The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Acoustic Guitar Pickup + Reviews
Whether you love playing at small venues or grand concert halls, getting the best acoustic guitar pickup can help you obtain a rich and lively sound that accurately reproduces the unique tonality of your instrument. However, finding the perfect pickup system for your guitar can be anything but easy, with so many options available. There’s no need to worry, though, as we’ve scoured the internet and selected some of the very best models so you don’t have to. After comparing endless options, we have decided to recommend the K&K Pure Mini. This device comes with 3 transducers that can be easily installed on the inside of the top, they can reproduce a full and rich sound, and they also come with a ¼-inch jack so you can conveniently plug in your guitar. In case this unit is unavailable, you might want to take a look at the Fishman Matrix Infinity as well.
Highly Recommended Choices – Reviews & Comparison
In case you’re undecided as to which type of pickup you should get for your instrument, yet don’t have the time required to read all the popular reviews of acoustic guitar pickups out there, we have prepared a list with some of the highly acclaimed systems on the market so that you get to choose the right unit for your needs and budget.
K&K Pure Mini
The Pure Mini is a transducer system that can help you conveniently amplify your acoustic guitar without soldering or pre-wiring your instrument. This device is extremely easy to set up and use, it comes with a ¼-inch endpin jack, and you get to use a pure pickup that does not require any onboard electronics or batteries.
Thanks to the rich and powerful sound it can create, you can use this pickup even without a preamp, and that’s especially true if you’re more into playing in small coffee houses rather than large venues. Contrary to passive pickups, the Pure Mini gives a rich and full sound that won’t take away from your guitar’s original sound, helping you maintain that unique quality.
With this unit, you’ll get sufficient output for most types of amps and sound systems so you most likely won’t need to spend extra money on a preamp. The surface transducers can be mounted on the top of the guitar, and they reproduce a warm, balanced, and rich sound.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99)
Fishman Matrix Infinity
Whether you’re playing with a band or are looking for a reliable system that’s easy to set up, the Matrix Infinity from Fishman is just what you need. This under saddle pickup is a modern version of the popular Matrix Series, and it can work with any type of guitar body and size, so you know you get a trusted system to amplify your guitar.
Besides the actual pickup, you also get a preamp that can be easily mounted on the soundhole edge, and that offers you easy controls thanks to the rotary volume and tone controls. The unique tone control can help you boost the bass and treble while lowering the mids so that you get a richer and fuller sound that captures your guitar’s character.
You get to benefit from switchable voicing so that you can use this device for all body sizes and performance requirements.
This acoustic guitar pickup from Fishman also includes a LED indicator that can warn you when the battery is low. This unit works with 9V batteries.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($159.95)
L.R. Baggs Anthem
If you’re looking for a complete pickup system to amplify your acoustic guitar, then you definitely want to look at the L.R. Baggs Anthem. This award-winning system comes with everything you need to obtain the most out of your guitar while also giving you full control over the sound so that you get to experience a rich and complete sound like never before.
This fully-customizable system allows you to setup your guitar for live performances or studio recordings in no time. You get a modern microphone that benefits from a revolutionary design for a dynamic studio-quality sound suited to any kind of performance. The Tru-Mic can easily be mounted on the underside of the bridge plate for a quality ‘boundary’ effect.
This system comes with noise cancellation technologies that allows the microphone to work just like in a studio while minimizing feedback. You also get a conveniently placed preamp for complete volume control for both the pickup and the mic.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($299)
KNA AP-1 Portable
The KNA AP-1 is a perfect example of a pickup system that offers good performance without costing an arm and a leg. This ingenious device comes with a surface-mounted piezo transducer pickup which will amplify your guitar’s natural sounds without any complex installation procedures that are quite common among other pickups.
You can easily attach the pickup to the exterior surface of the top with the included putty that won’t damage the finish of your guitar. You also won’t need to drill holes or open up your guitar, as this system is very simple to attach and remove so you get convenient amplification without intrusive techniques that modify your guitar.
This pickup is lightweight and easy to carry, and it comes with a smooth wooden finish that can match a wide range of guitar designs and finishes.
You also get a long cable measuring 8 feet for easy plugging-in as well as a ¼-inch and a ⅛-inch input jack.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($38.98)
Seymour Duncan Woody HC
If you’re looking for a reliable acoustic guitar system that doesn’t break the bank, then getting the Seymour Duncan Woody HC is surely a smart choice. This simple and effective pickup is easy to set up and use, and you get to obtain convenient amplification without drilling holes into your guitar or making other possibly damaging modifications to your instrument.
