Playing music for the wider audience —whether at huge concert halls or through the chatter at restaurants and pubs— can be challenging in terms of getting your acoustic tunes heard. The old-school way of performing in front of a directional mic will not get you the results that your music deserves, hooking your acoustic guitar to a good amplification system will do, though. So, in that case, one of the following best acoustic guitar pickups will play a vital role to produce your perfect tone.

We know that the search for equipment and figuring out how to use it can take up a lot of time and energy, we put together an extensive buyers guide covering the 8 best acoustic guitar pickups that we are positive will walk you through your options and help you make the most suitable choice quicker. 

Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups: Our #8 Picks

  1. Seymour Duncan SA-3HC Woody HC Hum-Canceling Acoustic Soundhole Pickup True Tune Tuner Bundle 11500-31
  2. K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup
  3. L.R. Baggs Anthem-SL Acoustic Guitar Pickup
  4. Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup & Preamp System, Narrow Format
  5. iSolo Wireless Guitar Microphone – Audio & Music Interface Recording System
  6. Luvay Guitar Pickup Acoustic Electric Transducer for Acoustic Guitar
  7. 1PC Belcat SH-85 Soundhole Pickup With Active Power Jack For Acoustic Guitar
  8. KNA AP-1 Portable Piezo Pickup for Guitar and Other Acoustic Instruments

Top 8 Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups Reviews

1. Seymour Duncan SA-3HC Woody HC Hum-Canceling Acoustic Soundhole Pickup True Tune Tuner Bundle 11500-31

Seymour Duncan SA-3HC Woody HC Hum-Canceling Acoustic Soundhole Pickup True Tune Tuner Bundle 11500-31

This soundhole passive pickup can be directly connected to any acoustic guitar that has a sound-hole of 3.85 inches to 4.10 inches. With a few position adjustments, more low or high-end punch can be added. Further, there is enough stabilizer and setting foam to get the positioning that suits you best.

*Good for live performance and at studios.

Things we like:

  • Easy mounting
  • Solid build and design
  • High-quality components
  • Produces authentic acoustic sounds
  • Hum-canceling design

Things we don’t like:

  • Does not mount on nylon-string acoustic guitars
  • Volume and tone settings cannot be adjusted
  • Finding the best mounting position for maximum sound results is not easy

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2. K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar PickupK&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup

 

Being a passive, pure transducer system, no batteries or other electronic components are needed for operation. Its installation position is directly under the bridge and it comprises of three transducers which pick up two specific strings and capture sounds from around the bridge at the very same time. Unlike most pickups, this one can be mounted to steel and nylon string acoustic guitars.

Things we like:

  • Its system is low-maintenance and easy to use
  • Adequate balance and sound clarity
  • Limited feedback
  • Usable straight out of the box
  • Packaging includes a ¼ endpin jack for increased adaptability

Things we don’t like:

  • Does not feature direct controls for volume and tone
  • Does not mount on twelve-string or percussive guitars
  • The installation process can be challenging, especially for beginners

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3. L.R. Baggs ANTHEM-SL Acoustic Guitar Pickup L.R. Baggs ANTHEM-SL Acoustic Guitar Pickup

L.R. Baggs Anthem-SL acoustic guitar passive pickup is similar to the regular L.R. Baggs Anthem, except, the Anthem-SL is more minimalist when it comes to the sound controls, comes at a lower price and it generally has a higher rating and better reviews. It uses TRU MIC technology which mounts to the underside of the bridge plate and its sound is almost identical to acoustics recorded in studios. It produces a powerful sound without any low-end feedbacks.

Things we like:

  • Low-frequency output
  • No feedback problems
  • Has a lower price than other pickups with similar features
  • Powerful and balanced amplification
  • Model available for nylon-string acoustic guitars

Things we don’t like:

  • No direct tone control options
  • Installation requires a professional
  • You will need a quick-drain battery for pre-amplification

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4. Our Top Pick: Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup & Preamp System, Narrow Format Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup & Preamp System, Narrow Format

Fishman Matrix Infinity is an under-saddle active pickup for acoustic guitars. Its narrow format, namely 2.3mm, is suitable for the majority of acoustic guitar models. Maximum results are achieved with Taylor and Martin acoustics. Also, it has a built-in preamp which produces pure sound with directly adjustable tone and volume settings. This pickup type requires an external 9V battery and Matrix Infinity comes with a battery indicator so you can easily detect battery drainage.

The Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup & Preamp System, Narrow Format is our personal top pick and one of the best acoustic guitar pickups in the market as it has the most qualities and some minor drawbacks that are not relevant to the sound quality.

