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Fishman Neo-D Pickups
 
A look at an affordable line of soundhole pickups.
April 5, 2021
 

When Fishman introduced its Rare Earth soundhole pickups in the late 1990s, they were among a small handful of options for players who wanted a professional-grade pickup based on a magnetic design. Immediately embraced by guitarists in virtually any playing style, the Rare Earth design impressed with great sound, small size, and clever integration of onboard preamps. However, getting ultimate performance in such a small soundhole pickup has its price, so Rare Earth pickups are on the costlier end of the spectrum of acoustic pickups (check out our demos of the Rare Earth Mic Blend and Rare Earth PowerTap, and watch for an overview of the line coming soon). Developed as a less expensive solution, Fishman’s Neo-D pickups use similar neodymium magnets as the Rare Earth pickups, but with a simpler passive design. Neo-D pickups have been available for several years, and are currently offered in single coil and humbucking versions. The single coil is available in black or with a woodgrain enclosure, and the humbucker can be had as a standard clamp-in pickup or the Neo-Buster, which integrates the pickup into a feedback-buster soundhole cover. 

The two standard Neo-D pickups are similar to Fishman’s Rare Earth models in that there are no visible pole pieces, and they use the same machine-screw operated clamping mechanism with cork pads to protect the soundhole edge. At about ⅞ of an inch wide, the pickups are larger than their Rare Earth cousins, and due to their passive design, they have an onboard battery. The humbucker uses a stacked-coil arrangement, but the pickup dimensions are identical to the single coil version. The Neo-Buster version of the humbucker is integrated into a rubber soundhole cover, so it doesn’t have the clamping mechanism found in the other models. Instead, it simply snaps into the soundhole by way of friction fit. All three Neo-Ds include a nine foot long cable with a standard ¼-inch plug. This allows for simple plug-and-play operation, though of course a more permanent installation with an endpin jack in the guitar is also an option. 

Using a Phillips-head screwdriver, I was able to install the two standard Neo-Ds in a minute or two, and on my Taylor, I didn’t even have to loosen the strings. The Neo-Buster installed even more quickly, just sliding into place in the soundhole. I tried the single coil first, plugging it directly into a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp. Two things caught my attention immediately. The pickup gave me pleasing results as soon as I hit the first note, and the dreaded single coil buzz was minimal, despite the fact that I was surrounded by studio lights and other electronic equipment, which can often cause issues with noise or hum. The pickup offered a balanced sound, it had the warmth and smooth attack that magnetic pickups are known for, it also had the clarity, high-end sparkle, and slightly “wiry” quality that fans of single coils appreciate. Swapping the pickup for the humbucker yielded the expected results. This pickup offered a richer, overall warmer bottom-end and overall character, and while by no means muddy, it had a bit less bite in the trebles. And the humbucker was virtually silent when I wasn’t playing. The two pickups had similar output levels, and while they were plenty hot to drive the Loudbox Mini to solid rehearsal or typical performance volumes, I did have to crank the amp’s gain control a bit higher than I’m used to when using more powerful active pickup systems. 

Which of the two designs is right for you will largely depend on personal preference. But beyond that, players who want to cut through in a band or who need to compensate for dark sounding amp or PA may really like the single coil, while those who are looking for the warmest possible sound will most likely be happiest with the humbucker. And if you need to play at rock band volume levels, especially with a larger, feedback-prone guitar, then the Neo-Buster is bound to be the ticket toward hassle-free amplification. Overall, Fishman has done a great job in creating affordable versions of its acclaimed soundhole pickups, and the result is an impressive ratio of performance vs. cost!

 

SPECS: 

Neo-D Single Coil: Magnetic soundhole pickup with single coil structure and neodymium magnets. Mechanical, cork-padded clamping mechanism. Includes nine-foot cable with ¼-inch plug. Designed and engineered in the USA, assembled in China. $61.99 list/$39.95 street (black cover) $77.99 list/$49.95 street (woodgrain cover).

Neo-D Humbucking: Magnetic soundhole pickup with stacked humbucker structure and neodymium magnets. Mechanical, cork-padded clamping mechanism. Includes nine-foot cable with ¼-inch plug. Designed and engineered in the USA, assembled in China. $123.99 list/$79.95 street.

Neo-Buster: Magnetic soundhole pickup with stacked humbucker structure and neodymium magnets. Integrated into soundhole cover. Includes nine-foot cable with ¼-inch plug. Designed and engineered in the USA, assembled in China. $139.99 list/$89.95 street.

fishman.com.

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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com