Understanding Acoustic Guitar Pickups: Types, Installation, and Maintenance-:Complete Guide

Are you struggling to make your acoustic guitar sound better? If so, understanding acoustic pickups is the key. This guide will share all the details you need to know, from types and installation to maintenance tips. Unlock the full potential of your acoustic guitar with this comprehensive guide.

Having an acoustic guitar with pickups installed is a great way to give your instrument more tonal options and have more control over your sound. Installing a pickup in your guitar can open up a world of possibilities for your playing; whether you’re going for a more traditional sound or something completely unique, having the ability to plug in can make all the difference.

This comprehensive guide covers the basics of acoustic guitar pickups, including types, installation methods, setup tips, and maintenance techniques. We’ll walk you through the different types of pickups available today and discuss the benefits of having them installed in your instrument. We’ll also discuss installation considerations such as body construction, wood types and durability. Finally, we’ll look at maintenance tips that will help ensure you get optimal performance from your pickups.

Whether you’re looking to give new life to an old guitar or just want to explore some fresh musical avenues with a new one – read on! This comprehensive guide on acoustic guitar pickups will give you all the information you need.

Brief overview of acoustic guitar pickups

Acoustic guitar pickups are designed to amplify the sound of an acoustic guitar. While not a substitute for an electric guitar’s magnetic pickups, acoustic pickups still provide additional volume and tonal range. They allow you to record with your acoustic guitar as well as perform in bigger venues without the need for a microphone setup.

Generally, there are two main types of acoustic pickup: Internal microphones and transducer-style contact pickups. The internal microphone is placed inside the body cavity and picks up sound vibrations from both the strings and top similar to a vocal microphone, providing a warmer, fuller sound. The contact pickup, often referred to as an undersaddle pickup, is much like an electric guitar pickup in that it is installed on or “under” the saddle of the guitar and picks up only vibrations from the strings providing a bright tone at greater volume levels.

Regardless of which type of pickup you choose, installation requires some skill and careful attention; always refer to your manufacturer’s instructions when installing your new pick up. In addition, certain maintenance will be required in order to keep your pick up functioning properly including regular cleaning, checking that all connections are secure, troubleshooting problems related to sound quality or cutting out (especially noticeable with undersaddle models), etc. With proper care you should be able to enjoy playing or recording through your acoustic pick up for many years!

Importance of understanding different types of pickups

The quality of an acoustic guitar’s sound is not only determined by the type of wood used and the shape of the body, but also by the type of pickup installed. Different types of acoustic guitar pickups will produce different sounds and capture different amounts of sound. Understanding this can help you to choose the right pickup for your instrument to get the sound you’re looking for.

Acoustic guitar pickups come in many shapes and sizes, from active humbuckers to microphone pickups, with each type offering a unique tonal character that suits certain styles. Modern electro-acoustic guitars often feature combination systems with several mic/pickup combinations being available on some models.

There are several factors to consider when selecting an acoustic pickup, including feedback resistance, mounting options, preamp compatibility and string spacing. Some manufacturers also offer custom models designed to accommodate specific pickup configurations or manufacturers. Installation is something best left to a professional luthier as it involves complex wiring connections that could damage your instrument if done incorrectly. It is important to use quality components during installation as poor wiring can severely degrade tone quality.

In addition to correct installation of potentiometers/knobs (for controlling volume and tone associated with active pickups) and positioning decision-making, careful maintenance is essential for healthy operation over time; regular cleaning of strings and contact surfaces should be practiced for optimal results. It’s important to always check for loose connections or faulty parts before plugging in your instrument as faulty wiring can have an unpredictable effect on both your tone and volume levels!

Installation of Acoustic Guitar Pickups

Whenever you are installing a pickup on an acoustic guitar, it is important to consider the installation process and the type of pickup you will be using. There are three main types of acoustic guitar pickups–magnetic, internal, and mic-based–all of which require different installation processes. Depending on what type of pickup is being used, details such as positioning or feedback control can affect the sound produced by your acoustic guitar.

