12 Best Guitar Pickups in 2018
The effect that a high-quality pickup can have on your guitar’s sound is so underrated that many beginner players never consider them to be too important.
Your guitar, the amp, and the pickup are the three components that make up the sound, and they are all equally crucial.
For those starting out, it can be a whole confusing world of complicated terminology, and this often leads to players purchasing a low-quality pickup and wasting their money.
We have crafted this straightforward guide and listed the very best guitar pickups on the market today.
Top 12 Guitar Pickups Comparison Chart
|Design||Name||Placement||Electric or Acoustic||Rating (1-5)|
|1. K&K Pure Mini||On the inside of the bridge.||Acoustic||4.8|
|2. SUNYIN Transducer Acoustic Guitar Pickup||Sound hole.||Acoustic||4.4|
|3. Musiclily Dual Hot Rail Blaster Humbucker Guitar Pickups||Bridge.||Electric||4.4|
|4. Fishman Neo-D Passive Magnetic Soundhole Pickup||Sound hole.||Acoustic||4.3|
|5. Lowpricenice 1set of 2 Zebra Faced Humbucker Double Coil Pickups Electric Guitar||Bridge.||Electric||4.2|
|6. Seymour Duncan 1150030 Woody Series||Sound hole.||Acoustic||4.1|
|7. Moozikpro Acoustic Guitar Pickup||Sound hole clip.||Acoustic||4.1|
|8. HDE Guitar Pickup Acoustic / Electric Transducer||Sound hole clip.||Acoustic||4.1|
|9. Kmise 1set Humbucker Pickup Gold||Bridge.||Electric||3.9|
|10. Cherub WCP-60G Acoustic Guitar Pickup||Sound hole clip.||Acoustic||3.9|
|11. Neewer 12 Hole Sound Pickup Acoustic/Electric Transducer Microphone Wire Amplifier Speaker||Sound hole clip.||Acoustic||3.8|
|12. AXL Acoustic Guitar Transducer Pickup||External attachment.||Acoustic||3.4|
Guaranteeing Crystal Clear Sound
As you enter into the world of the best guitar pickups, you will immediately notice there is a lot more variety than you might first imagine. This is due to the various advantages and disadvantages to where a pickup is placed.
A guitar pickup works by transforming vibrations into electrical signals that can then be passed along cables and into an amp. There is no absolutely “ideal” placement for the pickup, and therefore the product has developed into several different styles.
This guide will look at these differences in detail and assist you in making an informed decision about which guitar pickup is right for you.
Electric or Acoustic
You will be able to see on our list that we have included a range of pickups that are for acoustic guitars and three options for electric guitars. Here we will briefly look at the difference for those that are new to the world of pickups.
- Acoustic – If you want to amplify the sound of your acoustic instrument then you will need to transform it into an electrical signal, and this is where a pickup comes in. As you can see, most of the products on our list are for acoustic guitars, but they come in a range of designs, which we will look at in more detail later in this guide.
- Electric – An electric guitar requires a pickup, and ready-built models come with pickups attached. Often, however, the pickup is not the greatest quality and should be replaced. We have included our favorite electric pickups for those that are looking at upgrading their existing guitar.
It Is All About the Placement
Of course, it isn’t as simple as choosing between acoustic and electric pickups; you also need to choose where the best placement will be on your guitar. We have included a wide variety on our list, and here we will go into more detail:
- Bridge – All of our electrical options are attached to the bridge of the guitar. Some of these products can also be attached to the neck, but you have to make sure the output is enough to be detectable to the pickup.
There is one major difference to note with bridge pickups. Most of those on our list are designed to go on the outside of the guitar. The very best product on our list, however, is actually placed inside the guitar to get an ideal placement for the vibrations of the strings.
- Sound Hole – This is designed only for acoustic guitars, as electric options do not come with sound holes. It will be attached directly next to or clipped onto the sound hole to be in the perfect position for detecting vibrations.
- External – We have included one product on our list that is designed to be placed anywhere on the exterior of the guitar; this provides the user with much more flexibility, and the pickup can be transferred between a range of acoustic instruments.
