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DugT

Are Fishman pickups unnecessary with a Helix?

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I'm considering buying a guitar that has Fishman Fluence pickups. Are Fishmans overkill since the Helix has good 60 hurtz hum supression? Another feature of the Fishmans is the gain can be increased by the push of a button but the same can be done with a Helix. 

While we are on the subject of hum, does anyone even need humbuckers if they have a Helix?

Thanks

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If the noise pickup of single coils is a problem for you, then you need noiseless pickups.

But Fluence is just one solution.  There are lots of noiseless single coil replacements for your Strat or Tele.

And yes, the helix has a noise gate, but if you want dynamics in your playing  - especially for low and medium gain, you don't want to do too much with a gate.

From personal experience on a noisy stage - you know the ones with lots of lighting etc - if noise drives you nuts (it does me), the Helix can't fix all that buzzing and fizzing.

I use Dimarzio Area 61pickups and am very happy - but there are Kinman and even Fender solutions.

People will tell you they aren't as good as single coils, but when you don't have to fight the noise, I'd say the freedom to adjust your tone lets you sound better.

Personal opinion!!

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9 hours ago, rvroberts said:

If the noise pickup of single coils is a problem for you, then you need noiseless pickups.

But Fluence is just one solution.  There are lots of noiseless single coil replacements for your Strat or Tele.

And yes, the helix has a noise gate, but if you want dynamics in your playing  - especially for low and medium gain, you don't want to do too much with a gate.

From personal experience on a noisy stage - you know the ones with lots of lighting etc - if noise drives you nuts (it does me), the Helix can't fix all that buzzing and fizzing.

I use Dimarzio Area 61pickups and am very happy - but there are Kinman and even Fender solutions.

People will tell you they aren't as good as single coils, but when you don't have to fight the noise, I'd say the freedom to adjust your tone lets you sound better.

Personal opinion!!

 

Thanks for your reply. I didn't know that the noise gate affects dynamics. I will check to see if my noise gate is set high enough to make much of a difference in dynamics. I haven't noticed it yet. The most distortion I use is classic rock style, not metal. 

Actually, noise isn't a problem for me. I'm just a sofa player in a relatively noise free newish house. I have guitars with humbuckers but I prefer the sound of single coils with the noise gate adjusted to taste. I'm no chicken picker but, for some of my music I like to get a tone that is similar to that of acoustic guitars and I like to use a single coil for that especially but everything sounds better through a single coil to me. Maybe that is because of old ears and hearing loss.  

Here is my real problem. I'm having difficulty finding a good SSS hardtail guitar with a flatter radius. Most SSS guitars have trems and most shredder neck guitars have trems. One exception to this is the Ibanez S671ALB  but it has Fishman active pickups. A lot of people really like Fishmans so I thought I should consider them even though I wouldn't take advantage of their full benefits. I could replace the pups if I don't like them.

The guitar doesn't have a tone pot. That could force me to use the Helix for that and have presets with the treble adjusted for each song or each pickup. That could be more efficient than finding the right tone knob setting everytime I play the song again. My Helix sits next to me at finger level so it is easy enough to use its tone knobs.  

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12 hours ago, DugT said:

While we are on the subject of hum, does anyone even need humbuckers if they have a Helix?

 

Do you honestly think that hum reduction is the sole reason than anyone would bother using a guitar equipped with humbuckers? While that may have been the primary motivation for their design way back when, the tones they produce are fundamentally different than single coil pickups...there's simply no mistaking one for the other. It's as night and day as anything gets, and I'm not talking about the relative levels of noise that each produces.

 

Now nobody "needs" one or the other, per se...it's a matter of personal preference more than anything else. But noisy or not, you can't make one sound like the other no matter what gear you're plugging it into...

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I've been playing a very long time and a few years ago I put Fishman's in my First Warmoth build because of the versatility.  I love the tone and multiple voices of Fishmans and have them in many guitars.  In fact, I bought 2 ESPs last year that came with Fishmans.  I use a Helix Rack and Native and never had a hum problem so that wasn't why I tried them.  If you want to talk Fishmans, let me know!

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3 hours ago, Doug6String said:

I've been playing a very long time and a few years ago I put Fishman's in my First Warmoth build because of the versatility.  I love the tone and multiple voices of Fishmans and have them in many guitars.  In fact, I bought 2 ESPs last year that came with Fishmans.  I use a Helix Rack and Native and never had a hum problem so that wasn't why I tried them.  If you want to talk Fishmans, let me know!

 

Thanks, Doug! I searched for a Fischer pickups forum but didn't find one. Do you know of one?

