Can You Put A Pickup On An Acoustic Guitar?


Many players are wondering whether it is possible to put a pickup on an acoustic guitar. And if you already own an acoustic guitar without a pickup, it is a nice way to upgrade it and improve its versatility. 

So, can you put a pickup? The short answer is yes. It is possible to add a pickup to an acoustic guitar, and there are several ways you can approach the situation. Based on the pickup of your choice, the installation process might be complex, but it is still something you can achieve. 

Before you go any further, you will need to know about the different types of pickups available for acoustic guitars, the installation process, and all the differences it will make for sound and playability. 

Are Acoustic And Electric Guitar Pickups The Same?

Acoustic and electric guitar pickups are not the same. And the main difference is in the way they work. With electric guitars, the pickup is magnetic, and it is designed to register changes in the magnetic field. Whenever you pluck a string, it will register the disturbance, and it will create a small electrical current you can further amplify. 

In the majority of cases, acoustic guitars will have piezo or piezoelectric pickups. The idea behind them is to “capture” the natural resonance guitar already has. As a result, you won’t be able to use the standard magnetic pickups you’d use on an electric guitar. 

It is also worth mentioning that there are different types of pickups available, and this includes both acoustic and electric guitars. But even if we talk about active pickups for an electric guitar, the basic idea is the same. 

Types Of Acoustic Guitar Pickups

Generally speaking, there are three different types of pickups for acoustic guitars. Or rather, three different ways you can amplify the sound. Each of these methods can be a great option, and it comes down to your personal preference. 

You can get: 

  • Magnetic pickup
  • Piezo pickup
  • Microphone

Magnetic pickup will work in a similar way to those found in electric guitars, and it will create a warm tone. Piezo pickups, on the other hand, are transducer pickups, and they transform vibrations within the soundbox. 

These vibrations are then converted into a small electrical current, and it is further amplified. People often describe piezo pickups as bright and articulate, and it is one of the most popular options for acoustic guitars. 

Finally, a microphone is the simplest way to amplify the sound of your guitar, and the idea is pretty straightforward. The microphone will pick up the sound, and you will be able to use it any way you want. 

The only downside is that this method can often produce feedback, and you can’t just put them anywhere. 

How To Put A Pickup On An Acoustic Guitar?

Naturally, the installation method will be based on the type of pickup you choose to put in your guitar. The most common acoustic guitar pickups will have an undersaddle pickup, endpin socket (for the cable), and so on.

The first thing you will need to do is measure the width of the bridge saddle. This is important because the size should match it, and to keep everything working properly. The next thing on the list would be to drill a hole in the saddle where the cable would go. 

In the majority of cases, the hole is on the low E side. After that, you will need to drill another hole for the output, and it is usually on the side where the strap button is. Once the pin is in its place, you can put the pickup underneath the saddle, and add the control unit. 

Usually, the control unit has adhesive tape, and if there is a battery, you will need to place it as well. And while it might sound too complex, the process is quite simple. It is something you will be able to do on your own, especially if you have experience with similar modifications. 

As for magnetic pickups, the installation process is even simpler. The soundhole pickups are easily placed over the soundhole, and you can choose whether you want the cable to go through the tail block or just place it on the outside of the guitar. 

Unfortunately, this means that you will need to drill a hole in the guitar in the majority of cases. Unless you go for a simple soundhole pickup that can be mounted on the guitar without drilling, you will need to do some work. 

How Much Will Installing A Pickup Cost?

What many players would want to know is the overall cost of the installation. For many, the budget will play an important role in the decision, and you will need to prepare accordingly. Needless to say, your location will be the main factor in the price. 

The first thing to know is that pickups can cost between $40 and over $200. And it’s mostly based on the type and brand you choose. For example, L.R. Braggs or Fishman will be close to $200 if you go for the magnetic type. 

Transducers are usually the cheapest, and they can be around $50. The next thing on the list is the installation. If you plan on doing it on your own, you won’t have any additional expenses since everything you will need for the installation is included in the package. 

But if you plan on letting a professional do it, you might need to pay between $75 and $150 for the installation. 

Why Should You Install A Pickup On Your Guitar?

If you are wondering why anyone would install a pickup in their acoustic guitar in the first place, the answer is quite simple. It allows the player to perform on a stage or use amplifiers. It is as simple as that. 

Those that plan on performing live would find it rather challenging to play without a pickup system, and this is the simplest way to keep the rich tone of the guitar while allowing your audience to hear everything. 

Of course, those that don’t plan on using an amplifier and playing live have no reason to install a pickup in the first place. It is also worth mentioning that installing a pickup won’t increase the value of the guitar, but it will improve its versatility and utility. 

So, the question of whether you should install a pickup or not is highly subjective. And it is a question only you can answer. 

The Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups You Can Get

If installing a pickup system on your guitar sounds exciting, and it is something you want to do, there are plenty of different models you can find. As mentioned earlier, there are different types of pickups you can buy, and the first thing you should do is decide the type and your budget. 

After that, finding a perfect pickup for you shouldn’t be an issue. 

Fishman Rare Earth Mic Blend

Fishman Rare Earth Mic Blend Magnetic Soundhole with Mic Acoustic...
  • Acoustic Guitar Pickup System with Humbucking Pickup Internal Microphone
  • Microphone bass extension/roll-off switch
  • Active electronics and neodymium magnet structure for exceptional string...
  • Easy installation with no alteration

While the price is a bit higher than you’d expect, it is one of the best pickups you can find today. For years now, Fishman has been dominating the acoustic guitar pickup market, and you can’t go wrong if you choose this brand. 

This type here is Rare Earth Blend, and it is a magnetic pickup. Installing it is quite simple, and all you’ll need to do is tighten the screws once you place it on the soundhole. And you can choose whether you want to drill a hole for the cable or just tape it to the side of the guitar. 

K&K Pure Mini

K&K Pure Mini Acoustic Guitar Pickup
  • Pickup with 3 piezo heads
  • Frequency Response Ideal for Acoustic Guitar

K&K Pure Mini is a transducer system, it’s easy to install, and the quality is quite impressive. If you dislike the looks or sound of the magnetic pickups, this might be a great alternative. One of the best things about this model is that everything is pre-wired. 

You won’t need to solder anything, and all you need to do is place the pickup inside of your guitar. 

Fishman AG-094

Fishman AG-094 Passive 6-string Acoustic Undersaddle Pickup - Narrow...
  • Acoustic Piezo Crystal Passive Under-saddle Pickup - Narrow Fmat
  • Fishman’s piezo crystal passive undersaddle guitar pickup
  • Available in a variety of widths and string
  • Available in a variety of widths and string spacing's

Fishman also offers undersaddle pickups you can check out as well, and AG-094 is a perfect example of what this company has to offer. The package includes a piezo pickup that’s placed under the saddle, and you will get an output you can place on the tail block.

While it requires you to drill a few holes in the guitar, it is one of the best options you can find today. 

Conclusion

Installing a pickup on your guitar is one of the simplest ways to allow yourself to play using an amplifier. And this will make it possible for you to perform live in front of the audience. So, installing a pickup on an acoustic guitar is more than possible. 

There are many different types of pickups you can find today, and this will affect the overall price of the upgrade. You will need to choose the model and brand you like and consider whether you want to install it on your own or pay for the service. 

Either way, it will make your guitar more versatile and allow you to easily plug it into the amp and perform live. 

If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Guitar board.

Last update on 2024-05-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Jacob

I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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