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norm barrows

fishman fluence

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so i'm trying to find out how fishman fluence pickups work, and i get this....

"Fluence is based on the notion that coils can be applied rather than wound. Like traces on a circuit board, concentric spirals of “coil” can be printed. But for all of us electric guitar huggers, sound eventually comes down to that critical point where a vibrating string excites a pickup magnet."

a vibrating string does not excite a pickup magnet.

ferrous metal moving through a magnetic field changes the magnetic field - like swinging a bat underwater - it perturbs the water some.

when the magnetic field around a conductor changes, it moves some of the electrons in the conductor, creating current.

so the string moving changes the magnetic field. and the changing magnetic field moves electrons in the pickup coil.

its called induced electro-motive force. 2nd year physics.

so, since this nonsense is googles best answer, anybody out there know whats really going on?

i've heard claims of 48 laminated circuit boards.  i guess with "little coils" on them?  (jeez i can't believe this sh*t)

They don't use conventional copper windings.  It looks like they sample known pickups, then assemble a stack of laminated circuit boards (with little coils?) to reproduce that pickup's frequency response curve.   the pickups are capable of two distinct tones from a single pickup.   Not hard to do, just put in the boards for both pickup tones.    With 48 boards its shouldn't be too hard to squeeze in.

specifically, they  make metal pickups that seem to have some desirable characteristics, specifically the second voice - used for clean ballads ("still loving you" by the scorpions comes to mind).

but i can't find any real info on how they work,   and i'm not really interested in a black box solution. 

 

the sad thing is that this tech looks like it could reproduce almost any frequency response curve desired, but they have chosen to use it only for cloning traditional pickup tones.  so their sales pitch is all about how classic pickup tones are how guitars are supposed to sound.   a rather closed minded approach.     if everyone thought that way, we wouldn't even have humbuckers.

 

want to make a cool back box pedal?   its called a true bypass pedal.    get a pedal box.  install input and output jacks,   wire the input jack to the output jack.  now install a stomp switch.  hook it up to a led and 9 volt jack.  now glue the pedal box closed, and squirt it black, now label the switch "bypass / on".  one way is "bypass", the other is "on".   what do those mean?  who knows?  who cares? its a black box.  but it does true bypass! <g>.

  

 

Edited by norm barrows

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As their website says, " you can depend on us to cut out the “voodoo” and get to the true source of great tone. "

Does that mean they replace the "voodoo" with their secret recipe snake oil?

The True Bypass pedal design is within my electronic skills! I can even figure out some tempting modifications: Gold plated jacks and Pure Silver Wiring for lossless signal transfer...

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That’s interesting.
 

im just thinking out loud so don’t slate me here!  By stacking pcb coils instead of winding them, could they better reproduce an exact sound over and over?  You essentially get the exact same winding pattern (without winding) and number of coils so there’s less chance of each individual pickup sounding different?

you've still got variations in pole pieces but it has to be less of a variant and provide tighter quality control?

from a mass production point of view this approach has to be better than having multiple computer controlled spools cooling wire all day?

Currently they are only offering two voicings per pickup but the choice is endless and possibly in their future production plans.

I know Fishman have been around for a while now, but in order to compete in the guitar world unfortunately you have to start by making ‘the most authentic vintage sounds’.  

When Fishman first came outEMG had the active pickup market and they had to try to win over dedicated EMG fans.  Now that they are well established they may well experiment a bit more.

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1 hour ago, norm barrows said:

anybody out there know whats really going on?

i've heard claims of 48 laminated circuit boards.  i guess with "little coils" on them?  (jeez i can't believe this sh*t)

I don't see an issue with the description. It helps the layperson visualise what goes on inside a pickup when the string induces the alternating current within its windings.

And yes, that's exactly how they're constructed. Personally I think it's a really clever way of implementing a pickup with very repeatable and controlable characteristics. I actually kinda surprised it wasn't thought up sooner.

 

1 hour ago, norm barrows said:

They don't use conventional copper windings.

Sure they do. Those copper windings are just permanently etched onto a stack of multilayer circuit boards, rather than being a discrete piece of wire wrapped around a bobbin. The principle is the same. The implementation differs.

 

1 hour ago, norm barrows said:

but i can't find any real info on how they work,   

The same way any active pickup works. It's a coil of 'wires' wrapped around some magnets. There is a preamp on board which boosts, buffers and conditions the signal. Some external connections are provided for the user to play around with voicings and coil splits.

 

20 minutes ago, willliam_q said:

By stacking pcb coils instead of winding them, could they better reproduce an exact sound over and over?  

Exactly. It also enables them to lower the cost of construction, as the labour of winding is eliminated altogether.

