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Choosing an Acoustic Guitar Pickup

OK.  So you would like to amplify your acoustic guitar, but you're confused with all the choices out there right?  Well chances are you're not the only one ;).   Acoustic guitar pickups can generally be broken down into 3 types:


  • Soundhole pickups
  • Soundboard transducers
  • Undersaddle transducers

There are some important factors to consider when choosing between these types... they are:

  • What style of music do you play?  Fingerstyle? Strumming? Flatpicking?  
  • Do you play solo?  In a duo?  Part of a loud rock band?
  • Will you primarily be using this pickup live onstage, or in the studio? 

Also, the specific dimensions and design of your acoustic guitar may influence which types of acoustic guitar pickup will work for you.  Things like soundhole size and saddle design (glued in or drop-in) will influence your decision.

So you're thinking, that's great, but what do they sound like???   Relax :)  Here's the short version:

Soundhole pickups:  click here to view pickups
PROS: Easy to install (and uninstall) yourself with no modification to your guitar... a big plus if you want to use one pickup for several guitars. 
CONS:  These sound more "electric" than most other acoustic guitar pickups, and they change the look of your guitar.

Soundboard Transducers:  click here to view pickups
The most natural sounding of the 3 acoustic guitar pickup types.  They listen to the vibration of the bridgeplate, which sounds alot like a mic'd guitar. 
PROS: Authentic sound - your amplified tone is very similar to its unplugged tone. 
CONS:  These are more prone to feedback problems, and if you're playing in a noisy bar, their round warm tone can quickly start to sound muddy and dull.  Not the best choice for a loud rock band.

Undersaddle Transducers:  click here to view pickups
These are the most common type.  They sense the immediate vibration of the strings through the saddle, and sound more acoustic than most soundhole pickups. 
PROS: Pretty natural sound, and invisible installation.  Awesome for fingerstyle or moderate strumming. 
CONS: If you have a strong attack and you play with a heavy pick, this type of pickup can produce a "quacking" sound, which can be very annoying. 


OK Maury, what do YOU play?


All of 'em!  No, really.  I constantly change back and forth from pup to pup so I can always give an educated answer to these types of questions.  All of the pickups we sell are very good, or we would not sell them.  Its that simple.  There are many reasons to choose one over the other, and its hard to say what's best for you without knowing more about your situation. I do a 50/50 mix of fingerstyle and strumming, and I'm currently gigging with a Trance Audio Amulet M in my OM-28V.  Drop me an e-mail or give me a call anytime and I'll be happy to guide you towards the right pickup for you.


Maury Rutch

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