For most guitarists, the general appeal of artist signature gear is being able to play the same instruments and duplicate the same sounds used by the artists themselves.
However, truly great signature gear can also help guitarists find their own voice and can be embraced by players from a variety of genres, like the Gibson Les Paul or, more recently, the EVH Wolfgang.
Fishman’s new Fluence Signature and Custom Series humbucking pickup sets developed with Polyphia guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage will certainly appeal to fans of Polyphia’s innovative multi-textural tones, but even guitarists ranging from conservative traditionalists to adventurous progressives will be enticed by the impressive sonic character and versatility that these pickups offer.
We evaluated each set separately installed in a pair of virtually identical Ibanez AZ42P1 guitars with basswood bodies, roasted maple necks and rosewood fingerboards. Switches consisted of a three-way pickup selector and a three-way mini toggle for selecting each voice. Both test models also had Fishman’s optional lithium ion battery pack.
The Tim Henson Signature Series set is designed to provide acoustic-style clean tones in addition to a wide range of full humbucking and single-coil tones for heavier electric textures.
The Scott LePage Custom Series is more electric-oriented, providing vintage and hot-rodded humbucker and single-coil tones as well as voices optimized for clean tones.
Both pickups feature Alnico V bar magnets and are available with either black or white bobbins, but the Hensons have 12 screw polepieces while the LePages have six slug and six screw polepieces that are gold plated. Both sets are direct replacements for standard-size humbuckers.
The Tim Henson set offers a diverse range of tones and textures, including semi-acoustic. The bridge pickup’s voices consist of hot-rodded Classic with a 1.65Hz midrange peak (1), Henson’s enhanced humbucker with 2.3kHz and 480Hz peaks (2) and a 6kHz peak single-coil (3) that Henson usually uses combined with neck pickup single-coil voice.
The neck humbucker’s voices include a thick, smooth humbucker (1), a 9.5kHz and 450Hz peak setting designed to replicate his electric-acoustic solidbody nylon string guitar’s tone when used with a clean amp setting (2) and a single-coil with a 4.2kHz peak (3) that he prefers in the aforementioned neck/bridge setting above.
Scott LePage’s set provides a versatile selection of electric guitar tones. The bridge pickup offers a vintage PAF voice with a 2.4kHz midrange peak (1), a classic hot-rodded voice with a darker 1.7kHz peak that still maintains outstanding clarity and definition (2) and slightly overwound single-coil voice with a 4kHz peak (3).
The neck humbucker’s voices consist of a vintage PAF with 3kHz peak (1), an exclusive custom humbucker voice with 4.7kHz and 360Hz peaks with distinctive brilliant chime, full bodied mids and tight bass (2) and a vintage single coil with 5kHz peak (3).
Fishman Fluence electric guitar pickups in general are great for guitarists who prefer to employ a wide variety of tones without changing instruments, but with each of these sets the differences between voices can be so dramatic that it truly sounds like an entirely different guitar is being played.
The 12 different voices provided by these two sets cover an incredible range. If you’re a session player who wants to minimize cartage, these two sets can cover a lot of ground with just two guitars.
My favorite humbucker tones are a toss-up between the Henson’s enhanced bridge voice 2, which is tastefully punchy and well balanced, and the LePage’s vintage PAF voice 1, which has the aggressive yet sweet character players want from a good PAF.
The single-coil tones are stellar as well, and while I found that the Henson set’s neck voice 2 didn’t quite deliver the nylon-string-style tones promised, I’m sure that Henson employs some clever tricks in his rig to accomplish that goal.
- PRICE: $289.95 / £329 (each set)
- FEATURES: Neck and bridge humbuckers, each with three switchable voices
- COLOR OPTIONS: Black, White
- CONTACT: Fishman