Magnetic Pickups: Magnetic pickups are often placed at the soundhole of an acoustic guitar. This is because magnetic pickups respond to disturbances in metal strings, allowing the metal strings to act as antennas for capturing the sound vibrations created by strumming or plucking the strings. It is important to take into account spacing when positioning your magnetic pickup inside the soundhole in order to provide clearance between other components while also providing a good contact point with all six strings at once.

Internal Pickups: Internal pickups are permanently placed within an acoustic guitar’s body and require professional help during installation if you lack experience with woodworking tools. Labeling which components will fit where before beginning installation may eliminate confusion during actual assembly and prevent mistakes in regards to component layout and positioning inside the body cavity. Additionally, some internal pickups require soldering for connection with other elements like jacks or circuit boards; having a good soldering iron is essential for such applications.

Mic-Based Pickups: The final type of pickup that can be used on acoustic guitars utilizes microphones either mixed into a composite unit eith other pickups or as individual units placed near where the fret board joins with sound hole in order to pick up faint noises created from string vibrations that cashmere mics usually miss out on. Placements for microphone-based pickups vary due to use of external powering systems; Some mic setups even employ multiple possibilities for positioning depending changing ambience patterns within unique environments like amphitheaters that might amplify certain frequencies differently versus smaller spaces like recording studios that may require dynamic alterations in order to fit limitations arising from physical barriers present in those locations.

Hiring a professional vs. DIY installation

When it comes to installing acoustic guitar pickups, you have several options. You can hire a professional or go the DIY route. Each option has its own merits and drawbacks, so it’s important to consider what will be the best fit for you and your instrument.

If you choose to hire a professional, they will likely have access to more complex tools, specialized knowledge about pickup installation, and experience working on guitars. Most professionals will offer help with routing (the process of cutting away wood from the guitar), shielding (putting insulating materials around wires and pickups), as well as testing and adjusting the completed system. They may also be able to diagnose any problems that arise during installation or after setup is complete.

On the other hand, if you decide to install acoustic guitar pickups yourself, you can save money in labor costs and potentially get better performance out of your new system due to the control you will have over it. However, if this is your first time taking on such a project, it’s best if you do some research beforehand so that your DIY effort doesn’t end up costing more than necessary in time or money. It’s also important to have the right tools available before starting – we’ll cover those later in this guide. Additionally, depending on the construction of your guitar body, picking a suitable location for soundhole mounting could be tricky due to tight angles or potentially blocked access points.

Before undertaking your project make sure that there is sufficient space at any potential mounting locations so that you don’t cause structural damage while drilling or routing variables into place; otherwise it may be better off leaving this one to a professional luthier who has years of experience handling these delicate situations efficiently!

Step-by-step guide to DIY installation

Installing new pickups in your acoustic guitar may seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. But with a few basic tips and some patience, even a beginner can have the job done in no time. In this step-by-step guide we will show you how to get the job done with ease and confidence.

Before beginning your project, you need to make sure that you have all of the materials and tools necessary for installation. You should always refer to your guitar manufacturer’s instructions when installing your pickups for specific guidance on what parts to buy (such as screws, spacers, nuts, etc.) and to ensure proper installation of the pickup components. Your kit should include at least two mounting rings, two sets of wires (black and white) each set between 15 cm – 50 cm long (depending on kit). Additionally, you will need a variety of hand tools including screwdrivers or “nut drivers” for different sized screws, wire cutters and strippers for handling the wire ends, pliers or small handsaw for any adjustments required holding near parts in place while they are being mounted or adjusted.

When you have everything prepared remember that safety is always of paramount importance so take time to double check exposed elements such as sharp parts that could sever wiring insulation and capacitors that could create high frequency shocks from static electricity created from movement within your work area. If in doubt always use insulated gloves with wooden tools like block sanders etc along with goggles and cover ears where possible when working with loud tools like mini drills etc

Once these steps are complete it’s time to begin installation. Disconnect any wires currently connected to bridge pickup including control module which can be shipped separately related models. Remove strings from guitar body using an appropriate string winder starting from highest pitched string first. Carefully reveal pickup mounting within soundhole checking screw holes are free from obstruction before mounting gently slide new pickup into position aligning screw holes at either end fixing into place using appropriate hardware where necessary finish by safely connecting cables neatly tying off excess strands finishing by connecting power signals return plugging into relevant port found usually on rear side internal access panels ensure all joints are secured reseat control module onto jack plate if applicable carefully threading new strings retuning back up to pitch paying close attention to fret tuning progress further modify sound settings accordingly ensuring intonation needs are rechecked sometimes helpful adjusting saddle positions if necessary test out new sounds enjoying newly installed pickups temporarily leave control modules active until system reset is complete allowing recalibration as per instruction manual finally restring completely re-tune again ready for next playing session.

