I recently visited the Fishman Electronics company in Andover, Massachusetts to get a firsthand look at their new Fluence pickups. Not only was I treated to a great tour of the facilities by Fishmans’s Chris DeMaria but also Unearth guitarist Ken Susi.
The duo gave me a tour of what can only be described as the golden palace of guitar tone. Fishman looks like part manufacturing plant, part laboratory with the ultimate play rooms for musicians. Walking the manufacturing floor you are surrounded by machinery that can churn out any prototype the mind can comprehend. Once these prototypes are tested, perfected and tested again they eventually make their way to the production area at Fishman.
I was impressed to see Fishman employees diligently working on the Fishman Fluence pickups. It was a feeling of pride knowing the pickup I was watching being assembled that could one day be in my guitar was made mere miles from my house.
After the factory tour Susi brought me to Fishman’s sound lab where he enthusiastically explained his quest for tone that brought him to Fishman. Ken explained how the Fishman Fluence allows him to play down-tuned high gain metal without losing definition. Playing a power chord he demonstrated how with even the most aggressive settings string definition remained clear and balanced.
Ken was gracious enough to hand me his Slash Les Paul loaded with the Flunce Classic Humbuckers. The first thing I noticed was the response was instant. Much more responsive than a traditional pickup. What blew me away was the meat this pickup has. Playing Ken’s down-tuned Les Paul through an EVH took this old school hard rocker out of my comfort zone, in a good way. I found myself playing metal chugs and ripping pick harmonics. Pick harmonics? I told you these pickups were responsive.
Fishman describes the Classic Hotrod tone as “Quintessential Hot Rodded bridge humbucker tone without all the baggage.”. I would like to put in layman’s terms what is really going on here. With traditional high output humbuckers there is a push and pull for output and clarity. As stronger magnets and more coil winds are added to the pickups the magnetic fields get larger reducing clarity and string separation.
The Fluence technology allows the guitarist to achieve the power of the high output humbucker while still preserving the tone of the instrument and nuances of even the most delicate chords.
Each Fluence pickup has two district tones, the Vintage P.A.F. setting achieved by popping the push pull volume knob back into position. I tuned Ken’s Les Paul to standard tuning and ripped a bit of Joe Walsh and Pete Townsend on the guitar (Ken I hope I didn’t kill your guitar’s metal mojo). I was blown away by the distinct 180 in tone. This is nothing like coil splitting or series/parallel switching. The Fluence was giving me a new distinct tone as if a new pickup had been placed in the guitar.
When switching to the Vintage P.A.F. neck a world of options opened up for me. The Fluence neck is perfect for blues, rock or even jazz. The pickup is so tight and responsive it gave me the ability to add slight tonal nuances by adjusting my picking attack a tad. When I pulled the tone knob into position two the guitar really started to sing.
The second position in the neck pickup in incredibly musical. It is chime-like and sparkling. Even though Ken had us going straight into the amp with no effects I was force to ask him if there was any type of chorus on the guitar. The tone was crystal, simmering beauty.
The Fluence pickup comes in many options. There is the Classic Humbucker set with alnico magnets, the Modern humbucker set which is a ceramic/alnico mix and the Single Width for Strat. Yep, now you Strat players can go from cool vintage to Texas hot with the flip of a switch.
These pickups are all upside and will push your tone and creativity to new limits. To checkout Fishman Fluece pickups head over to Fishman.com or you favorite retailer.