Things we like:

  • Mounts on most acoustic guitar brands
  • Produces pure sounds
  • Convenient direct tone and volume setting adjustment

Things we don’t like:

  • Components are very delicate
  • Battery change is not simple
  • Requires professional installation

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5. iSolo Wireless Guitar Microphone – Audio & Music Interface Recording System iSolo Wireless Guitar Microphone - Audio & Music Interface Recording System - Acoustic Guitar Pickup & Electric Guitar Condenser for Amp - Instant Recorder, USB Receiver, Studio Equipment

This pickup system has an additional technological mode that allows you to record as you perform and it clips right onto the sound-hole. It uses a wireless condenser microphone with a heart-shaped pattern of sensitivity and high-end preamp, three-stage gain selection, and flexible gooseneck. The receiver produces 16bit/48KHz uncompressed audio which makes the tunes sound natural and dynamic. Another feature is its USB interface which you can hook to any device with a USB outlet and record directly to that device wirelessly and without any external drivers.

*Compatible with Garageband, among other recording software programs.

Things we like:

  • Small-sized and portable
  • Has a recording option
  • Convenient wireless connection
  • Can connect to devices such as laptops, desktops, and smartphones

Things we don’t like:

  • Its features make it more suitable for recording than performing
  • Requires a computer with recording software, not an amplifier
  • Little information available on its performance

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6. Luvay Guitar Pickup Acoustic Electric Transducer for Acoustic Guitar Luvay Guitar Pickup Acoustic Electric Transducer for Acoustic Guitar, Cable Length 10' (Gold)

It is small in size and it attaches to the sound-hole directly with a 10-foot cable with a standard jack input. It costs the least of all acoustic guitar pickups, yet still, it produces clear sounds and has a noise reducer. Furthermore, it can capture percussion sounds as well as harmonious string vibrations. The amplified sound it produces is almost similar to the unamplified sound of the acoustic guitar.

Things we like:

  • Price
  • Easy installation
  • Its ability to capture percussion sounds
  • Clear tunes

Things we don’t like:

  • Does not mount on nylon-string acoustic guitars
  • No direct tone and volume controls
  • Of relatively average quality

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7. 1PC Belcat SH-85 Soundhole Pickup With Active Power Jack For Acoustic Guitar 1pc Belcat SH-85 Soundhole Pickup with Active Power Jack for Acoustic Guitar

It is a Chinese-made sound-hole pickup that is compatible with almost every acoustic guitar, its installation is simple and does not require drilling. Its sound production is clear and has no feedback. It is well-built and its overall sound quality is good. Despite it being a relatively new product on the acoustic guitar pickup market, it has already secured a lot of positive consumer reviews.

Things we like:

  • Price
  • Produces clear sounds
  • Limited feedback
  • Good string response
  • Thick low-end

Things we don’t like: 

  • Limited reviews available
  • No direct volume and tone controls
  • Securing the input socket to the strap pin is not easy

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8. KNA AP-1 Portable Piezo Pickup for Guitar and Other Acoustic Instruments KNA AP-1 Portable Piezo Pickup for Guitar and Other Acoustic Instruments

This passive pickup system offers good performance at a lower price compared to other pickups. It comes with a surface-mounted piezo transducer pickup. Its installation is quite easy as you can simply attach it to the exterior surface of the top with the included putty that will not harm your guitar finish. The packaging includes an 8-feet cable and a ¼ and ⅛ inch input jacks.

Things we like:

  • Price
  • Easy installation
  • Multiple placement options

Things we don’t like: 

  • Picks up much handling noise
  • Can fall off if knocked into

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Useful Information About Acoustic Guitar Pickup Types

There is a variety of acoustic guitar pickup types that accommodate all sorts of sounds, performing styles, installation, and budgets. Below is a list of the most popular:

Electromagnetic Pickups

This type mounts across the sound hole of the guitar and its signals are created as a response to the string-vibration within the electromagnetic field created by the pickup. It is similar to a pickup one would use for an electric guitar.

The produced sound is warm, musical with good string detail. Its advantages include ease of control, good interaction with effects and sonic warmth. The disadvantage, on the other hand, is that it does not capture the acoustic resonance inside the body itself.

Soundboard Transducers

Those are the most basic acoustic pickups as they are simply sensors which adhere to the guitar’s face and pick up vibrations through the top and are commonly believed to have a “woody” tone.

However, in comparison with other pickup types, they tend to have the lowest sound quality and volume given its usually cheap prices. In loud playing situations, SBTs may have feedback effects so they are most ideal for small performances.

Piezo Pickups

This type creates a real and direct acoustic sound as it, put simply, is just a small microphone that amplifies your guitar sounds through the wood vibrations. Unlike a soundboard transducer, the piezo pickup usually isn’t seen.

Also, chances of feedback effect are very limited with Piezo pickups. The produced sound is upfront that is more the sound of the actual guitar strings rather than simply the guitar body’s resonance.

Its advantages include a controllable sound with a diminished risk of feedback and the disadvantage is what is known as a “piezo quack” which is a sharp overtone that often accompanies the sound.

Here you can check our review of an acoustic guitar with passive Piezo Pickup feature.

Microphone Pickups

Those small, high-quality microphones that are designed to mount inside the body of the acoustic guitar produce the best amplified acoustic tones and most guitarists generally agree that this type is the best natural way to amplify an acoustic guitar’s tunes.

