Since releasing its first volume pedal in 1954, Fender has produced quite a few effects, from reverb units and tape delays to fuzz pedals and phasers. The company recently joined in on the current golden age of guitar pedals by developing an extensive line of effects. That line just got a little larger with the introduction of two acoustic stompboxes—the Acoustic Preverb and Smolder Acoustic OD.
These gig-ready pedals are built into heavy-duty anodized aluminum enclosures that’ll travel well, whether they’re stationed on a pedalboard or squeezed into a gig bag’s pocket. The controls on each are laid out nicely and feature knobs with handy built-in switchable LEDs, so you’ll never be confused about your settings on a dark stage. My only complaint, admittedly minor, about the appearance of these pedals isn’t about usability but about their color. Among a line of bright, candy-colored pedals, the two acoustic-focused stompboxes come in the same shade of rusty brown, to which I say, “Come on, let acoustic players have some fun, too!”
The Acoustic Preverb is a practical preamp/reverb combination pedal that could be a wise investment for anyone plugging in their acoustic guitar. It features three types of reverb— large hall, room, and plate—that Fender says are specially voiced for acoustic instruments. With all the amazing reverb pedals on the market, I found it hard to get too excited about any of these, the three settings being a little hard to differentiate. They are, however, very functional, and knobs for reverb level, reverb time, and damping—which sets the high end of the effected signal—make it easy to find a solid tone.
If you’re recording, you probably won’t find yourself choosing any of these reverb sounds over what your DAW has to offer, but that’s not the point of the Acoustic Preverb. This is a pedal meant for gigging, and that’s where it really shines. The preamp controls on the Acoustic Preverb include a gain knob, a polarity switch, a controllable notch switch to rein in feedback, a tilt knob for EQ control, and a mute switch. While I can imagine more EQ options, at $169.99 street, it’s hard to argue with everything the Acoustic Preverb fits into one affordable package.
When I first unboxed the Smolder Acoustic OD, I was thinking of Kurt Cobain playing “The Man Who Sold the World”—which rules!—but wasn’t considering many uses for acoustic overdrive beyond that vibe. As soon as I plugged in, I began to realize this pedal is both more fun and more practical than I would have ever guessed.
Knobs for tone, bass, and treble make it easy to find your sound, while the pickup comp (compensation) knob does a good job assisting with inevitable feedback issues. The distortion is controlled via a knob for drive and a blend control, which is what makes this pedal such a useful tool. I found that I was able to dial in just enough drive to warm up the piezo pickup on my Taylor 510ce and make it sound more natural without sounding particularly overdriven. For guitarists like me who only want to use piezo pickups when necessary, this pedal is a great choice.
The real fun happens when the blend and drive knobs are cranked. This overdrive circuit is much more finely tuned to the sound of an acoustic guitar than than a typical fuzzbox, and I had a blast exploring all the possibilities for both lead and rhythm playing. At $149.99, the Smolder Acoustic OD is both useful and super fun. Now if only they’d make it in red! fender.com
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.