While thinking of buying guitar pickups, most of us will jump over to the electric guitar pickups that are known for producing metal tones, jazz music, classic rock, and country jazz. The best acoustic guitar pickup are known for their deep, instinct and rich tones. These are one of the top guitar accessories.
The guitar manufacturers have spoiled the buyers by offering varying choices when it comes to guitar pickups. This is why it is not that easy to make the right selection. If you are not sure, this guide can help you choose the best pickups among the ones available out there.
Here, we have given you complete information about why do you need guitar pickups, what are their different types, what mistakes you must avoid, and what factors you must consider while selecting them.
We have also enlisted top 15 best pickup options available in the market these days. Once you come up with the best choice, we will also tell you how to take care of it properly, so that it lasts long with you.
So, go on and be ready to gather all the useful information you must be looking for until now.
What Is An Acoustic Guitar Pickup?
The best part about acoustic guitars is their versatility. They easily blend into various musical genres and styles, and they are easy to care and transport too.
But to amplify their sound, their acoustic sound needs to be converted into electric signals with the help of a pickup system.
Acoustic guitar pickup is a special device used to provide an oomph factor to the volume, thereby isolating the guitar sound from the rest of the musical instruments.
There is a wide variety of acoustic guitar pickup systems available these days, varying in terms of size, price, shape, and performance.
The best acoustic guitar pickup will come inclusive of “soundhole pickups” “natural pickups” “clip-on pickups” and “built-in onboard pickups”. Having a pickup system gives a boost to the signals before the tunes are played. Hence, this helps in producing truer and cleaner tones.
While the latest acoustic guitars already come equipped with pickup amenities these days, this feature may increase the guitar’s cost to a great extent, and you may want to save the cost by buying a pickup system separately.
You would also want to buy a pickup if you have an old guitar and you want to give it the feature of a pickup system without replacing the instrument.
So, it is no brainer that one of the most essential elements for an acoustic guitar is the pickup. Why? Acoustic guitar pickups serve as an important link between the amp and the guitar.
It transmits the signal to the amp, thereby boosting and controlling certain sound frequencies from the instrument.
The acoustic guitar pickups act as a source in toning down the tunes, sculpting and shaping the acoustic tone into more attractive, dynamic and melodious sound.
All in all, one of the quickest and cheapest ways to improve the tone is buying the best acoustic guitar pickups.
Factors To Look For When Buying The Best Acoustic Guitar Pickup
A good quality acoustic guitar pickup can break or make your playing experience. Just because you are the owner of a branded acoustic guitar with all the bells and whistles, you should not assume that it will sound best.
A guitar pickup is a device designed with a series of magnets that are covered in the insulated copper wire coils.
It is used to generate a magnetic field around the guitar strings, and to generate volume when that string is played. When the sound travels through the gear and cables of the pickup, it develops a melodious sound that is pleasing to the ears.
Here, we will guide you through the various factors you should consider while buying the an acoustic guitar pickup for your instrument.
A pickup plays a vital role in influencing your instrument’s sound quality. But the same pickup will sound different when placed in 2 different guitars.
So, when searching for the right acoustic guitar pickup, the most important thing to remember is knowing whether your guitar is compatible with it or not.
Guitars are not the same, they come in a variety of shapes and have distinct tonal qualities. Guitars primarily make their difference through their string vibrations, but they will require a “pickup” to generate strong acoustic sounds.
Hence, it is important that you do some research before you shop for the acoustic guitar pickup compatible with your instrument.
Earlier, guitar pickups were available in 2 designs only – double coil and single coil. However, with time, that musical piece too has got innovative.
Today, pickups now days have noise canceling features as well. So, you need to find the pickup with the desired number of coils and the right features for your guitar and playing style.
The best acoustic guitar pickup would have fuller, louder, fatter and warmer tones, for which usually the humbucker (double coiled) are the best. For lighter acoustic guitars, single coiled pickups are better.
So, depending on the type of acoustic guitar you have, you need to choose the right coil configuration.
3. Active Pickup Vs Passive Pickup
One of the major things to consider is to see whether the pickup is active vs passive. The passive acoustic guitar pickups require plugging in the amplifier which is connected with the power supply, but they do not come featuring the pre-amplification boost to capture the signal.
On the other hand, active pickups come equipped with power-supply within the acoustic guitar itself. Usually, these are 9-volt battery attached, allowing control over the guitar tone when the guitarist is using onboard accessories, like pickup selectors, tone controls, volume knob, etc.
Especially, the magnetic soundhole acoustic guitar pickups are easy to install and fit in without any modifications. But, that’s not the case with every guitar, as some of them are not easy to install and require permanent modifications to play some significant notes.
If you are not sure about which is the best pickup quality, you can blindly rely on a reputed brand name. They must have gained reputation through their quality products and satsifacotry customer service. Find out a reputed brand name in the type of pickup you want and order for them to be sure.
