The sound of an unamplified acoustic guitar is one of the most distinct in the world. It is warm, bright and full of body. Still, there are good reasons to “plug in” an acoustic guitar.
First is playing in a group or live. Finding the right acoustic guitar pickup allows you to play alongside any other musician and retain the true acoustic sound.
Another big reason to get an acoustic pickup is for recording. There are distinctions in the range, dynamics, and tone that an acoustic pickup can capture.
So what are the best acoustic guitar pickups?
In the end, it will be up to you. However, we have made the decision easier by putting together a list of the top 10 acoustic pickups on the market to help you decide.
So, let’s have a look…
Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups In 2019 Reviews
1 L.R. Baggs Anthem Acoustic Guitar Pickup
The Anthem series features patent-pending “TRU MIC” technology developed by L.R. Baggs. This system combines a condenser microphone with an Element pickup which can recreate the same sounds of a mic’d acoustic guitar in a studio.
This pickup gives you a very warm sound with high fidelity. The pre-amp built into the pickup adds extra depth and greater flexibility in output.
It uses a proprietary mounting system that allows you to use the mic as though it were outside of the guitar. The mounting system includes noise cancellation and feedback suppression, making it an excellent option for playing on stage.
There are separate controls for the mic and pickup settings. There is also a phase switch that lets you easily change between the sounds.
You can blend the mic and pickup in a variety of ways resulting in balanced frequencies, clarity of tone and sound. There is also the added bonus of punching out the low-end without feedback issues.
What does that mean?
It means that you can come as close to recreating the unamplified sound of your guitar as possible. The Element pickup stresses the mid-range and bass strings, while the mic keeps the high tones bright and clear.
Each component captures the sound from different part of the acoustic guitar interior. This is different from most acoustic pickups that amplify the entire sound of the interior or the strings, rather than focused points of resonance.
The installation of the pickup is not meant to be done by amateurs and does require professional assistance.
This acoustic pickup very much delivers what it advertises.
2 Fishman Rare Earth Humbucker Magnetic Sound-hole Acoustic Pickup
Fishman is a leading producer of acoustic guitar pickups. The Rare Earth Humbucker is meant to be a versatile and dynamic pickup. It works well with any style of play and any genre of music.
The “over the saddle” design makes it quick and easy to install and play. There is no external battery required. It includes internal lithium magnets that will last for 240 hours of playing time.
This pickup features neodymium magnets that produce a warm, natural acoustic sound. There is no drop off in output or clarity moving from string to string.
These kinds of magnets are made for accenting solos and finger-picking.
The humbucking pickup maintains treble brightness at the same time as keeping the bass clean and full. Another feature is the feedback cancellation of the pickup. This means you can really push the levels without having to sacrifice sound quality.
There is a Bright Switch that offers you the ability to toggle between warm, natural acoustic sounds and sparkling high-end flourishes.
Fishman’s Rare Earth Humbucker pickup brightens the treble, fills out the low-end, and keeps that full body warmth of any acoustic guitar.
3 Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup & Preamp System, Narrow Format
Fishman’s Matrix Infinity is an under-saddle acoustic pickup that provides you with clear tones, dynamic string response, and an easy installation process.
The Acoustic Matrix under-saddle pickup is one of the most popular pickups on the market. The narrow format, which is 2.3mm, is designed for most acoustic guitar models. These pickups work exceptionally well with Taylor and Martin acoustics.
The addition of switchblade voicing makes this a dynamic pickup suitable for a range of guitars and performance settings.
It is an active pickup with a built-in preamp. This means that the pickup gives you a pure sound. Active pickups capture the distinct sound of any acoustic guitar. At the same time, you are able to tweak the settings to your preferences.
Sound-hole mounted rotary volume and tone controls are easy to access. The tone controls allow you to cut the mid-tones while boosting the high and low-ends. This control setup lets you make adjustments to your sound quickly and easily.
Acoustic pickups such as this one typically require an external 9V battery. The Matrix Infinity offers you an LED battery indicator so you won’t be caught off guard by a dying battery.
4 K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup
The Pure Mini acoustic pickup is a pure transducer system. It means that there is no battery, nor any electronic components.
Installed directly under the bridge, the three transducers are designed to pick up a specific pair of strings while also capturing the sounds from the area around the bridge.
Transducer pickups capture more of the soundboard and body as opposed to the strings themselves.
This type of installation means an immense amount of feedback reduction.
This pickup produces a full, rich sound without any thinness or extra treble, which is common among other under-saddle pickups. You get a very natural sound that is well balanced. It produces warm and full tones, complete with natural brilliance and clarity when plugged into an amp.
All strings have a balanced output and sound with a full signal range. The Pure Mini has enough power to drive most amps and/or PA systems.
This kind of pickup can be used with both steel string and nylon string classical-style acoustic guitars. However, due to the specs of the transducer pickups, it is not recommended for twelve string or percussive guitars.
There is no volume control with this pickup because it is a passive transducer system. It is advisable to use some kind of preamp to better control the output, but it is more related to personal preferences than overall quality.
5 L.R. Baggs ANTHEM-SL Acoustic Guitar Pickup
The Anthem-SL acoustic guitar pickup is almost identical to the standard L.R. Baggs Anthem, which we reviewed earlier.
The only real difference is that the Anthem-SL is more minimalist as far as the sound controls are concerned. The Anthem-SL has pickup volume and mic volume control, but no tone level adjustment.
