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The 8 Best Acoustic Guitar Pickup Options [2021 Reviews]

tl;dr

Explore a shortlist of popular acoustic guitar pickups available on the market. These cover the 3 main types of acoustic guitar pickups you can find: microphone-based, soundhole, and piezo pickups; each of which have their own pros and cons when it comes to price and sound. While the best results probably come from having a nice small-diaphragm condenser mic on a stand, an internal microphone pickup like the L.R. Baggs Lyric is probably your best bet in terms of sound quality.

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Overview

Looking to get your acoustic guitar amplified so you can play in more public settings? In this article below, you’ll find numerous options at hand so you can get busy with playing!

Know that there are a few different types of acoustic guitar pickups,

– Piezo pickups,
– Soundhole pickups, and
– Microphone pickups.

What will produce the most acoustic-like sound? Without a doubt the microphone style pickups. If you want the most natural recreation of your guitar’s acoustic sound, achieving the fundamental resonance of your instruments, capturing overtones, and that special “air” of acoustics, then an internal microphone pickup is for you. However, also without a doubt is the fact that they’re usually more expensive and require a professional installation. In case you already own a nice diaphragm condenser microphone on a stand, placing this near your guitar’s soundhole is actually one of the best options available, and this would be a solution without a pickup. Overall, if sound is a higher priority to you than price, then know that you should be looking a piece of gear that is microphone-based.

If ease of installation and price is your chief concern, then soundhole pickups are probably your best choice. Not only are they easy to install, there’s arguably no installation required; they simple fit into your acoustic guitar’s soundhole (non-permanently squeezing into the soundhole) and you’re set to go. Similar to an electric guitar pickup, soundhole pickups create a magnetic field around your guitar strings; then, when the vibrating strings disturb the magnetic field, voltages are induced which creates the amplified sound. However, the ease of installation and lower price comes with some cons: soundhole pickups are prone to feeding back at higher volume, and since they’re practically like electric guitar pickups they can sound like an electric guitar on a clean tone; the sound primarily comes from the strings and not the acoustic body. However, if you’re looking for something you that won’t cause you a setup headache and which you can pickup for the price of a burger, soundhole pickups are probably right for you.

Lastly, piezo pickups are another option for people seeking a less expensive solution for acoustic amplification, while avoiding feedback at high volume. If you’re not in the know about piezo crystals, the way they work is when they’re vibrated at certain frequencies, they create a voltage (and vice versa). Thus, your luthier can install 6 piezo crystals beneath your bridge, capturing your guitar’s sound and amplifying it with hardly any risk of noisy feedback. The sound tends to be brighter since it’s captured at the end of your strings rather than the middle. Also, similar to soundhole pickups, the sound comes from the strings rather than the body, so it might lean more towards an electric guitar on a clean tone. One risk of piezo pickups is the infamous “piezo quack” where, at high volumes, the sound tends to distort and become a bit uneven; however, if you’re going to mainly play with an even keel, this probably won’t be as much of an issue.

One subset of piezo pickups are transducer pickups; they work the same way as piezo pickups except they look like little bottlecaps which can be placed via a temporary adhesive to any part of your guitar’s body; inside, outside, and so forth. Notably, the sound tends to be more acoustic since it captures the string sound as well as the body sound, but as a consequence there’s again a risk of feedback. Also, they can come across as being more bass heavy, but this can be fixed with EQ.

Fortunately, you don’t always have to choose between one or the other; for example, many internal microphone pickups actually combine with a piezo pickup so you can capture the natural acoustic of the guitar’s body, while also bumping up the sound with the piezo so you can play at higher volume without as much feedback. It’ll take some experimentation to find the setup right for you, but luckily the technology is made leaps and bounds over the past several decades, so you can find the sound right for you at a price that works.

Now that you know more about the types of pickups for acoustic guitars available, you’ll be able to make a better decision when finding the one that’s right for you! Remember, for high quality sound, try a mic-based pickup, for ease of use try a soundhole pickup, and for something in between, try a piezo pickup. Good luck with your search and hopefully this guide is helpful to you!

