Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups of 2020 – Ultimate Review

In order to find the perfect acoustic guitar pickup for your musical needs, you may need to know a thing or two about guitar pickups to arrive at your choice.

This article provides an in-depth analysis that you may find helpful on your quest to get the best pickup.

This article also contains reviews both from manufacturers and buyers of different pickups available on the market.

Comparison Chart of the Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups

PRODUCTDETAILS
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LR Baggs iBeam

  • Battery clips are useful
  • The sensor is transducer type
  • Best acoustic guitar pickup overall
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Dean Markley DM3000

  • Single pickup coil
  • Has an adhesive mounting
  • A male connector that is ¼ inch
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Luvay Transducer

  • Easy installation
  • Best for the Money
  • No modifications required
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K&K Pure Mini

  • No controls
  • Moderate difficulty in installation
  • Best K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup
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DiMarzio DP136

  • Sound hole type
  • Low installation difficulty
  • Best Acoustic Guitar Soundhole Pickup
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Fishman Matrix Infinity

  • High difficulty in installation
  • Best Fishman Acoustic Guitar Pickup
  • Has tone, voicing and volume controls
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What Does an Acoustic Guitar Pickup Do?

Guitar pickups play a significant role in the production of the perfect tone when playing the guitar. Pickups produce magnetic fields from the strings, then converts it to an electric signal; this, in turn, amplifies the sound. Pickups may be classified into three categories; sound hole, transducer, and piezo, all of which will be discussed more in this article.

Sound Hole 

Some pickups are mainly used in electric guitars but also happen to fit in an acoustic guitar sound hole. Sound hole pickups make the sound more appealing to the ear. These pickups may rely on technologies that are almost equal to the ones used in microphones and prevents the production of sensitive feedback. 

Transducers

Transducer pickups work by following the soundboard of your instruments, then translating the response into electric signals. They pick how the soundboard responds to vibrations of the strings, thus reflecting the sound produced. These pickups are, however, more sensitive to feedback than the rest; that is their only disadvantage.

Piezo

Piezo could be classified as a transducer, only that they are not under the soundboard but under a saddle. They respond better than soundboard transducers. Their mid-range hump is very strong and also has a great resistance to feedback, which makes them a perfect choice if you are planning to play for big venues or where a lot of volume is required.

What Makes a Great Acoustic Guitar Pickup?

When selecting the best pickup for you, you may need to look at some of these key features and qualities to get the best option.

Reproduction accuracy is key for good pickup. Players of this kind of guitar look more for accuracy in the reproduction of tone and sound.

You also need to be keen on whether the pickup produces a realistic tone. The system of a good pickup should produce the most realistic tone as possible.

Good pickups are generally resistant to feedback. You have to look for pickups that do not produce a lot of feedback.

The qualities of a good pickup for a guitar are as follows:

Components of High Quality

The components of the pickup should be of superior quality and should not be very delicate.

Ease of Mounting

The best pickups may not require professionals to install or mount them; ideally, installation should be easy for the player. 

Solid Design and Build

The design and build should be exceptional, meaning that they should be strong, not delicate, and capable of resisting feedback.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Here are the best acoustic guitar pickups:

  1. LR Baggs iBeam
  2. Dean Markley DM3000
  3. Luvay Transducer

Review of the Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups

Amplification is very important when performing for a large crowd, or when recording. In this section, we will review and discuss the very best pickups available for your acoustic guitar. We hope one of these will become a vital component of your musical adventure.

Best Overall:
LR Baggs iBeam

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

PROS

  • Panels socket
  • Highly active electronics
  • Ease of making adjustments
  • Matching pair of the film sensors

CONS

  • May not be compatible with some guitars
  • May also lack control of the tone

What Recent Buyers Report

Most recent buyers have been pleased by this pickup's performance and easy installation feature. However, some buyers reported that they encountered problems with tone control. Some have also reported that it lacks enhancement features and provides for only less stellar guitars. Still, plenty of musicians who have used this pickup consider it to be of excellent quality and praised its adjustability.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The high resistance to feedback with this pickup really made an impression on us. It is made up of advanced technology that allows it to cancel out different noises, and it is also capable of producing fine sounds. Many professional guitar players look for pickups that have less noise and feedback and are still pocket-friendly; with those priorities in mind, this pickup suits them perfectly.

Who Will Use This Most

This is mostly preferred by players who are recording directly or when performing for a big stage or audience. The ability of this pickup to amplify sounds and tones of high quality makes it perfect for stage performance.

Bottom Line  

This pickup is made to imitate a microphone’s response. The main advantage it has over conventional bridge plates sensors is that it has a high response. This high response pattern prevents feedback from the strings while producing a relatively rich tone and also an improvement in the frequency.