You can place this pickup over the soundhole, and it will capture the vibrations from each string to give you a balanced sound. Furthermore, you can adjust the position of the poles to change the balance without any complicated techniques.
Thanks to the Stack technology, you get full tones and rich sounds from the guitar with minimum humming even when playing bear neon or fluorescent signs or light sources that are common in many music venues. The Duncan Woody HC comes with a smooth maple finish that will complement the design of your guitar. This unit also comes with a ¼-inch jack.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($59)
Cherub WCP-60G Acoustic
The Cherub WCP-60G is a more than affordable acoustic guitar pickup clip-on that can help you amplify your guitar whether you’re on the go or at home. This little device can be mounted on the soundhole to amplify your guitar’s natural sound. You can easily attach this device or take it off thanks to its effective clamp, so you don’t have to modify anything inside your guitar.
You can use this device to amplify your guitar or even for tuning it so you can make sure that you’re always playing accurate notes. Some users have claimed to successfully use this pickup when mounted on the guitar headstock. Others were amazed by its high-quality, especially considering its low price.
This is actually a microphone so you should be careful when installing it, especially since it comes with a rather long and thin cable. Some users have suggested carefully routing it, so it doesn’t hang in the interior of the guitar to pick up unnecessary noise.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($5.85)
Yearly Guide & Report
If you’re looking for the best guitar pickup for acoustic instruments yet have little time to do comprehensive research, then you’re in the right place. If you’re just starting out with your first guitar, then you probably don’t know much about piezo pickups, magnetic transducers, or soundboard pickups.
The good news is that we have created a guide that should help you decide on which features and properties you need so that you get to choose the right system to amplify your acoustic guitar.
Get the right type for your needs
Before getting a model, you should become familiarized to the main acoustic guitar pickup types. Doing so will enable you to make a better choice. Each system comes with its pros and cons, and picking the right model should also take into account your specific needs, skill level, budget, guitar type, play style, etc.
Go for an affordable undersaddle model
The first pickup you’ll likely encounter is the undersaddle pickup. This type is possibly one of the most popular variants. Just as its name implies, it is mounted under the bridge plate. The device contains six piezo crystals that pick up the sounds from the strings which are then passed on as electric signals to a preamp or directly to a sound system.
The undersaddle pickup is easy to install, and it is perhaps one of the most affordable options. However, it is only capable of picking up the sound of the strings and not the soundboard or the instrument itself so don’t expect to get the full range of your guitar’s sound. This type is great if you’re playing in a band so that you can perfectly blend in.
You also get fewer problems with feedback when compared to other pickup types. However, since the signal from the piezo crystals is generally quite weak, you’ll most likely need to get a preamp as well to get more control over the volume and tone, especially if you aren’t planning on playing only in extremely small venues.
A magnetic pickup for an electric sound
Another option that is also quite easy to install is the magnetic pickup. This is usually mounted over the soundhole and under the strings. One advantage is that these are easy to attach and take off so you won’t need to perform intrusive and potentially damaging modifications to your guitar. This kind is probably the best acoustic guitar soundhole pickup in terms of value and price.
The magnetic pickup will capture the sound of your guitar’s strings and then accurately pick up the response of each string. Some guitarists prefer the electric sound of these pickups. Expect to lose the acoustic-quality of your guitar, although you will now have a lot more headroom to experiment with different effects and sounds, especially if you choose a decent amp to plug it into.
While the guitar will definitely sound more electric, you’ll still get the feel of an acoustic guitar, not to mention be able to perform techniques or playstyles that you couldn’t on an electric guitar. If you don’t like the electric sound or wish to switch to acoustic, just remove the pickup and then mount a different system with minimum hassle.
Purchase a contact pickup
If you want a good acoustic guitar pickup, then you should also consider getting a contact variant. This type of pickup usually comes with transducers that are mounted on the inside of the top, and they won’t pick up the sound of the strings but of the entire soundboard. This pickup is a great choice for retaining the original tone quality and sound of your acoustic guitar.
However, many models are quite difficult to install, and you’re most likely going to turn to a professional for installation, so you don’t damage your instrument. The installation will also involve drilling and other intrusive operations leading to permanent modification of your guitar.
You will get to enjoy the full range of sounds from both the strings and the guitar without using a microphone which could pick up unnecessary noise. A disadvantage is that you may run into feedback issues, especially when playing at higher volumes.
How much should you spend?
When looking for acoustic guitar pickups for sale, you should first consider which model is best suited to your guitar and specific needs, as well as your budget. While you can definitely benefit from an expensive system, that doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune to get decent performance. You can easily find affordable options, just make sure you prioritize your needs.