Monday, 7 October 2013

Fitting a Fishman Rare Earth pickup

I've fitted the Fishman Rare Earth Pickup I got as a birthday present.

I was fitting it to my trusty old Yamaha LL11.  I bought this guitar brand new in London in the old London Acoustic Centre, which was based down in Wapping in those days, it was in the mid 90s at some point.  So this is heading for 20 years old now.  It is a lovely guitar, most of my recordings have featured this guitar via a microphone.  However live I've used a CPX500 for some time or I have used the LL11 with a Dean Markley soundhole pickup but whilst that sounds ok it isn't the best solution.  Recently I bought a Vintage Gordon Giltrap that has a Rare Earth Blend pickup, that was really impressive when I used it live and I thought I'd get one of them, but the blend (which has a magnetic humbucking pickup and a small gooseneck mic as well) is £250 vs about £130 for the humbucking only model.  So this is the non blend model I'm fitting here - which the darling Mrs F bought me for my birthday.

Ok whip the strings off and gently twist the old strap button out with a pair of pliers and here we are ready to go.

The only real modification needed is to enlarge the strap button hole so that the combined output jack and strap button can be fitted.  I bought this reamer cheaply (i.e. £30) from a local hardware shop earlier this year as it was closing down.   It should have been closer to £100!  This is hard slow work but worth it to get a neat looking hole.

This is the fitted output jack being pushed in from the outside to check the hole is large enough.

This is how I got the jack socket into the right place as my arm is too tight to fit right inside the body to the strap button!  Feed a cable with a jack socket on it through into the body.  Push the jack home and ... viola you can just pull it all into place.  The hole in the end of the socket assembly is to hold it all steady with a small allen key whilst you tighten up the nut with a size 13 spanner.

The pickup is easy to fit in place.  Slacken off the clamps on either side, slide into place a the front of the soundhole and making sure nothing gets in the way of the clamps tighten them back up.

Here she is all finished and re-strung up.  You can see the new jack socket/strap button in place.

And here is a quick audio test.  This is via my Zoom A3 processor giving a Yamaha style body back into the sound, a little compression and some reverb.  Recorded on my BOSS BR600 with no effects etc. on board that.  I'm more than pleased with how it sounds.


  1. It sounds really good!! I'm always against pickups on acoustic guitars because it destroys the acoustic sound in my opinion. I prefer having an external microphone, but this is quite impressive actually.

    1. For most recording I'm with you I'll still use a Mic. But for live that is too difficult in most settings. Also it is a different sound too not electric not acoustic listen to Adrian Legg in particular who uses the pickup sound deliberately on many things.

    2. Most bluegrass & old-time bands use mics instead of pickups in live settings and it sounds great. The music sounds more "real" than it ever does with pickups.

  2. I'm so impressed. I'd be terrified to drill holes in my guitars. I flinched and looked away when the guitar tech fitted my Alvarez with a peg for the strap.

  3. Nice job and thanks for sharing!