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Acoustic Guitar Pickups

Written by Bill on March 28, 2013 – 9:55 am -

Comp Pics 107There’s been incredible technological advancements in acoustic guitar amplification over the years.  I’m constantly asked what type of pickups I use in my guitars and while I don’t believe that one particular type is the best, I’d like to share what works for me and my application.  I’m by no means a ‘purist’ when trying to replicate the exact acoustic tone of the instrument, but rather, I’m going for an ‘acoustic-on-steroids’ tone. I find that a magnetic pickup in the sound hole, along with a contact transducer inside the guitar on the bridge plate, is the best fit for what tone I’m trying to achieve. A magnetic pickup in the sound hole gets more of the sound of the strings and has an ‘in-your-face” attack to the timbre of the note when struck.  The magnetic pickup doesn’t really reproduce the sound of the guitar body and are great choices for high-volume band situations, as they don’t tend to feed back when pushed hard. Magnetic pickups also produce more low-end bass response. They are great if you tune down to pitches that are lower than the body cavity of the guitar. Bridge plate transducers, on the other hand, have a great ‘microphone-like’ quality and have a three-dimensional sound that picks up all the nuances of the instrument.  If your into percussive tapping and slapping, bridge plate transducers will help at reproducing these sounds.  When running this dual set-up live, I tend to use the magnetic pickup for my low-end and the bridge transducer for my mid’s and high’s. E.Q. settings vary room to room, but generally I e.q. the magnetic pickup with a slight boost between 60-80 Hrtz and a mild notch at 400 Hrtz. For the transducer, I notch everything from about 150 Hrtz, and down, completely out of the mix.  If I need more low-end, I turn up the volume of the magnetic and if I need more high-end, I turn up the volume of the transducer rather than use the e.q. from the input strip of the mixer channel.  By the way, I start with the e.q. from the mixing console set flat with no low-cut filter engaged.  If there are feedback nodes or low-end problems after getting the pickup mix set right, I then use the mixer e.q. to set the mix for the room. Hope this helps!


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