Fishman PowerBridge Hands On Review: Happiness And The Pursuit of Tone.

I have for most of my life been in one player guitar bands. I cannot say if has been by design or fate. Being the lone guitarist and having eclectic tastes in music I have relied on a diverse collection of guitars to paint a sonic spectrum of tone. One aspect of this range is mixing acoustic and electric characteristics.

At one point I was using an ES 335 for this task. While the ES335 is a great guitar, it is not going to give you a pure acoustic guitar sound. The other drawback to the classic Gibson is the ES 335 is prone to feedback when pushed to the limits with gain.

A few years ago I solved the conundrum when I bought my Parker MidiFly. The Parker is equipped with a Fishman bridge that gives authentic sounding acoustic guitar tones. The best thing about this pickup system is it is piezo pickup; feedback is no longer an issue.

The Parker is also armed with a DiMarzio humbucker and two single coils. This gives me the ability to dial in any variety of tone. One tone that has been able to elude me is the classic Gretsch sound.

The obvious path to achieving this sound would be to buy a Gretsch guitar. The less expensive route would be purchase a TV Jones pickup the cornerstone of the classic Gretsch sound. I know just placing a TV Jones pickup in another guitar isn’t going to give an authentic Gretsch tone, but it will get you closer.

The guitar I picked for this hardware replacement was my 1980 Ibanez Iceman. The guitar was customized (hacked) in the 80’s and was turned into a single pickup guitar, the rhythm pickup, and the pickup selector switch was filled in. I figured if I was going with a Gretsch sound I should go all the way.

I had the guitar sprayed a retro silver sparkle akin to the old Gretsch SilverJets. Keeping with the SilverJet Theme I added a Bigsby tailpiece. Spetzel locking tuners and a Stellartone tonestyler 8-way tone knob are more modern additions to the guitar.

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I knew the TV Jones would give me a Malcolm Young like sound placed in the Iceman. To emulate the sound of a 60’s hollow body Gretsch I needed to put in a piezo pickup to add some acoustic tones. Being 100% satisfied with the sound and clarity of my Parker, I decided to stick with Fishman.

There are a lot of respected artists using Fishman. Alex Lifeson, Slash and most recently I have seen Pete Townshend using this impressive bridge.

I caught The Who on the Palladium channel playing Pinball Wizard. I was amazed at the clarity of the acoustic guitar intro coming out of Townshend’s Stratocaster. Then I noticed the additional knob placed directly behind the bridge. The Fishman PowerChip: this is an add on to the PowerBridge that lets you easily blend the acoustic sounds with your magnetic pickups.

Fishman suggests a professional installation of the PowerBridge I couldn’t agree more. Professionally installed the PowerBridge has little to no changes to the guitar.

dsc04131I shipped my guitar off to DiBurro Guitars in Exeter, NH. Pat DiBurro has a Martian & Taylor certified shop. More currently he has started taking on repairs for Collings Guitars. Not only does DiBurro Guitars cater to the fore mentioned brands. They can fix anything with wood and strings. They can also make my twisted guitar dreams come true. Dreams like turning a 1980’s Ibanez Iceman into a 1960’s Gretsch SilverJet.

Now that I have the guitar in my hands it is beyond expectations. The TV Jones Classic Plus was an excellent choice. The punchy mids of the magnetic pickup sound great mixed with the piezo. The Fishman on its own is giving me a big bouncy jumbo acoustic sound. Adding some distortion to the Fishman gives a bright clear rock sound. Mixing the two pickups gives me a world of possibilities.

The Fishman PowerChip comes with a smart jack. This input jack can sense whether you are placing with a mono or stereo guitar cord and splits the signal accordingly. This gives you the ability use a traditional guitar cable or split the signal to a regular amp for the magnetic pickup and send the piezo direct to the PA or an acoustic amp. There are so many applications for the PowerBridge.

the PowerBridge is less expensive than buying a gig worthy acoustic and eliminates the need to drag an additional guitar on a gig. Dollar for dollar this is one of the least costly and most dramatic upgrades you can make to your guitar.