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9 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

some tempting modifications: Gold plated jacks and Pure Silver Wiring for lossless signal transfer...

use those on the PRO model!   and it has to be signature...   find some down-on-their-luck artist from 15 years ago...  give them a share of the profits in exchange for their endorsement.  then run the company like a hollywood production - all profits go to catering, so you never have to share with your spokesperson. 

hmm... what other improvements could be done?

kill switch pedal!   and a pro version!   yeah, they would actually have to work,   still - its super cheap to build, its a more advanced bypass box, the switch is hooked up this time! <g>.

so then we have to release the multi effects pedal version, in regular and pro styles.  it has both a bypass, and a kill switch.  and we charge twice what the other two together would cost together.    hey - it was a lot of work to combine both features in one box!  <g>

and you name the entire line of pedals "Junktone Classics"

it would sell like hotcakes!   

or do something stupid like a box with a 0.22 mfd cap across the leads, and call it the "tonemeister" - and you can get that with a gain knob for an extra $100.  just add a pot inline.

i'm telling you, there's money to be made in selling black boxes to laymen.

caveat emptor!    here comes Junktone!  <g>.

 

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So i finished watching the "Know your gear" review of fishman fluence pickups - not the metal ones unfortunately.

Their "two voices"  is more like coil tap.   the tonal differences are slight.  probably due to their "traditional tones only" approach to using the technology. 

its either a terrible waste, or the stuff's not that impressive in the first place - IE barely better than coil tap.    Either way, its nothing super special.  looks to be more gimmicky BS, designed to separate non-techie players from their take of the door   ( IE their share of the cover charge at the bar they are gigging at that night).

 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, norm barrows said:

its nothing super special.  looks to be more gimmicky BS,

As @curtisa said, they work as any active pickup works, the only difference being how the coil has been made. If the basic design remains the same, no big changes can be expected to the properties of the end product no matter what the manufacturing process is.

Similar to the bypass pedal: Installing the jacks, switch and led on a circuit board would be cheaper and easier than point to point wiring, also no nuts would be needed and a rechargeable battery would take care of powering the led. Lots to like for cutting down the costs without sacrificing the functionality and with carefully chosen key words a higher price would be justifiable due to the improved design.

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10 hours ago, willliam_q said:

could they better reproduce an exact sound over and over?

yes, this is one of their claims.

so they have a process that guarantees consistent results - no lemons.   this is probably more useful to them than the customer.    lemons are not a common thing in pickups. 

10 hours ago, curtisa said:

I don't see an issue with the description. It helps the layperson visualise what goes on inside a pickup when the string induces the alternating current within its windings.

which one?   the one from google (a quote from premierguitar.com), or the stuff on the fishman site?

the quote is from this article, which google quoted...

https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/20082-unwound-fishman-rethinks-the-electric-guitar-pickup

i didn't read the article.   glancing at it just now, it appears they have small 1mm tall vertical coils in each lamanate layer, and by selecting how many they arrange around the magnet, and the pattern of placement around the magnet, they control the frequency response curve of the pickup to mimic some sampled tone from an existing pickup (such as a strat neck single coil).   It says they place "enough" and "hook them all together" to make a full coil.   So that answers that at least.    from the photos it looks like each layer has rings of holes around the magnet that they can place coils in.  there is likely some copper that connects them all together in some clever manner regardless of which holes have coils and which are left empty.

so they can print a pickup like printing a circuit board.    cool.    clever.   probably cheap to produce once you have the tooling in place.    uses less copper - your most expensive raw material.     

but is it better? 

its still just a really long copper wire in a magnetic field.   

the fine tuning ability of coil placement is the slick part.    but what does that get you?   all the holes filled with coils = big fat warm humbucker ?   and just enough coils to work gets you a thinned out single coil kind of thing?  and in-between coil placements gets you in-between tones?   that's not much different from conventional coils.   more "little coils" would essentially be more windings.   vertical placement must not have a large negative impact, or they wouldn't use it.  i don't see a whole lot different.   its still a long path of copper in a magnetic field.

10 hours ago, curtisa said:

I actually kinda surprised it wasn't thought up sooner.

tradition - remember?

 

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so the biggest thing is the low manufactring cost, and they don't lowball the competition, they squeeze every dollar they can from the player.    real nice.

sometimes i'm tempted to start a company just to put people like that out of business.  

 

i finished reading that article.    They did some really good science and engineering.   what a waste.     

they mapped the magnetic fields.....

FluenceSC-UP_WEB.jpg.9a96c87587b0d0259936a784e15b363d.jpg

 

 

and came up with frequency response curves....

