Guitar electronics

Hey guys I’m really confused about acoustic guitar electronics. I don’t understand the difference between a default Preamp in some guitars like CORT AD880CE and acoustic guitar pickups, I mean how do they work, do they both need to be connected to sth like an amp or sth? Please help, thanks

A pickup is a pickup. It doesn’t matter whether it’s pre-installed or whether it’s a kit you install after. All guitar pickups do the same basic thing: convert string vibration to an electrical signal.

There are differences in how they do this (and resulting tonal characteristics), but the end result is roughly the same in every case: an electrical signal representing the vibration of the strings.

To use this, you will need to plug it into something. That could be an amplifier to make the sound louder, or an Audio Interface to record it into a PC.

As it’s an acoustic guitar, as well as the electrical signal from the pickups, the guitar itself will still make the same sound directly just as any other acoustic guitar. You don’t have to use the pickups if you just wat to use it acoustically. The pickups are really only required if you want to amplify or record it (and pickups are not the only option here).

As far as the “preamp” part goes, the output from some pickups is very low and they use a pre-amp to boost them to a level that can be fed into an amp, etc. When a pickup system has an pre-amp built in, it’s known as an “active” pickup, and it needs a battery to power it.

Most acoustic pickups are active, so much so that it’s pretty much assumed and not stated. Some electric guitars have active pickups but this is less common so it’s normally called out.

Does that make sense?




So that means if there’s a preamp in an acoustic guitar, there’s definitely a pickup system installed inside, right?

Yes the pickup converts the string vibration as Keith described. The pickup then feeds the pre-amp. These will normal have a vol/gain control knob to boost the signal and most likely a basic EQ which could be just highs and lows or hi med & lo. The pre-amp sends the adjusted single to the cable jack and then you connect the guitar to the amp or audio interface via 1/4" instrument cable. As the pre-amp and pickup is active you will need TS cables normally as they complete the electrical circuit and prevent the normal 9v battery from draining. If you use 1/4 inch TRS the ring (R) stops the circuit from closing ie no power no pre-amp (learnt the hard way!)

Hope that helps




Just to add, most often in an acoustic with a “built in” pickup, the actual transducer is a ribbon under the saddle.

There are other ways to do this, but less common, or more specialized.

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Wot Toby wrote.

To explain:

A “pre-amp” is a type of electronic amplifier. As with all amplifiers it boosts the level of an electrical signal in some way.

When a signal is very weak, it is common to boost the signal level in stages. Normally the first stage is known as the “pre-amp”, because it is used before the main amplifier circuit (which is sometimes called a “power amp”).

So if there is a preamp, then there’s an electrical signal which, on a guitar, means there has to be a pickup.




A pre-amp gives you the added advantage of some volume and EQ control before your signal goes into the amp or PA system. They tend to come with a built in tuner and a phase shifter to cut down on some of that “howl” as well.

If you ever intend to play in a live venue with a “sound guy” in control of your tone, you’ll be glad that you bought an acoustic guitar with a preamp. Simply rolling off some treble can go a long way toward addressing that piezo pickup brittleness in a live setting.

Personally, I have no use for an acoustic guitar without at least one pickup and a preamp. My Epi EJ200SCE has two pickups that allows me to blend and shape the tone. Get a guitar with good electronics, thank me later.


Thank you very much for your time sir. Much much obliged🙏

Appreciate your explanation :pray::pray:

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Thanks a lot for your time🙏

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Much obliged🙏