If you’re looking for the best resonator guitar pickups, you’ve come to the right post!
Highlander’s IP-1X is somewhat specific. It’s somewhat infamous for complicated installation and a higher price. However, we’re looking at a high-end pro-level pickup and preamp combo. It’s one of the ultimate options if you want to get the best out of your resonator guitar.
IP-1X is for National-style and so-called biscuit-bridge resonator guitars, your regular single-cone guitars. The whole system comes with a replacement biscuit with a pickup sensor in it. Along with it, we have an inline preamp, as well as a 15-foot stereo cable and an external power unit.
While some may be put off by the installation process, I’d say that it’s worth it. After all, it’s not as complicated as some may think of it. But even if it was, the results that this pickup system gives you are worth it.
One advantage of this design is the external power unit. Replacing a battery can be a pretty annoying process with a National-style guitar. But this rugged little die-cast aluminum box holds the batter outside of the body.
As far as the tone goes, this one is fairly treble-heavy. Which isn’t really a surprise for this type of pickup. In my opinion, it works great for lead players. But it’s even better if you combine it with a classic Shure SM57 microphone.
NOTE: One thing that I should point out is that Highlander IP-1X is currently not in production. However, I couldn’t resist but include it here due to its incredible tone and features. If you do manage to get your hands on a used one, then I’d absolutely recommend it.
Fishman Classic Series Resophonic Pickup
We’re all familiar with Fishman and their incredible electric guitar pickups. But although they’re most famous among modern prog metal musicians, there’s some stuff for old-school guitar lovers as well. For instance, their Classic Series Resophonic pickup is a great example.
What’s great about it is that they offer both active and passive variants. But in either of these cases, the main principle is the same. They’re intended to capture the instrument’s character.
And the best thing about it is that it’s incredibly small. It’s about the size of a small washer. You just place it under the bridge and it manages to get a mid-heavy tone. It’s much different compared to regular piezo pickups. Instead of focusing on all-thin high-end, there’s some nice punch from the mids in there.
While it’s not as rich as a microphone, there’s an interesting workaround with it. Combining it with Fisman’s Aura pedal will get you pretty close to that. Check out this demo in the embedded player below.
Myers Pickups The Blend
Myers Pickups is a high-end brand, a boutique one if you will. They have some pretty interesting solutions for acoustic instruments. What’s really great about these is that you can use them on various instruments. In my opinion, The Blend works great with resonator guitars.
However, these aren’t exactly the cheapest ones on the market. But trust me when I tell you that they’re worth every single penny. We’re also looking at a very specific system. I know this list is about pickups, but this is more than just a pickup.
Technically, this is a microphone and a preamp. But it’s also like a small mixer letting you blend different sources along with the mic. And thus its name.
You have two additional ¼-inch inputs on the preamp’s side. And there’s also a ¼-inch cable jack on it. The simplest way to go about it would be to plug the device into another pickup system. You then use its mic, which also comes with a lengthy cable, and get it near any place on the guitar that you want.
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s expensive. Especially if you plan on using it with an additional passive or active pickup. But you get an incredible blended tone of a mic and a piezo pickup. And no need to bother with any additional mics and microphone stands on stage or in the studio.
Michael Messer MM Classic
Michael Messer has something a bit different to offer. Here, we’re looking at pickups designed specifically for resonator guitars. However, these are magnetic pickups. So that will give a bit of a different tone. They’ll sound much closer to an electric guitar.
So you’ll have to bear that in mind. Nonetheless, these are some pretty incredible pickups. If you’re into slide playing, they’ll come in handy for pretty much any genre that you’re into. MM Classic is an incredibly sensitive humbucker. They even have adjustable poles that let you balance the output of B and E strings.
If you’re into magnetic pickups for resonator guitars, then you should definitely check out Krivo. They specialize in acoustic instrument pickups and hollow-body archtop electric guitar pickups.
There’s a special magnetic pickup model for resonator guitars in their arsenal. These are pretty thin, similar to the previous example on the list. This makes them incredibly simple to install or remove.
They’re also designed to bring the best possible results with all kinds of strings. Additionally, you can also adjust individual pole pieces on them for maximum string output balance.
Lace USA Ultra-Slim Acoustic Sensor
Lace’s USA Ultra-Slim Acoustic Sensor is another magnetic humbucker. Once again, there’s the slim design that allows easy installation and removal. Its tone, however, may feel a bit too electric to some. But if that’s what you’re aiming for, this is a great pickup.
I’ve also noticed that it’s pretty sensitive. There’s even some pretty great dynamic response to it. But what I’d suggest is that you combine it with a microphone. Or something like The Blend by Myers that we mentioned here.
Here’s this one in action.
Of course, it’s impossible not to mention National’s Slimline humbucker. Another magnetic pickup, it’s designed especially for National-style resonators. But it works on a variety of guitars as well.
Compared to some other magnetic pickups here, it has a slightly warmer tone. So it’s a bit closer to an acoustic-like tone. However, I’d still recommend that you combine it with a microphone for a fuller sound. Here’s how it sounds combined with a guitar’s natural acoustic output.
Resonator Guitar Pickups: Conclusion
I hope this article has helped you think through which pickups might be best for your resonator guitar!
And if you want to read more about the resonator guitar 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!
The best resonator guitar pickups for 2022 ?
Top of your list is Highlande IP-1X.
Whilst I agree it is a fantastic pickup, you completely miss the point that this pickup hasn’t been available for about 2 years as the owners of the company retired over 2yrs ago, and tried to sell their business. However, with the Covid Pandemic starting, there was no one willing to buy the company.
So, your best resonator guitar pickups list for 2022 can’t unfortunately count the Highlander pickup as a top choice for installing.
I am working with a UK manufacturer for something similar though – but getting nowhere fast with them. Hoping for some progress soon – but it’s like pulling teeth with them (and I should know, as I’m actually a Dentist by day !!!).
I am aware that Highlander IP-1X is no longer in production. However, getting your hands on one of these is still worth it. I’ll see to edit the article and clarify the issue.
Thanks for commenting!