If you are searching for one of the best ways to add more tone to your acoustic guitar, you should invest in a nice quality piece of pickup that will definitely elevate your tone. This might sound confusing, as acoustic guitars due to their nature don’t really use pickups as they rely on their own acoustic amplification to provide the sound.
On top of all this, what is the point of having an acoustic guitar if you have to plug it in somewhere, that is the biggest advantage of acoustic guitars as you don’t need anything else to play. However, there are times when you will need to play to bigger crowds, or while you are in a band or even when you want to record your sounds properly, you will need a good pickup for your acoustic guitar.
Most of the better acoustic guitar manufacturers, fit their guitars with quality electronics from the factory, such as Taylor, Martin, Breedlove, Takamine and even Gibson. However, when you look at the budget range of the market, brands like Ibanez or Rogue, also pack their instruments with decent quality electronics.
However, most of the time to keep the costs low acoustic guitar manufacturers don’t pack their instruments with pickups and electronics, and some even don’t include them because not everyone wants a pickup. For that reason today I decided to write this guide for acoustic guitar players that have guitars without pickups but need pickups to play for bigger crowds.
I have gathered a list of the best acoustic guitar pickups in the market and decided to add a bit of info about what you should know before buying an acoustic guitar pickup. I have written this guide based on my personal experience, market research, expert consultation, and buyer feedback. Now its time to get on with this one.
Which Are The Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups?
5. K&K Pure Mini Acoustic
We are going to start this list with a pick that will deliver you the most performance for its budget price, the K&K Pure Mini Acoustic. This is also one of the most popular picks in the market and for a good reason too.
The K&K Pure Mini Acoustic is the best three-head bridge plate transducers in the market that delivers a super sweet sound with tons of output and great warmth on top of clarity. I should also mention that this beast is a passive tool taking in the acoustic nature of your instrument completely.
It is a little tricky to install but you can do it yourself alone without any help with a bit of determination. Then again this tool will definitely make you happy and able to play any style without spending a lot.
4. LR Baggs Anthem
Let’s get it going with a super expensive yet super-advanced and absolutely exceptional acoustic guitar pickup, with the LR Baggs Anthem. This beast features the Tru Mic system which delivers a studio quality capture of the sound and naturality all over the range, but it is slightly more expensive than the rest hence the internal microphone nature.
I should mention that this brand delivers one of the best acoustic solutions for pickups but this one has hit the sweet spot. You can also combine this beast with a hybrid setup to get the best possible solution for your sound and pick up your tones exceptionally.
This pickup delivers superb dynamics and it is pretty much excellent, but like any of these pickups in this category, it can suffer from a bit of feedback in high gain. It also delivers tons of controls that will give you plenty of creative freedom.
3. Fishman Infinity Matrix VT
If you are looking for the best under-saddle piezo pickup for your acoustic guitar look no further as the Fishman Infinity Matrix VT is here. This super popular and excellent pickup will deliver you plenty of performance despite being pretty cheap and affordable.
This pickup is capable of delivering clear, rich and very natural tones and this system can do it all. It is capable of delivering a super-bright tone and a great warm tone at the same time. What I liked the most was that this thing was super responsive and dynamic.
I also noticed that the feedback was very quiet. The controls are also excellent for its price and advancement. It is perfect for a variety of guitarists including fingerstyle and leads playing, definitely a beast on its own league.
2. LR Baggs M80
On the second place on this list, we have a bit more expensive but super attractive magnetic acoustic soundhole solution that will deliver you plenty of performance, the LR Baggs M80. This beast is packed with great battery life and it is sensitive to both the body and the strings delivering a superb performance.
I should mention that this is a super-advanced stacked humbucker. When I say advanced it has the option of switching between passive and active so you can utilize the preamp properly, and also has the battery life LED meter so you are never caught short.
It also has one of the best body sensitivity, delivering a superb performance. While it is a little hard to install and is a bit expensive, I think that the LR Baggs M80 is well worth its price.
1. Seymour Duncan Woody HC
Coming up to the top of the list we have one of the best acoustic guitar pickups in the market, the Seymour Duncan Woody HC. As you already know Seymour Duncan is capable of delivering the best super aggressive humbucking pickups in the market for electric guitars, and they have struck a gold mine with this one.
This hum-canceling pickup delivers a lot of value coming in with a tasteful body that is extremely attractive with its walnut body. This passive magnetic pickup goes into the soundhole easily and into any guitar without the need for any modification.
It delivers warm tones and natural sound which is perfect. It has a single-coil version as well with a richer sound with slight thickness to it with more feedback though, but this one is definitely the best.