PG-Fluence-freq-curves-df-v3_WEB.jpg.ce8eb53631e00b4cab7f3ba77888142a.jpg

 

 

they can make a pickup with a flat curve, then edit from there.

and do the make a scooped curve pickup with lots of bottom, and clear treble?    or a flat curve pickup, giving the player a blank canvas to work with?   (wouldn't mind having one of those myself - might eliminate  an eq from the signal chain).

no - they model the same old same old.

 

The guitar industry is killing itself by pandering to those stuck in the past.

 

Edited by norm barrows

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3 hours ago, norm barrows said:

its either a terrible waste, or the stuff's not that impressive in the first place - IE barely better than coil tap.    Either way, its nothing super special.  looks to be more gimmicky BS, designed to separate non-techie players from their take of the door   ( IE their share of the cover charge at the bar they are gigging at that night).

You seem to be taking a rather extreme approach to a product you've only had exposure to by watching/listening as a third person. Have you actually tried a set of these pickups yourself? Why so much hate?

 

1 hour ago, norm barrows said:

which one?   the one from google (a quote from premierguitar.com), or the stuff on the fishman site?

Either one. While both a worded to sell the product, they're both perfectly valid analogies to explain what goes on inside the pickup without getting too bogged down in the engineering side.

 

1 hour ago, norm barrows said:

from the photos it looks like each layer has rings of holes around the magnet that they can place coils in.  there is likely some copper that connects them all together in some clever manner regardless of which holes have coils and which are left empty.

No. They're multilayer printed circuit boards where the traces wrap around the magnetic centre, just like a regular pickup. The holes are plated-through vias for connecting each layer in the PCB stack together to add more turns to the winding. Multiple PCBs are stacked up to create even more turns, thus giving the required number of copper wraps to allow the pickup to work as per the 'traditional' technology. There is no threading of copper wire through any of those holes.

 

1 hour ago, norm barrows said:

the fine tuning ability of coil placement is the slick part.    but what does that get you?   all the holes filled with coils = big fat warm humbucker ?   and just enough coils to work gets you a thinned out single coil kind of thing?  and in-between coil placements gets you in-between tones?   that's not much different from conventional coils

Is that an issue? Most of a pickup manufacturer's market comes from people who actively seek out round pegs for round holes. A player who wants a humbucker tone from their guitar is unlikely to fork out money for some space-age pickup that doesn't sound (or look, if the visuals are also a factor) like a humbucker.

FWIW, there are whacky pickup technologies out there, but they're not big sellers. That may be because they're quite expensive, they look weird, they're electrically complex, or (heaven forbid) people don't like the way they sound.

 

1 hour ago, norm barrows said:

tradition - remember?

Or perhaps the technology wasn't good enough to execute it reliably and repeatedly until recently. The miniaturisation of technology is a constantly evolving thing. It may be that the ability to manufacture the required multilayer PCBs with hair-thin traces at extremely tight spacings has only become viable at a decent cost in the last 5-10 years.

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On 3/12/2020 at 5:18 PM, curtisa said:

Have you actually tried a set of these pickups yourself?

why bother?    even on youtube you can hear the difference between voices, and its not that big.   

IE they are revolutionary in manufacture method, but at best evolutionary in tone.

So then its down to nit picking about things like:

1. less hum under worst case scenario

2.   the performance of their pre-amp vs other active pickups

3.  the superiority of their second voice tone, vs things like coil split and coil tap

while they seem to do quite well at all of the above vs conventional pickups, again its evolutionary, not revolutionary.

i was simply hoping for more, that's all.

 

.

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10 minutes ago, norm barrows said:

why bother?    even on youtube you can hear the difference between voices, and its not that big.   

How much of what can be heard in the Youtube demos is down to the amp the player is plugging in to? Are the differences pne person can hear, or lack thereof the same as the differences somebody else can hear? Would those differences be more pronounced through your own particular amp, effects and speaker setup?

 

13 minutes ago, norm barrows said:

its evolutionary, not revolutionary.

It's marketing speak designed to sell the product. Does it really matter?

And yes, compared to how pickups have been manufactured over the last 80 years, I think the idea of printing the coils on a PCB and playing with the number of stacks and turns in a controlled manner is revolutionary. No other pickup manufacturer as far as I can tell has done it before, so I think they're well within their rights to claim it as revolutionary technology, even if only for advertising point-scoring.

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4 minutes ago, curtisa said:

And yes, compared to how pickups have been manufactured over the last 80 years, I think the idea of printing the coils on a PCB and playing with the number of stacks and turns in a controlled manner is revolutionary.

agreed.

i guess i'm just disappointed that bringing physics and engineering to bear didn't result in more.

