Mike Witcher on amplifying a dobro-style resophonic guitar using Fishman’s Nashville series pickup and Aura imaging pedal.
by Teja Gerken
June 15, 2017
Fishman is one of the pioneers of acoustic amplification and has offered solutions for resophonic guitars for years. Its most advanced package for dobro-style guitars with spider bridges is the combination of Fishman’s Nashville Series Spider-Style Resophonic pickup and the Jerry Douglas Signature Series Aura Imaging pedal. (The company also has pickups for National-style biscuit bridges.)
The Nashville Series pickup is a piezo-ceramic design built into a pair of replacement saddles that mount into the spider bridge assembly in the same way that standard saddles are installed. It is a passive design, and thus doesn’t require a battery inside the guitar.
Although the Nashville Series pickup can be used by itself, its performance will be enhanced with an external preamp such as the Jerry Douglas Signature Series Aura Imaging pedal. Fishman’s proprietary Aura Imaging technology uses actual recordings made with specific instruments (in this case, one of Douglas’ own Paul Beard resophonic guitars), and a variety of high-end microphones to create processing algorithms that enhance the pickup’s direct signal with microphone-like qualities. The Jerry Douglas Signature Series Aura Imaging pedal includes 16 different sound images, as well as controls for volume, blend (to choose how much of the image is added to the signal), and phase-reversal. It also includes a footswitch for turning the processor on and off or muting the signal.
In this video, Peghead Nation Dobro instructor Mike Witcher demonstrates the Nashville Series pickup/Jerry Douglas Aura pedal combination installed in his custom Schoonover guitar (check out Mike’s demo of this guitar here). He runs the Aura pedal’s signal into a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp and demonstrates several settings. “It’s always been a struggle for me to hear my dobro, to get it up loud enough without getting feedback in the monitors. Ever since I started using this Fishman pickup, I haven’t had this problem,” he says, adding, “The Aura system is as close as we’ve ever gotten to a pickup sounding like a microphone.”
NASHVILLE SERIES SPIDER-STYLE RESOPHONIC PICKUP SPECS: Piezo-ceramic pickup for spider-style resophonic guitars. Passive design. Mounted in two-piece saddle replacements. ¼-inch output jack. $209.95 street.
AURA SPECS: Resophonic instrument processor pedal. 16 custom Aura images. 24-bit A/D/A, 32-bit internal processing. Volume, blend, image select, and phase-reversal controls. Input trim control. Bypass/mute foot switch. All-metal construction. 5.6 x 4 x 2.1 inches. Powered by nine-volt battery or external power adapter. Designed and engineered in the USA, assembled in China. $429.99list/$269 street. fishman.com
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