Recording with Pickups

AG 245 May 2013 Cover

by Doug Young

Most people find that microphones capture the sound of their guitar more realistically than pickups, but pickups can be effective in some recording situations. If you simply can’t create a quiet environment for recording, pickups may be your only choice. Using a pickup can make it easier to record guitar and vocals, or even another instrument, at the same time without worrying about a mic picking up other sounds on the guitar track. Some contemporary guitarists blend a pickup with mics to get a more direct and larger-than-life sound. As long as you have an extra input for the pickup, you can always record multiple tracks using mics and a pickup and then experiment with blending the tracks. Soundboard transducers (such as K&K’s Pure Western Mini or the L.R. Baggs iBeam) often sound quite realistic on recordings, and undersaddle pickups (such as the D-TAR WaveLength, Fishman Matrix Infinity, or L.R. Baggs Element) can add a punchy sound to a recording. Magnetic pickups tend to sound a bit electric but can add a deep bass when blended with a microphone. Another option is to use a processor like the Fishman Aura, which can make an undersaddle pickup sound more like a microphone. And of course, internal microphones like the L.R. Baggs Lyric or the various Miniflex models may also help eliminate some external noises.

Excerpted from Acoustic Guitar May 2013

See more Home Recording Basics articles.

Receive lessons, songs, advice, and news like this straight to your inbox

Join the Recording with Pickups discussion