OTOH, its still the same fundamental technology being used to convert string movement to electrical current. So i guess one should not expect miracles.

The article from premierguitar.com said they can create a pickup with a flat response curve, then edit from there.

A flat response curve pickup would be interesting.    many picksups  tend to be very responsive in the midrange.   A pickup engineered for extra treble and /or bass might be useful too.   

let's say you have a regular guitar, and an EQ pedal.    you get a fishman with a curve that matches what you typically set the eq at.    then you can set the EQ flat, and get the same tone (theoretically).   then you can further fine tune that tone with the EQ.   

basically take whatever tone setting you use now, and make that the pickup's response curve - then you can set your tone flat and fine tune further, starting with a baseline that was the best tone you could get with your tone controls before.   

its similar to running two EQ in series.   the fishman is the first EQ, and the eq pedal is the second eq.   the first EQ does the coarse adjustments, and has a typical looking EQ curve.  the second eq does fine tuning and is almost flat.   The trick is to use EQ's with low THD to preserve signal fidelity.   The goal is to push each band to the sweet spot of saturation just before overdrive introduced distortion (or just past if you're DJ'ing a keg party).  The result is it brings out the "echo" in the original signal, resulting in a "front row - center - live" sound.   

 

 

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6 hours ago, curtisa said:

How much of what can be heard in the Youtube demos is down to the amp the player is plugging in to? Are the differences pne person can hear, or lack thereof the same as the differences somebody else can hear? Would those differences be more pronounced through your own particular amp, effects and speaker setup?

 

It's marketing speak designed to sell the product. Does it really matter?

And yes, compared to how pickups have been manufactured over the last 80 years, I think the idea of printing the coils on a PCB and playing with the number of stacks and turns in a controlled manner is revolutionary. No other pickup manufacturer as far as I can tell has done it before, so I think they're well within their rights to claim it as revolutionary technology, even if only for advertising point-scoring.

I did not realize this is how the fluence worked.  kind of makes me like them more as, altho I haven't really looked into them, I was thinking they were 'sposed to be similar to lace/noiseless/toneless.  not a big fan of that genre (lace).  the idea of better controlling the coil, eliminating any chance of microfonics; well that's pretty cool.  would be pretty cool for them to give zephyr a run for their money by plating the coils with silver/gold.  I could see applications for multiple possible coil taps... without getting in the middle here I'm gonna have to agree that is pretty revolutionary.

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On 3/12/2020 at 3:04 AM, norm barrows said:

the sad thing is that this tech looks like it could reproduce almost any frequency response curve desired, but they have chosen to use it only for cloning traditional pickup tones.

 

Don't want to beat a dead horse here, and I am by no means any expert on this. I'm using these in my 8-string build and here is my experience.  Fluence are basically an active pickup. There are other options on the market, but the ones I used were exactly what I was looking for tone wise, going for a clear and punchy piano-like clean tone and tight driven metal. They use the stacked PCB 'coils', but since there are so many of them, they can tap into them at any point and completely change the frequency response. Fishman says they use vintage tones a benchmark, but they take off from there. My set (Tosin Abasi set) has three voices, and the beauty of the way they've done it, is that in the wiring (which are just plugs), you just have one wire for tapping. But the wire isn't a signal wire, it's a control. So, for instance you can combine several pickups control pins and have them all change voices together, or a variety. The kit came with high end pots, and push pull pots to give options, and a lots of mounting hardware. It wasn't expensive compared to any other sets of 8 string pups so I'm thrilled.

Recently I messaged Greg Koch and he has Fishman doing some custom P90s for his guitars. Think about a P90 and the ability to have it SILENT and voices tapped from multiple places within it. I'd say that's pretty new.

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9 hours ago, komodo said:

My set (Tosin Abasi set) has three voices

Nice.  I believe that's a new feature since I looked into them.  At that time they only listed two voice pickups.

 

9 hours ago, komodo said:

a clear and punchy piano-like clean tone and tight driven metal.

Is that pickup model a recent release?  

9 hours ago, komodo said:

They use the stacked PCB 'coils', but since there are so many of them, they can tap into them at any point and completely change the frequency response.

Sounds like they are finally starting to explore that capability.

9 hours ago, komodo said:

Recently I messaged Greg Koch and he has Fishman doing some custom P90s for his guitars.

Now see, that's what I'm talking about.    I have yet to try P90's but they sound like they have a flatter response curve, which could be VERY interesting.    And Fishman could take it even further, creating a flat curve, then giving it a metal scoop.  Clean, responsive, short attack time, clear highs, club level bass, no quack, no mud.   That's what I'm waiting for.

 

Edited by norm barrows

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