Thus, the natural tone of your instrument is very important as these pick-ups can only recreate what they acoustically hear.

Furthermore, they can be a part of a hybrid system that includes a piezo pickup as well for instance. There are some drawbacks such as the likeliness of it to feed back and its installation can be quite complicated for a non-professional.

Dual Source

For increased flexibility and reproduction of the acoustic guitar’s complexities, Dual Source systems combine 2 or more different transducer type.

However, if you’re attempting to amplify something different than the typical steel-string guitar, there might be other considerations. For instance, electromagnetic pickups do not mount on nylon-string acoustic guitars but some other types surely do.

Furthermore, the saddle geometry of resonators are different and they eliminate most other standard steel-string pickups. Acoustic guitars with wider than the ordinary spacing between strings or offset soundholes might also limit your options.

Direct Inputs (DIs), Preamps, and Effects

Most acoustic amplification setups benefit from either a preamp or a direct input box. Simply put, a DI consists of an unpowered transformer that transforms the unbalanced signal from a passive pickup to a more balanced signal.

A DI accepts a standard ¼-inch guitar cable as input and supports output for an XLR mic-type cable that can be run to the input of a mixing board. A DI improves your sound by ensuring that the signal matches what a mixer would expect while allowing you to run a long cable without any negative influences on your tone.

Some are passive DIs but some DIs are active which means that they require power and may include some amplification.

On the other hand, a Preamp, either on your instrument or on the stage floor, tends to increase your guitar’s signal strength, but most also provide volume and tone controls for shaping your sound and may include other features as well.

Soundhole Pickups

Even though it was first introduced in the early 60s, this type of pickup has never declined in popularity because they are affordable, versatile, don’t require any major installation, and can be easily removed.

As the name suggests, this pickup is placed across the soundhole underneath the strings. The benefit of it being placed directly under the strings is that it delivers a clear and detailed sound, with good warmth that’s perfect for flat-picking/strumming.

Its disadvantage is that it can produce a slightly artificial tone, while feedback can also occur especially in the single-coil versions.

Protip 1: Best results can be achieved by combining different pickup types which will allow you to take advantage of the particular pros of each type. For example, you may use an internal microphone pickup to pick up the resonance and sonic depth of the acoustic guitar’s body along with a piezo to capture the detail.

Protip 2: Also, if the piezo sound is too direct for your preference, a magnetic pickup, and a microphone will give you natural, detail-oriented sound.

Protip 3: Combining a piezo and an electromagnetic pickup is not recommended because they both are mounted to the strings themselves so this might lead to clashing frequencies and sonic awkwardness.

In general, the combination is usually done by blending an internal microphone with any other pickup type based on your requirements; if your style is more rhythmic, a piezo and internal microphone combination will give you a great representation of your guitar’s attack. However, if it is more detail-oriented, an electromagnetic and mic combination will be more representative of what happens to the string throughout the whole life of the note.

About The Brands Featured in This Article

Seymour Duncan

An American company is best known for manufacturing guitar and bass pickups. It was founded in 1976, in Santa Barbara, California by Seymour Duncan.

K&K

A German company is best known for manufacturing instruments and handcrafted music equipment. It was founded in 1984, in Germany by Dieter Kaudel and his wife Karla Kaudel.

L.R. Baggs

An American company is best known for crafting guitar pickups. It was founded in Berkeley, California by Lloyd R Baggs.

Fishman

A widely popular manufacturer with a product range that covers a number of categories, from pickups to PA systems. Founded in 1998.

iSolo

A product of CLOUDVOCAL, a Taiwanese company with great experience in wireless audio technology. Headquarters: Taipei City, Taiwan.

Belcat

Founded in 1988, Belcat is an international company famous for the manufacturing of preamps and pickups. It was founded in Korea but its current main production plant is in Guangdong, China.

KNA

KNA is a company specializing in string-instrument pickups which are handcrafted in Europe using fine components.

Best Acoustic Guitar Pickup on Amazon Now

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all acoustic guitars have plugs?

Whether you play a classical guitar with nylon strings or a full-sized, steel-string instrument or something in between, any acoustic guitar can be fitted with a pickup system if needed.

What is the best amp for acoustic guitar?

  • AER Compact 60.
  • Fishman Loudbox Artist PRO-LBX-600.
  • Fender Acoustic SFX.
  • Yamaha THR5A.
  • Roland AC-60.
  • Marshall AS50D.
  • Fender Acoustasonic 40.
  • Behringer Ultracoustic AT108.

Acoustic Guitar Pickup & Mic Comparison

How to choose an acoustic pickup

WRAP UP

As was evident in this article, there is too much that you should take into consideration before purchasing the best acoustic guitar pickups. We hope that we have been able to help you choose what best suits your needs, style, and budget. There are certainly more products that you can look into but we tried to just cut the long search journey short by including only our favorites based on their features and prices. Some products that were mentioned in this article are somewhat pricey compared to other products that were also mentioned.

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