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This article was originally published in issue #66
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Three exceptional voices in each pickup.
Behaves just like a traditional pickup.
No “covered” option yet.
Magnet Material: Alnico V
Position: Bridge, Neck
This Fishman Fluence Classic Humbucker Open Core Pickup Set is a great sonic upgrade for your guitar. Unlike most wire-wound pickups, Fluence pickups manage to deliver the classic humbucker sound — without noise or inductance issues. This pickup offers three distinctly different voices — a clear, vintage-sounding PAF humbucker, a muscular, hot-rodded humbucker, and a vintage-style single-coil tone. Here's Nick Jennison with the full rundown.
Larry Fishman (the “Fishman” in Fishman) has been innovating in the pickup world for a long time now, but it’s only fairly recently that Fishman has entered the murky realm of electric guitar pickups. Launched in 2014, their “Fluence” range of multi-voice pickups represent an entirely new way of building the humble electric guitar pickup.
Made using stacked printed circuit boards in lieu of the traditional method of wire wrapped around a “bobbin”, Fluence pickups offer a number of distinct advantages over more typical designs. Firstly, they’re incredibly consistent, so two of the same model should sound nearly identical, and they’re also less susceptible to variations in temperature and magnetic degradation. Secondly, they’re exceptionally quiet, with almost no hum or microphonic squeals no matter how loud or gained-out your amp is set. Lastly (and probably most importantly) they can provide a player with a number of very different voices from a single pickup.
The new Open Core Classic Humbuckers build Fishman’s existing dual-voiced humbuckers, offering no less than three distinct sounds in each pickup - a classic P.A.F. sound, a more modern “hot rodded” humbucker and a vintage-style single coil. All accessible using your guitar’s controls.
Sonically, the Open Core Classic Humbuckers are exceptional. The unique construction methods used to make these pickups affords Fishman an unprecedented level of fine tuning without having to compromise output, string pull or form factor. The “Classic P.A.F.” voice captures all of the clarity and dynamics of the best vintage humbuckers, with a great throaty “clonk” when you dig in hard. Switching to voice 2 turns the bridge pickup into a “Hot Rodded” humbucker with a little more output and a strong midrange push that takes your amp over the edge, while the tighter bass response further improves clarity and articulation with higher gain sounds. The same voice on the neck pickup (which Fishman describe as “Airy and Open”) shifts the bass response higher for a faster attack, while extending the high end and adding a little punch in the upper mids - ideal for making sure your shreddy lead lines carry in a dense mix. The single coils are very reminiscent of a great Telecaster bridge pickup and a Strat neck pickup, performing very well across a wide range of gain from funk and country right up to Malmsteen-esque histrionics - all with zero noise!
Like all Fluence pickups, the Open Core Classic Humbuckers require power, either from a 9v battery or Fishman’s optional Lithium Ion battery pack. Either option offers over 200 hours of play time. However, while these pickups are technically “active”, they don’t exhibit any of the issues that typically face active designs. They’r every bit as dynamic and organic sounding as my favourite passive set, and they even play nicely with fussy germanium fuzz pedals!
The Fishman Open Core Classic Humbuckers offer three distinct voices, all of which stack up against any comparable passive pickup while offering much better signal-to-noise and string pull performance. I’m absolutely staggered by how good these pickups are, and while they’re certainly not cheap, they’re very much worth the investment!