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School me on soundhole pickups for acoustic!



I play in a band with some friends - nothing serious - parties etc. But good fun! So far I'm just using my electric straight into my crunchy amp, unmiked, which has been fine. I roll back the volume to almost clean.

But I'd like to do just a couple of songs with clean acoustic strumming. I have an acoustic with no electronics and no acoustic amp. I need to plug straight into our mixer.

I want a pickup I can easily remove (I'm not going to mod this guitar), and which is cheap! I'm talking ideally around $50-60. There are a few options in this range from Fishman, SD, LR Baggs etc. I have no problem taping the lead to the front of the guitar while we play.

I know almost nothing about soundhole pickups. I don't need it to be a perfect represention of my unplugged tone - just something which sounds more clean, jangly and acoustic-ish than my electric!

Questions: can I get away with a passive pickup? Are there any models/brands to look at or avoid? Can I even get something semi-decent at this price?

Also, I may have problems mounting it inside the soundhole. On my guitar, the top is double-thickness around the inside edge of the soundhole - a little over 1/4" thick. I don't know if this will work with all pickups?

Any help very very welcome - you can probably tell I'm a bit lost here... :)



Gold Supporting Member
I wanted a sound-hole pickup for my beloved Taylor. I researched endlessly going back and forth between this and spending $300 on a dual-mic system. I ended up buying the LR Baggs M1 Acoustic Pickup:


I have to say that I've been very impressed. I wired it through the end pin which is pre-cut on a Taylor, and I can easily remove it from the hole leaving the wire in the body. You have to use the tie-down for the cable inside the body or it will resonate, but that's easy to do.

It uses a battery but it's easy to replace. It has a volume adjustment that's easy to reach. I'm very happy with the tone.


You probably can get away with a passive pickup, you might need a preamp pedal though. If you want to not mod your guitar (?), and have something that cheap, I'm not sure if you can find something that has no feedback or anything. If you do feel like a little DIY project, look up some GraphTech ghost saddles. They do require a preamp, but they can be passive, but you could use an external preamp. They sound shockingly like an acoustic. Piezo saddles are a beast.


Silver Supporting Member
I'm with GAD on the Baggs sound hole pickup, but I use the M1-A active version. And it goes either straight into the PA or into my Fishman Loudbox Mini. The sound is heavenly with a good guitar. Feedback with my setup doesn't seem to be an issue. Way above your $50 to $60 budget though - at that level I think you're going to be kind of stuck with something like a Seymour Duncan Woody. I had one and they're not terrible but they don't really sound like a natural acoustic, and you might have feedback problems. Good luck.
In my limited experience soundhole pickups sound closer to clean electric than an acoustic. I tried a Fishman of some sort and wasn't impressed. Use a mic, find the right spot and stand very, very still!


I like the Fishman Rare Earth single coil a lot. I also use an old Lawrence sound hole pickup I got off eBay for short money. Both of these sound great, but in a band setting, I think feedback would be an issue. I use them for fingerpicking and don't have that problem.


In my limited experience soundhole pickups sound closer to clean electric than an acoustic. I tried a Fishman of some sort and wasn't impressed. Use a mic, find the right spot and stand very, very still!
This is because they are mag pups. They do not sense the acoustic sound but rather the frequencies of strings set in motion. Read the literature put out by the makers. Baggs ad-paper for the M1 begins "for people who want a big acoustic sound" but doesn't say "for people who want their acoustic sound to sound big" for that reason. Soundhole mags are acoustic modelers. Strap one to a body made of any material you can think of and it will sound the same. Baggs states that they use an additional coil to sense the soundboard movement to ad a sampling of your guitar. If that doesn't convince you they're modelers, fundamentals of reading comprehension are your next best step.

Mags are mags and Piezo is Piezo. Both don't really offer the sound of you guitar and never will. A good mic out front will. I have a couple systems in use now and will not ever tell anyone they replicate the sound of my guitars because they don't. They do sound acoustic-like, but not in the sense of replication. I have the K&K system in a Goodall RCJC, the LR Baggs dual system of UST and condenser in a Breedlove Custom OM. Though they do get the sound out, the sounds are not the natural acoustic sounds either guitar. I use these through a wireless system because I like to stand and move when I play, and because the audience doesn't give a rat's whisker what my guitars sound like.

Like the stretcher of limb-challenged reptiles says, use a good mic and be still if you're looking to replicate your guitars.

Cal Webway

Adjustable poles are real important, I found. The B, and hi E can really dominate.

Now... Adjustable Czechs may be a misnomer, esp if you read Kafka




OK, some good info. Thanks.

I'd rather spend more on a pickup and not have to buy a separate preamp.

Standing in front of a mic - actually pretty obvious (and free!). Does this work OK as long as I don't move?

What are the transducer mics like? Something like these?

Last question: would I be better saving and buying a cheap acoustic with built-in pickup and preamp? A $300-400 Yamaha or cheap Breedlove or something like that?

Thanks again.

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