Hear How it Sounds

Review & Analysis

Just because a pickup is expensive doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best.

However, if you want a studio-quality pickup, it is going to cost you.

Most studios will actually set mics on stands near the instrument for recording. This delivers a super high-quality sound that also captures a lot of the squawks and scrapes of fingerstyle playing.

While delivering excellent sound, these condenser microphones are not only expensive ($400+), they also are cumbersome, requiring you to remain in one place the entire time you play.

An excellent “compromise” is the L.R. Baggs Lyric system. Installed inside your instrument, this system delivers studio-quality sound without compromising your mobility during stage performance. It’s the first system that comes close to letting you create that studio-level output during your coffee shop gig.

L.R. Baggs has long been a leader in creating products that capture the true essence of your guitar. Their Anthem series has been setting the standard for several years, now.

However, with their recent release of the Lyric, they used their years of experience they gained from the Anthem series to create a microphone system that is truly decades ahead of itself. The Lyric not only captures the microphone sound, it uses unique circuit board technology to identify and cancel out interference to deliver crisp, clear, natural tones.

The Lyrics also uses a lot of the same installation tricks. So it mounts 3 mm away from the underside of the bridge, giving it the perfect distance for taking advantage of the boundary effect and delivering the perfect, even tone that you love about acoustic guitars.

The only downside with the Lyric is that everyone who bought the Anthem SL is wishing they had waited a couple of years to get this new system.

The lyric also works well in conjunction with other systems. For example, if you wanted to also install the K&K piezo pickup and solder it into the Lyric, you could do that, and it gives you that added string clarity for live performance in a band.

Is the Lyric Better Than The LR Baggs Anthem Tru-Mic?

While the two systems look quite similar, the inner-workings of the Lyric is so much better. The circuit board design enables this little microphone to capture more sound than any other system before it has been able to do.

And when you listen, there is a pretty clear difference in the quality of sound. I mean, if you find the Anthem SL on sale for half the price then sure, grab it! But dollar for dollar, the Lyric is worth its money and delivers some the most natural sound, in my opinion.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
I replaced a LR Baggs Double Barrel pick up in my Martin D16RGT with the Lyric. Before the upgrade I hated playing my acoustic plugged in and never felt like it sounded natural. The difference is Night and Day! No more piezo quack!!! It just sounds like my guitar only louder. I haven't had a chance to play it live but it seems feedback resistant with my studio monitors up pretty loud.
Paul
LR Baggs Lyric
March 12, 2021
5/5
Amazing! Clearly the best "pickup" I've ever heard. Indistinguishable from a large diaphragm condenser mike at 10". And no feedback or handling noise to speak of. Great way to amplify a fine acoustic guitar for solo use. Probably wouldn't use it with a band and lots of stage noise, but with in ear monitors and a relatively quiet stage not a speck of feedback. And I wouldn't use it on any kind of cheap guitar. There are better solutions for those that make the instrument sound better than it is.
Paul
Best "pickup" on the market for a fine guitar
December 10, 2018

Hear How it Sounds

Review & Analysis

I wanted to make sure that this list offers a high-quality pickup for around $100.

If you still want the classical sound offered by the L.R Baggs, but you want to save some money, the K&K Mini is an excellent choice.

Unlike the Lyric, the K&K Mini uses a bridge plate soundboard transducer system to capture the vibrations. This makes it ideal for those of us who may not have a high-end, quality instrument that we want to amplify ( lower end guitars simply will not have the tonality needed for the Lyric system reviewed above).

They K&K Mini really does make anybody look good. It has nice, warm tones, and works with both finger-picking and strumming styles. It does a good job with the amplification of the true output of the guitar without adding that tinny tone found in most Piezo pickups.

The K&K amplifies fairly well, although you may find some feedback issues if you get too loud. A lot of folks find that for larger gigs, a little pre-amp is a perfect choice for more sound control and volume.

