Don, I have 2 small Barcus Berry pickups on the inside of my Shiro copy of a Gibson F. I use an EQ box and runi through the board. Sounds just fine. Shiro makes a real good copy of the Lloyd Loar forabout $600.00. I use Jim Dunlop Tortex Sharpies .73 for both picking and chording. Thye're stiff enough for lead work without the "clater" you get from more flexible picks. And Gibson Mandolin strings. For a beginner, one thing to practise (among many) is to make sure your upstroke is as strong as the downstroke, and practise the tremolo until you can sustain it without breaks.
All the best, have fun, and listen to Derrymacash.