Still an amazingly popular pickup choice – especially in the UK – Fishman’s Rare Earth soundhole pickups are widely used by professionals like David Gray, Keane, Radiohead, Sarah McLachlan, Acoustic Alchemy, James Blunt, Richard Capener, Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, James Morrison and The Dixie Chicks.
Easy to install and with long battery life, these pickups have developed a reputation for being reliable, road-worthy, and, most importantly, great sounding.
In the new issue of UK publication Guitar Buyer, reviewer Huw Price wrote a very comprehensive and helpful piece on the Rare Earth family. He had this to say about each of the three models:
“The Single Coil produces an instantly useable, full frequency sound that contains a respectable degree of acoustic integrity. String to string balance was excellent, with plenty of note separation and clarity.
The Single Coil was exceptionally resistant to feedback and I was able to turn our monitoring system way beyond the point where it became painfully loud without inducing any howl sound. The signal to noise ratio with the Single Coil remained impressive, even as I sat with the test guitar on my lap as I typed this review.
The Humbucking is very slightly mellower in the upper frequencies, although it’s still impressively detailed and balanced, with the same overall clarity of the Single Coil.
Compared to many under saddle transducers, the dynamic response feels infinitely more connected to playing effort and the timbre varies depending on where you attack the strings.
After a not inconsiderable amount of R&D, Fishman has [added a microphone] with the Rare Earth Blend. The key seems to be finding the spot where the midrange gels nicely – without becoming too hollow or “getting the hump.” One of the most striking aspects of the pickup tone is the way it achieves such a natural quality without any of the transmitted noise that’s so typical of piezo systems. Introducing the mic signal certainly adds air and enhances the “acoustic” qualities."
Pros: Clear, balanced and natural tone, interchangeability, ease of installation, great feedback rejection.
Cons: Some may dislike the look of soundhole pickups
Ideal for: Soundhole pickup systems that rival and even surpass many under saddle transducers for acoustic guitar tone.
For more information on Guitar Buyer Magazine, click here.