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The 5 Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups 2019 Updated

There are a number of ways you can amplify your acoustic guitar: a microphone, internal electronics, or a quality acoustic guitar pickup.

Unlike internal electronics, pickups are less intrusive and can be used on any compatible instrument.

Basically, a pickup is an electromagnet that produces an electric current when a string made of magnetic steel vibrates above its pole.

Acoustic guitar pickups are engineered primarily to feed into a voice amp along with instrument and voice mikes.

You won’t run short of pickup choices for your acoustic guitar in the market. However, they differ in quality and performance.

Here are our top five recommendations.

Top 5 Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups

#1 K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup

If you are in the market for a high-performance transducer-only system, you should look no further than the K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup.

This pickup system has a sleek design, and you cannot even tell your guitar has a pickup installed. It’s a mini, but it beats the competition.

It is a truly transparent sounding system that sounds rich and full and delivers enough output to run most PA systems and amps directly without a preamp.

This system has three transducers that sit on the bridge plate of your guitar. Each transducer is engineered to pick up a precise string pair.

Unlike under-saddle systems, the Pure Mini will reproduce the sound of all the strings in a nice and balanced manner.

Overall, this system gives remarkable clarity when you play it through amplification. The only thing that seemed off about it is the lack of volume and EQ controls.

Things We Like:

  • High output design doesn’t need batteries
  • Soldering is not necessary because the pickup is pre-wired
  • A transparent unit that drives most PA systems and amps without a preamp
  • Reproduces the sound of all strings in a balanced manner
  • Transducers don’t sound harsh or percussive

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Don’t have volume and EQ controls

#2 LR Baggs Anthem SL Acoustic Guitar Pickup

The Anthem SL Acoustic Guitar Pickup from LR Baggs features the original TRU-MIC technology that does a good job of combining the pickup with a proprietary condenser mic.

This system consists of several parts. There is the endpin jack, piezo that goes underneath the saddle, a mic that attaches under the soundboard, and the preamp and control assembly.

On the control assembly, you’ve got a few dials, including the blend dial, a volume knob, a phase button, a battery check button, and a screw for adjusting the level of the mic.

Installation of the Anthem pickup may require some expertise, especially if you are new to guitars. However, the results will utterly amaze you.

The low end obtained from the under saddle is rich and full. On the other hand, the TRU-Mic will give you detail and breath just like a cardioid condenser mic would.

You can enhance the tone by coupling the system with the LR Baggs PARA DI (an acoustic direct box and preamp that features 5-band EQ).

Things We Like:

  • TRU-Mic gives detail and breathes just like a studio condenser would
  • Captures low frequencies in order to convey density and punch
  • The blend control allows for the desired amounts of TRU-Mic and/or element pickup
  • Phase inversion switch helps with feedback cancellation
  • Rich and full low end obtained from the under saddle

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Installation may be challenging for novice guitarists

#3 Seymour Duncan SA-3SC Acoustic Guitar Pickup

The SA-3SC Acoustic Guitar Pickup by Seymour Duncan is an affordable system that gives a warm and rich tone with most acoustic guitars.

What makes this pickup unique from most products that you are used to is the woody design and the fact that it drops right into your guitar’s sound hole.

The stack design of the pickup is engineered to capture all the articulation, richness, and warmth of your instrument without any additional noise.

You’ve got an adjustable pole piece that allows you to find the ideal balance for your ears. The single coil design gives a clear and crisp tone.

This is a full hum-canceling pickup that improves your acoustic experience. It is double potted to eliminate feedback. Also, it doesn’t generate 60-cycle hum.

Unlike conventional models, the SA-3SC gives a moderate response that delivers sufficient amplification and allows your instrument to blend well with vocals as well as other instruments.

Things We Like:

  • Easiest pickup to install just drops right into the soundhole
  • Woody design is great for finger-style playing and strumming
  • Stack design captures all articulation, richness, and warmth of your guitar
  • It is double potted to eliminate feedback as well as 60-cycle hum
  • The moderate response offers more amplification and easy blending with vocals

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Maybe too big to fit in soundholes of some acoustic guitars

#4 Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup

Do you want an under saddle pickup that will transform your acoustic experience? Look no further than the Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup.

This system mounts effortlessly under the saddle. The volume and tone control setup is lightweight and ergonomic. There’s even a notch in the plastic to help you find the volume on a dark stage.

The tone control takes the one knob approach, ranging from flat to mid-scooped EQ. You also have a voicing switch to accommodate all guitar body, sizes, and performance situations.

The system comes with a soft battery bag that can be mounted in a variety of places, such as at the heel.

The Infinity preamp that comes with the pickup is a lightweight module that mounts out of sight down on the end block.

