Magnetic soundhole pickups have a lot of positive attributes: easy installation, feedback resistance, and a lack of the dreaded quack sounds that occur with the more common undersaddle pickups. On the other hand, magnetic pickups usually sound more electric than acoustic and are susceptible to noise from electronic interference. Many soundhole pickups are heavy and need to be clamped tightly across the soundhole, which can affect the acoustic tone of the guitar.
Mojotone, a company based in Burgaw, North Carolina, has introduced a model designed to rectify the common issues with magnetic pickups, while maintaining their advantages. The Quiet Coil NC-1 ($189.95 street) is a handmade single-coil active pickup that incorporates noise-reduction technology with an extended frequency response for a more natural, less electric tone. The company states that its goal is to match the sound of a condenser microphone.
The pickup is powered by a pair of common CR2032 batteries, which are predicted to last for 500 hours of playing time. The NC-1 features a battery test button as well as a small volume control on the body of the pickup. Installation is easy—the unit is small enough that I was able to temporarily install it in a Martin OM without even loosening the strings. The Quiet Coil is exceptionally lightweight (under 1.6 ounces) and uses cork pads that should be safe for most finishes.
I explored the Quiet Coil by playing through several amps, and, because the company suggests the pickup could substitute for a mic in the studio, I also recorded the pickup directly and listened over monitors. The tone is unique, with prominent higher frequencies, a sense of ambience, and less electric-guitar color than expected. It’s difficult for any pickup to compete with a well-miked guitar, but the sound was quite natural, balanced, and acoustic-sounding. It was a little surprising to not hear the typical magnetic big bass response, but a little EQ easily adds additional low end and warmth.
If you’ve been tempted by magnetic pickups but felt they sounded too electric, the Mojotone Quiet Coil NC-1 might be what you are looking for. mojotone.com
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.