Dean Markley DM3000 Artist Transducer Acoustic Pickup

PROS

  • Appealing design
  • Produces natural sounds
  • Easy to place and remove
  • Good price for excellent quality
  • Produces high-quality sound and tones

CONS

  • Only suitable for personal use, not for performing on the stage
  • You may need to upgrade if you are thinking of a large performance

What Recent Buyers Report

Some buyers have recommended the DM3000 by saying it’s very worth the money. Many buyers have praised its ability to produce clear and high-quality sounds. Furthermore, most users love the design of the guitar pickup and find it really easy to place and remove, even if they are beginners.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This pickup earned the runner-up spot on our list by offering high-quality output tones for a remarkably modest price. A special adhesive mounting allows the user to easily place it on their instrument and also easily remove it with no damage to the finish if the need arises.

Who Will Use This Most

This is the type of pickup that is mostly used for personal practice. Lovers of classical guitars may also find much use for this. The only type of user we would not recommend this to is those who are planning to perform for a large audience, as this pickup lacks the firepower to perform adequately in that scenario.

Bottom Line    

The Dean Markley pickup is good for use with small performances or personal practice, but do not use it for large gigs. You may find a need to upgrade in case your expected audience turns out to be more than this device can handle, but beyond that one drawback, it is simply perfect.

Best for the Money:
Luvay Transducer

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

PROS

  • Presentable look
  • Strong and durable design
  • Great amplification abilities
  • Perfect for personal practice
  • Long cable for ease of movement

CONS

  • May produce feedback
  • Cannot be used for a large audience

What Recent Buyers Report

Some current users have had issues with feedback, which is said to have originated from contact with the hand. Others, however, had positive opinions. They said the transducer by Luvay is perfect for home use and recording your ideas. Others were pleased with its ability to amplify high-quality sounds. This pickup got the most positive comments from buyers regarding its perfection in amplification.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This transducer stands out in many ways, but let us begin with its installation, which is a snap thanks to its intuitive design. We also are fond of it because it is made up of magnetic pickups in case you want to use steel strings.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are not performing for a big audience, you ought to use this transduce; it will undoubtedly save you money compared to purchasing other expensive accessories to enjoy high amplification and good sound quality.

Bottom Line  

This transducer pickup can be a good choice, which provides more reasonable purchase value. It works perfectly for rehearsal and small performances, producing a high output quality. Other pickups of this caliber are generally expensive, but this transducer is the exact opposite. It would be wise to put it into consideration.

Best Acoustic Guitar Soundhole Pickup:
DiMarzio DP136

DiMarzio DP136 Super Natural Plus Acoustic Guitar Soundhole Pickup

PROS

  • Volume controls
  • High quality of tones
  • Easy installation procedure
  • Provides superb value
  • Clarity in the sound produced

CONS

  • Volume slides may produce some noise
  • Some found it too easy to accidentally hit the volume sliders by strumming hard

What Recent Buyers Report

Many recent buyers have showered this device with positive reviews, impressed by the quality and clarity of the sound and tone it produces. They consider it to be an excellent value considering the price tag. Another buyer noted that its wooden aesthetic complements the guitar.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Like some pickups discussed earlier, the DiMarzio DP136 is very easy to install. Sound and tones produced as output are of high quality, and its design and finish are quite appealing. It creates a true sense of an elegant design.

Who Will Use This Most

The DiMarzio DP136 should mostly be used by anyone looking to make their sound bright and also have more focus on the tight base with the great presence of the treble.

Bottom Line  

If you are interested in making a dark sound brighter or want to add shimmer to cut a band mix, then this pickup is suitable for you. It is good to note that this pickup does not require modifications because of its vintage.

Best K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup:
K&K Pure Mini

K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup

PROS

  • Transducer type pickup
  • Excellent tone and timbre
  • Less drill during installation
  • Usable with nylon or steel strings
  • No electronics onboard and no battery

CONS

  • Lacks an upper frequency
  • Relatively low midrange frequency
  • Installation may appear permanent, which discourages some buyers

What Recent Buyers Report

Some buyers praised the clarity offered by this pickup when amplified. It was commended for its purchase value as it gives a good output sound compared to other more expensive alternatives. The quality of the tones produced is superb, according to a different buyer.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This pickup impressed us with the quality of sound it produces after amplification. It is also well priced because its performance compares with other expensive pickups on the market. Its compatibility with different strings like nylon and steel can also be a huge asset, given that others do not support such strings.

Who Will Use This Most

This pickup is preferred for use on a big stage performance due to the clear and high-quality sound it produces. If you are interested in a large performance, this pickup would be a solid choice for you.

Bottom Line    

This pickup is great for guitars with too much edge when strummed. Additional equalizers may be used if your guitar produces originally dark sounds. When you fix it accordingly, a natural acoustic sound is produced.

