An acoustic guitar pickup is a kind of transducer that can sense movements or vibrations of the strings and converts these vibrations to electric signals. A pickup is connected to an amplifier to create music or musical sounds through a speaker. Most acoustic pickups are placed near the soundhole, where the sound of the instrument resonates.
There are different designs of acoustic guitar pickups, but all follow the same technique. If you’re shopping for a pickup for your acoustic guitar, then let us help you with the latest pickup models and designs available online. Check out our top ten best acoustic pickups of the year.
What are the best acoustic guitar pickups?
1) Fishman Neo D Single Coil Pickup Magnetic Soundhole
Editor’s Rating: 4.3 out of 5
Best Fishman Single Hole Magnetic Pickup
The Fishman NEO D is a single-coil magnetic soundhole pickup for acoustic guitars. It is easy to install and easy to remove, and you don’t even need to alter the design of your guitar. This is a very convenient magnetic pickup as you simply connect it near the soundhole and let it pick up the sounds you make and transform these into digital signals.
The NEO D has a low-profile with high-impedance. It can fit any type and design of acoustic guitar because of its universal compatibility design. Fishman is one of the most trusted names in guitar pickups. You’ll find Fishman pickups built-in acoustic-electric guitars. But this design is removable, easy to install, and perfect for beginners or expert players.
- Pickup Design – single-coil pickup using neodymium magnet for enhanced string balance
- Important Features – low profile and high impedance, does not need any batteries
- Easy to install? – YES, just attach to the soundhole
- Accessories – connecting cable
2) Seymour Duncan Woody HC Soundhole Pickup with Hum-Canceling Features
Editor’s Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Best Hum-Canceling Pickup from Seymour Duncan
One of the most trusted names in guitar and other musical instrument pickups is Seymour Duncan. Their Woody HC is designed to eliminate the irritating humming noise that’s mostly found in acoustic guitar sounds. This pickup is one of the easiest to use, just place it in the soundhole and let it pick up your playing sound.
The Seymour Duncan is equipped with a standard magnetic transducer, and it comes with a male ¼ -inch jack to connect to your receiver. This pickup is made from warm maple wood. There’s no need to adjust or change the structure of your instrument as it simply fits over the soundhole, a secure fit. And as it’s easy to install, it’s also easy to remove. There’s no need to use a special tool or hardware to get started.
- Pickup Design – magnetic pickup
- Important Features – hum-canceling pickup, made from maple wood, needs no batteries
- Easy to install? – YES, simply slip it on the soundhole edges, and you’re ready to play
- Accessories – ¼ -inch male jack
3) Ammoon Passive Magnetic Soundhole Pickup Ideal for Folk Guitar
Editor’s Rating: 3.9 out of 5
Best Folk Guitar Soundhole Pickup
This is a passive magnetic, acoustic guitar pickup from ammoon. This is designed to work with soundholes of folk guitar models. It is built with a powerful neodymium magnet that is capable of picking up full and warm sounds. Inside this small but powerful magnetic pickup are strong coils packed close together to reduce noise.
This comes with high impedance, and thus, it does not need a battery to work. It is one of the easiest to install. Just slide the pickup in the soundhole (make sure it’s supported firmly by the soundhole edges). There’s no need for any tools or hardware to fit this in your instrument. The endpin jack lets you connect this pick up to a receiver.
- Pickup Design – magnetic pickup
- Important Features – with a neodymium magnet with stacked coils, no need for battery with high impedance
- Easy to install? – YES, just slip through the strings into the soundhole edges
- Accessories – endpin jack
4) L.R. Baggs ANTHEM-SL Guitar Pickup
Editor’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Best LR Baggs Acoustic Guitar Pickup
The LR Baggs ANTHEM –SL is easy to use, easy to install acoustic guitar pickup system. But compared with the earlier pickups we featured, this one needs a battery to work. To install, it should be placed at the rim of the soundhole. Connect a 9V battery to the battery panel so you can control the volume.
The LR Baggs ANTHEM also has a TRU-MIC and an Element Pickup plus microphone level controls. It requires a 9V battery, and it can extend battery life up to 170+ hrs. When you’re done using this pickup, remove it from your instrument. It’s easy to do so as you only need to take it off the soundhole. Remove the battery from the panel before storage. This acoustic guitar pickup is easy to carry anywhere and fits your guitar bag.