Pickups may vary in price, depending on the type, features, quality and brand name. You need to find the one that is priced reasonably without compromising on quality.
The Different Acoustic Guitar Pickup Types To Choose From
Every guitarist wishes to play awesome, high-quality tunes that would mesmerize people . Getting a decent acoustic guitar pickup is one of the best ways to boost your performance.
However, the issue is that buyers often get overwhelmed amongst the hundreds of options available. There are many different type of acoustic guitar pickups to choose from:
1. Piezo Pickups
The piezo guitar pickups are known for producing natural acoustic sound. It is a tiny microphone piece fixed inside that listens to your tunes playing through the vibrations of the wood and sends out the signals that your guitar produces.
2. Vibrational Or Conventional Pickups
These pickups are usually seen mounted on the guitar and are known to produce fuller sounds registering mid and lower bass effects. It requires fixing an EQ into the pickup, which can easily be mounted onto the guitar.
3. Electro-Magnetic Pickups
These pickups are fixed across the soundhole of the guitar. It creates a signal that responds to the strings vibrating with the electromagnetic field produced by the pickup. However, these are expensive guitar pickups, which means the more you are paying for it, the better sounds will be produced.
4. Microphone Pickups
These guitars have high-quality microphone installed inside the body of the guitar. These pickups are known to be one of the perfect devices for amplifying natural acoustic tones.
Depending on your playing requirements, know which one can suit you better.
Common Mistakes Made When Buying an Acoustic Guitar Pickup
Acoustic guitar pickups are expensive. To make sure that you choose the right guitar pickup for your musical instrument, we have common mistakes listed up here that prevent you from buying a wrong pickup.
Read on to know about the mistakes that you must avoid while buying an acoustic guitar pickup.
- Choosing the wrong lead is the major mistake that most of the beginner level guitarists do. If you are buying a double coil pickup, it comes with all sorts of options wherein you can reverse the lead, but this option is not available in a single coiled pickup.
- Having no idea how to safely take the pickup out of the box is another significant mistake that people tend to do. They just rip off the box and drag out the pickup, due to which the coil wire gets damaged. Remember, pickups are fragile and delicate, so handle with care and read the instructions before proceeding.
- Not installing the pickup correctly is another common issue. It is not easy to pull out and fix the pickup again if it is wrongly placed. If the pickup is placed high, there are unwanted tones that may disturb your sound quality, and when placed too low, the tones can be overwhelming.
So, measure and check the height and install properly. The ideal starting height should be 1/8”, however this may vary as per your personal requirements.
- Not visiting a luthier to save some money is another mistake that people make. Installing and cleaning an acoustic guitar pickup is not a DIY project. There may be things that go wrong and you may end up damaging the pickup forever. Therefore, it is best to take it to the luthiers who are better equipped and knowledgeable to undertake the job.
Top 15 Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups 2022
1. K&K Pure Mini
Pure mini acoustic guitar pickup from the house of K&K Sound is a transducer, best in picking up the vibrations of the instruments. This results in a more open and natural tone quality. If you are seriously looking to get a natural acoustic tone, this is the one to go for.
The transducer transmits a substantial portion of the soundboard because they are attached at a distance from the strings. Each of the three transducers included in the pickup is designed to pickup specific strings, thereby ensuring that they do not put out harsh or percussive sounds.
The key feature includes three transducers and ¼” endpin jack. It doesn’t require any soldering or pre-wiring, and there is no need for batteries either.
- This is a great pickup for lighter-weight and small guitars
- Sends out natural and mellowed sounding tone
- Minimal drilling installation
- May not be a good fit for the performers or professional guitar players
- It lacks the upper and mid-range frequencies which make an issue in generating fuller sounds
The acoustic guitar pickup from Luvay generates a decent voice, hence it has been one of the top names in the list of acoustic amplification systems.
This small-sized pickup attaches easily to the soundhole directly with a jack input. The pickup is a preferred choice for capturing percussion sounds and developing harmonious string vibrations.
- Easy installation
- Low priced
- Clear tunes
- Captures percussion sounds
- It doesn’t fit on nylon string acoustic guitars
- No volume controls
Fishman is an under-saddle pickup for an acoustic guitar, suitable for most of the acoustic guitar models. It comes with a built-in preamp that develops a pure sound. It has volume settings and control to adjust tones as well.
This pickup will need a 9V battery. Furthermore, it comes with a battery indicator which indicates when the battery is about to drain. The pickup is widely preferred for providing the highest-level performance, thereby delivering quality and value.
- Excellent string to string balance and clarity
- Easy installation
- Generates natural sounds
- Volume setting adjustment
- It requires professional installation
4. LR Baggs Lyric
This device from LR Baggs is a minimalist pickup system with a sound control offered at a low price. It is built with TRU MIC technology, mounted to the underside of the bridge plate, and it gives out an experience as if you are recording in a studio.
