Can You Play the Guitar Through a Keyboard Amp?


Ever wondered what it would be like to play the guitar through a keyboard amp?

Unconventional as it is what kind of tone would you get and is there any point in doing so?

Luckily, I have done some research; here’s what I found out… So can you plug in and play your guitar through a keyboard amp?

You can, but keyboard amps are not designed to enhance the mid-range frequencies of a guitar or add any color or texture to the guitar tone. Secondly, keyboard amps amplify a flat and clear signal compared to a regular guitar amp. Therefore, distortion is not possible without any additional pedals.

The Function of a Keyboard Amp

Just like with any other electric musical instrument, you’ll need something to reproduce and amplify the sound of a keyboard.

In most cases, keyboardists can go directly into the mixer and the PA system, but there are also specialized amplifiers for this purpose.

They’re designed in such a way to produce as little clipping and distortion as possible and often feature inputs for a few instruments.

In a way, they have a “flatter” sound, which makes them pretty neutral-sounding. They also have tweeter speakers, which help in the reproduction of high-end tones.

The Function of a Guitar Amp

Guitar amplifiers are designed in such a way to work with the signal coming from electric guitar’s magnetic pickups. They’re voiced to pronounce mid-range tones.

In most of the cases, guitar amps are supposed to create some sort of distortion or saturation, especially if we’re talking about tube amps.

Each amp model has its special character and is designed for a certain type of music. They can have either one speaker or more speakers, all of which are of the same size.

Playing your Guitar Through a Keyboard Amp

Now, it would be possible to play the guitar plugged into a keyboard amplifier.

Going without any pedals or multi-effects processors, your tone would be as clean as it gets.

On the other hand, it would lack any additional character you’d find with a guitar amp. It’s pretty much similar to what you would get if you plugged your guitar directly into a PA system.

If there’s no other choice and you need to use a keyboard amp for a guitar, it would work better if you had a multi-effects pedal or a digital amp modeler.

This way, you’ll be able to make it sound as close as possible to a guitar amp. Another solution is to use a DI box or any pedal with an integrated DI box.

Keyboard amps are like smaller portable PA systems and are useful for smaller live performances. As a guitar player, you can plug into a keyboard amp in these settings.

Playing Acoustic Through a Keyboard Amp

Acoustic guitars would actually work better compared to electrics when plugged into keyboard amps.

Firstly, acoustic guitars with piezo pickups and both passive or active electronics are intended for PA systems or possibly specialized acoustic guitar amps.

In the case of acoustic guitars, most of the tone is shaped within the guitar itself. Piezo pickups or microphones are there to reproduce that natural tone.

This is exactly why an acoustic guitar needs any type of a “flat” response amplifier or a PA system. Plugging them into regular electric guitar amps won’t give any good results, and you’ll end up with a lot of feedback and a muffled tone.

Why Keyboard Amps are an Option with Acoustic

Keyboard amps can be quite a great platform to play an acoustic guitar on. In some way, they’re kind of similar to acoustic guitar amps, and often even include XLR inputs for microphones.

This also opens up new possibilities, like using microphones for acoustic guitars or even blending the tone of your piezo and miked-up guitar.

What’s more, you’ll be able to use and effects and multi-effects processors when plugged into a keyboard amp with an acoustic guitar.

Like we said – keyboard amps have a pretty neutral tone and flat response, so it’s a great “playground” for any acoustic guitarist.

And just like we discussed with electric guitars, it’s a very practical solution if you’re doing low-key intimate and small-club live shows.

Overall, you won’t have that many issues when playing an acoustic guitar through a keyboard amp.

It’s not the perfect solution, but you’ll still be able to get more than a decent tone. And it definitely beats using an electric guitar amp.

Can you Play Bass Through a Keyboard Amp?

Bass amplifiers are designed in such a way to handle all those low frequencies.

This goes both for their circuits and their speakers. Similar to electric guitars, bass amps and cabinets also usually have speakers of the same size. The only difference is that these speakers focus on the bottom end, rather than mids.

Now, this is a touchy subject. As bass guitars produce some really deep and rumbling sounds, it’s not always a good idea to plug them into keyboard amps.

Yes, some can handle all this bottom-end of the spectrum. But in most cases, bass guitars can potentially damage the speakers of keyboard amps.

What’s more, keyboard amps usually won’t have the potential to reproduce all the important tonal characteristics that you’d expect to hear from a bass guitar.

In some cases, keyboard amps can actually work pretty well with bass guitars.

Some are designed to withstand some very low frequencies. However, you’ll probably need some additional multi-effects processors to get that genuine bass guitar feel to it.

It all depends on the type of a keyboard amp that we’re talking about. But we’d still advise you not to plug bass guitars into keyboard amps. The same goes for bass guitars and regular electric guitar amps.

Can a Guitar Amp be Used for Keyboards

Before we get into this particular issue, we need to note that there are no restrictions when you’re looking for your perfect tone.

After all, people like different stuff. But with this being said, there’s a good reason why certain gear, like pedals or amps, are designed for a particular instrument.

In the case of electric guitars, we need a proper amplifier to pronounce all these important tonal properties.

What’s more, an amp is responsible for a significant portion of the electric guitar tone.

This means that these amplifiers, including their speakers or cabinets, are all designed and voiced in a unique way. Yes, it’s pretty much lo-fi, but that’s exactly what you need in an electric guitar amplifier.

Keyboard amps, as we explained, are pretty neutral-sounding, since they’re not supposed to add or remove anything from the keyboard’s presets. Instead, they’re there to help you get the best out of your instrument’s already set tones.

Keyboard Tone using a Guitar Amp

Yes, you can plug in a keyboard into an electric guitar amplifier. However, you need to bear in mind that it will result in a really muffled tone.

First and foremost, electric guitar amps have no tweeters, only one set of speakers that are focused on the bottom and mid-range of the tone. This approach has very little practical use.

Technically, you can do it, and maybe you’ll get some things going. However, the scope of pleasant-sounding tones you’ll be able to make this way would be pretty narrow.

What’s more, every guitar amp model has its own unique tone, so you’d always need to make some adjustments if you want to make it worthwhile.

This kind of approach would mostly find a use for those who like experimenting.

For instance, if you love playing around with analog keyboards, like Yamaha’s Reface CS, then plugging into a guitar amp might bring some pretty unique and decent tones.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to experiment and play the way you want to. Just bear in mind that you’ll be lacking those high fidelity qualities in your tone.

Related Questions

Can you play acoustic guitar through an electric amp

You can, but it’s not advisable when it comes to tone. This reason is electric guitar amps are designed to color and mask the sound and break-up with low amounts of volume. For playing acoustic, you want to amplify your signal as cleanly and transparent as possible, so electric guitar amps are not recommended.

What is the best amp for acoustic and electric guitar?

A good amp for playing acoustic and electric guitar would be something like a good quality solid-state amplifier. Attributes would be a neutral sound, takes pedals well, lots of headroom, one or two-channel amps with the option of an ‘acoustic simulator’ effect built into the amp.

If you liked this post you should check out my other awesome article… Can you play bass through a guitar amp?’

Adam

Adam is the founder and author of Tone Topics and dedicated to providing the best guitar content for like-minded gear nerds. Please enjoy all the content on the site and support us by sharing these posts with other people. It would really help us out!

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