Inbuilt Pickup or retro-fit pickup?
As a preamble, I have read the peice on pickups on guitar noise but it wasnt really relevant to acoustic pickups.
Ive been messing around on a pretty dodgy steel string acoustic for years and ive decided its time to buy my own half decent acoustic/electric guitar.
Basically, I dont have heaps to spend. ($800 AUS which is about $500US before amp) Ive been thinking of getting one with an inbuilt pickup but some guy in the store I went into today said because im not spending a fortune I should spend all my funds on a straight acoustic guitar and then retro-fit a pickup in the hole for like $80 extra. So the majority of the money goes into the build quality of the guitar rather than the pickup.
It made a bit of sense considering I doubt I will be plugging it in all that often (maybe 10% of the time) but i just want to know is there much difference between a in built and a retro fitted pickup in terms of sound quality? Or does it just depend on what price you pay? Does this guy know what hes talking about, does a pickup account for that much of the price of a guitar? If I spend $800 on an acousic electric am i just getting a $500 guitar with a pickup?
Secondly, I found this beautiful Crafter GAE648 for $750AUS with inbuilt pickup that im seriously considering. It sounds better than alot of guitars around the same price and even some Matons etc that are more expensive. Im just wondering if anyone has had any bad/good experiences with Crafters, I know they are not a high end brand of guitar but Ive heard they are good build and sound quality but just dont have the brand image and history (yet) of the more established brands to demand high prices. Is this true?
Alot of times after market pickups tend to feed back. Whereas stock pickups are designed for the instrument. I'd say if you like the sound and feel of the Crafter get it. Just make sure you play guitars out of your price range as well for comparison. That'll go a long way toward settling your doubt.
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I agree with trying a few different ones out if thats possible. One will seem to just say I'm the one take me home. That guitar looks like it would be a good investment. Acoustic's with built in pickups generally have a pre-amp and equalizer built in also. The equalizer will allow you more control of your tone. Good luck on your quest.
All pickups are not created equal. A top quality pickup will add about $100US to $150US to the price of a guitar. If your looking at a low to mid priced guitar up to say $500US your probably not getting a top quality pickup. It wouldn't make sense to put a $150 pickup in a $200 guitar. I would spend most of my money on the guitar and then have a good active pickup installed in it. Make sure you shop around. I don't know about down under but in the US most stores will come down from the list price on their guitars 20% to 30%.
Yes some brand names command a higher price. That doesn't always translate into better quality.
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Generally, I agree with the "guy in the store" and Tim. When buying acoustic, spend the money on the acoustic, not the pickup. On a low to mid level guitar, the built in pickup won't be anything special. They can't be anything special given the cost margins the manufacturers must deal with to build a competitive guitar in that price range. So leave out the cheapo pup,buy more guitar, and later buy a better sounding aftermarket pup for a bit more money. Or buy a cheap aftermarket pickup to get started and upgrade it later.
On a high end guitar, the one thing that will age the fastest is the pickup technology. I would hate to have a several thousand $$ acoustic that had a 10 or 20 year old pup and associated electronics in it. Consider that most high end acoustic pickups from that long ago are not that great by today's standards -- easily bested by some of today's budget pups. Yet there are plently of 10 to 20 (and 50!) y.o. acoustics I would love to own. I would rather keep updating one of these with the most state-of-the-art aftermarket pup every few years to keep taking advantage of technology advancements that continually improve the electrified sound of my great sounding acoustic. Better that than looking at my $1000 or $3000 acoustic with that big square hole cut in the rim that still bears yesteryear's obsolete pup amp and eq.
Of course YMMV, and there are always exceptions ... but not many.
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Today I got a Garrison G25E with inbuilt fishman pickup that sounds and feels awesome for about $900 AUS which is about $600US. It was pretty heavily reduced (and im finding them in a few online retailers for about 650 pounds which is closer to 1700AUS). So maybe I didnt compromise on the pickup too much in the end anyway. Im sure neither the guitar or pickup is absolutely top notch, but i love it and i think i did well for the price. My first guitar purchase!
Thanks to everyone who offered advice. Im completely stoked.
..... now I just need an amp. haha.
That looks very nice* and Fishman are a well know name so you can't go far wrong there.
* http://www.guitars.co.uk/acatalog/copy_of_Garrison.html (scroll down a bit)
I would say go with inbuilt for reliability and looks... but check this out, Esteban. You know who I mean haha. He has one of the most amazing guitar sounds ive ever heard live and recorded, and he uses an aftermarket pickup. I mean... His guitar is a work of freaking art, I wouldnt cut any holes for plastic stuff in it either...
SHUT UP ABOUT IRON MAIDEN SOLOS AND GO PRACTICE!