There was a time when all you needed to perform a gig was a microphone and a good old acoustic guitar. Now, there is a whole load of other noise that you need to be heard over – from the sound of the appliances behind the bar, to the noises that come from handheld consoles and mobile phones. To counteract it all, you need a pickup, and one that will allow you to be heard clearly over everything else. To help you find the best acoustic guitar pickup, we have put this guide together, compiling all of the relevant acoustic guitar pickup reviews in one place, making things that much easier for you. Take a look and see if one of these models hits the right notes.
What They Do
A common question is what they are and what they actually do. Put simply, a pickup is a transducer that captures or senses mechanical vibrations that are created by musical instruments – especially stringed ones like the acoustic guitar. It then converts them into an electrical signal that is amplified through the use of a typical amp to help sound travel clearly within the venue. You can use pickups for electric guitars as well, but these tend to use magnetic pickups as opposed to the piezoelectric ones that are used for acoustics.
It's basically an amplifier for your electric guitar to ensure that your music is heard crisply and clearly. You can buy guitars that have pickups built into them already, but it’s important to test these out before you go to buy them. Plus, you need to make sure you are using the right type of pickup – something that the next section will look at in detail.
Types of Acoustic Guitar Pickup
There are several different types of acoustic guitar pickup, and this can leave you feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to making a decision. However, this section is here to make things a little easier on you.
Humbuckers are also known as double coil pickups. This is because they use two coils to cancel out any interference, an action that is also known as bucking the hum (hence the name). It was originally created for use with pianos, but was further developed to become the solution for acoustic guitars that have a humming issue – and it makes for an excellent one at that.
The Piezo pickup is one of the most commonly used on acoustic guitars, and it comes in the form of a small microphone. It picks up the physical vibrations that are caused by the guitar and convert them into a voltage that amplifies the sound. For this pickup to work, you must have metal strings on your acoustic guitar, however.
Soundhole pickups are quite different from the commonly used Piezo model. The sounds that they pick up often sound a little more like an electric guitar than an acoustic. They tend to have a fuller sound, and the resonations of the instrument are picked up by the sound hole easily. They are also quite easy to install and don’t normally require professional guidance to do so.
Now that you know everything you need to, take a look at the acoustic guitar pickup reviews below and see if one of these is your perfect match.
Best Piezo Pickup – Mr. Power
The most popular form of pickup is the Piezo, as it amplifies the sound and makes things clearer for everyone who is listening. If this is the kind of pickup that you think you might need, take a look below and see what the reviews have to say.
This pickup is small and slender, so you will barely notice that it is there when you are playing – and neither will the audience. It provides a brilliant acoustic sound that is clear and crisp, not to mention that you can adjust the number of active transducers to suit your requirements.
It’s also really easy to install. All you need to do is reveal the adhesive and place the transducer through the sound hold and to the lower part of the body where the guitar produces the best tonal response. After that, just drill a hole from inside the body, insert it into the hole, and then tighten the nut up. It will only take you around ten minutes to do.
The Not So Good
There have been no complaints about this product so far.
With a fantastically low price, this Piezo pickup can fit into anyone’s budget with ease, and some have even found that with one transducer being enough, they are left with two to spare – making it amazing value for money. Providing you with all of the sound quality and protection from feedback that you need, why not stop and try the most popular form of pickup on your acoustic guitar?
Best Soundhole Pickup – Seymour
A sound hole pickup is perfect for those who want a fuller sound, or even something that has a more electric feel to it than acoustic. It’s great for altering your music and style a little, and they also tend to be pretty easy to install. Have a look below and see if this is right for you.
This wooden soundhole pickup has a beautiful design that is sure to fit in seamlessly with the majority of acoustic guitars.
Quick to mount and install, it also comes with adjustable pole pieces so that you can achieve the perfect levels of string balance when you play. Professional quality, it also works with any guitar amplifier.
Full-bodied and articulate, it is easy to handle and also comes with a warm and rich tone, as well as no 60-cycle hum. It makes the perfect companion for those who like to strum or have a delicate fingerstyle that requires a pickup that understands the way they play.
The Not So Good
A couple of customers have found the wiring to be unattractive and the overall power of the device to be quite low when compared to others.
This reasonably priced soundhole pickup may not come at a cost that is affordable to everyone, but it is worth saving up for. Despite the fact that it has received the odd complaint, this is the minority, and it has generally had excellent feedback. With a beautiful design and an understanding for those who play with a more delicate touch, it’s an easy to use pickup that is incredibly versatile despite appearances.
Best Humbucker Pickup – EMG
We have all experienced the excessive hum of the guitar strings, and it can definitely damage your sound or the effect you are trying to create. A humbucker helps to stop all of that, and it might be just what you need for your next gig. Take a peek at the reviews for this model from EMG below.
This is the EMG model that started it all, and it has since been their most popular humbucker pickup. Its design is small and very sleek, and it comes in a classic black that won’t take away from the appearance of your guitar, regardless of the colour.
Perfect for getting rid of unwanted humming, it works effectively. Traditionally, this pickup is used at the bridge position to ensure that all unwanted hums and vibrations are eliminated as quickly as possible. It features fluid stain and a high-end cut, as well as being compatible with a number of other models from EMG – namely the 85 and the 60.
The Not So Good
There have been no complaints about this product so far.
While this model is a little more expensive than the other listed here, it comes from a very reliable brand and certainly delivers in terms of quality and sound. It works to remove all excess humming and vibrations to give you, and those listening, a better and clearer experience. Plus, it has a small and discreet design that is very easy to install on your guitar. A great choice for those looking for a good quality humbucker.
Further Models of Acoustic Guitar Pickup
Here are some further models of acoustic guitar pickup, just in case the ones above do not quite meet your requirements
This soundhole pickup is a passive and single coil, and it is also incredibly easy to install – so you won’t need any professional help to get started. While its design is quite small and low profile, it will certainly have a massive impact on your sound, and in all the right ways. It removes all of the unwanted feedback that you might normally receive to give you a smooth playing experience. Plus, the easy installation means that you don’t need to place it on your guitar permanently, and it can come off whenever you want it. Available at a reasonable price, it’s a good deal.
Fishman Rare Earth
Another model from the reliable brand, Fishman, this model may be higher in price, but it also features both a sound hole and humbucking pickup feature – giving you the best of both worlds. It provides you with a clear and clean sound, removing feedback and humming from your music so that everyone can enjoy it even more. It can fit sound holes that are as small as 92mm as well, so every guitar size is catered for. With two different pickups and incredibly easy solution, this model should certainly be on your list of ones to consider.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you to find a pickup for your acoustic guitar that is perfect for you. It’s not always easy to play clubs and other gigs when there is so much general noise and feedback from things like the microphone, but a pickup should be able to help fix all of that. It gives you a sound that is clear, crisp, and free from excess humming and feedback from your strings. Of course, choosing the best acoustic guitar pickup is not an easy task, especially since all of the models here serve different purposes. So, regardless of the one you need, we are sure you will find it here.
What did you think of our acoustic guitar pickup guide? Are there any that you would have liked to see or recommended? We love hearing from you, so make sure to leave us a message in the comments below.