If you’re curious about the LR Baggs M1 vs M1A and how they compare, you’ve come to the right post!
LR Baggs Pickups
LR Baggs is a brand well-known for their acoustic instrument pickups. We’re looking at meticulously made products that replicate an instrument’s natural tone.
However, there are a few different approaches here. These aren’t your average piezo acoustic pickups. Some variants include magnetic pickups. And you’ll also find some piezo and specialized microphone combos.
Plus, the company does more than just guitar stuff. Their arsenal also includes banjo, ukulele, mandolin, and even violin pickups. Additionally, they also craft different acoustic preamps and even specialized PA systems for live performers.
With all this in mind, we can safely say that LR Baggs know their way around acoustic instruments.
LR Baggs M1
The M1 is one of their most prominent pickups. This pickup in particular is passive. However, this is a magnetic one, not a piezo. It also goes to the soundhole area.
And, most importantly, it’s a humbucker. Well, technically it’s a humbucker. However, functionally, it has one coil picking up the string vibrations.
The second coil is actually turned the opposite way. It’s suspended and faces the inside of the instrument’s body. So it doesn’t get directly involved in the tone. However, it does contribute by picking up instrument vibration.
Such a design gives a full tone. It’s got more depth and presence in the mix. And, most importantly, it cancels the hum. So you’ll have quiet performance with the brightness of a single-coil pickup. And, of course, it rounds things up with the other coil.
What’s also worth noting is that it has adjustable polepieces. This allows you to balance out the tone among all strings. It also comes with a 1/8-inch jack, a strap jack harness, and a 10-foot cable. It’s easy to set up and can fit pretty much any standard acoustic guitar.
Now, I mentioned that M1 is a passive pickup. So that means that it cannot really work on its own. There’s got to be an external preamp involved somewhere which leads me to my next point…
LR Baggs M1A
The M1A is this same pickup but with an additional preamp. So it’s an active pickup system for acoustic guitars.
Of course, it’s the same humbucker design. The bottom one is suspended and faces the inside of the body. There’s the same harness, jack, and even the additional cable. And you can adjust the pole pieces. Plus, it’s easy to install or remove.
But as I mentioned, it comes with a preamp. And a preamp needs power. Well, the bottom of the pickup, the suspended part, has a battery slot.
You’ll make it work with a compact 3-volt coin-cell battery. Its energy use is pretty efficient as well. According to official info, you can get about 1000 hours of playing or more. Although I’m not certain about the exact number of hours and whether this is an exaggeration, it can last for quite a while.
The active version also comes with an additional volume control. This is, of course, expected as it’s a normal addition to active electronics.
Other than that, we have pretty much the same pickup. It just comes with a fairly compact preamp integrated within the pickup.
LR Baggs M1 Vs M1A: Which Is Better?
Now, the obvious difference here is the active vs passive design. The first thing to think of here is the practical difference. If you decide to go with the passive version, you’ll need an additional preamp to make things work. This usually comes in the form of a pedal, just like some of LR Baggs’ products.
Although it may seem like a bother to get an additional preamp, this gives more tone-shaping options. It’s an additional cost, but you get a more complex setup. You’ll also have an additional EQ and other tone-shaping controls.
With the active version M1A, you get a straightforward plug-and-play option. Just equip your guitar with the pickup, plug it in, and you’re ready to go. Of course, there’s also the volume control that gives you a hands-on approach to this basic control.
In my opinion, M1A is the simpler option if you don’t want to bother with additional equipment. The sound is pretty great and there’s really no need for an additional EQ.
However, if you want to have a more elaborate setup customized according to your needs, then get the basic passive version. Just bear in mind that this will require an additional investment.
As far as the tone goes, you have the same pickup. The response and the main character will be the same. But, of course, the tone with the passive version will depend on the additional gear that you use.
At the end of the day, this comes down to personal preferences. You can’t go wrong with either. It’s just what works better for your needs.
I hope this article has helped you think through these pickups and which might be right for you!
And if you want to read more about pickups on this blog, then check out:
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!