For the price, the K&K is a very pleasing electric guitar pickup for everyone from the hobbyist to the serious musician. It is also commonly used in conjunction with the with the LR Baggs Lyric.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
You can spend a lot more money on another type but I wouldn’t bother. This gives an amazing clarity when played through amplification. I suppose if there is a downside is that it doesn’t have a volume control (and they do have one with that feature) and no EQ controls...but buy their pre-amp and problem solved.

I did do the install myself and here are a couple of suggestions. I put this in a Martin HD-28 VTS. First...take your time!!! I confess I was a bit nervous about drilling out the hole where the strap lug was. Was a bit concerned about drilling out a hole on a 3500 dollar guitar. I had read that using a graduated bit was the way to go...and they were right. I bought a Milwaukee bit at Home Depot for around 20 bucks. I can’t imagine using regular bits and making the hole bigger and bigger in steps. I did put painters blue tape on and it worked flawlessly protecting the finish.

Be sure when you get ready to start gluing to do a trial run first!! It does give you the chance to get used to it and does make it easier when you are going to actually be handling fastening the transducers with glue. I used Gorilla superglue gel. Be sure and use gel, not the runny liquid. Wear some nitrile gloves...because you will probably going to get some superglue on your fingertips. The instructions are excellent...be sure to read them! If you take your time you can have this done in about an hour on your first install.
Alan
Wouldn’t think about using anything else...
January 17, 2019
5/5
I put this in a $200 guitar. I have a Recording King (RD-06) that sounds so good, that I wanted to use it for live gigs. So I popped in this K&K. I ran it through my SWR California Blonde II acoustic amp. If you have been wanting an acoustic guitar to have that "miked" when you plug it in, this is as close as it gets! I recommend getting a sound-hole cover if you play with a band, but you will not be disappointed. The installation can be a little tricky, but with a little patience and reading, anybody can install it. If you don't feel comfortable, just go pay a local luthier to install it for $30, or ask your grandmother for help 😛
Drew Leo
Instant Acousti-Guitargasm!
December 6, 2012

Hear How it Sounds

Review & Analysis

So, you are ready to start recording some of your songs. Maybe you want to cut that high-quality youtube video and become as famous as Boyce Avenue.

Pickups have been slow to advance technologically. The Lyric by L.R. Baggs (reviewed above) is one of the most advanced products being manufactured that is currently on the market — and it is simply a tiny condenser microphone.

Bottom line is, if you try to record with a pickup, it is going to sound “off”. Now, for Youtube, you can get away with a lot. The K&K mini or the L.R. Baggs Lyric would be an excellent choice both for playing gigs and cutting Youtube videos.

But for cutting a real song that people are going to listen to over and over?

For that, you will need a mic.

Granted, when you start micing stuff, it gets a lot more complicated. You have to test the room, and may need to hang some curtains to stop echoes. If you are using this in your house, you’ll have to kill the A/C, unplug the phone and shut off the fridge. No background hums allowed!

A better question would be: “What affordable microphone is best for recording an acoustic guitar?”

When it comes to Microphones, a Dynamic microphone is simply not going to be able to capture the full range of your needs You are going to have to go with a Condenser.

Granted, Condenser microphones aren’t cheap. The good news is, there is one microphone that is consistently the clear winner among home recording artists: The MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser.

It does an excellent job with both instruments and vocals, so it is extremely versatile. But for acoustic recording, it really captures the magic and delivers incredible results for very little money.

