We’ve seen some impressive acoustic pickups out there, but none that have wowed us recently quite like the Fishman PowerTap. The new system is available in two versions – the PowerTap Infinity, which combines Fishman’s Tap body sensor with a Matrix Infinity pickup, and the PowerTap Earth, which pairs the Tap with a Rare Earth pickup.
We recently hooked up acoustic blues picker Justin Johnson with the PowerTap Earth system, and to say he was impressed would be an under(saddle) statement.
“After playing it for a little while, this is definitely one of my favorite acoustic pickups,” he says about the PowerTap Earth, which he has installed in a PRS acoustic.
As for what he loves about it? Simply, the PowerTap is “one of the most versatile pickups for both the studio and playing live,” Johnson says.
For starters, there’s the Rare Earth pickup, a totally noiseless, powerful humbucker. “It’s got special magnets,” Johnson says, which results in a tone that is “very warm, not chime-y. It gives you a lot of body and clarity and it’s very articulate.”
Johnson goes on to demo the Rare Earth pickup by itself, and then he begins to demonstrate the magic by blending in the PowerTap.
“What’s awesome about including the PowerTap sensor underneath the bridge is that it’s sensing basically everything that the magnetic pickup is not – all of the motion that’s taking place on the top of the guitar,” he says. “That’s the thing that’s so unique about the PowerTap.”
The result is a sound that is “more three-dimensional,” Johnson continues. “More like this guitar sounds in the room. But it’s still very controllable. You have this nice, big, fat signal from the humbucker pickup, but then you get all the articulation, all the dynamics... the resonance of the actual wood on the body starts coming through.”
Even better, via the onboard blend knob, users can dial in precisely how much of the Rare Earth and how much of the PowerTap they want in their sound.
What’s more, in addition to a mono signal, the pickup system can be run in stereo, with the Rare Earth sent to one source and the PowerTap to another.
If it sounds like the PowerTap Earth offers a lot of different options, “that’s because there are a lot of different options,” Johnson says. “That’s what’s so cool about this.
“The possibilities are just incredible,” he continues. “I love it.”
To check out the PowerTap Earth or PowerTap Infinity for yourself, head over to Fishman.