Seymour knows about tone. But not just about tone coming from several Marshall stacks in front of chia-haired rockers. Besides specializing in the perfect sound for electric guitars for over 40 years, Seymour Duncan knows how to get the perfect acoustic tone for your live performances and recordings. Despite not being as well-known as his electric pickups, there is a full line of acoustic pickups that will give you the power to be heard on stage and in the studio. Even if your favorite acoustic already has a factory pickup, you might just want to read through this article, as the current Seymour Duncan line has something to make your acoustic guitar sound, well…more acoustic-er*.
*This is not a word. Until now. TM Dave Industries.
I like my acoustic guitar. Why do I need a pickup?
Yeah, I like mine too. For some people, an acoustic guitar is all they need. Many guitarists never perform, or intend to record. But with it being so easy, these days, why not? Even if no one ever hears it, or the open mike in your town consists of 40-something women reading from their 7th grade journal, your music (or your cover tunes) deserve to be heard. To do that, we have to get the sound out of the guitar and to the ears of the audience. Recordings are fun to do, and you don’t need a pile of gold to pay for amazing microphones to get your acoustic guitars onto the hard disk. I have heard great players playing excellent guitars with terrible factory-installed pickups which give them paper-thin, quacky, compressed tone. None of those adjectives sound very appealing, and this is why Seymour is here to help. If you are ready to do something about that acoustic tone of yours, the first stop is Seymour’s Guide to Choosing an Acoustic Guitar Pickup.
What about a microphone?
Good microphones are an amazing thing. They are also expensive, rare, fragile and a pain to set up live due to feedback issues. Sure, if you have all day for a sound check, and always play performing arts centers (that is, no one reading this), microphones are fine live. But for the rest of us, it is time to make a choice to sound better.
The Woody series of pickups may be the easiest path to acoustic bliss, and a wonderful solution for those that don’t need a pickup professionally installed. This pickup pops right in any sound hole from 3.85 to 4.10 inches, and is completely passive. That means you don’t need a battery, and it is ready to plug right into an acoustic amp or mixer. Each pickup in the Woody line is available in 3 different wood finishes, and comes with an attached 14 foot cable.
The Woody HC SA-3HC is the hum-cancelling version. This pickup is recommended for brighter sounding guitars, although it will be an improvement in most factory pickups. You get no 60-cycle hum, with great sound whether you are strumming or fingerpicking. Like all Woody-series pickups, they are small enough to keep in your case when you don’t need it, and easy to attach when you do.
The Woody SC SA-3SC is the single-coil version of the Woody HC, and is ideal for warmer sounding instruments. It has a clean and clear sound ideal for when extra articulation is needed.
The Woody XL SA-3XL is a hum-cancelling pickup, with the added bonus of adjustable polepieces. If you are particular about string-to-string balance, or use many unusual tunings and string gauges, this pickup is for you. Like the other Woody pickups, you can choose the color to match your guitar.
Want to read how easy it is to install the Woody? Check out the manual for all versions here.
Acoustic Tube SA-1
The Acoustic Tube SA-1 ups the ante by adding a volume control on the pickup itself. It has a hum-cancelling stack design borrowed from Seymour’s years of designing silent Strat pickups, and matches it to a short cable which ends in a female jack. This allows any length of cable, and even semi-permanent installations if you add a jack. The Acoustic Tube is ready to plug directly into a mixer or acoustic amplifier, and will reject feedback so well that you can have your amp or PA up loud enough for the audience to feel.
Mag Mic SA-6
When you want the best soundhole pickup you can buy, your search ends with the Mag Mic. This pickup blends a traditional sound hole pickup with an omni-directional condenser microphone picking up the ambient sounds of the strings and wood. It includes a blend knob to add as much or as little of the microphone’s sound to the pickup itself. Ideal for subtle players (kinda like me) as well as those that beat their acoustics into submission, the Mag Mic even tackles intentional overdrive and feedback with ease. It is the pickup-of-choice for many tappers & those who love new rhythmic techniques with non-standard tunings as well. The pickup can hear the slaps, pops & knocks on the body much better than a single-source pickup can.
D-Tar Wave-Length Multi-Source
The Multi-Source is a collaboration between Seymour Duncan and luthier Rick Turner. The D-Tar brand was created with the best reproduction of an acoustic instrument in mind, and with approaching 100 years of experience, D-Tar was born.
The Multi-Source combines an under-saddle pickup with a condenser microphone, and couples those to an 18 volt preamp. Designed for installation in your guitar, this anti-feedback pickup allows you to blend as much or as little of the microphone in with the pickup, all within easy reach of the player by means of soundhole-mounted controls. There is a separate model for steel- or nylon-strings, and the whole thing is easily powered by 2 AA batteries. The Multi-Source is the ultimate in onboard acoustic tone.
D-Tar Mama Bear
The Mama Bear is not a pickup, but a special preamp that will make any acoustic instrument sound better. Its advanced circuitry can make an inexpensive guitar sound richer, and an expensive guitar to sound more like it should. You set the Input Source to the type of guitar you are playing, and the Target knob to what you want it to sound like. Of course it includes an XLR out, wet/dry blend knob, ground lift, a phase switch, and more. I really put it through its paces in a recent article, and I was amazed at how wonderful it even made the piezo pickup of my solidbody sound. For live or recorded acoustic sounds, it really replaces the microphone as a way of capturing the sound of an acoustic guitar.
What kind of acoustic guitar do you have? Are you happy with your live acoustic tone?