The Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups

Updated April 12, 2017

Every guitarist has an opinion about which acoustic guitars are the best. The same is true about acoustic guitar pickups and electronics. There's no such thing as the "best pickup," but there are plenty of high-quality pickups worth trying out. If you're looking for a way to amplify your acoustic guitar in a live setting, try out some of the choicest pickups on the market.

Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend

The Ellipse Martix Blend combines an undersaddle pickup with a condenser microphone, allowing for intelligent blending and phasing options. The Ellipse Martix Blend is fitted to your guitar's soundhole without being cumbersome or affecting guitar play. The pickup location allows for convenient control of blending, mic trim, low frequency tone-shaping, phase and volume. A magnet mounting system helps minimise installation time and contact with the guitar's body.

L. R. Braggs M1 Active

The M1 Active is a humbucking pickup (a double-coil pickup), but unlike other humbuckers the M1 has an unlocked second coil. As a result, the electronics pick up both string and body sounds, with the goal of creating a more natural acoustic guitar sound. The M1 Active is an active pickup and doesn't require an external power source or preamp like passive pickups do. Conveniently located volume controls allow for quick volume adjustments, even in a live setting.

D-Tar Wavelength

Like any good acoustic guitar pickup, the Wavelength is designed to amplify your guitar's natural sound. It achieves this through volume and low- and high-frequency trimming controls. For even greater options and control of output, the Wavelength can be modified to include a second magnetic or soundboard transducer pickup. The piezo under-saddle transducer has an 18-volt preamp that helps prevent distortion when playing loud -- something 9-volt piezo preamps often fail to do.

Taylor Expression System

The Taylor Expression System is only available with Taylor acoustic guitars. It's a magnetic pickup system with body and string sensors that act more like microphones than pickups. The result is a natural acoustic guitar sound, not the regular sound of a pickup in a guitar. The design is simple and almost invisible, with only volume, bass and treble controls. If you are in the market for a Taylor acoustic guitar and plan to use it live, consider having the Expression System installed.

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About the Author

Miles Jarvis has been writing since 2009, with expertise in the field of East Asian languages and culture. He earned a B.A. in Chinese studies at the University of Waikato and has also studied at universities in Hong Kong and Japan.