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Choosing Pickup

Choosing the perfect pickup for your guitar.

In depth guide

For 25 years, Emerald Guitars has delivered unrivaled combinations of acoustic and electric pickups in our instruments.

We source our pickups from the finest manufacturers, and work closely with our customers to provide a suite of options to meet the demands of players across the board.

From jamming at home to studio recording to live performances of any size, Emerald has the perfect pickup options for your instrument, whether acoustic, electric or in-between. 

Carbon Fiber guitar

Emerald’s Acoustic Pickups: A Whole New Sonic World

Since their inception nearly 100 years ago – and particularly in the last 20 years – the reliability, tone and practicality of pickups for acoustic instruments has improved no-end. Today, there’s a host of options available to suit different applications and playing styles.

The acoustic player now also has access to a wide range of acoustic-specific FX pedals and processors, offering a new set of sonic choices previously only available to electric guitar players.

 

When choosing an acoustic guitar pickup, even if you don’t regularly perform in public, it’s still an asset that can deliver a whole new world of possibilities.

 Whether you’re plugging into external FX pedals to jam with friends, or record in live situations or noisy environments, the sonic options are immense. 

 

Let’s take a look at the range of acoustic pickups Emerald has on offer…

acoustic pickups

LR Baggs Element – LR Baggs are one of the leading manufacturers of guitar pickups, preamps and pedals for the acoustic player.

The Element from LR Baggs is their flagship undersaddle piezo pickup. 

It consists of a pickup strip placed underneath the saddle on the bridge of the guitar to transfer the sound from the point of contact on the bridge and an onboard preamp with quick-access rotary controls located on the soundhole.

The Element is a great choice for those looking for plenty of stage volume with the least chance for feedback. 

The undersaddle pickup gives lots of thick mids and bass response, perfect for solo musicians to fill out their sound with a powerful full-spectrum tone, or for those who need to cut through a band mix with plenty of power. 

The onboard tone and volume controls are accessible via built-in control wheels mounted in the upper soundhole, allowing for quick and effortless mid-performance adjustments.

Available on: X7, X10, X20 and X30 ranges, Amicus. 

Graphtech ghost piezo

Graphtech ghost piezo 

The ghost piezo system consists of six adjustable saddles with individual piezo pickups.

These saddles allow for fully adjustable height and intonation on each string.

And whether you’re playing solo or with an ensemble, they give you that great plugged-in piezo sound with plenty of power on-stage to boot.

The saddles provide a familiarity for anyone used to playing on “S” or “T” style guitars so there’s no need to change your playing style when moving from your electric. 

So, you get the classic piezo acoustic sound with the playability and familiarity of an electric guitar – perfect if you’re already used to adjustable saddles.

 

Available on: Acoustic guitars and basses, Virtuo.

K & K Pure Mini 

The Pure Mini from K&K is a player favorite for its natural tone and responsive dynamics.

The Pure Mini comprises a set of soundboard transducer contact pickups fitted to the underside of the soundboard.

 This picks up the vibrations from the top of the guitar and reflects the overall sound of the soundboard, rather than just the contact point of the strings like with a traditional piezo pickup. 

The Pure Mini pickup’s position on the bridge plate provides the perfect balance of sound, picking up all the strings without sounding harsh or percussive; and it ‘listens’ to the soundboard to amplify the unique characteristics of your Emerald Guitar. 

The K&K Pure Mini is also great if you use percussive ‘hits’ on the soundboard for a kick drum-like sound, especially for looping and live situations.

 

The result is a warm, full-range signal that represents the true character of your Emerald Guitar. It serves up a more natural acoustic tone than the piezo pickups, with more detail in the higher frequencies. 

 

Compared to a piezo, the K&K Pure Mini can present a trade-off, with less power in the bass and mids for cutting through a mix or providing as much full-spectrum power tonally. However, some players may prefer one over the other depending on function and tonality. 

 

Emerald Guitars offer customers the best of both worlds by making the Graph Tech and Pure Mini pickups available together. 

