It’s true you don’t need to buy expensive gear, but some acoustic guitars can make your playing sound much better.
A pickup in your acoustic guitar is a device that helps amplify the sound of your instrument. It has many benefits that are difficult or impossible to achieve with no pick-up.
So how much does it cost to install a pickup in an acoustic guitar?
It depends on the type of pickup you install:
- Soundhole pickups – the cost is around $100 on average.
- Under-bridge or under saddle pickups – the cost is around $150 on average.
- Preamp with a set of internal microphones – the cost can range from $250 to $500 or more on rare occasions.
The price quote above doesn’t include the installation fee, which can run anywhere from free to several hundred dollars depending on who does it.
- How Much Is A Guitar Pickup Installation?
- Advantages Of Installing An Acoustic Guitar Pickup
- Types of Acoustic Guitar Pickups – Soundhole vs Under Saddle vs Internal Microphone
- Should I Put A Pickup In My Acoustic Guitar?
- Will I Need An Acoustic Guitar Amp?
How Much Is A Guitar Pickup Installation?
Rule of thumb – the cost of installation is about the same as the price of the acoustic guitar pickup.
Like any other products, some guitar pickups are more expensive than others. Likewise, some pickups are easy to install while others aren’t. For example, installing an under-bridge or under-saddle acoustic guitar is always more expensive than installing a soundhole pickup.
The price of installation can vary, so it’s hard to give standard costs on this one.
Advantages Of Installing An Acoustic Guitar Pickup
- You can hear yourself better (practice more and get better!)
- More and better tonal variety (more chords and leads)
- More notes per string (higher pitched strings) [easier to play on the 12th fret]
- More dynamic range [easier to play on the 12th fret]
- It’s a lot less expensive than buying a new acoustic electric guitar [mostly] – you get a lot of guitar for little money.
Types of Acoustic Guitar Pickups – Soundhole vs Under Saddle vs Internal Microphone
For me, I prefer soundhole pickups because they are very easy to install and sound great! Also, if I want to see my acoustic guitar but keep the pickup, I can easily remove it.
A soundhole pickup is one that attaches by inserting the sensor under the guitar strings inside the soundhole.
They are the most economical and very easy to install yourself. They also sound great and give you great sound for this price point.
Soundhole pickups are the best way to go if you want to install a pickup yourself quickly and easily.
If you are looking to purchase a soundhole pickup, I would recommend the Fishman Neo-Buster. It is one of the best soundhole pickups for the money.
Under Saddle Pickups
Under saddle acoustic pickups are ones that go under the saddle, usually clipping to one or both of the bridge pins. They are also called endpin pickups (the sensor slides in an endpin hole).
They are the next cheapest and easiest to install yourself. They sound good and work well.
Under saddle pickups are a great choice if you want your pickup to be hidden and still want good sound quality.
If you are looking at getting yourself one of these, I recommend the LR Baggs Element Active System. It has the best sound quality and value for the money. It is an active pickup so it needs a battery but battery like is in the 1000 hour range.
Internal Microphone Pickups
Internal microphone pickups are ones that have the electronics inside the body. They are usually battery powered.
The acoustic sound is very good but it will cost you a lot more to get one installed.
If you are looking into getting one of these, I recommend the LR Baggs Anthem Active system that runs off a rechargeable lithium ion battery. You need to re-charge it about once or twice per year. It has great sound quality and sounds amazing when paired with external monitors (like in church).
Should I Put A Pickup In My Acoustic Guitar?
There are many factors to consider when evaluating whether or not to use a pickup in your acoustic guitar. They include:
- Sound Quality – Acoustic guitars are designed with specific acoustic characteristics that are different from electric guitars, so when installing a pickup onto an acoustic guitar, it needs to be adapted appropriately.
- Versatility – The versatility of the pickup is another thing to think about. Are you thinking of using it for recording or live performance? How often will you be using it?
- How much are you willing to spend? – All the options are available in a range of price points. You can get one for under $100 to over $1000. You can even get full set-ups with preamps, internal microphones, and built in effects.
- How do you envision using the guitar? – Do you envision yourself using it as a practice guitar or for performance? Maybe you want to use it during recording or live performance.
- Is this an acoustic that will benefit from a pickup? – Acoustic guitars are typically designed without pickups because they are used for pure acoustic playing situations.
Will I Need An Acoustic Guitar Amp?
Once you install the pickup, you will need an amplifier to produce the sound and natural tone. Again, there are lots of options.
You can buy a small amp and mic it directly, but it will be much louder than you would like and may distort the sound. It may also be very difficult to control the volume as you increase the gain.
You can go with a small combo amplifier which is loud enough, but it will need to be amplified if you want professional quality recordings.
If you are using your guitar for recording, get a large heavy duty combo or an acoustic amp which is very loud for recording.
I would recommend taking a look at our article on the best acoustic guitar amplifiers if you are in the market for one.
If you have been thinking about installing a pickup in your acoustic guitar, I hope this article has helped you. It’s a good idea to have a good understanding of your options before you go ahead and get one installed. You can get them installed for free or for a lot of money depending on who does the work.
Otherwise, you can also save some work and get yourself a good acoustic electric guitar instead.