It utilizes TRU MIC technology mounted to the underside of the bridge plate to produce the dynamic sound of an acoustic guitar mic’d in a studio.
The Element pickup gives you warmth and fidelity. This pickup is also powerful without having to worry about low-end feedback.
The combination of the TRU MIC and Element pickup offer thick and punchy low frequencies, and clear and crisp high-end tones.
The best part about this pickup system is that it offers all the quality, dynamics, and clarity as the standard Anthem at a lower price.
6 Seymour Duncan SA-3HC Woody HC Hum-Canceling Acoustic Soundhole Pickup True Tune Tuner Bundle 11500-31
This simple pickup can be mounted instantly to any acoustic guitar with a sound-hole of 3.85” to 4.10” without the need for any kind of modification.
The Seymour Duncan Woody HC is a passive pickup. It is noiseless, magnetic and eliminates any kind of hum from inside or outside your guitar. It produces a warm, rich and full acoustic sound.
The sound of this pickup is balanced and captures the natural sounds of your acoustic guitar. And it delivers a fatter and more compressed sound because of the hum-canceling design.
By adjusting the position of this pickup, you can add more low-end or high-end punch. The foam used to stabilize and set the pickup is high quality, and there is enough of it to get the proper positioning you want.
The wood used to make the pickup housing is maple or walnut with the option for a black stain as well. This easy to use pickup is great for live performances or for use in the studio.
Since it is a passive pickup, it cannot be used with nylon string acoustic guitars.
7 iSolo Wireless Guitar Microphone – Audio & Music Interface Recording System
An acoustic pickup that is changing the game with modern digital technology. This might well be the next evolution in acoustic amplification.
The iSolo uses a cardioid-like wireless condenser microphone. Complete with a high-end preamp, three-stage gain selection, and flexible gooseneck. The sound quality is natural and dynamic thanks to the receiver producing 16bit/48KHz uncompressed audio.
It features a noise cancelation technology that blocks surrounding noise and gives you a raw, pure sound.
This pickup is unique. It uses a USB interface that can plug directly into your laptop, desktop or smartphone. You can record directly to your device from the pickup without any wires or additional drivers.
It works with Garageband and most other recording software programs.
It is small, portable and straightforward to use and clips right onto the sound-hole.
8 Fishman Neo-Buster Humbucker Sound-Hole Acoustic Pickup & Feedback Buster
Here is an acoustic pickup that has the ability to deliver loud, on-stage performances without feedback. The Neo-Buster pickup builds upon Fishman’s Neo-D humbucker with the addition of a feedback suppression sound-hole cover.
The magnet structure is a Neodymium humbucker similar to the Rare Earth pickup. This pick up allows for the classic humbucking tone complete with the natural warmth of an acoustic guitar.
It produces incredible string balance and clarity.
The sound-hole cover allows you to play at high volumes while almost completely eliminating hum, howl, or feedback of any kind.
How does it do that?
This pickup reduces the buildup of energy inside the guitar that causes feedback howls by covering the sound-hole completely.
It is quick and easy to install. This pickup and sound-hole cover fit nearly any acoustic guitar with a standard size sound-hole. It is made with a flexible elastomer that will not damage the guitar’s finish.
9 Luvay Guitar Pickup Acoustic Electric Transducer for Acoustic Guitar
An easy little acoustic pickup that attaches to the sound-hole and has a ten-foot cable with a standard jack input.
This is probably the most inexpensive acoustic guitar pickup on the market. Surprisingly, for something that costs so little, it produces clear tones and reduces noise.
This pickup is sensitive and can capture percussion sounds as well as harmonious string vibrations. The sound quality matches well to the unamplified sound of your guitar.
It is straightforward to install and secures tightly.
10 1PC Belcat SH-85 Soundhole Pickup With Active Power Jack For Acoustic Guitar
This a new acoustic guitar pickup model. It is a sound-hole pickup that fits almost all guitars and is easy to install and requires no drilling or soldering.
It produces a crystal clear sound without feedback. This pickup has an excellent response for the bass and mid-range tones.
The overall sound is smooth that is full of body.
It is a very affordable pickup that does what it says.
There is nothing fancy about this pickup. It does not have volume or tone control settings.
As a new model on the market, it has been receiving positive reviews.
Overall sound quality is quite good, it is sturdy and well manufactured.
Best Acoustic Guitar Pickup Buying Guide
Now that you know all about the 10 best acoustic guitar pickups, you will need to make a decision. But before you do, there are a few more things to consider before you buy.
The overall quality of your pickup is the most important factor. Make sure to check the warranty on whichever one you choose. Any quality acoustic pickup will have a warranty of at least a year.
It is also important to know about return policies. Sometimes during shipping things can go wrong. If you get your pickup and it is damaged in some way, being able to easily return the item for a new one reflects well on the quality of the manufacturer.
What’s Your Plan?
It is always a good idea, to be honest about what you will be using your acoustic pickup for.
Just like anything else people buy, they buy it with a reason in mind. You don’t go out and get a Ferrari if you plan on carpooling to work in the morning.
The same applies to acoustic guitar pickups. We laid out the 10 best acoustic picks for you. Some are made for the stage, others are meant for volume and power, and some are intended mostly for studio work.
You should know how you will use your acoustic pickup and make that a significant part of your decision. You will be happy you did.