Best Acoustic Guitar Pickup Roundup
We present the best acoustic guitar pickup systems and explain the three main types so you can chose the best one for your instrument.
This page is sponsored by Sweetwater so you can click through to get the full specifications, the latest price, and purchase any of the Acoustic Guitar Pickups stocked by Sweetwater that we have recommended.
You can mix and match different types to get an even better sound or achieve flexibility. Using multiple pickups will give you a broader tonal range and will help minimize the weaknesses of each type.
1. Undersaddle Transducers
Most of the electro-acoustic guitars that we have today come with undersaddle transducers, and that is no surprise because this system gives out a more natural sounding acoustic tone. To achieve this sound, a thin film or string like device is put under the saddle, which means it is harder to install as it usually require modifications on your guitar. The reward however is appreciable as the pickup system works great for fingerstyle or strumming. Word of caution though, wild or hard playing will produce an unwanted 'quacking' sound - which means it is not meant for hard punk or rock settings.
Fishman Matrix Infinity
The Matrix Infinity pickup and preamp system is Fishman's flagship model. Some would probably say it is the best acoustic guitar pickup out there, and I tend to agree. Since Fishman is known for transparent and dynamic tone, you can expect that their flagship model will meet if not exceed your expectations. It also comes with a switchable voicing feature to accommodate various guitar bodies and sizes.
Retail Price: $149.95 | Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com
LR Baggs Element Active System VTC
the LR Baggs Element Active System VTC is an easy to install undersaddle transducer. You will notice that it has a streamlined and ergonomic design that removes all unnecessary internal components. Aside from making this system easier to install, its efficient design allows for a more robust and open acoustic guitar tone. The VTC model comes with soundhole mounted volume and tone controls.
Retail Price: $129 | Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com
2. Soundhole Pickups
Soundhole Pickups are the most common type and you will find them the best option for easy to installation and setup. They allow you to amplify your guitar without having to do any modification. They are usually attached or clipped on the sound hole area and work like typical magnetic pickups. The downside for this setup is that it doesn't get the "acoustic" vibration of the wood as much making it sound more akin to an electric guitar.
Fishman Rare Earth Humbucking
The Fishman Rare Earth Humbucking acoustic guitar pickup uses active electronics and comes equipped with neodymium magnets which bring out a warmer more natural acoustic humbucking tone. It is also packaged in a smaller discreet frame which is a breeze to install and will not distract from the natural beauty of your guitar. You will find mostly favorable reviews for this highly recommended acoustic guitar pickup.
Retail Price: $169.95 | Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com
Dean Markley ProMag Grand
The Dean Markley Pro Grand is a popular choice among guitar players because is very easy to install and because of its noiseless operation. It is specifically designed for studio recording, as it uses a silent, minimal hum, humbucking coil at its core. Housed in maple wood with an ebony finish, the pickup is designed to look good when installed to any acoustic guitar.
Retail Price: $49.99 | Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com
3. Soundbooard Transducers
Soundboard Transducers are said to be the closest you can ever get to sounding like your unplugged tone, making your guitar sound like it is being mic'd. These pickups are normally just attached to the bridgeplate or somewhere along the soundboard and listens for vibrations. The result is a more natural sounding tone. The drawback for this type is its feedback problems, making it somewhat hard to use for big venues or loud music.
LR Baggs iBeam Active
LR Baggs produce some of the best Soundboard Transducers. This pickup system combines the a bridge plate transducer with a class A endpin preamp. This results in a natural tone, good dynamics and good string balance. The iBeam bridgeplate transducer easily sticks to the bridge plate on the inside of the guitar making it easy to setup. This system also features good microphonics while providing reasonable resistance to feedback.
Retail Price: $139.00 | Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com
The Fishman SBT-E is an easy to install passive pickup that is favored by many solo acoustic guitar players. It easily attaches to the top of your guitar and senses the vibration of the soundboard to reproduce the guitars natural resonance. This particular model is an easy favorite because of its no frills design and set up and uncolored raw tone. If you want to keep it simple and effective, the SBT-E might be all you need.
Retail Price: $79.95
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