When I hit the stage with my acoustic guitar, I tend to favor a soundhole pickup rather than close miking to achieve a convincingly authentic acoustic sound.
Since it mounts snugly onto the soundhole, a magnetic pickup is unobtrusive and a great way to amplify your acoustic without ruining your guitar’s finish or having to permanently install electronics that can quickly become outdated.
Now, I’ve tried my fair share of soundhole pickups that sound decent, but finding one that doesn’t overly color or alter your acoustic’s inherent tone can be challenging. Thankfully, I discovered the DiMarzio Black Angel, an excellent magnetic soundhole pickup that enhances your acoustic’s tone with refreshing transparency.
The Black Angel comes elegantly packaged with everything you’ll need to mount the pickup quickly or permanently install it. The quick mount 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch ten-foot cable plugs directly into the Black Angel pickup and from there into your amp or a direct box. Installation couldn’t be easier, with a small Phillips-head screwdriver and a few minutes of your time, the pickup easily slides into your acoustic’s soundhole, and the two outer screws with padded mounts underneath secure it into place. The included install version comes with a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch Switchcraft endpin jack.
The Black Angel is a passive magnetic humbucking pickup, but don’t be afraid that it’ll behave like a DiMarzio Super Distortion humbucker. Its Rare Earth humbucking magnet responds quietly, and is remarkably touch sensitive. I found that I actually had to turn up my acoustic amp and goose the gain in order to hear the full range of the pickup’s abundant capability.
Using Collings, Cort and Taylor acoustics, the Black Angel is incredibly dynamic, albeit slightly electric sounding, but graciously captures the nuance of each acoustic in a far more natural way than any piezo pickup I’ve heard. What’s nice is how balanced the tonal range is across each string, with a brilliant high-end that sounds warm and crisp. A built-in phase switch is there to shape your sound when combining external source devices (piezo and microphone) and to suppress feedback, but your ears will dictate which position is best here.
STREET PRICE: $164.99
MANUFACTURER: DiMarzio, dimarzio.com
THE BOTTOM LINE: The DiMarzio Black Angel is a quiet and responsive magnetic soundhole pickup that installs quickly and delivers a balanced acoustic sound with exceptional clarity.