If you wanna blow away your audience, but keep your pocketbook intact, you’ve got to check it out.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
I did my research and discovered this particular condenser mic, among others, as a great option for beginners. I've done SEVERAL musical and podcast recordings with it, and I'm super impressed with the way this baby performs. I would HIGHLY suggest that you hop on YouTube, with a quality pair of headphones, and listen to DIFFERENT users review this mic, though. After making a list of a possible candidates, I listened very carefully to how each one of them performed with different voices. For my needs, it was between this mic and an AT2020. I admit I was trying to save the extra $20, but I feel that it was definitely the right choice for me in the end. Be advised, if you are new to condenser mics, they do need 48v of phantom power. You do have to pair this little soup can sized beauty with a preamp if you actually want to get any sound out of it. I personally chose the Saramonic SmartRig+ 2-channel XLR/3.5mm mixer to get the job done. These two items pair ridiculously well together, just FYI. Especially if you want a great mobile rig, as this mixer will allow you to use your MXL 770 with virtually any smartphone or tablet. The iRig Pre is another great option if you only need to record one channel at a time. Hope this helps!
Dan
Great product for the money!!! Be advised, you'll need phantom power!
January 17, 2019
5/5
This is the 3rd budget condenser microphone I have used for my home studio setup. I would say it is the most affordable but the best. The other two I have used is the AT2020 (USB) and the MXL V67G. I've used this for vocal and acoustic guitar and for both usages it responded very very well.

The mic has a bass roll-off and a -10dB pad switch which are both very useful. The bass roll-off is useful for reducing proximity effects as the manual suggests. I personally have used it when recording vocal and the popfilter is still not enough to cut out the pop effect. The -10dB pad is useful when there are unwanted noises in the background. Since my studio headphone isn't the best at isolation, the mic frequently picks up the music from the headphone and the -10dB cut comes in handy here.

Overall, as everyone suggested, this mic is one of the most valuable entry-level options (Especially with the price drop, used to be 99 bucks). It comes with a shock mount and a carrying case as many photos showed. The shock mount is super easy to use (See vid). All you do is pinch it and slide the mic right in. For this price, the sound you get out of it is unbeatable. I've purchased a pop filter separately that attaches right on top. What I like about the mic the most is how professional it looks 😉 and it's very well-constructed.
Jim R.
Absolutely The Top Mic Choice for Bedroom/Home Studio
December 6, 2012

Hear How it Sounds

Review & Analysis

This acoustic guitar pickup system stands out from the rest in that it is both a magnetic hum-canceling pickup and a microphone combined into a single, easy-to-install unit.

We all know the Seymour Duncan brand and it is no surprise that they have found a way to solve the most common problems you’ll face when trying to add a pickup. This one mounts through the soundhole of your guitar, making it extremely easy to install.

However, don’t confuse it with the cheaper single-coil or piezo units that I review below. This one uses active, hum-canceling magnetic pickups that detect the actual sound of your strings. Then, it brings in a microphone which captures the ambient sound of the acoustic guitar. Both systems run to the endpin for easy output to your sound system.

Because this unit offers both types of pickups, I feel like the resulting sound is better. You aren’t missing the high-end like you sometimes deal with on the lyrics, and the lows have enough power that you don’t get lost when playing with a band.

One of the best active pickups that you can go with, especially for fingerstyle playing.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
This pickup is a near perfect solution for guitars (Acoustics, Jazz Boxes) with weak or non existence pickup systems and next to no modifications. Depending on the guitar and whether your looking for a permanent solution or temporary fix, this pick up does the trick.

The permanent solution is the preferred method for most people and generally less likely to have issues over time, but that's a personal choice. The guitar I chose was a D'Angelico Ex-63 for installation. Take your time to ensure the installation is correct. The pickup is plenty strong and balances nice right out of the box.

For testing I used a Eventide H9 direct to a Empress Effects buffer+ to a Orange 35rt amp. The guitar sings and dances and with the balance control it should work out perfect for different venues.

I couldn't be more happy since adding the pickup. My only request is for the next version to have a rechargeable battery with external charging capabilities.
Lyle Style
Almost perfect
October 5, 2018
5/5
Very happy so far with the Seymour Duncan SA-6. Sounds incredible paired with a couple pedals or by itself. I personally use it with a TC Electric BozyRez and a Boss RV-6 reverb pedal and it sounds great. I love the minimal look and the easy-to-use controls. Installation was easy, just make sure you have a 1/2'' step drill bit. I put this on my 1960's Framus Texan and I couldn't be happier. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a quality pickup.
Nick
Love this pickup!
July 10, 2017

Hear How it Sounds

Review & Analysis

This under saddle transducer pickup sometimes gets passed over because it is used on many of the acoustic-electric guitars that are sold. This common usage kills some of the novelty.

