Why You Should Get a Pickup for Classical Guitar

Classical guitar pickups have transformed the way musicians amplify and share their music. Amplifying your classical guitar makes playing fun, and helps you practice. In this in-depth article, we will look at why you should get a pickup for classical guitar, discuss the purpose and benefits of classical guitar pickups, and more. Lets get started.


Why You Should Get a Pickup For Classical Guitar

Investing in a pickup for your classical guitar can open a world of new possibilities for your musical expression, allowing you to share your passion with a wider audience. A pickup amplifies the delicate nuances and intricate harmonies of your guitar, enabling your music to reach every corner of the room and touch the hearts of listeners in live performances.

Pickups also simplify the recording process, allowing you to effortlessly share your music with the world through digital platforms. This not only enables you to connect with other musicians and enthusiasts but also helps you build your presence as an artist in the global community. This is an often overlooked benefit of going electric with your sound.

In essence, adding a pickup to your classical guitar is a strong investment in your musical journey, amplifying the beauty and depth of your craft while offering you endless opportunities for growth, exploration, and connection with others.

What Do Classical Pickups Do

Classical guitar pickups are a subset of acoustic guitar pickups that work well for classical guitar specifically. Specialty pickups help capture and amplify the tone of a classical guitar without scarifying quality, where other acoustic pickups might struggle. At least good pickups should do this. Let’s look in more detail on the benefits of using pickups.

Benefits of Classical Guitar Pickups

Primarily, pickups help us project our classical guitar sound, ensuring that every note and nuance reaches the audience. This is especially vital when I’m performing alongside other instruments or in settings with ambient noise.

Pickups also allow us to experiment with various effects and soundscapes, expanding our creative horizons. While classical guitar often stays rooted in traditional sounds, the use of a pickup opens up a world of possibilities for those of us looking to blend genres or create unique textures. This makes both live performances and practice sessions at home extremely fun. I love experimenting with my classical when plugged in by using effects like delays and chorus. Really sounds amazing!

Lastly, the convenience and ease of use offered by pickups cannot be overlooked. For many models, putting them on and off the guitar is a breeze. The last thing you want to do is cause damage to your precious instrument. Ease of use also plays a part when you are playing live. And while we are on this topic, lets take a closer look at amplification.

Amplification For Classical Guitar

Amplification For Classical Guitar

When using classical guitar pickups, it’s essential to understand the amplification requirements to ensure optimal sound quality and performance. Here’s a concise overview of the necessary amplification considerations for classical guitar pickups:

Amplifiers – Any Will Do

Classical guitarists can use either a dedicated acoustic guitar amplifier or a general-purpose amplifier with a clean channel. Acoustic guitar amplifiers are designed to reproduce the natural tone of the instrument, whereas a clean channel on a general-purpose amp can also work well if set up correctly. Majority of the time this is what I end up doing as this is the most reliable option for me.

PA Systems – Direct

In larger venues or ensemble settings, connecting the guitar directly to a PA system is a common practice. A DI box may be required to match the impedance and balance the signal before connecting to the mixer. It’s essential to work with the sound engineer to ensure that your guitar’s level is appropriately set within the PA system for a balanced mix.

A preamp is often required to boost the signal from the pickup and shape the tone before it reaches the amplifier or PA system. Some pickups come with built-in preamps, while others may require an external preamp or a DI box with preamp functionality. (more on this later)

Tone Shaping on Classical Guitar

Tone Shaping on Classical

As I mentioned earlier this is one of the best parts of electrifying your classical is that you can start changing tones and modulating with effects. Simple EQ changes can make a world of a difference, and even an amp with tone shaping capabilities can go a long way.

Types of Classical Guitar Pickups

Classical guitar pickups come in various designs, each offering unique benefits and characteristics. In this section, we’ll explore the main types of pickups available. I will explain why combining under-saddle piezo pickups with internal microphones is my top choice for players seeking the best tonal quality and fidelity. Lets dive in!

Under-saddle Pickups: the Piezo

These pickups are installed beneath the guitar’s saddle and capture string vibrations through piezoelectric materials. While they are relatively easy to install and deliver a clean sound, they may not fully capture the guitar’s natural warmth and resonance on their own. These are frequently referred to as Piezo pickups.

Soundboard Transducers

Mounted directly onto the guitar’s soundboard, these pickups use contact sensors to detect vibrations. They can deliver a more natural sound than under-saddle pickups but may also pick up unwanted noise from the guitar’s body. These are generally affordable and can run anywhere from $30 to $60 dollars.

