Fishman PUP DIY install

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berpsie's picture

After reading all the countless “horror show” entries on this and other forums and heeding the good advice of members (thanks) I installed my Fishman PUP into a standard #14 bridge. It took 7 hours and thankfully didn’t all end in tears. My biggest concern was notching and fitting the saddle without damaging the piezo elements. For notching I used a Dremel with a thin mini sanding disk that was sufficiently worn down so that the perimeter was closer to the plane of rotation, i.e. no wobblies.

I mounted the Dremel horizontally in a small vice using protective rubber shocks and fashioned a feeder platform out of varying thicknesses of planks to get the exact height for the saddle to meet the disk edge, with a slight slope off towards the tailpiece. With the Dremel running at high speed I could carefully slide the saddle towards the disk. It takes only a touch and the notch is cut to the right depth with hardly any stress on the piezo. (I did first practice on an old saddle). I used a needle file to open up the larger notches.

Then using 800 grit sand paper got the saddle feet to a snug fit – that took a while. I used a pair of needle nosed pliers to grip the maple foot and finally anchor the saddle into the bridge without touching the piezo elements. The rest was standard guitar work. A word of advice – don’t position the output socket too low in the tail block, as I did. You have to drill a 12mm partial hole from the inside and if the hole is too close to the back the drill is forced into a downward angle because the reso’s back braces are in the way. I had to use the Dremel with a router bit to clean up the socket hole.


The result through the JD Aura pedal has surpassed all my expectations. All strings are balanced. The sound is so warm and rich. I’m going to have so much fun getting to know all the nuances of the Aura. I can’t detect any deterioration in the acoustic properties either – but then I built my guitar Smile


Brad Bechtel's picture

Congratulations! I'm glad you took your time and got it done well. Now the fun part starts!

MarkinSonoma's picture

Congratulations on your hard work and a story of a successful installation.  I'm just glad you weren't my luthier and I was paying you by the hour for the job along with the cost of parts! Wink

Seriously, it's good to hear a success story like this - but the prerequisite is that it helps to be a "shop guy" and already have all this stuff. If one goes out to the workbench in their garage and they realize they need to purchase a number of items to be able to go through the installation process and it could take up a whole day off on Saturday and maybe more, then it sounds a lot more appealing to me to purchase the Schoonover modular spider (or perhaps Beard adjustable spider) and have the pickup pre-mounted in the unit by Kent himself.


gtuckerkellogg's picture

Thank you, berpsie! This is the by far the most substantive and practical thing I've ever read about installing the Fishman PU.  Far, far better than the useless "instructions" given by Fishman itself, far more hopeful than the bitter (but valid!) complaints of dissatisfied customers like myself, and far more productive than the hollow defenses of Fishman that inevitably follow complaints.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

berpsie's picture

Thanks. I really appreciate that. I felt rather silly after posting my blurb as it looked like I was gloating or boasting. The truth is I was so relieved when it all worked that I just had to write something. I was so intimidated by all I had read that I almost “expected” a disaster. It’s gratifying to be able to share these experiences. The internet is a wonderful tool for learning and experiencing all things resonator and anything else for that matter.


BrianMac's picture

I'm glad to hear of your success, berpsie. I'm one of those who chose the Schnoover/Fishman setup and I installed that myself. I decided on that after reading of several horror stories of DIY installs that went bad. I noticed you said you built your own guitar so your skill set would make you no stranger to a Fishman PUP install. Congrats!

Anyway, after changing a standard saddle in a standard #14 spider on one of my guitars recently and installing a pre-slotted beard saddle, I'm imagining that the portion of the install that I would fear the most would be getting the proper slot depth and slot location on the Fishman PUP. Get out your magnifying glass, right? Just a wee bit of slot and check, right? Seems it would be mostly skill and part additude, not unlike slants, IMO!

berpsie's picture

Thanks.  Yes did use a magnifier with built in light, el cheapo from supermarket. The top “D” and “B” strings where cut once off – the rest I used a needle file to finish. The guitar I ‘built’ is more an “assembly” although you still have to do a fair bit of work. It is a wonderful kit from Paul Beard. Perfectly cut, quality components and the sound is right up there with the $1000 plus instruments. Recommend this for any aficionado who is cash strapped and you get the pleasure of your own creation coming to life. 

Dobro66S's picture

Berpsie how many laminates on the top and bottom?

I,ve e-mailed Beard with no reponce and would like to buy some pieses for my next project.



berpsie's picture


The top is an amazing 11 ply. Very thin laminate sections but still very strong in compression so limits egging. You have to be very careful not to sand through the top maple laminate as the next layer is a dark wood. I did just that at the edges trying to get the binding level and had to inlay herringbone purfling to hide that mistake. I think the back may be 5 ply and the sides 3. I dont have any off cuts to check. Sorry.


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