Not only do the pickups vary in where they should be placed, but they also have different attachment methods. While the electric pickups will need to be installed and fixed directly to the guitar, many of the acoustic models are designed to come off and on.
If you are opting for a stick on or clip on pickup, then it is important to consult expert reviews to see how sturdy the product is; this is especially true if you are going to be using the pickup during a gig, as you don’t want the pickup popping off halfway through a show.
Top 5 Best Guitar Pickups Reviews
The K&K Pure Mini guitar pickup is specifically designed to be used with steel string guitars. This mechanism is pre-wired and therefore requires no soldering or any additional handiwork. You can almost start recording or amplifying your guitar immediately. It is possible to install this pickup on your own, but with a more expensive guitar, professional assistance is always recommended.
It is possible to temporarily install this pickup with the double-sided tape that is included but this does have a negative effect on the sound quality. With just a temporary fix, it is not able to pick up the full tone of the guitar.
It should also be noted that this is a transducer-only system that doesn’t require a battery and has no electronics to look out for. The way this pickup works means that it doesn’t need the electronics or a pre-amp. It is simply able to accurately and clearly sense sounds.
The SUNYIN Transducer is one of the easiest pickups to install. You simply need to use the self-adhesive backing and attached the mechanism near the sound hole. This is not a permanent installation as the pickup can be added and removed multiple times without causing any damage to your instrument.
This is one of the most versatile options on the market as it is removable as well as usable for a wide range of string instruments, including acoustic and classic guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, cello and more. Regardless of the instrument, you get clear sound without any squeal feedback noise.
It is recommended that you install this pickup near the sound hole, but it can be adjusted and placed to your preferences in the sound that is being produced. There is also a microphone pickup feature with volume control as well as interference technology for a better overall experience.
The Musiclily Dual Hot Rail Blaster is a high output pickup that can be placed anywhere and take on sound clearly, though it is best placed in the bridge. For such a low price, the quality and the output is surprising in such a pleasant way.
Both in sound and in the way your guitar looks, you will notice a difference when you use this pickup. The sleeker look of the pickup suits many of the vintage-style guitars and installation isn’t difficult for anyone that works with guitars often.
This pickup is particularly suited for hard rock as well as heavier tones. With the higher output that you get, you can even take a lesser quality guitar and increase the sound quality and the richness of the tones produced. The roundness of the sound will fill any space and make you feel like you are playing on the most expensive instrument.
Getting the clearest and truest sound whenever you plug into an amp or a recording device is the aim of the Fishman Neo-D Passive pickup. It is a sound hole pickup, which helps to get the highest quality sound from the instrument. The acoustic clarity is something that makes this one of the best guitar pickups available.
It is not the most expensive pickup on the market or the cheapest either. It is high quality without being overpriced and is durable enough to stand the test of time too.
It should be noted that this pickup comes with cork spacers to keep the surface of your instrument protected from the pickup itself; this can be something that is too thick for some guitars to have installed over the sound hole and under the strings. It is easy to remove the cork spacers if necessary as you still get the perfect pickup in the end.
The Kmise Zebra Faced Double Coil is perfectly suited for an electric guitar. This pickup can be installed new, but it makes for an ideal replacement when you want to enhance sound even more. The rich tone you hear coming from your instrument and your amp will make you realize what an incredibly worthwhile upgrade you have made.
The tones are perfect for blues and jazz music when positioned at the neck and are more suited for rock and metal music when at the bridge of the guitar. This versatility means that a huge range of musicians, playing in different styles, can enjoy the same range of affordability.
Considering the price, you could not find a more affordable and high-quality pickup than this. The mechanism makes your tone sound even better than the original, and the pickup itself is easy to install and maintain.
Always Seek Professional Assistance
One of the main things to keep in mind when choosing a pickup is that they aren’t all straightforward clip on models. Many of the products included on our list require a professional to install them. This means you need to keep in mind the additional cost of hiring this person.
While some of the pickups look simple enough to install, if you are at all unsure it is better to hire a professional than risk placing the pickup yourself; this will also ensure you get the absolute best possible sound from the pickup and you don’t damage your guitar in the process.