Magnetic Pickups

Positioned near the sound-hole, magnetic pickups rely on the strings’ magnetic properties to create an electrical signal. Although they offer a clear and feedback-resistant sound, they may not accurately capture the distinct tonal qualities of a classical guitar. Not a recommended option for classical guitar in my opinion.

Microphone Pickups

I consider this an excellent option for classical guitar amplification. Microphone pickups use small, high-quality microphones placed inside or near the guitar’s sound hole. They excel at capturing the rich, warm, and resonant tones that define classical guitars while maintaining a natural and authentic sound. When paired with the appropriate second pickup they can truly shine. Below I will detail what I call the perfect marriage of pickups for classical.

Under-saddle Piezo and Microphone Pickup Combo

I believe that combining under-saddle piezo pickups with internal microphones offers the best solution for players looking to amplify their classical guitars without sacrificing sound quality. Here’s why:

  • Balanced Sound Reproduction: The combination of under-saddle piezo pickups and internal microphones captures both the string vibrations and the guitar’s body resonance, resulting in a well-balanced and detailed sound.
  • Versatility: The dual pickup system allows players to blend the signals from both the piezo and microphone pickups, providing greater control over their amplified tone and the ability to tailor the sound to their specific needs. This is one of the coolest feature of this type of classical guitar pickup.
  • Reduced Feedback Issues: The combination of piezo and microphone pickups can help minimize feedback during live performances, ensuring a clear and focused sound. This is where the Piezo truly shines!

Now on to the question at hand. What do I consider to be the best classical guitar pickup on the market.

What is the Best Pickup For Classical Guitar

LR Baggs Anthem SL-C

If you’re searching for the ultimate classical guitar pickup, look no further than my pick, the LR Baggs Anthem SL-C. This high-quality, innovative pickup system is designed specifically for nylon-string classical guitars and offers unparalleled performance, clarity, and fidelity. Lets look at the details!

LR Baggs Anthem SL-C Pickup
LR Baggs Anthem SL-C Pickup

Unrivaled Sound Quality

The Anthem SL-C is unrivaled when it comes to capturing the natural sound of your classical guitar. Thanks to its TRU•MIC Technology, the microphone picks up the guitar’s true tone with exceptional clarity and detail, while minimizing feedback and handling noise. The Anthem SL-C features an Element under-saddle Piezo pickup combined with an TRU•MIC internal microphone. This dual-source design captures both the string vibrations and the guitar’s natural resonance. The sound quality is the best I’ve heard at this price point by far.

Blend Control

The blend control feature allows you to mix the microphone and undersaddle pickup signals to suit your playing style and performance environment, giving you unparalleled control over your amplified sound. This is one of the coolest features of plying with a dual set of pickups. I love small adjustments that make all the difference in tone, especially when jamming with others.

LR Baggs Anthem SL-C Pickup Set
LR Baggs Anthem SL-C

The SL-C is Easy to Install

One of the standout advantages of the Anthem SL-C is its non-invasive design, which requires no modifications to your guitar. This ensures a straightforward installation process that preserves your instrument’s integrity. A much needed feature. It literally takes me 2-3 minutes to set this up or remove it. Very fast if you ask me.

Price of the SL-C

While the LR Baggs Anthem SL-C comes with a price tag of $220, its performance, features, and sound quality justify the investment. By choosing the Anthem SL-C, you’re investing in a superior pickup system.

What About a Nylon String Guitar Pickup

Not all nylon string guitars are classical guitars, but they share similarities in their use of nylon strings. Classical guitars typically have a wider neck, while other nylon string guitars, like flamenco or crossover guitars, may have varying neck dimensions and construction. Regardless of the type, any nylon string guitar can utilize classical pickups, as they are specifically designed to capture the unique characteristics of nylon strings.

When choosing a pickup system for your nylon string guitar, it’s essential to consider the guitar’s construction and your personal preferences. As I mentioned classical pickups come in various formats, such as under-saddle transducers, soundboard transducers, or internal microphones. Each type has its own tonal qualities and installation requirements. Still, the Anthem SL-C works perfectly for nylon string guitars of any types.

The Verdict: Pickup for Classical Guitar

A classical guitar pickup is an awesome way to advance your playing and help reshape your tone. I highly recommend players of every skill levels to explore adding an electric twist to your classical guitar. The LR Baggs Anthem SL-C is my go to pickup for both home playing and live performances. This powerful pickup combines the best of both worlds, utilizing a microphone and an under-saddle piezo element to capture the authentic warmth, resonance, and nuance of the classical guitar. Over time you will come to love using a pickup with your classical, wether its at home or while playing live. I hope you enjoyed reading this article, thank you!

The Verdict: The Best Classical Guitar Pickup

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