 

A. It is my understanding that Fishmans are especially good at no noise high gain tones but they are also excellent at low gain tones. Do you agree with that?  I suspect the pickups have low impedance and the boost from the preamp does the heavy lifting when switched on. It is also my understanding that, to take advantage of this, the gain of the amp or Helix,  should be set high. If I set the gain on the Helix moderately low, could I get some great clean tones and flip the switch to get edge of breakup distortion? The guitar has a Fishman Alnico in the neck, a Fishman Ceramic in the bridge, and a Fishman single width Ceramic in the middle.
 

B. The guitar with Fishmans that I am interested in has no tone knob. I use the guitar tone control a lot, especially when I switch to a different pickup or switch from jazz to rock, for example. I can't imagine why this guitar doesn't have a control knob unless there isn't room in the cavity for it. What do you think?  This is the guitar:  Ibanez S Iron Label Axion  It is real thin and I love the neck, hardtail, and that is has three pickups. I was on the verge of ordering a custom Kiesel when I discovered this guitar. 

Thanks again,
Doug T


 

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15 hours ago, DugT said:

I use the guitar tone control a lot, especially when I switch to a different pickup or switch from jazz to rock, for example. I can't imagine why this guitar doesn't have a control knob...

 

Then the fact that it's not there is almost guaranteed to pi$$ you off. If I've learned one thing about guitars in 30+ years of playing, it's this: Don't settle. You won't be happy, and a few months later you'll be trying to unload it on Reverb, and getting annoyed at taking a loss while you try to find something that actually suits your needs. We're not talking about tolerating it because it's not your favorite color, or because it only comes with a gig bag instead of a hard case. Some guys never touch the tone knob and it's always on 10... and others ride it all the time, and it's part of their tone shaping. If that's you, then taking it away is gonna feel like chopping off a finger. Buy what you actually want...

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Hey Dug/Doug (LOL) - I have a guitar with the same bridge and neck Fishman's on the Ibanez you're looking at.  I love that combo, but of course tone/sound is soooo subjective. The thing about the other stuff you're talking about in "A" is that it depends on many things and the pups.  I do everything digitally, and "noise" is never an issue with any pups.  I have those pups in an ESP 7 string baritone and they sound great doing really heavy distorted stuff and clean.  Using the Helix, anything is easily doable.  If you want an audio demo, I'll make one for you.

 

On B, that's a tough one.  I'm someone who never uses the tone control on a guitar, while you use it all the time.  My Helix presets are set for amp and speaker settings, along with effects, etc.  I use diff cabs (I have a zillion IRs but figured out that Helix cabs as as good and better in many ways - my opinion) and cab settings to really affect tone and will throw in EQ if I really need to adjust highs.  That guitar should have a money back guarantee (at least most places have that) so if you really miss the tone knob, you can pay shipping and send it back.  I checked out the guitar and I like it!  

 

And not having a tone knob is just a feature - I've seen other guitars like that.  Unfortunately, there probably isn't room to add one in the cavity if you wanted to, but who knows.  I build guitars and for me, doing the electronics is easy if you take the time to learn how to solder guitar electronics and go slowly.

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On 2/2/2021 at 3:07 PM, DugT said:

 

Thanks, Doug! I searched for a Fischer pickups forum but didn't find one. Do you know of one?

 

A. It is my understanding that Fishmans are especially good at no noise high gain tones but they are also excellent at low gain tones. Do you agree with that?  I suspect the pickups have low impedance and the boost from the preamp does the heavy lifting when switched on. It is also my understanding that, to take advantage of this, the gain of the amp or Helix,  should be set high. If I set the gain on the Helix moderately low, could I get some great clean tones and flip the switch to get edge of breakup distortion? The guitar has a Fishman Alnico in the neck, a Fishman Ceramic in the bridge, and a Fishman single width Ceramic in the middle.
 

B. The guitar with Fishmans that I am interested in has no tone knob. I use the guitar tone control a lot, especially when I switch to a different pickup or switch from jazz to rock, for example. I can't imagine why this guitar doesn't have a control knob unless there isn't room in the cavity for it. What do you think?  This is the guitar:  Ibanez S Iron Label Axion  It is real thin and I love the neck, hardtail, and that is has three pickups. I was on the verge of ordering a custom Kiesel when I discovered this guitar. 

Thanks again,
Doug T


 

 

Since the topic is Fishman Fluence, I think I have something to add since I now have 5 guitars equipped.

