It isn’t often that a truly revolutionary new innovation shakes up the world of guitar — especially in the realm of pickups. Between the invention of single coils in the ’30s, to humbucker in the ’50s, and active pickups in the ’70s, not a whole lot has changed. Fishman is one of the few companies we can point to who has drastically altered that landscape in the past several years, and in this Fishman Fluence Modern review, we’ll see what the fuss is all about.
Are the Fishman Fluence Modern Humbuckers Worth the Hype They’ve Built Over the Years?
Over the years, Fishman made a name for themselves in acoustic guitar pickups. They didn’t need to design electric guitar pickups, and it’s safe to say CEO/founder Larry Fishman didn’t want to. There are a lot of heavy-hitters in the pickup game, and Fishman didn’t want to get involved unless he had something new to offer.
The Fishman Fluence Modern active humbucker is a breakthrough. Internally, it utilizes a stacked-coil, multi-voice Fluence Core. This is different from the average copper winding found in other pickups. Namely, it means you can get two distinct voices from a single pickup and wire to toggle between them; alternatively, you could hardwire one voice and leave it at that. They also come in ceramic and alnico flavors with all of the lovely tonal distinctions different magnets provide.
Not only are these multi-voice active pickups, but they’re also completely noise-free. That in itself would be a game changer regardless, while the quality and versatility of tones puts them in their own league entirely.
Who Plays Fishman Fluence Pickups?
Many of the world’s current top musicians have adopted Fishman Fluence pickups. Names include Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes of Animals as Leaders, Devin Townsend, Ryan “Fluff” Bruce, Matt Bellamy (Muse), Brian “Head” Welch (Korn,) Greg Koch, Matt Heafy (Trivium), Stephen Carpenter (Deftones), and many others.
Fishman Fluence Modern Review
How Do They Sound?
Fishman Fluence Modern pickups are extremely versatile. They’re made to deliver thick, high-gain distortion, jangly single-coil chime, and everything in between. Let’s have a look at both the alnico and ceramic Fluence Moderns and what each voice provides.
- Voice 1: Modern Active. Traditional active alnico sound that’s lush and full but equally dynamic and articulated.
- Voice 2: Clean and fluid. This is sort of the ideal neck pickup tone that’s super rich and playable without any associated honk.
- Voice 1: Modern Active High Output. The go-to for modern high-gain tones that are aggressive, tight, and growling.
- Voice 2: Modern Passive Attack. This is a high-output, passive ceramic sound. It responds wonderfully to pick attack and offers gorgeous distortion.
Modern players, especially those in heavier genres, frequently pair a ceramic bridge pickup with an alnico neck. The variety of achievable sounds between the pair is nothing short of impressive. Personally, I’d go for a ceramic bridge in Voice 1 with an alnico neck in Voice 2.
Apart from their versatility, the Fluence Modern’s noise cancellation is a godsend. They’re ridiculously quiet. What that means for the player is that you can always get exceptional clarity, even through a screaming high-gain amplifier. And you can really hear a lot of nuanced dimension and dynamic response by rolling off the volume knob. The detail is almost unreal, because a lot of that stuff is lost between the combination of noisy pickups and amps.
Fluence Moderns are sized like a regular humbucker, so you won’t need to do any routing to squeeze them in. However, wiring can get a bit complicated, especially if you want to enable coil-tapping to take advantage of each pickup’s two voices. And since they are active pickups, they do need a battery to run. You can use a 9V like other active pickups, or use Fishman’s rechargeable one. This could take a bit of finesse, or even some body routing, to install.
Refer to Fishman’s wiring guide for more information.
Materials & Aesthetics
Fishman Fluence Modern humbucker come with the following covers: black plastic, white plastic, gold, nickel, brushed stainless steel, and black nickel.
Conclusion: Are Fishman Fluence Modern Humbuckers Worth the Hefty Price Tag?
Here’s the thing: Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers aren’t any more expensive than other pickups! They may have been slightly cost prohibitive at launch, but today, a pair will set you back less than $300. That’s pretty standard for any quality pair of pickups. Just keep installation costs in mind if you don’t plan to do it yourself. But for the quality and versatility you can get from these things, the total cost of purchase and installation is well worth it for most people.