Precautions to take during installation

When installing pickups into an acoustic guitar, care must be taken to ensure that the entire setup process is done carefully and correctly. While installation may seem straightforward and simple, it requires patience and attention to detail in order to ensure that the pickups work properly. The following precautions should be taken when installing pickups in acoustic guitars:

– Check the installation instructions for your specific pickup type beforehand. Be sure you are familiar with all of the wiring diagrams and step-by-step instructions needed for a successful installation.

-Have all of the necessary tools needed for install events, such as screwdrivers, wire cutters, soldering iron and related materials.

-Choose a suitable pickup mounting location on your guitar – this is a case when size matters! A pickup too large or too small could affect its tone later on.

-Carefully solder or mount the connector/wires necessary at the desired mounting location. Make sure they are secure but not overly tight so as to cause warping of the top or frame of your guitar.

Avoid using Scotch Tape or any other adhesive tape to install pickups – this can make future adjustments more difficult and potentially affects sound quality. Instead use foam blocks to space out if necessary call strings depending On The Pickup style being used.

Take extra time when attaching pickup wires into places like receptacles or behind controls To make sure there Is no Interference with any other parts Or any shorts In these wires.

Maintenance of Acoustic Guitar Pickups

Regular maintenance of acoustic pickup systems is key to ensuring maximum sound quality. Before troubleshooting any pickup issues, it is important to make sure the system is clean, wiring is properly routed, cables are connected securely and all components are tightly screwed in. Here are some simple steps you can take to keep your system in optimal shape:

-Keep pickups clean by wiping them with a damp cloth or compressed air canister.

-Dust off the body of the guitar regularly. To ensure a steady electrical contact on the surface of the pickups, use rubbing alcohol or guitar cleaner on a soft cloth and press down firmly over each pickup while rubbing in a circular motion. This will remove any gunk that has accumulated over time.

-Check wiring for proper routing and insulation. Make sure all connections are secure and no bare wires are visible.

-Securely attach all screws for each component of the acoustic pickup system (jack plate, endpin jack, volume control etc.). This ensures an uninterrupted connection between components so you will have consistent sound output from your guitar.

-Replace worn cables regularly to ensure smooth transmission of electric signals during performance or recording sessions. Invest in high quality cables that feature gilded tips or gold connectors so they won’t corrode over time while ensuring quality sound transmission at all times.

Cleaning the pickups

To make sure that your acoustic guitar pickups remain in good condition, cleaning them regularly is essential. Neglecting to do this may lead to compromised performance; dirt, oil and other grime can accumulate over time causing the pickups to lose power and sound quality.

It’s important to be careful when cleaning the pickups as scratches or dents could permanently damage the material and cause problems with sound quality. To start, use a soft cloth or brush to dislodge dirt particles from the body of your pickups. Then you can use a damp cloth that has been slightly dampened with isopropyl alcohol or warm water, depending on what type of pickups you have. Be sure not to let any moisture come in contact with electrical components like wires or magnets -this could cause a short circuit!

After wiping down each pickup, ensure that the area is fully dry before putting everything back together again. When necessary, clean all exposed surfaces around screw holes and metal parts with an old toothbrush – even small amounts of dust can get trapped in these spots. With regular care and maintenance, your acoustic guitar pickups should sound great for years!

Preventing damage to pickups

In addition to choosing the right type of pickup for your guitar and having it installed correctly, it is important to maintain and protect the pickups in order to ensure their longevity. Regular inspection and cleaning can help you detect any problems early on, ensuring that your acoustic guitar sounds its best at all times.

