Archtop guitars are known for their elegant design, versatile tonal capabilities and warm resonance.
However to truly unlock their full potential choosing the right pickups is crucial.
The right pickups can enhance the natural characteristics of an archtop guitar and provide a wide range of sonic possibilities.
In this blog post, I will explore and analyze some of the best pickups available for archtop guitars considering their tonal qualities, build quality and compatibility with different musical styles
Best Pickups for Archtop Guitars
Here are the best pickups you can get for your Archtop guitar:
1. Benedetto A-6 Humbucker Pickup
The Benedetto A-6 Humbucker Pickup is renowned for its exceptional clarity, warmth, and balance.
Designed by renowned luthier Robert Benedetto this pickup is hand-wound and crafted with meticulous attention to detail.
Its dynamic response and ability to accurately reproduce the archtop’s natural acoustic qualities make it a popular choice among jazz guitarists.
The Benedetto A-6 Humbucker Pickup excels in capturing the nuances of fingerpicking and chordal playing making it a versatile option for various musical genres.
- It looks good
- It sounds good
2. Kent Armstrong Handwound Floating Jazz Pickup
The Kent Armstrong Handwound Floating Jazz Pickup is highly regarded for its vintage-inspired tone and exceptional sensitivity.
This pickup is designed to be mounted on the guitar’s floating bridge allowing it to capture the instrument’s resonance and acoustic properties more effectively.
With its warm and smooth sound the Kent Armstrong pickup is particularly well-suited for traditional jazz and blues styles.
Its hand-wound construction ensures consistency and attention to detail contributing to its excellent overall performance.
- Great vintage sound
3. Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 Pickup
While archtop guitars are often associated with jazz they can also excel in other genres such as rock and blues.
The Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 Pickup offers a unique alternative to traditional humbuckers providing a brighter and more aggressive tone.
This pickup combines the best qualities of P-90 and humbucker pickups resulting in a versatile and powerful sound.
The Seymour Duncan Phat Cat P-90 Pickup is an excellent choice for guitarists seeking to add a touch of vintage-inspired grit and bite to their archtop guitars.
- Easy to install
- Clear sound
4. Lollar Johnny Smith Pickup
The Lollar Johnny Smith Pickup is designed to replicate the iconic sound of the legendary jazz guitarist Johnny Smith.
Known for its exceptional clarity, balance and sustain this pickup is highly sought after by jazz guitarists worldwide.
Its low output and warm tone make it ideal for capturing the nuances of intricate jazz phrasing and chord voicings.
The Lollar Johnny Smith Pickup’s meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail ensure consistent performance and tonal excellence.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Pickup for Archtop Guitars
Here are things you need to consider before choosing a pickup for your Archtop guitar:
1. Playing style
Consider your preferred playing style and the genre of music you intend to play.
Different pickups are designed to cater to specific playing techniques and musical genres.
For example if you primarily play jazz a floating pickup may be the most suitable choice.
2. Tone preference
Determine the tone you desire. Archtop guitars are known for their warm and mellow tones but pickups can influence the overall tonal characteristics.
Experiment with different pickups to find the one that best matches your desired sound.
3. Feedback resistance
Archtop guitars are prone to feedback due to their hollow or semi-hollow construction.
Consider pickups that offer feedback resistance to minimize unwanted noise during amplified performances.
4. Installation method
Decide whether you prefer a pickup that can be easily installed and removed or one that is permanently mounted.
Floating pickups are generally easier to install and remove allowing for more flexibility in adjusting and experimenting with different pickups.
Consider your budget when selecting a pickup. Pickups vary in price range and more expensive options may offer higher quality and better sound reproduction.
However there are also budget-friendly options available that can still deliver satisfactory results.
Best Pickups for Archtop Guitars — Before You Go
Selecting the best pickups for archtop guitars is a subjective task that depends on individual preferences and musical styles.