- Pickup Design – TRU MIC and Element Pickup
- Important Features – with microphone level and volume control, needs a 9V battery to work
- Easy to install? – a bit tricky as it needs to be installed along the rim of the soundhole
- Accessories – with endpin pre-amp
5) Fishman Infinity Matrix VT Pickup and Pre-Amp
Editor’s Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Best Fishman Pickup and Pre-Amp
The Fishman Infinity Matrix VT is a pickup and preamp system in one. You can choose from three formats: wide, split, and narrow formats. The Matrix VT is the newest addition to the Matrix series, and this will give you a clear, dynamic, and transparent tone. The only thing you need to consider is you need to permanently install this system inside your instrument.
The volume and tone controls are mounted along the edge of the soundhole so you can make easy adjustments. The rest of the system is placed inside the guitar body. This allows the pickup to take in all the sounds made by the guitar completely. If you’re comfortable with installing this pickup and preamp system, then you’ll find this a good choice. But if not, you may need a professional or an expert to help you with this.
- Pickup Design – wide-format pickup and pre-amp
- Important Features – with tone and volume controls, offers transparent clear tones
- Easy to install? – it’s tricky to install because the system needs to be placed inside the guitar body. Only the rotary controls for the volume and tone are located at the rim of the soundhole.
- Accessories – connecting cables, no hardware
6) LR Baggs M80 Magnetic Soundhole Pickup
Editor’s Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Best Magnetic Soundhole Pickup from LR Baggs
The LR Baggs Magnetic Soundhole Pickup M80 is a very sensitive pickup system that can be operated passively or actively. It is feedback resistant and is operated by a battery. Just install this over your guitar’s soundhole. You can switch from a passive or active operation using a simple switch. You don’t need to alter any part of your guitar or take it to an expert to install this soundhole pickup. There’s no need to use tools as well, and when it comes to removing the pickup, just slide it out, and you’re done.
This magnetic soundhole pickup is also convenient, easy to take anywhere. It even fits inside your guitar gig bag. Take it with you when you travel or when you’re headed to a gig. It will take seconds to install and is ready to use right after you install it.
- Pickup Design – magnetic soundhole pickup
- Important Features – can operate passively or actively, feedback resistant, with a battery check and is fully adjustable
- Easy to install? – YES, just slip it through the soundhole
- Accessories – none
7) LR Baggs ANTHEM Acoustic Pickup
Editor’s Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Best Acoustic Pickup ANTHEM Series from LR Baggs
The ANTHEM from LR Baggs is an acoustic pickup only. It does not have a control unit or a preamp, just the pickup. Inside this device is the company’s TRU-MIC system and Element Pickup, components that will instantly pick up sound and transform it into electric signals.
This also comes with Phase Inversion to reduce feedback. You can easily adjust between the pickup and microphone. Further tweak sound using a built-in mic level and master volume controls.
What’s great about the ANTHEM from LR Baggs is that this is very easy to use and to remove once you’re done. It’s also small, and thus it’s easy to take anywhere. It can even fit inside your pocket or inside your gig bag.
- Pickup Design – with TRU-MIC, Element pickup design
- Important Features – with mix controls for the microphone and pickup settings, with master volume and microphone level controls, uses phase inversion
- Easy to install? – YES, just slip along the edge of your guitar’s soundhole
- Accessories – cables and pre-amp components
8) KNA Pickups Acoustic Guitar Pickup
Editor’s Rating: 3.9 out of 5
Best KNA Acoustic Guitar Pickup
The KNA Pickups for acoustic guitars is a device that provides the natural sound of steel strings. There’s no need to modulate your instrument. It has a wooden casing making it lightweight and easy to use.
Compared to other acoustic guitar pickups, this is not installed along the soundhole as it fits under the strings of the bridge. It is easy to install as you just slide it under the strings and connect the cable to the pickup and the other end to your receiver. You can let this remain attached to the guitar or remove it (very easy) right after use.
The KNA Pickup almost looks like a fat fountain pen, and thus, it’s easy to carry it around. Keep it in your pocket or inside your gig bag. Just install on your device when you’re ready to play.