It includes a phase switch, and easily accessible controls that include volume and mix control. The pickup is an awesome blend of technology that does a top job in offering high-quality sound.
- No feedback problem
- Balanced and powerful amplification
- Low-frequency output
- Easily fits on nylon string guitars
- Short battery life
- High price
5. Amumu NEO-SP30
If you have just started to perform live or wish to do a gig, this is a pretty good option to get comfortable with. The installation of the pickup is easy and can be done at home.
However, it is recommended to buy a pre-amp with this. The pickup produces a clear and bright acoustic sound that has high-end tonal responses and clarity.
- Easy installation
- Good price
- Fits soundhole: 3.82″ to 4.33″
- Single coil passive pickup
- Need a pre-amp for maximum performance
6. L.R. Baggs Anthem-SL
L.R.Baggs has been creating high-end amplification devices for decades. This model of pickup is designed out of TRU MIC technology with long battery life. However, the pickup requires gluing to the bridge plate and end-pin modifications.
The top blended mic option generates superior quality sound. However, there might be a feedback issue if you turn volume too high.
The pickup can be mounted underneath the bridge plate and on the mic underside of the pickup.
This way you can easily blend the mic and the pickup to balance the frequencies, sound, and clarity of the tone. The best part is that you can punch out the low-end without having any feedback issues.
- Suitable for any music style
- Reliable and quality manufacturing
- Range of tones delivered
- Dynamic sound settings
- Requires professional installation
- Not made for nylon string guitars
7. Self-Adhesive Piezo
These self-adhesive piezo pickups are known for capturing soundboards as opposed to the strings. The pickup transducer can be easily installed using sticky pads that it comes attached with. The cable length is approx. 22.44”, along with an end-pin jack approx. 0.24”.
The pickup fits most of the acoustic guitars. The plastic squares are the self-adhesive blocks which make it easy to tap the extra wire in the box. Though it is available at a cheap price, the quality is durable.
- Easy to install, maintain and use
- Affordable price
- Comes with 6 complimentary celluloid guitar picks
- Not suitable for professional performers
The guitar pickup is an easy to use magnetic pickup suitable for 38” – 41” guitars with steel strings.
The musical accessory comes with volume control and tone along with the amp connection, jack, and cable. One of the best pickups that has a clean quality sound and low feedback, it is simple and basic in design, though ideal in performance.
- Easy to install
- Produces good sound quality and low feedback
- Comes with volume and tone controller
- Simple design may not be liked by some
9. Seymour Duncan HC SA 3HC
The bass is clear and provides a more compressed fatter sound. It is one of the best soundhole pickups available in the market today, ideal for playing electronic programmed lights.
If you have to play near the fluorescent lights, this is the one that you should go for. The pickup is equipped on Stack Technology that delivers a full-bodied tone without hum.
- Instant modifications
- Low feedback
- Comes with a guitar tuner
- Attractive wood design
- Little costly
10. L.R. Baggs Anthem
L.R. Baggs has been manufacturing innovative amplification solutions for acoustic guitars for years. This pickup is a well-regarded one, built on TRU MAC technology, which is super lightweight, equipped with a microphone in the small plastic enclosure.
The pickup also incorporates an under-saddle transducer that gives a sparkling detail and enhanced bass response that you want. Since designed out of noise-canceling technology, musical accessory virtually eliminates the feedback.
- Superior level sound
- Volume controls
- Costlier than others
11. Myers Micro-Gooseneck
This acoustic guitar pickup with flexible micro-gooseneck is ideal for percussion instruments. Reproducing the purest sound, this versatile all-in-one mini active pre-amp pickup is one of the preferred choices among guitarists.
It comes with the battery-powered source and 3 mounting options, including the new grip that instantly turns your guitar into an acoustic one.
Since it is a multi-instrument pickup, it is compatible with most of the musical instruments.
- All-in-one complete pickup
- Easy to install and light in weight
- It can be used for other musical instruments as well
- Excellent sound quality
- Volume controls
- The suction cup may fall out if it is dirty or not pressed properly
This fully equipped active pre-amp comes with lithium battery-powered source. This is a versatile, multi-instrument compact, complete out of the box, plug and play pickup available in the market today.
The flexible gooseneck produces the natural sound, and comes with 3 types of mounting options. The pickup is easy to install and stays in place to pick up all the tones nicely. The pickup is well-packaged, which includes padded carrying pouch and accessories.
- Compatible with most of the musical instruments
- It is pre-amp which means it doesn’t need an external device
- Great quality
- Flexible gooseneck
- Volume control
- Suction may be weak if pasted on a dirty surface
13. Donner TP-1
Donner brand is a renowned name in the music industry. It is known to design and develop innovative superior musical instruments, and this acoustic piezo pickup from this brand is exceptionally amazing for the guitarists.