Best Fishman Acoustic Guitar Pickup:
Fishman Matrix Infinity

Fishman Matrix Infinity Pickup & Preamp System, Narrow Format

PROS

  • Piezo type pickup
  • Tone produced is natural
  • Unique switches for voicing
  • Minimizes pitfalls on piezo systems
  • Easily fits on sound hole with very small diameter

CONS

  • Not perfectly compatible with all guitars
  • Some may sound harsh while others may sound unrealistic
  • Construction design of your guitar will affect the type of sound being produced

What Recent Buyers Report

Many users have also found this guitar pickup easier to install than expected, although beginners may need a bit of time to figure it out. The tone is clean and natural, which most buyers enjoyed.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This pickup is uniquely made up of controls like the volume control, tone, and switches for voicing. It also has a low battery indicator, unlike other pickups. While some buyers claim that installation was a challenge, you may still be able to install it easily.

Who Will Use This Most

This pickup will best suit players who use classical guitars a lot. It would be particularly ideal if you need to emphasize the treble, bass, and a reduced midrange.

Bottom Line    

The Matrix Infinity will be worth it if you prefer a detailed attack on the piezo system. If you have a guitar with a slot and wide saddle, then you can use different matrix models of the pickup, such as the infinity wide matrix.

Types of Pickups

There are a few different types of pickups. These are the main ones:

Soundboard Transducers

This is typically considered as a basic pickup. Through the top, it picks up vibrations, which then sticks to the face of the guitar. The stick is not a permanent adhesive, which means that installation will be simple compared to other pickups. These transducers typically give a low quality of sound volume. The transducers are mostly preferred for small performances. 

Sound Hole Pickups

These pickups gained popularity due to their affordability and versatility. They are also preferred because they do not require complicated installations and are easy to remove. This pickup is placed at the sound hole under the strings. 

Sound is produced by magnetic coils that are almost the same as those in electric guitar pickups. The pickup is placed under the strings to ensure they deliver a good sound that’s clear and perfect for picking.

Piezo Pickups

Piezo pickups are also very common. It is made up of strips from sensory materials that are placed directly under the saddle of the bridge, thus making changes in pressure from the vibrations. The sound produced is focused directly. A slightly brittle sound may be produced.

How to Install a Sound Hole Pickup in Acoustic Guitar

For this section, we will look at how to install the DiMarzio DP136 pickup.

  1. You have to begin by loosening up the strings; this makes it easier to manipulate the sound hole pickup and put it into place.
  2. Slide the sound hole pickup in place; you don’t need to remove the bridge pins.
  3. After the sound pickup is in place, ensure that it is secure. Top wedges should be on top of the guitar and should be pushed forward to where the fingerboard extension stops.
  4. Position the line of pickups in line with the strings. Once the pickup is in place, tighten the strings with a screw and avoid tightening too much. 
  5. For you to get a signal from the pickup to where it is required, you use a mini-jack that goes into the pickup and a ¼ inch jack, which goes to a mixing board.
  6. Insert the mini-jack to the pickup hole and take the other end to where you need to put it.
  7. To finish it off, you need to tighten the strings to get a perfect pitch.

Conclusion

Rest assured, you will benefit from purchasing a high-quality pickup. Some options may not be perfect for you or may have defects, so you need to select the best for your guitar. Remember that pickups are meant to enhance the sound of your guitar, so make the best selection, and you will be better off.

People Also Ask

If you have gotten to the end of this review but still have a few questions, keep reading!

What is a Passive Pickup on an Acoustic Guitar?

A passive pickup is one that does not require any sort of electronics for sound alteration before it is sent to the amplifier. Passive pickups are analogous to simple microphones. They collect signals, then pass them through cables to the guitar amplifier. For this reason, most electric guitar pickups are considered passive.

If the guitar you are using does not have any pickups, but you are interested in using it with an amplifier, any of the pickups system you may want to use will require a modification of some sort. For such modifications, it is better to have a professional who is trained to deal with it.

Do Acoustic Guitar Pickups Need Batteries?

Not all guitars that are acoustic require the use of a battery. It depends on how the guitar will convert the energy when you play it to an electrical signal, which then enters the amp.

The majority of acoustic guitars require different types of pickup systems compared to electric guitars. This will capture the accurate characteristics of the guitar that are natural. This signal, however, is weak. This factor makes acoustic guitars to require a boost of their electric signals strength. Thus power is required for boosting the signals.

Are Active Pickups Louder Than Passive?

Active pickups  are typically louder than passive. This is mainly because active pickups generally produce high output thanks to their inbuilt preamp. The active pickups will start with low outputs; then, the signal is boosted by a preamp.

This preamp works by compressing the signals slightly, which in turn adds loudness. Some passive pickups are made in such a way that they produce higher output than active pickups. This still does not conceal the fact that most active pickups are louder than passive.

How Can You Tell if a Pickup is Active or Passive?

It is not always obvious whether a pickup is active or passive. With that in mind, a majority of basses rely on passive pickup in their design. Basses with active pickups are usually indicated or advertised as such. 

Another common sign is that if it does not run on a 9V battery, then it is probably an active pickup bass. You can also open a cavity control and search for where the lead pickups are coming. In case you see a red wire that is next to a wire from there connecting to a battery, then the likelihood is that the pickup is active. Active pickups are not particularly common so chances are that the bass you have may be using a passive pickup.