 

I bought a used Schecter C1 SLS Elite that came with the Modern set of humbuckers. I then modded it quite a bit to take advantage of split sounds and dual voicings so I could have dual voicings in split or not-split, giving a huge range of sounds.

 

I then went on to get the Tosin Abasi set for my Schecter Barotone then another modern set for my Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid.

 

I later mis-matched the two sets of moderns, with both alnico pickups in one guitar and both ceramics in another guitar (the schecter's above). Honestly, that's how they should match them in the first place.

 

Now onto my American Fenders. I outfitted my 2016 Stratocaster Elite Magnificent 7 (6 string...) with a set of the Fluence single coils and my American Tele Deluxe with the Tele set. Both sound quite amazing but I'm not entirely sure if they sound better or worse than the fender noiseless pickups they came with but it's cool having multiple voicings. Regardless, they sound amazing and are super versatile.

 

Anyways, long story short, I'm a big fan of Fishman Fluence and they work great with Helix! All five of these guitars have tone controls and I find them very useful.

 

I have an Ibanez Prestige RG HSS and while it sounds great, I can't stand the middle pickup in it as it always seems to get in the way of my pick. If you like the RG style of guitar, I'd highly suggest the Schecter C1 SLS Elite as it comes with Fishman, has a tone knob, stainless frets, carbon stringers in the neck, really nice neck and neck thru body. It's a crazy high end guitar for a reasonable price, especially if you bought it used like I did. With the modern pickups, they have a crazy amount of options available for sounds. Splits, voicings, low gain jumper, ceramic / alnico, and even a high frequency roll-off. I set the guitar up so that the one push pull is voice 1 and 2 and the other push pull is split / not-split. I was going to put Fluence into my other dual humbucker Ibanez RG 652LWFX but the controls cavity is really small with no option of anywhere to place the battery and the pot holes were too small for the fishman pots, so that's something to consider if you're looking for an Ibanez to swap the pickups into.

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19 hours ago, obscurehifi said:

Since the topic is Fishman Fluence, I think I have something to add since I now have 5 guitars equipped.

 

We're of like mind! I have fishmans in 4 guitars, including 7 and 8 string ESP baritones. The 7 string came with a ceramic in the bridge and alnico in the neck - as you said, they should all come that way.  it's a perfect match. I also have fishmans in my strat and use the HFT feature when I want a thick lead.  When is fishman going to start supporting us!  LOL

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On 2/6/2021 at 11:07 AM, obscurehifi said:

 

Since the topic is Fishman Fluence, I think I have something to add since I now have 5 guitars equipped.

 

I bought a used Schecter C1 SLS Elite that came with the Modern set of humbuckers. I then modded it quite a bit to take advantage of split sounds and dual voicings so I could have dual voicings in split or not-split, giving a huge range of sounds.

 

I then went on to get the Tosin Abasi set for my Schecter Barotone then another modern set for my Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid.

 

I later mis-matched the two sets of moderns, with both alnico pickups in one guitar and both ceramics in another guitar (the schecter's above). Honestly, that's how they should match them in the first place.

 

Now onto my American Fenders. I outfitted my 2016 Stratocaster Elite Magnificent 7 (6 string...) with a set of the Fluence single coils and my American Tele Deluxe with the Tele set. Both sound quite amazing but I'm not entirely sure if they sound better or worse than the fender noiseless pickups they came with but it's cool having multiple voicings. Regardless, they sound amazing and are super versatile.

 

Anyways, long story short, I'm a big fan of Fishman Fluence and they work great with Helix! All five of these guitars have tone controls and I find them very useful.

 

I have an Ibanez Prestige RG HSS and while it sounds great, I can't stand the middle pickup in it as it always seems to get in the way of my pick. If you like the RG style of guitar, I'd highly suggest the Schecter C1 SLS Elite as it comes with Fishman, has a tone knob, stainless frets, carbon stringers in the neck, really nice neck and neck thru body. It's a crazy high end guitar for a reasonable price, especially if you bought it used like I did. With the modern pickups, they have a crazy amount of options available for sounds. Splits, voicings, low gain jumper, ceramic / alnico, and even a high frequency roll-off. I set the guitar up so that the one push pull is voice 1 and 2 and the other push pull is split / not-split. I was going to put Fluence into my other dual humbucker Ibanez RG 652LWFX but the controls cavity is really small with no option of anywhere to place the battery and the pot holes were too small for the fishman pots, so that's something to consider if you're looking for an Ibanez to swap the pickups into.

That was really helpful. Thank you!