However, the popularity of this pickup is exactly why you should consider it.

The endpin mounted preamp slides discretely into your guitar and offers more control than many of the more expensive units. The transducer slips under your bridge for dynamic string response.

Then, for control, they give you two tone knobs that mount on your soundhole for easy access to your settings.

It sounds good — just like a high-end acoustic electric should sound. While I feel like this isn’t the best option for the guitarist who mostly plays fingerstyle, it is perfect for folk music, worship music, and country and bluegrass music. The installation is easy and the tone is incredible.

Even if your guitar isn’t the highest quality, this transducer pickup is going to help it sound better.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
I have two of these pickups. One was installed in my 1982 Martin by a world class luthier, the other was installed in my son's $200 Yamaha acoustic by me. Both guitars sound amazing on smaller amps and also on larger, sound board systems. You can get much cheaper pickups, but do yourself a favor and spend the money on quality components, you will thank yourself every time you plug in.

It is also very easy to install. Go to YouTube and watch tutorials before installing.
Norm Mac
Awesome sound - easy to install
April 16, 2020
5/5
Great upgrade have a lot more control of my tone and the two modes for the body types are dead on what a difference in my live Sound was very impressed with the sound and performance held up to the beating the guitar takes in a show situation!
Paul
Great upgrade!
June 17, 2019

Hear How it Sounds

Review & Analysis

I love this dual-coil pickup for its wood color and great sound. It offers a lot of value that other brands struggle to match.

The stacking technology in this one is why you should buy it over some of the cheaper options I’m about to review. If you are playing under fluorescent lights or near the neon-lit coffee shop window, this hum-reduction technology will make all of the difference.

Churches are also notorious for creating hum (it’s always the pianist’s fault, in case you were wondering). This dual coil stack is what is going to let you play on Sundays instead of getting thrown off stage from the hum.

This an easy on-off setup. you can slip it in for gigs where you are running an amplifier, and take it out the rest of the time.

There is an XL version of this which offers adjustable pole pieces that allows you to dial in your sound. I think that is a stellar option, but would probably DP138 instead since I love how it sounds.

Since there is a little play in how it fits in the holes, you can try shifting it a little until you get a sound you are happy with.

This is a great pickup for chording songs during live performances. And a much better sound quality than what you find in the ones I discuss below.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
I have an old acoustic guitar that I wanted to use on some songs with my current band. I've used Seymour Duncan pickups with my electrics for over 30 years (mini humbucker, Strat stack) and they sound great. Based on that, I bought this Woody humbucker. My acoustic guitar now has a nice amplified sound, with no hum. The pickup is easy to install and remove, too.
Norman T
Just what I needed
September 14, 2020
5/5
I haven't used an acoustic pickup since sometime in the 70's. I'm usually not impressed with what I hear from acoustic/electric guitars but this pickup has changed my mind. First, there is plenty of room over the sound hole (where I tend to make contact with the strings- duh?), second, the cord coming off the pickup is not a problem (as I'd always assumed), but most impressive of all - my Martin D28 sounds like my Martin D28, which is really all I wanted - just a little LOUDER. I hooked it up to record a scratch track to sing with and it sounded so good, that 4 tracks later I have some beautiful sounding acoustic tracks that are forming the core of the current song I'm recording. I am very happy with this pickup.
Marc
Just what I needed
August 12, 2020

Hear How it Sounds

Review & Analysis

The HDE is a good choice for those needing a cheap selection.

Granted, there are several downsides to this product. To begin with, it is a newer product, with reviews only going back to fall of 2012. So we don’t know how long it will last or how durable it is.

However, considering that you could buy a new one every couple of years, and still not be hurting your coffee money, it’s a prettty solid pickup.

