PHOTOS: Ken Susi, Fishman Artist Relations, in the control room of the Fishman recording studio. Larry Fishman, Rick Toone.
To the left of the reception area in Fishman corporate headquarters, a soundproof glass wall encloses the live performance stage. Classic amplifiers from Fender, EVH, Marshall crowd the backline, along with Fishman's iconic Loudbox acoustic guitar combo and SA-Series PA.
Larry Fishman and I occupied deep black leather chairs in the semi-darkness, watching and listening intently as Ken Susi, and Rob Ketch (Vice President of OEM Sales) put Fathom 7-string and Fluence-equipped Les Pauls & Jacksons through their paces on the brightly lit stage. Larry had just finished showing me the stacked circuit boards which form the core of the Fluence pickup system.
"To my ear, the Fluences sound like a new branch on the evolutionary tree of pickup design," I shouted to Larry. "A different species."
He nodded, pleased with what he was hearing onstage.
Fluence technology is active, powered by lithium ion battery. This allows some fundamental differences in how tonality is captured, as well as the frequencies available to work with. The nature of the sound is quite distinct.
In the high end world of professional audio recording, solid state and vacuum tube technologies are intermixed in the pre-amp and compressor racks. Mic cabinets, too. Sound is captured via DAW or analog tape. Mixing desks are solid state, vacuum tube, or digital. Guitar amps, equally so.
None of these approaches is inherently "better" — as evidenced by decades of wonderful recordings. Each of these technologies is a tool, which in skilled hands can produce specific and spectacular results.
What excites me about the Fluence technology is not how well it can emulate classic magnetic pickup design, but instead potential, with new paths to explore.
Rick, I really love the way you've refined the top carbon fiber plate on Blueshift so that more of the wood shows, and the sensual vaulted curve over the tone knob is accentuated to great effect. Old world dedication to craft, multiple arabesque curves, next generation materials and technology effortlessly blend in a multicultural dance of singular beauty and inspiration. (Ede Wright)
PHOTOS: Patent pending USM-PRO™ 'Blueshift' extended range 7-string guitar. Carbon fiber, birch.
PHOTOS: Patented Intonation Cantilever™ solo bridges, precision machined from stainless steel and bearing bronze. Tosin Abasi signature series Fluence.
PHOTOS: Element™ 7-string neck machined from single billet aircraft grade aluminum. Extended range with drop A and D.