Things We Like:

  • Rotary controls for tone and volume are soundhole mounted
  • One knob approach of tone control allows you to vary the tone effortlessly
  • Equipped with an LED low battery indicator
  • Endpin mounted preamp is completely redesigned
  • Provides dynamic string response
  • Gives a transparent, clear tone for different playing styles

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • May not be easy for beginners to install

#5 Luvay Acoustic Guitar Pickup

Are you in search of a pickup that you can use with your acoustic, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, and violin? Look no further than the Luvay Acoustic Guitar Pickup.

This is probably the easiest pickup we have ever installed. It’s very easy to plug in and hook up. It has the RCA plug, which is super easy to work with.

It comes with a reusable self-adhesive pad that allows you to stick the pickup near the soundhole. But you get different effects from sticking it on different places.

The system plugs easily into your amp. You can use it with sound effects or you can directly plug it into your amp and turn off all the gain to have a clear, crisp sound.

The design of this transducer pickup is highly ergonomic. It comes equipped with a control knob for adjusting the volume to your desired level.

Things We Like:

  • The self-adhesive pad allows for easy installation without punching a hole
  • The control knob on the side allows you to adjust the volume
  • RCA cable plugs easily into the pickup and amp
  • Can be used with and without sound effects when connected to the amp
  • High fidelity system gives good quality sound away from scream feedback

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Some positions may deliver terrible sound

What to look for an acoustic guitar pickup?

The search for good acoustic guitar pickups can be a little overwhelming. There’re a lot of different styles and brands to choose from.

We’ll simplify your search by giving you some things to consider when searching for the right product.

Type of Pickups

There are basically four types of pickups you can choose for your acoustic guitar: microphone systems, under saddle transducers, piezoelectric, and magnetic soundhole.

  • Magnetic Soundhole

Magnetic soundhole pickups capture the resonance of the strings through magnetic poles. These types are affordable and they have great feedback resistance.

They are passive systems; so, you don’t have to worry about the battery running out while you are on stage playing your favorite acoustic tracks.

They’re some modern brands that provide more tonal capabilities. Overall, magnetic soundholes sound great.

  • Undersaddle Transducers

These are among the most common types of pickups used to enhance the sound of acoustic instruments.

The most popular technology for undersaddle transducers is either a thin piezo crystal element, a more flexible piezo plastic, or piezo ceramic.

An undersaddle pickup usually sits under the saddle, and it creates electric charge when stressed by vibrations. The position of the pickup makes it clear and very articulate.

They’re also available in active configuration. They come with volume as well as tone control for boosting the signal.

  • Internal Microphone

This system is exactly what it sounds, it has a microphone inside your guitar. This is an amazing choice for a percussive guitarist.

This system will pick up all the ambiance that a studio microphone usually picks. However, the mic alone won’t be enough to amplify the strings.

Attempting to increase the mic level may result in feedback. To solve this problem, an internal mic is normally paired with an element pickup.

  • Piezoelectric

Piezoelectric models are made from piezoelectric material that produces a voltage when it is exposed to mechanical strain, such as vibrations of the guitar body.

These systems are designed from a ceramic material, which may be mounted on a thin metal disk that is glued to the soundboard.

You can obtain the highest signal levels by mounting a piezoelectric pickup near the bridge. You can avoid damaging the pickup by installing it internally.

Single Coil versus Humbucker

If you’re using a single coil system, you should be aware of brittleness and noise, which are the two major downsides of single coil technology.

You can solve the noise problem by adjusting your position toward the amp in order to find the lowest noise position.

Brittleness can be managed by EQ. Luckily, brittleness seems to be an issue when the bridge only pickup position is used.

Humbucker pickup systems don’t normally suffer from brittleness and noise. However, they can sound unusual in the middle range. But you can solve the issue with EQ.

Active versus Passive

Both Humbucker and single coil acoustic guitar pickups can be found in active or passive varieties.

Passive pickups are the original instrument pickup design, which is still among the most popular in the market.

Basically, passive systems don’t need any power source to work. However, they tend to use more coiling to deliver the required output level.

On the other hand, an active pickup has a preamp built into it. There is a detailed circuit dedicated to the preamp.

This enables the instrument to drive sound effects without loss of tone or excessive noise. Fewer coils are needed to achieve the desired performance.

There are a few pitfalls of active systems. They need batteries to operate, and as the batteries drain, the tone of the guitar may lose dynamic range and get noisy.

Active pickups may also be bulky, depending on the battery/batteries. You have to find a suitable location inside the instrument to install the battery pack.

Final Words

Choosing superior acoustic guitar pickups for your guitar requires you to take into consideration all the things we have discussed in our buying guide.

The pickup you choose for your acoustic guitar should give a very clean, high fidelity tone with a warm, but detailed sound and it should be capable of canceling hum.

Whether you choose an under saddle transducer, a magnetic soundhole, a microphone system, or a piezoelectric pickup, this is all a matter of preference.

But, you may want to try all these types before deciding on one. We recommend choosing between under saddle transducers and magnetic soundhole systems.

But go with your gut feeling and keep playing your favorite acoustic sounds!

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