- Pickup Design – wooden body pickup
- Important Features – very small and compact, for steel strings
- Easy to install? – YES, just slip under the strings on the bridge
- Accessories – an 8 inch detachable/removable media cable
9) HDE Acoustic Guitar Pickup
Editor’s Rating: 4.2 out of 5
Best Guitar Pickup and Electric Transducer from HDE
The HDE Acoustic Guitar Pickup is one of the best pickups for an electric transducer or magnetic pre-amp. It fits most full-sized acoustic guitars, whether you have 6 or 12 strings. This comes with a 9-foot cable so you can plug your guitar to an amplifier.
This HDE is easy to install. Just slip it over the soundhole and let the ends hold the edges of the hole. Use a standard ¼ -inch connector to connect this to an audio input of your receiver. The white dots are components that capture vibrations coming from the strings. The pickup converts these to electrical signals, which may be recorded, amplified, or broadcasted.
Once you’re done, you can leave this pickup to the soundhole, or you may remove it. It does not require batteries to work, and it is so small and compact it can fit inside your pocket or your gig bag.
- Pickup Design – electric transducer
- Important Features – can be used on guitars with six or twelve strings
- Easy to install? –YES, just slip the ends to the soundhole and connect to a receiver
- Accessories – 9-foot cable with ¼-inch mono jack
10) Guitto GGP – 01 Acoustic Guitar Pickup
Editor’s Rating: 4 out of 5
Best Classic Folk Guitar Pickup from Guitto
The GGP-01 from Guitto is an acoustic pickup ideal for classical guitars as well as folk guitars. It is a soundhole pickup made of walnut wood. It is very easy to use as all you need to do is slide this device inside the soundhole.
There is an EQ adjustment to allow you to adjust the ideal sound for different instruments. There is as positive and a negative phase which is needed when you want to add sound effects. This pickup suits classical and all other acoustic guitars that are 36 to 42 inches. It needs a battery to work, but don’t worry as it consumes very little power. You can even use this continuously for 40+ hours.
There is no need to alter your guitar’s design and shape with this pickup. And as it is easy to install, it’s also easy to remove. But if you want, you may leave this connected to your guitar.
- Pickup Design – soundhole pick up
- Important Features – made of walnut wood, available controls for mic, tone, battery LED, and more. It is battery operated, and a full charge can last 40+ hours when this is continuously used.
- Easy to install? – YES, just hang it near the soundhole
- Accessories – media cable, batteries, and instruction manual
Types of acoustic guitar pickups
There are three types of acoustic guitar pickups: microphone, magnetic, and Piezo.
Magnetic pickups or magnetic soundhole pickups can pick up vibrations and sounds using a powerful magnet. Insulated copper wire is usually wrapped around a magnet, and this creates a strong magnetic field. As you play your guitar, this magnetic field is disturbed. This is how a magnetic pickup works.
The sound that a magnetic pickup collects are sent to an amplifier and broadcasted through a speaker. The sound is warm and has a musical quality. Because of how magnetic pickups are designed, the sound is usually likened to the sound collected by an electric guitar pickup.
Magnetic soundhole pickups can provide a warm sonic tone, which is often compared to a Piezo pickup. This type is very easy to control and will easily interact with all the other effects that you use. These are very easy to install as all you need to do to set it over the soundhole. All you need to do is to use a few screws to fasten it; sometimes, you don’t even have to do anything to fasten it on your guitar.
There are some advantages too. One problem is that it does not get all the acoustic resonance in the body of the guitar. These are also vulnerable to feedback, and thus, you need to manage these at all. Also, magnetic guitar pickups won’t work with nylon strings.
Magnetic pickups are recommended for guitar players who use the Flatpicking technique.
Microphone pickups are placed inside the guitar body. This way, the device will be able to pick up all the resonances in the guitar’s body. It works like a regular microphone.
An internal microphone pickup will pick up the most natural of all sounds. It is capable of picking up even all the percussiveness of the instrument; this is why it’s regarded as the pickup that can produce the most realistic tone.
Microphone pickups are very vulnerable to feedback. This has a huge impact on the sound you produce. This pickup is not as strong, and thus, it’s common for mics to be accompanied with a Piezo pickup or a magnetic soundhole pickup.
It’s a bit complicated to install a microphone pick up as you need to secure one inside the body of the guitar. An expert installer may be asked to do this. Microphone pickups are recommended for people who use the Flatpicking or strumming technique.
The Piezo system is one of the most common transducers. A transducer type of pickup will collect sounds or vibrations near the soundhole and then converts these to electrical signals. The area where this is placed is somewhere between the saddle and the bridge. Other transducer pickup types have several attachments in a body to collect vibrations.
