Are electronics on Acoustic Guitars worthwhile?

I’m still contemplating the purchase of a Martin 000 Jr or a Taylor GS Mini. Now, I’m trying to decide if the electronics are a worthwhile accessory on acoustic guitars. I have no aspirations to play on stage or to record. I just like to relax and strum some old songs and sing a few bars. So, what do the electronics do for me? A guy at Guitar Center said I really need it because they have the tuner built in. I have a Snark tuner that clips on so that wasn’t really a selling point. I just wondering if the extra $150 for the electronics is worthwhile - or if I don’t buy into it, will I regret it later.

If youre not going to use the electonics at all.

And the selling point from that store is you have to buy one with electrics due to the build in tuner?

Dont… i have a Martin with built in tuner and that is more or less crap. I am almost better off using my own ears, and they are bad :rofl:

I rarely use that built in tuner. I tune it up with a tuner on the headstock. They are way better.
If the day comes that you would like to amp it up, you can always put one in afterwards if needed.

Just my two cents :grin:

I bought an electro as I knew I would be plugging in.
I did not spend a Martin / Taylor type budget on my guitar.
The tuner is not the selling point - that is an expensive tuner if it’s all you’ll use it for.
You can buy reasonably priced after market clip-on soundhole pickups easy enough. You can also have after market permanent ones added with no cosmetic damage. Just as Justin did with his Froggy Bottom.

In my experience, the electronic piezo pickups in acoustic guitars don’t capture any of the natural sound of a decent acoustic guitar. An internal microphone may be better, but I’ve never had the chance to try an acoustic with a built-in microphone.

If you’re not gonna play on a stage where feedback is a problem, I’d skip the electronics and just use a $10 clip-on tuner.


If you have no plans on plugging in then the electronics is just a bonus. The most important thing is how the guitar feels to play and sounds. I completely agree with @tRONd and @Richard_close2u that the tuner is not really a big selling point, as you’ll probably find most of the time you opt to use a clip-on tuner.

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Everyone I know that love Taylor guitar say their electronics are crap.
Most Martins don’t come with electronics because people take
them out and install K&K pick-ups.
If an onboard tuner is the only reason to get electronics buy
a Snark tuner and leave it at that.

If you like the guitar and it happened to have electronics on it, then I would get it. I wouldn’t have it be the deciding factor though.

Haven’t been a fan of Guitar Center since I bought a Martin there years ago.

If the selling point is the Tuner don’t bother, they are not very accurate. If there’s an option of an Acoustic only one the same then get that instead but try it first. There can be differences between guitar to guitar, even the same model! Make sure that the one you try jumps out at you and tells you it’s the right one, regardless of what it costs, be sure that it’s what you really want!

Yeah. I don’t plan to buy at Guitar Center. I’d support a local small business instead.

If you’re not going to record or play on stage then I’d say electronics in an acoustic guitar are not a selling point at all. And honestly, the electronics in most acoustics are not that great, in my experience. The only one I’ve been at all happy with is the Fishman Aura VT Enhance that came in my Martin OM-35E (and even then I prefer mic’ing the guitar and also recording the output from the pickup and blending them). Usually, the electronics in an acoustic have that annoying “quacky” piezo sound that I don’t get into.

Built in tuner is also not a big deal, to me. YMMV.

5 posts were split to a new topic: Suggestions for an electro-acoustic guitar (budget ~750GBP)

Probably different in different countries, however here it seems as you go up the quality range in guitars more seem to have electronics than not - at least with what the stores have in stock.

If you think you might use a looper one day, or record your acoustic, it might be worthwhile.

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For me the electronics were not that important. I ended up with an acoustic with electronics because every guitar that had a cutout for better access high up on the neck happened to have electronics. If you fancy a time when you might access the frets above 12 or even 15 the cutout might be handy.

I bought a Seagull S6 with electronics when I started out and have regretted spending the extra money as I never use them, except for the tuner but a clip on is just as good. If you are never going to play live don’t bother, save the cash for some other goodies later on.

I never plug mine in, if I’m recording I prefer to use a mic and I’ve never played it in public. That model was only available with the electronics though.

personally, I’d go for one with electronics because I like to apply some delay or reverb when performing live, accompanied with my vocal (also with reverb)

If you would buy it only for the tuner and have no live gigging ambition now or withing several years, use a clip-on tuner I guess ;D

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My two cents. As others have mentioned built in tuner alone is not a good reason to get built in electronics. I use mine on occasion and works well enough for my ears, but I also have a few clip ons.

So unless you expect to plug-in don’t worry abut it.
That said, when I was looking for my guitar, I did not really ‘expect’ to plug-in. I hade been researching on-line for a while and wanted one that afternoon and The Breedlove Discovery Concert felt good, was in my price range and it just happened to have the built in electronics. However, I have since found it is nice to have the capability.

Generally when I record (A work buddy and I share recordings once or twice a month to gauge progress, and I plan to start a learning log here on the community board, and for the forum Open Mic) I record the same performance direct and from a mic via a two input audio interface. Having the built in electronics makes that easier and having built in electronics means you can record without even having a microphone.

It also allows me to record some acoustic parts to my Trio+ looper/band in a box to practice solo lines or different voicing all on my own.

All that said, In no way shape or form would I say you need factory installed electronics. As others have mentioned, if you want it down the line it can be retrofitted.

The ability to make acoustic backing tracks/loops is the thing I can’t do on my non electric acoustic guitar. I use my electric guitar to make the backing track/loops.
I did think of buying a clip on pickup but advice from the forum suggested that as they are ‘passive’ ie no preamp, the signal would not be strong enough to activate the Trio+.

I would have thought any aftermarket ‘pickup’ for an acoustic would have a preamp like my built in piezo system does. While I don’t have any actual experience with them I’m pretty sure I’ve seen youtube videos by tfwood (?) a Canadian Luthier where he adds 3 transducer dots to the bottom of the soundboard and that system does included a preamp and the associated 9v battery.

Hi my two cents worth, I have a martin 000-18 its old and without electronics - Im happy it doesnt have the electronics. Its a fun guitar to just play, and could always be mic’ed up if needed. I also have an acoustic Yamaha jumbo/drednaught which has a good pick up, I enjoy plugging it to an amp and messing with some delay and reverb and compression and chorus. I have a proper tuner for both, so tuner wouldnt be my selling point. Electronics could always be added later.