Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups

10 Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups Review (2020)

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Interested in the best acoustic guitar pickup in the market now? 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 instrument 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 10 best acoustic guitar pickups that we are positive will walk you through your options and help you make the most suitable choice quicker.

Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups

  1. Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup & Preamp System, Narrow Format
  2. K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup
  3. L.R. Baggs Anthem-SL Acoustic Guitar Pickup
  4. Fishman PowerTap Infinity Body Sensor with Under saddle Pickup (PRO-MAT-PT1)
  5. Guild Guitars DeArmond Tone Boss Soundhole Pickup
  6. Seymour Duncan Woody HC SA-3HC Hum-Canceling Acoustic Soundhole Pickup
  7. LR Baggs iBeam Active System with Volume Control for Steel String Guitar
  8. DiMarzio Pickup (DP130BK)
  9. Donner Sound Seeker DSS-3 Pure Sound Transducer Pickup
  10. Luvay Acoustic Pickup, Passive Magnetic Microphone Transducer- AD39T

Acoustic Guitar Pickup Reviews

1. Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup & Preamp System, Narrow Format [Our Top Pick]

Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup & Preamp System, Narrow Format

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Things we like:

  • Mounts on most acoustic 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

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 Infinity Pickup 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 sounding acoustic guitar pickups in the market as it has the most qualities and some minor drawbacks that are not relevant to the sound quality.

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

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

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. We found that K&K Pure Mini is one of the best passive acoustic guitar pickup system in the market.

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

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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 acoustics

Things we don’t like:

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

L.R. Baggs Anthem-SL passive type 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.

4. Fishman PowerTap Infinity Body Sensor with Under saddle Pickup, Wide Format

Fishman PowerTap Infinity Body Sensor with Undersaddle Pickup, Wide Format (PRO-MAT-PT1)

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Things we like:

  • Great brand reputation
  • Superb under saddle pickup technology
  • The tap pickup technology stretches your creativity to its limits
  • Great tone and percussive sound quality
  • Minimal or no feedback at all

Things we don’t like:

  • May need professional help for installation
  • A bit pricey

The Fishman PowerTap Infinity Body Sensor with under saddle Pickup is not only here to amplify your sound but also to expand your creativity. It is one superb product that guarantees a balanced tone control to make sure your sound stands out above the crowd. Also there has a Blend adjustment feature to mix the rare earth and tap signals in mono or in separate channels.

It’s definitely one of the best under saddle pickup for acoustic guitar there is and one of the best to ever come out of this superb brand. The tap pickup technology will give you the option to add a percussive flair to your playing style. It’s the ultimate acoustic pickup for live performances!

5. Guild Guitars DeArmond Tone Boss Soundhole Pickup

Guild Guitars DeArmond Tone Boss Soundhole Pickup

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Things we like:

  • Permanent or removable option
  • Stylish design blends right into your guitar’s aesthetics
  • Great quality humbucker sound
  • No feedback whatsoever
  • Great value for the price

Things we don’t like:

  • Durability may be in question

Looking for the best acoustic guitar soundhole pickup but on a tight budget? Look no further and go grab this Guild Guitars DeArmond Tone Boss Pickup. For a great price, you get quality like that of the leading and best brands.

It’s tried and tested as it’s got rave reviews from legit users online. The humbucking design yields a warm acoustic sound that you’d surely appreciate. It’s also aesthetically pleasing as it should blend right in your guitar’s colors.

If what you’re looking for is great value for your money then this acoustic pickup is definitely for you! It is indeed the best acoustic guitar pickup for the money.

6. Seymour Duncan Woody HC SA-3HC Hum-Canceling Acoustic Soundhole Pickup 

Seymour Duncan Woody HC SA-3HC Hum-Canceling Acoustic Soundhole Pickup - Walnut

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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 acoustics
  • Volume and tone settings cannot be adjusted
  • Finding the best mounting position for maximum sound results is not easy

This soundhole passive pickup can be directly connected to any guitar (acoustic) 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.