The sound is probably the most important concern, and here it performs decently. It does tend to not pick up the external strings as well, and the Low E and B strings can really overpower the rest. Shifting the pickup so that it is closer to the High E seems to balance things out a little better, but it still is not good for fingerstyle.

However, I have been very pleased with how little feedback and “hum” there is. Once you get it positioned, it seems to deliver a very clear result that was worth the effort of fiddling around with it to dial it in.

Of course, since it is a magnetic pickup, it only works with steel strings.

The resulting output is much more similar to an electric feel than that of an amplified acoustic.

Bottom line is, this soundhole pickup is butt-ugly, but it works better than many that are priced twice as much. For the occasional gig or playing around with effects, this is a great choice.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
I'm pretty impressed by how well this thing sounds, for the price. It's not perfect, it still has a very slight hum to it that might be slightly less noticeable on a much more expensive pickup, and the tone is not perfect either, But for 20 bucks its a fine investment if you're looking for the cheapest way to turn your acoustic into an electric. Works great for playing live or recording. Good design as well, fits snug and clips into any acoustic nicely, foam prevents scratching, and a little lever can make it tight, sturdy and made of metal.
Brent Lidstone
Best value/price!
June 1, 2020
5/5
Great product. Worked well with my amp. Mounted easily on my guitar and without impeding the acoustic functioning of my old Fender. Very pleased and would recommend for the recreational guitar hobbyist. Arrived quickly and ahead of the promised time.
Gilbert Guénette
It was what I needed!
July 28, 2016

Hear How it Sounds

Review & Analysis

The HDE reviewed above is an excellent little selection, but it doesn’t capture that natural tonality and texture that a lot of folk players are after.

For this pickup, I will suggest the AXL. It is piezoelectric, and since it responds to the vibrations of the entire instrument instead off just the strings, it does an excellent job reflecting the overall sound of your playing.

Overall, this product has a lower star rating on Amazon reviews. This owing to an earlier version of the product that had a weak suction cup which refused to stay attached. Since then, AXL has rectified the problem, and it stays attached almost too well.

There are two versions available on Amazon: one which installs more permanently and comes with an endpin, and a second version which only attaches to the face of the instrument body and plugs into your amp with no drilling — especially if you can stay close to your amplification while playing.

At this price point, I would suggest going with the no-drill option. As you can see, drilling is kind of a big deal and something you would want to outsource to a professional.

This is not a professional model. It’s a little quiet. But for amplifying solo playing for that coffee shop gig, it can be a good, inexpensive choice.

Notable Customer Reviews Online

5/5
I was surprised at how well this thing works for the price. I can now play my acoustic through an amp without having spent a fortune. Just goes to show that not all inexpensive products are crap.
Matteus
Great, for this price I dare say unbeatable!
January 15, 2018
5/5
Great, for this price I dare say unbeatable!

+Great sound quality
+Great price
+Long cable
+Works with classical guitar
D. Marois
Resonates well with me
January 12, 2015

Types of Pickups

Active Pickups

If you don’t mind changing out batteries every now and then – in exchange for having added control over your sound, active pickups are probably your preferred choice. Active pickups require batteries since there’s a small “preamp” mounted on the pickup itself; this preamp allows you to fine-tune your sound, often with a 3-band EQ to adjust your treble, mid-range, and bass. Especially if you expect to be playing in a room with a mixer or a PA, where you might lose some control of your sound, an active pickup can help you regain some tonal control. Also, they tend to make your guitar sound better, allowing you to adjust to any room (not just for live events) and can give you more knobs to tweak in case you have problems with crackling sounds or feedback.

Passive Pickups

Passive pickups don’t require any additional power sources, so no batteries are needed. They simply pickup your sound and transfer it to the amp. It’s ironically perfect for the person who’s very flexible with their sound and therefore doesn’t need a preamp, or people who are extra enthusiastic about their sound! How could that be? Well, some people also use passive pickups so they can combine it with their dedicated preamp (sold separately from the pickup itself) which might have more controls than a preamp built into an active pickup.

