I rarely break out my fleet of electric guitars anymore so my usual go-to is my trusty old Cordoba Iberia that’s usually within reach . Having instruments lying around the house is a huge aspect of getting to practice more. The ToneWood amp caught my eye immediately as I’ve been looking for simple amplification while playing outdoors or in places with absolutely poor acoustics where a little echo/reverb or delay can go a long way in justifying the piece I’m trying to play and even serve to feed some creativity.
Its essentially a lightweight effects unit that can be mounted on the back of the acoustic guitar to give you amplification and a few effects. There are magnets as part of the install that hook the ToneWood on the back of your guitar and the effects are amplified from the body as the amp picks up sound from the pickup on the acoustic and sends it back via a “vibrating driver” so the sounds becomes augmented with the effects. It essentially blends the natural guitar sound with the effects and comes out the sound hole as a unified sonic experience. The patent explains the concept well and is pretty ingenious.
The natural sound of the unamplified guitar coming from the soundboard seamlessly blends with the effects radiating outward via the sound hole, creating a larger than life soundscape. All that’s required is some type of pickup installed in the guitar to provide signal to the device. You can connect the ToneWood to an external Amp/PA via the 1/4″ output port and it is iDevice interface that is great if you are on the Mac ecosystem. It also has the 1/4″ standard guitar input and a 1/8″ TRRS I/O for iDevice. The processor takes in 3 AA batteries for an average of 8 hours.
The installation took me about 10 minutes. It required me to slacken the strings, place a X-brace unit inside the guitar pointing the magnets so that the ToneWood amp could attach itself to the outside back of the guitar using the suction provided. This took some adjusting and I’m not sure i’ve dialed in the optimal most optimal position but it’s close enough.Once you stick the batteries in, it’s showtime. The display screen and knobs are intuitive and the barrier to entry here is phenomenally low.
From an effects perspective , it’s really everything you need considering you are playing an acoustic guitar. All the effects come with Gain and Volume settings.
- Hall Reverb with Decay, Pre-delay and Hi-cut settings. These settings are accessed by pressing on the knobs on the ToneWood
- Room Reverb with Decay, Pre-delay and Hi-cut settings
- Plate Reverb with Decay, Pre-delay and Hi-cut settings
- Delay with Speed, Feedback and Reverb. ( Note: you are not going to sound like the The Edge on the Skrydstrup switching system anytime soon with this)
- Tremolo with Rate, Depth and Delay
- Leslie style tremolo with rate, depth and reverb
- Auto-Wah with Sensitivity, Envelope , Reverb
- Overdrive with Drive, Filter and Reverb
- DSP Bypass to mute the processor
- Notch Filters to Notch Low and Notch High to filter based on the frequency
There is also the ability to save effect settings based on the tweaks you make which seems useful though I’ve not really played around with it.
I’ve largely played around with the Hall and Room effects for my purpos. You can tweak this plenty but I’d like to make sure I’m not sounding “wall of sound Spector-mode” on my Cordoba for every track.
All in all, a great addition to enhance the acoustic and more than anything else, the convenience factor is amazing. It’s much more easy to optimize practice time now without switching guitars or hooking up effects racks to my Ibanez for a 10-minute session. If you want more control over ambience and soundscapes with minimal setup or complexity, this is it.
I recorded a quick demo with the Hall Reverb with Decay and Hi-cut set to default and no audio edits off the iPhone camera. The audio needs to be enhanced and it doesn’t fully do justice to the ToneWood sound. The jam is me noodling on S&G’s cover of Anji by Davey Graham. The nylon strings don’t lend to much slack in bending at all but point was to capture a small moment of a few hours testing this wonderful amp.
Note – I don’t have any affiliation with ToneWood.