7. LR Baggs iBeam Active System with Volume Control for Steel String Guitar

LR Baggs iBeam Active System with Volume Control for Steel String Guitar

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Things we like:

  • Superb balanced sound from all strings
  • Easy and quick to install
  • Discreet design
  • Superb rich tone
  • No feedback whatsoever
  • Lightweight

Things we don’t like:

  • Design prevents you to put in a feedback buster
  • Emits an occasional howling sound

Next on our list is the LR Baggs iBeam Active Acoustic Guitar Pickup System which is for steel-string guitars. It boasts weightless film sensors to captures and amplifies your guitar’s natural sound and tone. This pickup also takes pride in perfect volume control and that your strings would equally be heard so that all your notes should ring out the right way.

It’s an easy mount and the design is quite discreet and looks stylish so it shouldn’t be a bother. Overall, it’s the closest thing you’ll probably get to a Fishman acoustic guitar pickup with volume control and within a very good price point.

8. DiMarzio Pickup (DP130BK)

DiMarzio Pickup (DP130BK)

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Things we like:

  • Can be mounted on any part of your instrument
  • Simple installation and removal
  • You have the option to balance the sound of your guitar’s highs, lows, and mids by adjusting the pickup’s location
  • It’s practically invisible
  • Works on all guitar models

Things we don’t like:

  • Emits a buzzing noise
  • Tone might be too bright for some guitarist

This DiMarzio Pickup (DP130BK) is here to wow you with simplicity and superb tone. As they say, ‘Dimarzio never fails’ or was that just me. In any case, this is quite a handy pickup that could beef up your guitar’s sound and tone in a jiffy.

It may not look like it but it’s quite sensitive to your instruments equalization needs. It gives you a balanced attack for your lows, mids, and highs and assures that you can find your preferred sound quickly whether on performances or maybe recordings.

Overall, this handy, super convenient pickup is a great buy and should give your guitar the superb sound it deserves.

9. Donner Sound Seeker DSS-3 Pure Sound Transducer Pickup

Donner Sound Seeker DSS-3 Pure Sound Transducer Acoustic Guitar Pickup Cello Banjo Ukulele Mandolin Guitar Microphone Pickup

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Things we like:

  • Great versatility for the pickup, works on every stringed instrument you can think of
  • Produces adjustable guitar tone
  • Easy to mount
  • Creates true and natural sound
  • High-quality sound during performances
  • Good price

Things we don’t like:

  • Comes lose rather easily
  • May not be for consistent live performances

This Donner Sound Seeker DSS-3 Pure Sound Transducer Pickup is quite the odd-ball in terms of design but delivers superb sound quality nonetheless. The 3-piece transducer pickups are easy to mount and are adjustable to produce the sound you prefer.

It’s suitable for any stringed instrument, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, you name it. A perfect pickup for any western or folk music and will surely capture the tone you love to hear.

10. Luvay Acoustic Pickup, Passive Magnetic Microphone Transducer – AD39T

Luvay Acoustic Guitar Pickup, Passive Magnetic Microphone Transducer - with 1/4" Endpin Jack and Volume/Tone Control - AD39T

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Things we like:

  • Easy installation (2 options)
  • String balanced sound
  • Natural tone and good clarity
  • Will blend right in your guitar
  • Good looking solid wood design
  • Good price

Things we don’t like:

  • Electronics can be a bit questionable
  • Durability not guaranteed

The Luvay Acoustic Pickup- AD39T comes with a passive magnetic transducer that promises to turn your guitar’s natural sound into something performance worthy. It’s easy to install and comes with a cool looking wood design.

You can either embed it on your string instrument or just use the easy clip-on feature. Overall, this pickup is a great buy and should prove useful during performances.

Acoustic Guitar Pickup Types

There is a variety of acoustic pickup types that accommodate all sorts of sounds, performing styles, installation, and budgets. These are the soundhole pickups, under saddle pickups, Piezo pickups, and microphone based pickups.

Knowing how one works should further guide you on purchasing the right one for your playing style. Do you perform? Or do you plan to record? Or is it just for jam sessions, it’s up to you!

1. 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, the chances of feedback effect are very limited with Piezo. The produced sound is upfront which is more the sound of the actual guitar strings rather than simply the instrument 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.

