic playing.

Installation

One of the great things about the ToneWoodAmp is it’s easy installation and removal. I was initially concerned about having even more electronics installed into my guitar, aside from the already installed pickup and preamp. But the installation is really simple, and requires no permanent alteration to your guitar. The tone wood uses an ‘X-brace’ magnet, which is inserted into the soundhole of your guitar via double-sided tape.

Step 1: Loosen your guitar’s string for easy access to the soundhole.

Step 2: Peel off the ‘X-Brace’ protective layer, and gently push onto the inside back of your guitar for about 10 seconds

Step 3: Tighten your strings, tune up, and attach the amp on the other side of where you placed the magnets, and you’re good to go!

Once the X-brace is installed inside your guitar, removing and attaching the ToneWoodAmp takes seconds. If you have multiple acoustic guitars you’d like to set up with the amp it’s as easy as buying a few extra X-braces and installing them the same way. The ToneWoodAmp can then easily be transferred between them.

The ToneWoodAmp works with virtually any electro-acoustic guitar, with a flat or relatively flat back. Bear in mind that your guitar does need a pickup with a pre-amp installed, and the ToneWoodAmp then plugs into your jack input. If your guitar doesn’t have a pickup installed, there are options of a ‘Luthier-free’ soundhole pickup, like the Fishman Neo-D, which are simple and painless to install.

Additional features

Doubles as a multi-Fx Processor

When the time comes to plug your guitar in for a gig or a jam with friends, you can connect the output jack to your PA or favourite acoustic guitar amp, and use the ‘blend mode’ setting on the ToneWoodAmp to adjust how much guitar or effect you want coming through.

iDevice Interface

If the effects already included are not enough, you can connect your ToneWoodAmp to your iPhone or iPad, and experiment with more guitar effects and virtual MIDI apps. All you need is the extra mini stereo or TRS jack to connect your amp to your iDevice. Want to play along to drum beats with your acoustic guitar? The additional interface makes this and more easily possible.

This video gives a pretty thorough rundown of the process:

ToneWoodAmps recommended apps are midi guitar 2 and sampletank. Unfortunately the amp only works with iDevices and iOS apps.

General Specifications

  • ¼’ Input for guitar, ¼” Output to PA or amp,and one ⅛” TRRS output for iDevices.
  • 8 Built-in effects, including Echo/Delay, 3 different Reverbs, Tremolo/Delay, Leslie-style Tremolo(modeled on the old leslie speaker units), Auto-wah, and Overdrive. It also has a chorus effect which can be installed via a USB update.
  • 3 Different effect parameters; Speed, Feedback and Reverb
  • 10 Effect memory banks where you can personalize, save, and then recall custom effect settings.
  • 8 hour battery life with 3 AA Batteries

Final thoughts

The ToneWoodAmp is an innovative, unique, and revolutionary product for the acoustic guitar. Accessories and extras for the acoustic guitar are generally reiterations of past products, or hardly used. The ToneWoodAmp is not one of those. It is a product that begs to be used, daily. You will simply not get enough of it. The additional features it offers drives this point further home, with future upgrades possible via USB.

All in all, at such an affordable price, it is an essential accessory for every acoustic guitar enthusiast.