The sound of Piezo and transducer pickups is direct, comes with a powerful attack and a quack to the tone. The Piezo has a bright and clear sound because it takes the sound from the saddle under the strings. A transducer over the soundboard will have a less defined sound.
This type of pickup is more reliable compared to a soundhole pickup. The transducer or the Piezo is ideal for amplifying a guitar with a nylon string since it collects vibrations than establishing a magnetic field. There are some disadvantages to a Piezo pickup as well. These are known to be quite brittle and may sound unnatural because of its quack. Also, fitting a Piezo is a bit challenging, and usually, it’s best to purchase a guitar that has one pre-installed.
Installing an under the soundboard transducer can be tricky as you need to drill a hole to fit its jack. It becomes more difficult when you need to fit the Piezo between the bridge and the saddle. Therefore, if you want to use this kind of pickup, you must know how to use tools, hardware, and accessories to install this pickup. If you’re not, better take your guitar to a professional to fit the Piezo pickup correctly.
The Piezo pickup is ideal for different guitar playing styles
What makes a good acoustic guitar pickup?
A good pickup has to conform to your instrument. It should fit well and will be easy to install and to remove when not needed. The pickup should also match the type of strings you’re using as Piezo or transducer pickups are for nylon strings, and magnetic pickups are for metal strings.
A good pickup should collect sound minus the nuances. The sound should be clear and must have minimal flaws. Finally, a good pickup should not get in the way of normal playing.
There are some factors to consider when it comes to looking for a good acoustic guitar pickup:
• What type of pickup do you prefer?
Choose whether you need a magnetic pickup, a Piezo pickup or a microphone pickup. Each one has its pros and cons, as we have discussed earlier. Consider these, and you’ll surely find the best one that’s right for your needs.
• What type of acoustic guitar do you possess?
The kind of acoustic guitar you have will also make a difference in the quality of the sound that the pickup collects. If your guitar is not in tune and has many flaws in its design and physical condition, then expect poor sound. In short, a good quality pickup will be able to collect good sound from a well-tuned, quality acoustic guitar.
• Do you plan to record your music?
If you plan to record your music, settle for the best quality pickup that’s right for your needs. A good magnetic pickup will help collect good quality sound from metal strings of acoustic guitars. Meanwhile, nylon strings will collect good quality sound from classical guitars. Lastly, microphone pickups deliver the best, record-quality sound but also has some flaws. Check our previous texts.
Q and A
• What is a pickup in an acoustic guitar?
A pickup is a device that collects vibrations from the string or sounds coming from inside the guitar body and transforms these into electric data. A magnetic pickup transforms a regular acoustic to an electric guitar.
• Do acoustic guitars have pickups?
No, acoustic guitars don’t have pickups. Only acoustic-electric guitars come with built-in pickups. This is where removable pickups like magnetic pickups, Piezo transducers, and microphone pickups come in handy. Just install the pickup to the guitar, connect to a pre-amplifier, and play your music.
• How do you put a soundhole pickup on an acoustic guitar?
A typical soundhole pickup is very easy to install. These come with slots on each end that fit on the edges of the soundhole. Move the pickup up or down, right or left, to get the best fit. Some soundhole pickups come with locks or screws to fasten the device and prevent movement.,
• Do acoustic guitar pickups need batteries?
Some pickups need batteries like microphone pickups because you need to power on the mic, which goes into the body of the guitar. Most soundhole pickups and Piezo transducers don’t need batteries to work.
From our list of the best acoustic guitar pickups, we selected Fishman NEO D as the best one. There are many reasons why this is our choice. First, it has a simple mechanism and is very easy to install and remove. Compared to other pickups, you don’t need to alter the design of your guitar.
This Fishman NEO D is a very convenient magnetic pickup as all you need to do to install it in the soundhole and just let it work. Another great thing about NEO D is its low-profile and high-impedance. It will work with any type and design of the acoustic guitar. Finally, we selected this pick up because of its quality manufacturer. Fishman is one of the most trusted in guitar pickups, and in fact, it is found in the most popular acoustic-electric guitar models. We recommend the Fishman NEO D to all novice and expert guitarists. And if you think that the Fishman NEO D is the best acoustic guitar pickup for you, check this product out from this link.