Fishman recently released the revolutionary Fluence series pickups that utilize an active, hum-canceling pickup design. Following our review of their Single-Width pickups (VG, March ’15) we take a look at their Classic Humbuckers for retrofitting guitars that use standard-size humbucking pickups.
The Fishman Fluence Classic Humbucker set consists of two pickups constructed from numerous layers of wafer-thin circuit boards paired with a built-in low-impedance preamp. As with the Single-Width set, this allows for a wider array of tones than your average passive pickup set can provide. The Classic Humbucker set is available in nickel, gold, and black nickel.
The Classic Humbuckers include everything needed to wire up a guitar: a pair of 25k volume pots, two 25k push/pull tone pots for accessing the other tone presets via the push/pull, along with two caps and a battery clip for the 9-volt unit that tucks under the control plate of a Les Paul. Also available is a special rechargeable battery pack ($69) that can attach to the back plate and is recharged with a simple micro USB. Not that you’ll need it often – typical battery life is 200 hours.
Removing all of the old wiring and pickups from our Les Paul and carefully installing the new Fishman set was not horribly difficult, but we must advise that we do not recommend that anyone attempt such an installation unless they are quite adept at guitar wiring. With the new set in our Les Paul, we plugged into our Deluxe Reverb to see what the Fishman Fluence Classic Humbuckers had to offer.
Our first impression was that the set had more clarity and high-end than most humbuckers. We loved this quality for clean and overdriven playing, but in the situations where we wanted a more “vintage” sound, we could pull the lower tone pot to the “up” position to activate the high-frequency tilt that rounded out the highs and warmed things up. The second push/pull activated a second tonal preset that gave the neck pickup more highs and a midrange growl like a classic P-90, while the bridge pickup was transformed from a PAF-style pickup into a hot-rodded humbucker tone with more grind and smoother highs.
For players who rely solely on high-gain tones, Fishman also offers a Modern Humbucker set. Players looking for versatility, though, are likely to find all they need right under their fingers with the Fishman Fluence Classic Humbucker set, from classic PAF to P-90 to overwound humbucker tones.
This article originally appeared in VG December 2015 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.