Guitar Pickup Review

Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Set

The Fluence Modern set already is a super versatile pair of humbuckers before even getting into the plethora of switching options.  As packaged, the garden variety Fluence Modern set has a Modern Alnico and a Modern Ceramic.  You can get them individually as well, for those that have single hum or triple hum or so on.

It’s generally suggested that the ceramic lands in the bridge and the alnico gets planted in the neck.  But we’re guitar players, aren’t we?  We are designed to buck convention, and you can bet your bottom dollar that’s what I did.  Not only did I swap them, I ordered a second set so that I could also go full ceramic and full alnico. More on that below.

As a quick reminder, one of the more versatile benefits of the Fishman Fluence pickups is that each pickup has more than one voice.  Using the included push/pull pots or your own toggle switches, you can quickly alternate between Voice 1 and Voice 2 of a pickup.

Fluence Modern Humbucker Brushed Stainless
Fluence Modern Humbucker Brushed Stainless

For this, I tested in the same guitar used for the Fluence Classic set.  The configuration allows for most any possible switching option available from the Fluence humbucker sets.  And just for grins… for you, my loyal readers… I even timed how long it took to swap out a full set.  With the guitar unstrung, with the Fluence Classic set still in the pickup rings and in the guitar… it took just under 13 minutes to install the Fluence Modern set in the rings and back in the guitar.  Factor in how it is necessary to break out the soldering iron if you want the “coil tapping” options.  And I did have to take a second to refer to the Install Guide to see what the extra pair of pins are for.

Check it out, you can bridge those pins for a 6dB lower gain setting.  You know you’re in for a ride when you have that option right up front!  But come on… less than 13 minutes ain’t nothing to sneeze at.  I’m checking out the 6-string version, although you can get them for 7 and 8-string guitars.  If they’d only make them in Steve Vai green for my Ibby Universe… lol!

Alrighty then, on to the really fun stuff.

Fluence Modern Humbucker 8-string Black
Fluence Modern Humbucker 8-string Black
Modern Ceramic

The Fluence Modern Ceramic is totally capable of delivering your hard rock, metal, progressive rock/metal needs… as well as bringing the brutalz.  Very focused lows, a snarling attitude in the mids, and precise highs that deliver presence without the icepick.  That’s Voice 1.  In Voice 2, you get a very groovy distortion-class tone that is a little beefier and ready to put the beatdown on your pappy’s old school distortion-class pickup.  The most obvious difference to me comes with the riffing.  Voice 1 is going to be great for players with a need for supertight focused precise rhythm style.  Voice 2 has a bit of the thunderous punch that is ideal for the 80s style chugging root note riffmeisters.

Remember in the Fluence Classic Set how we covered the coil-splitting option that Fishman calls “coil tapping”?  Yep, same feature here.  When split, the Fluence Modern Ceramic has a fun dichotomy of being a bit like what you’d expect and a little bit not like what you’d expect.  Both in helpful ways.  It still has that ceramic vibe, but it’s not as tinny and shrill as a lot of high power ceramic split humbuckers.

Modern Alnico

The Fluence Modern Alnico is great for all the same musical styles, but the slightly more organic nature of the alnico opens it up for great usage in blues rock, old school metal, and dare I even suggest punk rock.  Plenty of character and attitude.  Voice 1 has a rich, full, dynamic characer.  Voice 2 has a little more focus and a little smidge of clean to ensure you need be playing at your best.

When “coil tapping” on a clean amp setting, the Modern Alnico pickup delivers bliss within both Voices.  Not kidding.  Very nice.  But you are splitting a humbucker, so you super high-gain monsters might could run the risk of a bit of traditional split-hum noise… which I consider a neat trait for an active pickup to display passive characteristics down to the smallest details.  I’ve asked about possible parallel wiring options, as I think that’d also be awesome.

You’ve been wondering about mixing them up for all ceramic or all alnico?  Let’s rock on down that road.

All-Ceramic Configuration

An all ceramic rig is not for players with heart conditions or otherwise under the care of a physician.  I may have to repaint the walls in the practice room.  Don’t ask.  A full set of Fluence Modern Ceramic humbuckers in your guitar will hit your amp like it called them fat in high school before driving off in a Ferrari with the amp’s girl.  And her twin sister.

All-Alnico Configuration

Looking to all all alnico set up… I think it’s my personal favorite configuration of the Fluence Modern options.  In straight out Voice 1, it’s all there in both positions for all your needs from a dirty amp setting.  You know, it’s one thing to get a tight and clearly focused neck tone with a ceramic.  Doing so with an alnico is a special feat.  Regular readers know I’m a stickler for a neck position option that keep the lows together.  And where many alnico-based pickups in the neck can get boomy or muddy or flabby, the Fluence Modern Alnico humbucker tests very well.  Mixing the different “coil tapped” options between the different positions and different voicings and any clean-sounding amp need was exceeded.  From lush and full to crystalline clear and chimey sparkle.

Universal Rechargeable Battery Pack
Universal Rechargeable Battery Pack

I still think it’s cool that even though there are so many options, you can also find what works for you and wire it up to be your 1-stop option via the simplest control setups you might want.  And it’s a good thing that a battery lasts so long, as I keep forgetting that I’m dealing with active pickups.  What if you don’t use a trem spring cover or a LP cavity cover on your weapon of choice?  They have a cool Universal Rechargeable Battery Pack that also has the LED indicator and recharges with a mini-USB.  I use the expensive commercial grade 9v batteries, so any rechargeable battery pack would pay for itself pretty quick.


Here is what Fishman has to say about each model of the Modern humbucker:

Modern Alnico

All the musicality, power and explosiveness of alnico. Full chords and fluid solos, plus a voice you’ve never heard in a humbucker. Great in both positions, or commonly paired with ceramic bridge.

  • Voice 1 (Modern Active): The ideal active alnico sound. Full, round, and boosted, but with unprecedented articulation and dynamics.
  • Voice 2 (Crisp, clean and fluid): The clean, crisp neck humbucker tone you’ve always wanted without the thin, plinky sound you don’t.

Modern Ceramic

Cutting ceramic attack. Brutal active aggression and passive punch in the same guitar. Great in both positions, or commonly paired with alnico neck.

  • Voice 1 (Modern Active High Output):The ideal active ceramic humbucker tone. Crisp, searing crunch, tight bass with no mud, and a growl.
  • Voice 2 (Modern Passive Attack): Organic, high output, passive ceramic tone. Superb distortion characteristics with Fluence dynamics and response.
Fishman Fluence Modern 7-String Play Through
Matt Heafy Talks Fluence Modern Pickups
Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker – Metal

The Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers are going to be good for hard rock, shred, metalcore, progressive, rock, doom, thrash, death metal, extreme metal, tech metal, thrash, 80s metal, classic rock, djent, nu-metal, and more.

The Fluence Modern is available in 6, 7, and 8-string options.  Available covers are black plastic, white plastic, nickel, black nickel, gold, and brushed stainless.  You get pretty much everything you need, outside of a main selector switch and a power supply.

Be sure to read my other evaluations of the Fishman Fluence catalog.

For reference, this Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker Pickup Set evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller.  In addition, real cabs in use are Marshall 1960BMojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s and Classic Series G12M Greenbacks..

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