One of the appeals of playing an acoustic guitar is the intimacy—that personal experience as the sound washes over you when you’re playing for yourself. Unfortunately, sharing that sound with more than a few others can be challenging. Whether you need to reach an audience in a large concert hall, rise above the chatter at a coffee shop, or compete with drums or electric instruments in a band, making your guitar heard requires some assistance from an amplification system. Figuring out what equipment you need and how to use it can be a daunting task. To help you chart a course through the options, we’re going to look at the big picture and cover the three main elements of an acoustic amplification system: pickups, preamps/DIs, and amplifiers/PA systems.