When not in use, make sure to keep your acoustic guitar in its case or another safe storage space that is free from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and moisture. Exposure to heavy amounts of these elements can cause damage or corrosion to the pickups. If you cannot prevent exposure due to environmental conditions, try using a humidity sensor’s like Dampit or Boveda Humidipak that adjusts the relative humidity inside the case or storage space.

Debris such as dust and finger oils should also be kept away from electric guitar pickups as much as possible since they can lead to build up and further damage. For regular maintenance of pickups, you should use a soft damp cloth every few weeks with some all-purpose cleaning solution before drying off with an absorbent cloth. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, metal polishes or strong solvents which may damage the finish of electrical components.

Troubleshooting common pickup problems

No matter what type of acoustic guitar pickups you are using, each one may require regular maintenance or repair from time to time. Knowing the common issues and understanding how to troubleshoot them can help you address problems before they become major issues.

Common pickup issues include insufficient output, excess noise, and a tone that doesn’t sound right. Insufficient output is often caused by the soldering of the pickup not making proper contact with the wiring. This can be corrected easily by double checking the connections at the input jack. If there is excess noise coming from your pickups while they are engaged, there could be a loose ground connection or a faulty capacitor that needs replacing. Unusual tonal changes can be caused by failure of capacitors while aging wire connections can lead to intermittent signals or unexpected cut outs.

If any of these symptoms occur with an active pickup system, it could also mean that power source batteries need replacement; after all, if your battery doesn’t have enough juice then your active circuitry won’t work properly either! In addition to overall cleaning and straightening out of any contact points in order to ensure maximum current transfer from input jack through wires into connected circuit boards, it’s always beneficial to check for rusting parts or broken solder joint connection that tend to cause subtle sound distortion and unusual tonal qualities over time.


At the end of the day, there is no one best method to choose and install acoustic guitar pickups. Each type of pickup offers unique advantages, and what works for one player may not work for another. Therefore, experimentation is essential when it comes to finding the setup that brings out the most from your guitar.

Additionally, it is important to learn about maintenance and proper care for your acoustic guitar pickups for optimal performance. With a little bit of knowledge about the types of pickups available and some trial and error, you’ll be well on your way to discovering a sound that compliments your music and playing style.


What are the different types of acoustic guitar pickups?

There are several types of acoustic guitar pickups, including piezo pickups, soundhole pickups, undersaddle pickups, and microphonic pickups.

How do you install acoustic guitar pickups?

The installation process for acoustic guitar pickups varies depending on the type of pickup, but generally involves locating the appropriate spot on the guitar body, removing the strings and bridge, making a small incision in the bridge or saddle, and installing the pickup.

What type of pickup is best for acoustic guitar?

The best type of pickup for an acoustic guitar depends on personal preference and the sound you want to achieve. Piezo pickups are generally the most popular, as they produce a clear and natural sound.

How do you maintain guitar pickups?

To maintain guitar pickups, it is important to keep them clean and free of debris, avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures or moisture, and store the guitar properly when not in use.

What are the different types of guitar pickups?

There are several types of guitar pickups, including single-coil pickups, humbucker pickups, P90 pickups, and active pickups.

What is the best type of pickup guitar?

The best type of guitar pickup depends on personal preference and the sound you want to achieve. Single-coil pickups are popular for their clarity and brightness, while humbucker pickups are known for their warmth and versatility.

What are the 3 different acoustic guitar body types?

The three different acoustic guitar body types are the dreadnought, concert, and auditorium. Each body type produces a slightly different sound.

What is the most versatile guitar pickup?

The most versatile guitar pickup is likely the humbucker pickup, as it can produce a wide range of tones and is used in many different styles of music.

What is the difference between types of pickups?

The main differences between types of pickups are the materials and construction used, which can affect the sound and tone produced.

What is passive vs active acoustic guitar pickup?

Passive pickups rely on the guitar’s natural vibrations to produce sound, while active pickups require a battery-powered preamp to amplify the sound signal. Active pickups are known for their clarity and can produce a stronger output, while passive pickups are generally more natural-sounding.

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