Magnetic vs Piezo Pickups — Which is Best?

Microphone-Based Pickups

What will produce the most acoustic-like sound? Without a doubt the microphone style pickups. If you want the most natural recreation of your guitar’s acoustic sound, achieving the fundamental resonance of your instruments, capturing overtones, and that special “air” of acoustics, then an internal microphone pickup is for you. However, also without a doubt is the fact that they’re usually more expensive and require a professional installation. In case you already own a nice diaphragm condenser microphone on a stand, placing this near your guitar’s soundhole is actually one of the best options available, and this would be a solution without a pickup. Overall, if sound is a higher priority to you than price, then know that you should be looking a piece of gear that is microphone-based.

Soundhole Pickups

If ease of installation and price is your chief concern, then soundhole pickups are probably your best choice. Not only are they easy to install, there’s arguably no installation required; they simple fit into your acoustic guitar’s soundhole (non-permanently squeezing into the soundhole) and you’re set to go. Similar to an electric guitar pickup, soundhole pickups create a magnetic field around your guitar strings; then, when the vibrating strings disturb the magnetic field, voltages are induced which creates the amplified sound. However, the ease of installation and lower price comes with some cons: soundhole pickups are prone to feeding back at higher volume, and since they’re practically like electric guitar pickups they can sound like an electric guitar on a clean tone; the sound primarily comes from the strings and not the acoustic body. However, if you’re looking for something you that won’t cause you a setup headache and which you can pickup for the price of a burger, soundhole pickups are probably right for you.

Piezo Pickups

Lastly, piezo pickups are another option for people seeking a less expensive solution for acoustic amplification, while avoiding feedback at high volume. If you’re not in the know about piezo crystals, the way they work is when they’re vibrated at certain frequencies, they create a voltage (and vice versa). Thus, your luthier can install 6 piezo crystals beneath your bridge, capturing your guitar’s sound and amplifying it with hardly any risk of noisy feedback. The sound tends to be brighter since it’s captured at the end of your strings rather than the middle. Also, similar to soundhole pickups, the sound comes from the strings rather than the body, so it might lean more towards an electric guitar on a clean tone. One risk of piezo pickups is the infamous “piezo quack” where, at high volumes, the sound tends to distort and become a bit uneven; however, if you’re going to mainly play with an even keel, this probably won’t be as much of an issue.

Transducer Pickups

One subset of piezo pickups are transducer pickups; they work the same way as piezo pickups except they look like little bottlecaps which can be placed via a temporary adhesive to any part of your guitar’s body; inside, outside, and so forth. Notably, the sound tends to be more acoustic since it captures the string sound as well as the body sound, but as a consequence there’s again a risk of feedback. Also, they can come across as being more bass heavy, but this can be fixed with EQ.

Fortunately, you don’t always have to choose between one or the other; for example, many internal microphone pickups actually combine with a piezo pickup so you can capture the natural acoustic of the guitar’s body, while also bumping up the sound with the piezo so you can play at higher volume without as much feedback. It’ll take some experimentation to find the setup right for you, but luckily the technology is made leaps and bounds over the past several decades, so you can find the sound right for you at a price that works.

Does It Have A Preamp?

When you buy an acoustic-electric guitar, they normally come with a preamp. This preamp allows you to have some basic tone controls right there on the guitar before it heads to your pedalboard or soundboard.  It can be quite handy to tweak your bass or treble levels prior to your guitar connecting to a mixer or PA; in those situations, you might have less control over your sound (especially in a foreign live space), so having those extra knobs to tweak can really help.

Some positives of preamps are that you can adjust your levels in case your acoustic sound begins to crackle or feedback, and if you’ve got multiple pickups running (for example, an internal-mic pickup and piezo pickup) you can blend them with greater ease at your fingertips.

Not all pickups come with on-board preamps. You can buy them separately and either hire a luthier to help you cut a hole in the side of your guitar and install the equalizer box, or you can go with an external option that allows you to control it from the floor.