Fishman Celebrates 25th Anniversary

November 22, 2005

Now the largest supplier in the world to acoustic instrument manufacturers with the broadest product line, Fishman is again transforming itself into a wider focus acoustic amplification company with the success of its Loudbox amplifier line, including the newest addition, the Loudbox 100, which is being introduced at Winter NAMM 2006 along with the 25th Anniversary.

Fishman, who grew up in upstate New York and North Carolina, became involved in music in elementary school thanks to an evolved education program that encouraged learning an instrument, going on to study and play cello and, later on, acoustic bass at N.C. State and at Boston's celebrated Berklee School of Music. He went on to play acoustic bass professionally throughout New England in a series of pit orchestras and jazz bands.

At that time in the late 70s and early 80s, jazz was becoming more electronic in nature and Fishman was having serious problems amplifying his acoustic instrument to achieve parity on stage with electric pianos and guitars. Refusing to give up his acoustic bass for an electric equivalent, he started working on a pickup system for the bass. Analyzing every device available at the time, he experimented with new designs at home and on the bandstand at a jazz club in Cambridge with "horrible acoustics," until he came up with an acoustic bass pickup that finally, as he puts it, "took it to the next level."

Although Fishman fully intended to be a musician, the instant success of his first prototype pickup with acoustic bassists in the Boston area quickly grew into a full time business by 1981 with an expanding range of acoustic pickups. After securing an initial order to supply OEM pickups for Guild acoustic guitars that also proved to be successful, Fishman went on to design and build the popular Thin Line pickup for the C.F. Martin Guitar company.

With the first large Martin order, the company acquired its first manufacturing space (5.000 square feet that "looked like the Grand Canyon" according to Fishman) and increased its personnel. Still made by the company, this pickup launched Fishman Transducers as a solid company with an extensive product line that includes pickups and supporting electronics for the entire guitar family of instruments, dobros, classical guitars, western-style guitars, as well as banjos, mandolins, violins, cellos, basses, etc. As Fishman describes it, "virtually anything with strings on it is our specialty. We have 23 issued patents over the years, with more pending."

Explaining his contribution to the world of music products, Fishman elaborates, "The initial under-the-saddle pickup we came up with was basically a miniaturization of other designs that had been built. We understood that to have a successful pickup in a dreadnought style guitar you couldn't change the bridge into some kind of massive structure which had been done in the past, because it would destroy the basic operating principles of the instrument. So we figured out how to use much smaller ceramic elements and unique ways of fitting them on the instrument where they'd become practically invisible to the instrument itself. They're not hard to install and are very forgiving in their positioning. It wasn't a conceptual breakthrough so much as a breakthrough in execution."

"With the advent of programs like 'MTV Unplugged,' we realized acoustic musicians didn't want to be tethered to a microphone. They wanted more freedom of movement on stage and the ability to play louder which eventually brought the acoustic guitar out of the living room and small clubs onto the world stage. Our contribution to the music is to make the acoustic instrument coequal and viable in larger venues."

Based on the introduction of the visionary Aura™ Acoustic Image Blender and hugely popular Loudbox acoustic amplifier line, Fishman is now poised to expand far beyond its traditional role as the creator of the first truly accurate and faithful pickups for acoustic instruments to an acoustic amplification company with seemingly unlimited potential for the next 25 years.

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