Article by Nicholas LaRosa

Photos by Kimberly Annette

Every once in a while a guitar company makes the claim that they have revolutionized pickups. This is usually met with eyes rolling and general skepticism, and rightly so. Since in the last eighty or so years very few significant changes have been made to the design of electric guitar pickups, much less a full blown revolution.

While I know I risk sounding a bit naïve, I believe it’s possible that Fishman Transducers has done just that. NAMM 2014 saw Fishman electronics showing off their new Fishman Fluence pickups. Fluence pickups are the result of numerous new technologies and use Fluence Core “coils and true Multi-Voice electronics give the player the idealized sound they are shooting for.”_H5A3316

Traditional passive pickups are made with wire-wound coils wrapped around a bar magnet. This wire wound magnet senses the vibrations in the strings and transduce this into an electrical signal that is then sent to the amp or preamp. This style of pickup, however, is susceptible to various tonal inconsistencies, capacitance problems, hum, and loss in response and clarity when subjected to changes in volume.

Fishman didn’t like that, so they’ve set out to change things up a bit. Their new Fluence pickups feature multi-voice technology, which gives the player the ability to go between drastically different tonal qualities, transforming a single pickup from vintage to hot or clean to death defying, with many more combinations set to be released in the near future. For now though, Fishman is releasing these babies in Single Coil, Classic and Modern Humbucker designs and in various different finishes to match your style.

These days, one of the main reasons that guitarists hesitate to work with active pickups is battery life. Fishman saw this one coming a mile away, and as such they’ve given their pickups a Lithium-ion battery pack. While charges on active pickups might typically last only a few hours, this battery pack gives guitarists weeks of battery life on their pickups. In addition, instead of having to play doctor on your guitar in order to reGary_Hoey_Fishman_MG_0041charge your pickups, Fishman made things a little easier, a simple USB charger is all you need to refuel and get back to rocking.

Gary Hoey, friend of Fishman Electronics, surfer-rock guitarist, was on the scene at NAMM 2014 to demonstrate the new pickups as well as share a little bit about why he loves the tone they bring. He used his own fender strat and played through a Marshall cabinet. After one strum, ears were perking up. “When’s the last time you heard a strat played through a Marshall cabinet sound that warm?” asked Hoey to the crowd. One of the significant things that the live demonstration showed was how true tonal quality remained, even after the volume was reduced. Whether he cranked it to as loud as exhibit booths were allowed to go (at times a little louder, evoking glares from Fishman’s neighbors), or brought it down to the two and three range, the tone of the guitar did not falter or distort.

“I like to think of these as being “active done right pickups,” said Hoey. “Now I’m not saying go home and gut your old 1960’s guitar and put a set of these in, but I am saying you should have a guitar with these pickups. Making music is about having tools to enable you to create the sounds that you’re hearing in your head. I produce a lot now, and I’m excited to have a guitar like this in the studio. Whether I want a clean jazz sound or a really dirty rock guitar tone, you get that with this.”







Fishman Fluence - Revolutionary Multi-Voice Pickup
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