Two independent onboard preamp volume controls allow you to blend both pickups for your desired tone. 

 

The Pure Mini is available on acoustic models exclusively in conjunction with the Graph Tech Ghost Piezo pickups.

Emerald’s Electric Pickups: Delivering Beautiful Tone

Electric pickups

Emerald Guitars pairs only the world’s best pickups with our electric instruments.

Each pickup has been carefully selected to showcase the unique tones of each guitar. 

Krivo Micro-Stealth PAF Humbucke

Krivo Micro-Stealth PAF Humbucker 

To complement the wonderful, intricate sounds from our Kestrel archtop, we painstakingly uncovered the pickup to deliver the most befitting tone. 

The Micro-Stealth humbucker from Krivo was chosen for a warm, clean and flattering ‘jazz’ sound. 

The Krivo delivers beautiful tones for solo performances or ensemble playing, whether plugged into electric or acoustic amps for a range of jazz-style tones.

It uses custom-manufactured low-intensity magnets and real hardwood spacers to achieve a vintage tone with a modern bite, a strong attack, and three-dimensional sounding overtones.

Available on: Kestrel.

Krivo Universal Acoustic Mini-Humbucker

 

These incredible pickups epitomize Fishman’s innovation. They’ve redesigned the traditional humbucker pickup for the modern player, from the ground up. Featuring a range of tonal possibilities covering classic and modern sounds, these Fluence pickups provide a phenomenal range of tones in the one guitar, on stage and in-studio. 

 

There are three settings for each pickup:

 

Vintage PAF: Classic humbucker tones recalling the golden era ‘Patent Applied For’ models from the late 1950s. 

 

Modern Humbucker: Modern tone offering a ‘hotrod’ sound on the bridge pickup, perfect for higher gain settings and cutting through the mix. On the neck pickup, this setting delivers ‘a Fluence-exclusive neck tone, with unreal highs, vocal midrange, and tight lows’.

 

Single-coil: In the neck pickup delivers the sweetness and warmth of classic single coils, while in the bridge delivers the bite and snap of a vintage, slightly overwound bridge single coil. 

 

All in all, you have the best of modern and classic electric tones in one guitar.

Available on: X10X10 Slimline (steel string models only)

Fishman Fluence Humbuckers in VIrtuo

Fishman Fluence Humbuckers

These incredible pickups epitomize Fishman’s innovation.

They’ve redesigned the traditional humbucker pickup for the modern player, from the ground up.

Featuring a range of tonal possibilities covering classic and modern sounds, these Fluence pickups provide a phenomenal range of tones in the one guitar, on stage and in-studio

There are three settings for each pickup:

Vintage PAF: Classic humbucker tones recalling the golden era ‘Patent Applied For’ models from the late 1950s. 

Modern Humbucker: Modern tone offering a ‘hotrod’ sound on the bridge pickup, perfect for higher gain settings and cutting through the mix. On the neck pickup, this setting delivers ‘a Fluence-exclusive neck tone, with unreal highs, vocal midrange, and tight lows’.

Single-coil: In the neck pickup delivers the sweetness and warmth of classic single coils, while in the bridge delivers the bite and snap of a vintage, slightly overwound bridge single coil. 

All in all, you have the best of modern and classic electric tones in one guitar.

 

Available on: Virtuo

MIDI capability / MIDI pickup

With individual Graph Tech Ghost Piezo pickups, Emerald delivers MIDI capability via a 13-pin midi output on select models.

This allows the use of external guitar synths such as the Roland GR-55 or Boss SY-1000 – welcome to a world of sound… 

Linking up to these units provides you with a multitude of tonal options beyond what’s usually available on a guitar.

Using the guitar as a MIDI controller gives you access to orchestral sounds such as strings, woodwind and brass, keys sounds such as piano, organ and synth, and loads more.

In addition to what you can expect from a typical MIDI controller (keyboard), you’ll also get a host of guitar-centric sounds from these Roland and Boss units.