The Schecter C1 SLS Elite is a great guitar for the money and it has just about everything I want in a guitar except a single coil in the middle. Middle pickups really annoyed me too until I lowered it enough to be out of the way. If the middle pickup has a ceramic magnet, it can be lowered a lot. Eventually I found I could raise it gradually and get used to it. A lot of the music I play is music I learned playing acoustic guitars and I find a middle pickup replicates that best but I also like flat (Schredder) fingerboards and fixed bridges. That combination is almost impossible to find so I might be ready to settle. The single coils split out of two HH and in parallel sound good enough. I never play anything that need humbucker tones that I can't get close enough to with the Helix. 

Schecter C1 SLS Elite Pro's

Stainless frets

Ebony fingerboard

Thin neck

Compound radius 

Carbon fiber and a seven ply neck = 9 ply neck = STIFF neck

Compensated nut

fixed bridge

Fishman Fluence cold fusion super conducter pickups

Beautiful guitar

Great value

Schecter C1 SLS Elite Con's
No middle pickup
No forearm contour
Not headless

Have to remember to unplug it.

You can't alway get what you want, but you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

Darrel Braun loves that Schecter. Darrell's review
 

 

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7 hours ago, Doug6String said:

 

We're of like mind! I have fishmans in 4 guitars, including 7 and 8 string ESP baritones. The 7 string came with a ceramic in the bridge and alnico in the neck - as you said, they should all come that way.  it's a perfect match. I also have fishmans in my strat and use the HFT feature when I want a thick lead.  When is fishman going to start supporting us!  LOL

 

Brilliant minds! LOL

 

Actually, I probably said it confusing but I actually paired up the two Alnico Moderns in one guitar and both ceramics went in the other guitar. I find it better balances their timbre, sort of like how one matches speakers in a stereo system. It also helped give my two Schecters that are pretty similar, a different sound, rather than having the identical pickup setup.

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57 minutes ago, DugT said:

That was really helpful. Thank you!

The Schecter C1 SLS Elite is a great guitar for the money and it has just about everything I want in a guitar except a single coil in the middle. Middle pickups really annoyed me too until I lowered it enough to be out of the way. If the middle pickup has a ceramic magnet, it can be lowered a lot. Eventually I found I could raise it gradually and get used to it. A lot of the music I play is music I learned playing acoustic guitars and I find a middle pickup replicates that best but I also like flat (Schredder) fingerboards and fixed bridges. That combination is almost impossible to find so I might be ready to settle. The single coils split out of two HH and in parallel sound good enough. I never play anything that need humbucker tones that I can't get close enough to with the Helix. 

Schecter C1 SLS Elite Pro's

Stainless frets

Ebony fingerboard

Thin neck

Compound radius 

Carbon fiber and a seven ply neck = 9 ply neck = STIFF neck

Compensated nut

fixed bridge

Fishman Fluence cold fusion super conducter pickups

Beautiful guitar

Great value

Schecter C1 SLS Elite Con's
No middle pickup
No forearm contour
Not headless

Have to remember to unplug it.

You can't alway get what you want, but you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

Darrel Braun loves that Schecter. Darrell's review
 

 

 

I didn't realize you wanted a middle pickup! That certainly changes the selection process.

 

The issue I have on my Ibanez is the middle cavity isn't cut deep enough to lower the pickup enough. I really don't have the same issue with my strat but I think there's more space in between the middle and neck pickups.

 

Yeah, not too many cons for the Schecter C1 SLS Elite, which is why it's one of my favorite guitars! You're right about the stiff neck. It's amazing how well it stays in tune with seasonal changes compared to my guitars that hang next to it on the same wall. The body doesn't specifically have a forearm cut out but it is an archtop, so I don't ever notice. Yep, I've seen Darrel Braun's review and he has pretty much the same opinion as me except his has a bit more authority in saying so lol.

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It looks like Schecter has a new version of this model. Now they call it the PT SLS Elite. The Controls are a little different. The headstock is 6 inline vs 3x2. There is forearm contour but you can't see it in this photo. The body is tele shaped whereas the earlier ones were strat shaped.

 

PT SLS Elite

 

 

Below is a 7 string version of the previous version of the guitar above.

C-7 SLS Elite

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On 2/7/2021 at 5:41 PM, obscurehifi said:

 

Brilliant minds! LOL

 

Actually, I probably said it confusing but I actually paired up the two Alnico Moderns in one guitar and both ceramics went in the other guitar. I find it better balances their timbre, sort of like how one matches speakers in a stereo system. It also helped give my two Schecters that are pretty similar, a different sound, rather than having the identical pickup setup.

LOL - I actually really like the pairing of the ceramic and alnico type pups.  But I have guitars the other way too.

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