Things You Should Know Before Buying an Acoustic Guitar Pickup
I have to mention from the get-go that there are tons of pickup styles in the market for acoustic guitars, for fulfilling the needs of various playing styles, guitars and installation methods, also different budgets, so you can find the one that is right for you. On top of that like you already know it is better to be informed about a product that you want to buy, so let’s get on with it.
The most basic method for equipping your acoustic guitar with a pickup is installing a soundboard transducer. This is a form of pickup that is attached to the face of the guitar and it picks up vibrations from the top of it when you play it. These pickups usually use non-permanent adhesives to stick onto the surface, so the installation is extremely simple and you can remove them as easily without any burden or effort.
I have to mention that these transducers are also the cheapest, super pocket friendly, however, on the other hand, they provide low sound quality and lower volume, meaning that they aren’t good enough for big crowds. But for small performances, and if you don’t plan on using them on a daily basis they are the perfect fit.
Undersaddle Pickups (Piezo Pickups)
If you are searching for the most popular solution when looking for acoustic guitar pickups you should look out for under-saddle piezo pickups. These pickups are made out of thin strips that have sensory material on them and they sit right underneath the bridge saddle as their name implies. They pick up the sound by sensing the pressure changes from the string’s vibrations, and contrary to the soundboard transducers your audience won’t see these on your guitar.
As opposed to capturing the whole ambiance sound of your guitar, these pickups, take a very strig focused direct sound that is great for a variety of guitarists, especially fingerstyle and classical guitarists that need a brighter sound. Piezo pickups deliver more attack and presence to the sound with minimal feedback if any. But then again these pickups can come as a bit brittle sounding from time to time.
Coming up next we have one of the older varieties of acoustic guitar pickups, soundhole pickups, which were introduced in the 1960s initially. These pickups have not fallen from popularity though in a long time, since they are extremely affordable, super versatile, and don’t require any difficult or complex installation method, on top of all that you can remove them easily. Like you would expect from the name, soundhole pickups are installed directly across the soundhole just under the strings.
They are also different models from this category as well, some coming in with magnets and coils and some producing the sound in the same way as electric guitar pickups that are tested and tried. The biggest advantage of these pickups is that they deliver a super clean, detailed and warm sound due to it sitting directly under the strings, which makes it one of the best for flat-picking and strumming styles.
However, they have a disadvantage as well, they can come as a bit artificial in the tones, and they might produce a bit of feedback and humming in the single-coil versions. To solve this issue you might want to invest in humbucking soundhole pickups, albeit they are extremely expensive.
If you want the most natural and the best way to amplify your acoustic guitar you should probably invest in an internal microphone, but then again these cost relatively more than the others. These are super sensitive pickups that are installed inside the body of the guitar and pick up the vibration from the body of the instrument, from a big part of it to be honest which is always better when it comes to amplification.
Internal microphones deliver a pretty natural tone that is pretty warm and super detailed, perfect for fingerstyle picking but also great for other styles. Then again these have some drawbacks as well, which can be very easily avoided and compensated. Also, the installation of these pickups is pretty difficult and if you haven’t done this before I would suggest you get the help of a professional. Some guitarists even opt for blended or hybrid systems, combining internal microphones with under-saddle pickups to get the best of both worlds.
I should mention that many acoustic guitar pickup systems come equipped with preamps that let you shape the sound from your guitar, these controls range from volume and tone at the simplest, and to more advanced systems that include individual EQ sliders for bass, mids, and highs, blend controls for two pickup systems, feedback control and onboard tuners which is pretty neat in my opinion. More basic systems are installed on the soundhole of your guitar and the others are placed on the side of the guitar in the form of a control panel which is pretty clean and intuitive. Then again there are pickups that come without preamps, but fortunately, you can separately buy a preamp.
Before moving on I have to mention that you can spend a lot of money on the pickup system of your liking, but if your amp is not as good then you definitely won’t sound as good as you have imagined or hoped for. So before choosing a pickup system make sure to have the amp that will support the output you have hoped for. While you also don’t need to invest a lot in an amplifier, even a slightly better amp with better output will do you plenty of justice.
Other Pickups To Look At
- Jazz Bass Pickup Reviews
- Passive Metal Pickup Reviews
- P Bass Pickup Reviews
- Single Coil Pickup Reviews
- Humbucker Pickup Reviews
- Telecaster Pickup Reviews
As you might have concluded yourself, there is a lot to know about acoustic guitar pickups, meaning you can get different ones with different functionalities that will fit your needs. After reading this guide I think that you are ready to pull the trigger on your new acoustic guitar pickup, as you are now informed and ready for action. Also, don’t forget to check out the top picks that I have provided as those are the fail-safe options for each category. Have fun with your new pickups.