This pickup is a low profile transducer that comes with self-adhesives to fit most of the string instruments. Donner Piezo pickup is known for producing natural sound effects while ensuring no noise interference.
The self-adhesive mode allows you to attach under the soundhole without causing any damage to the guitar’s body.
- No battery needed
- Anti-noise disturbance
- Quick and easy installation
- Volume control settings
- Cheap price
- Not so efficient for professional use
14. Ascendas A201
The piezo soft pickup stick has an efficient and streamlined design that acts as an internal component, thus improving the coupling between the acoustic guitar and the transducer.
Hence, this improves the effect of the transducer to develop a robust sound with great dynamics.
- Easy to install
- High in quality
- Can be used on different types of guitars
- Volume and tone control features
- Microphone not included
15. Myers Pickups Gypsy Jazz
The Feather Gypsy Jazz guitar pickup is fully equipped with an internal powered active pre-amp that delivers the richest sound that your guitar can develop. The pickup comes with lithium battery-powered source which is pre-installed and tested before it is delivered to the customers.
It is a versatile pickup that easily fits with any musical gadget. It is a plug and play device, inclusive of all the mounting hardware, instantly turning your guitar into an acoustic one.
- Easy to install
- Light weight
- No modifications required
- Flexible gooseneck
- Battery included
- Short battery life
FAQs on Acoustic Guitar Pickups
1. Should I Buy A Branded One Or A Used Guitar Pickup?
This completely depends on the person’s choice. There are lots of performers who are okay to use a non-branded one. If you are starting out learning guitar lessons, it is recommended to use a non-branded one, since these are cheaper.
Gradually, when you become a pro at playing guitar, you’ll be able to learn about different types of acoustic guitar pickups, and then you can invest in some costlier ones.
2. How Long Does Acoustic Guitar Pickup Last?
The high quality “double coiled” pickups will never break and have a long life span. But if you are settling for low quality in the pickups, they become useless in 2-3 years.
3. Which Brand Sells The Best Acoustic Guitar Soundhole Pickup?
There are certain characteristics that define the repute of many guitar manufacturers. Some are known for their features and shapes, whereas some are vintage-styled made.
You will see that most of the brands have covered the majority of styles, ensuring that the buyers are getting wide choices.
Some of the best brands are LR Baggs, Luvay, Seymour Duncan, iSolo, and Fishman.
4. Is It Okay To Try The Pickup Before Buying It?
If you are a beginner level player and buying the pickup for the first time, then it is recommended to try it before you make the purchase. You would like to see how it generates the sound.
5. How Much It Costs To Install An Acoustic Guitar Pickup?
The stores will usually charge anything between $40 to $60 depending on the complexities of the pickup. For the replacement, it is $25. This is exlcusive of the cost of pickup.
Care and Maintenance Of Acoustic Guitar Pickups
Whether you have just got a new acoustic guitar pickup or already own one, it will last long only if you maintain and take good care of it. Here are some of the basic yet essential tips that will help you keep your guitar pickup in good condition:
- Maintaining a guitar pickup is a tedious job and attempting to clean it is complex, which may sometimes result in breaking the electronic. There are various sprays available which do not require taking the pickup off for cleaning. So, they are better for cleaning your device.
- If you have an expensive pickup mounted, it is recommended to take it to a professional for installation and cleaning. Because self-cleaning may ruin the magnetic pull and copper wrapping within.
- Too much moisture in the climate is not right for your guitar pickup. It can harm the volume controls and switches. So, ensure to keep your musical device in well-balanced climatic conditions, perhaps by having humidifiers around.
- Fluids that leak into your pickups can reach the windings of the coil, leading to permanent damage and corrosion. Spilled liquids like coffee, beer or even excessive sweat, is not a good sign if they seep in there.
- It is not recommended to use lubricants on the volume controls and switches, as this is not an ideal cleaner to clean electronic components.
- Acoustic guitar pickups are the external electronic components, hence it is not advisable to spray polish or clean with any fluids. Simply wiping up with a dry smooth cloth is what it needs.
- There are guitar pickups that develop rust or oxidization over time. It is tricky to clean the pickup yourself, unless you are a pro. There are specific rust remover solutions available that you can buy, but use them only if you are confident to do it yourself, otherwise getting it to a professional is advisable.
Amplify Your Guitar’s Sound With Best Quality Pickups
The primary aim of writing this guide is to help you find the best acoustic guitar pickup among the so many options available in the market today. Whether you a seasoned performer or just a newbie, use your guitar with a pickup and see the difference in sound it can make.
Hopefully, this article will guide you through answering all the questions you may have in your mind, and finally choose the best pickup as per your playing style, type of sound desired, your personal style, and your budget.