Also, the Virtuo’s MIDI capability allows you to add textures to your existing electric and acoustic tones that you simply won’t get from a regular electric or acoustic guitar. 

You can even supplement the tones: for example, layer a nylon-string guitar or a 12-string over your electric tone without having to grab another guitar in the studio or draft in another guitarist live! 

The synth units also deliver a range of classic tones, due to the COSM guitar modeling

You can directly use the classic tones available from the unit or supplement the tones from your own electric and acoustic rigs. 

The MIDI functionality even allows you to use the guitar as a MIDI controller to connect to your own recording software and access any of the virtual instruments available online. 

And, budding composers or arrangers who feel more comfortable on guitar than keys, can use the MIDI functionality to compose, create soundscapes, record and share music across countless applications. 

Available on: Virtuo, X10. 

Hyvibe system

Close-up of guitar pickup with tuner on carbon fiber guitar

The Hyvibe system is an exciting feature which turns your Emerald into a ‘smart guitar’.

It consists of an onboard digital preamp / interface, a set of ‘exciters’ mounted to the soundboard and dual input and output jacks for send-and-return when using FX and loop functions plugged-in. 

The two ‘exciters’ vibrate the top of the guitar to provide you with realtime onboard FX along with looping and playback functions for jamming or backing tracks. 

The onboard interface allows you to select from a range of digital FX, looping, recording and playback functions, heard acoustically or even via the pickup system, through an external PA or amp.  

If you want the possibilities of external FX processors but without buying a set of pedals, or carting them around, the HyVibe provides everything at the touch of a button, built into the guitar.

And, all the sounds come directly from your own acoustic Emerald, to boot! 

 

Want to spice up your acoustic with some distortion?

How about some trippy delay or reverb? Writing a song and want to record your own backing tracks?

The HyVibe delivers countless options in an easy-to-use interface. 

 You can even use an external pedal to control the HyVibe hands-free when plugging in for live or studio performances.

 The HyVibe also has a rechargeable battery, which gives you up to 11 hours playtime on a single charge and is recharged by a USB type-C cable.

 

Available on:  X7X10(Not available on slimline models)X20X30

History of guitar pickups

The evolution of the guitar has seen players demand increasingly more volume – not only to be heard in ensembles, but also to perform in front of bigger audiences.

Before amplification was widespread, guitar builders responded to this challenge by redesigning the acoustic guitar to give more volume. 

This brought the instrument from the small-bodied ‘Parlor’ size – dominant in the 19th and early 20th centuries – to the OM-size (Orchestral Model).

The bigger body was developed in the mid-20th Century to compete in an orchestra or big band – although still mainly as an accompanying instrument, not to be heard playing single-note lines among the louder instruments. 

Guitar manufacturers such as Martin and Gibson kept upping their designs in this vein. They gave players more volume by introducing models with bigger bodies, leading to the now famous ‘Dreadnought’ and ‘Jumbo’-size models, now synonymous with the acoustic guitar. 

With advancements in electronics and more common use of amplification in live music during the first half of the 20th Century came the invention of the first guitar pickups. Soon, the humble acoustic guitar led the way to the electric guitar… 

Usually comprising a magnetic pickup fitted to an acoustic guitar, this game-changing technology forever changed the landscape of popular music.

The 20th Century led to a series of developments in pickup technology as engineers strived to improve. From humbucking to active pickups, and from soundboard transducers to piezo undersaddle acoustic pickups, technological advancement has continued apace, with manufacturers still launching innovative solutions for today’s players. 

Emerald Guitars is unrelenting in its commitment to delivering for the very best pickup for any given model. 

We personally research and test products from manufacturers big and small, worldwide, to deliver the finest options to our customers. 

In utilizing the best technology we keep the player in mind – in unwavering fashion – throughout our instrument design and production process. 

With our custom 3D Guitar Builder platform, you can select each of the available pickup options for your model when designing your instrument – or get in touch at sales@emeraldguitars.com for help with pickup choices, when ordering your instrument.

Emerald Guitars, to make and inspire music. 

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