The Piezo type of pickup is generally bright in terms of tone and are inexpensive options.

2. Sound Hole 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, doesn’t require any major installation, and can be easily removed.

Think of soundhole guitars like your standard electric guitar pickup. Not only in terms of where it is situated as obviously in the soundhole underneath the strings, but it also produces sound by picking up the sound caused by the vibrations of the string through its magnetic field.

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.

3. Under Saddle Pickups

An off-shoot of the piezo pickups this one is typically placed between the bridge and soundboard using it to resonate. It works by measuring the pressure from the string’s vibrations and in turn pre-amplified before getting sent as an output signal. This pickup is natural-sounding but can suffer from feedbacks in loud volume settings.

 4. Microphone Pickups

A surprisingly good option for gigs with larger venues. This is a straightforward type of pickup that works well as a microphone instead of your standard guitar pickup.

Those small, high-quality microphones that are designed to mount inside the body of the 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 feedback and its installation can be quite complicated for a non-professional.

Things to consider when buying an acoustic guitar pickup

These are the things that you need to consider before you pick up a new acoustic guitar pickup:

Sound and Tonal Quality

Every guitarist prefers a certain tone, that’s what makes them all unique. Whether you play certain cover songs or you have your original compositions then you must decide how you want to sound.

Choosing the right pickup should then be key to achieve the sound and tone quality you’ve been looking for. Piezo pickups boost your sound so it tends to produce a brighter tone and more pronounced and clearer sound.

Soundhole pickups, on the other hand, depending on quality can sound like your typical electric guitar and can be equalized.

Undersaddle pickups have a stronger attack, also brighter tone but thinner.

Convenience and Ease of Use

Chances are you’re gonna have to bring these pickups on gigs, so convenience is also a big factor. We’re talking about installing and removing them, portability, and ease of use.

Piezo pickups are usually clip-on and can be attached in any part of the guitar. Soundhole pickups can also be a temporary (per-gig) install and easy to remove but can also be permanently drilled into your guitar. Under saddle pickups, on the other hand, may need a pro to install it.

Heavy-Duty

We’re talking about durability, feedback tolerance, and endurance during performances. Of course, sometimes construction quality comes with the price tag of a pickup so you have to consider a few things.

A – is this going to be your main pickup for your main guitar.

B – is this going to be used for recording or performances and how long and often those performances last on average.

C – would this just be a backup pickup in case something goes wrong.

You should choose a pickup that can take the wear and tear of your guitar playing.

Tips for choosing an acoustic guitar pickup

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.

How to install a guitar pickup for acoustic?

Acoustic pickups are either permanently or temporarily installed. Some types come as clip-on and are easily installed and removed. Some can have wires, parts, and transducers that needs to be permanently fixed on your guitar.

A lot of your guitar’s parts might need to be removed and reattached later on for this, specifically the saddles, bridges, and soundboard. For this, you might require some pro help.

Some clip-on pickups can be attached to a guitar’s body, headstock, and soundhole and would situate much like your electric guitars pickup.

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.

DiMarzio : An American company that is best known for direct-replacement guitar pickups as they are the originator of the first replacement pickup. It was founded in 1972, in Staten Island, New York by Larry DiMarzio.

DeArmond: Another American manufacturing company of guitar parts and accessories, best known for easy to install guitar pickups. It was founded in the late 1930s in Toledo, Ohio by Harry DeArmond.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make guitar pickups sound better?

There are a few modifications that you can do to improve the sound of your pickup. Internally, you may be able to re-wind your pickups. But what we recommended is to do some external adjustments.

For easy to attached non-permanent pickups, maybe you can find the right spot on your guitar to put it on. Use the right strings for your soundhole pickups or make sure the under saddle pickups were installed properly.

Also, you have some guitar effects/enhancers options to choose from.

How much does it cost to put a pickup in an acoustic guitar?

Installing a pickup should be a 1 to 2-hour job at most and may cost you about $40 to $50. But if you can DIY it then it could cost you zero dollars.

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.

Some Video References:

1. Acoustic Guitar Pickup & Mic Comparison

2. How to choose an acoustic pickup

Top Acoustic Guitar Pickup on Amazon Now

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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