Shockwave Inserts vs. Fishman Pickup

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Brent Libhart's picture

Hey Folks,

For the sake of discussion, and the fact that I don’t think this has been covered before, I was curious about the new Shockwave inserts recently introduced by Beard Guitars.  They already seem to be catching with several top players and some builders for their guitars.  I have even seen some video clips of Matt Leadbetter playing Bobby Wright’s personal Appalachian reso in which he installed these inserts.  This leads me to believe that they really are something special.  My question is, being synthetic/composite capped, do they sound much different than the newer Fishman Nashville pickup inserts being that they are also composite capped?  I know that the Shockwaves are still new and that there might not be a whole lot of people with first-hand experience using both in the their guitars, but I am hoping there is someone out there.  I participated in a FB “discussion” with Josh Swift a little while back after he introduced his signature model Beard which included the Shockwave inserts.  Josh was adamant that the Shockwaves had a pronounced positive effect on his guitars and that they altered the tone in a way he liked.  I know Josh is not a fan of any pickup in his guitars and not knowing what was already in them, I am not sure what effect he was comparing them to.  I imagine that he would have been using ebony/maple inserts, in which case I can believe there would have been a distinct difference in tone, volume, and clarity.  However, when I had my maple B&B reso built, I had Dan Brooks use a Schoonover Modular spider with Kent’s composite capped insert, which sounded great.  A little while later, I shipped the same guitar to Kent Schoonover and had him install the newer Nashville pickup and didn’t notice any difference in tone or volume when played acoustically.  Hence my question.  I wouldn’t think that one luthier’s version of a composite insert cap would be that much different structurally speaking that it would make that much difference in tone.  I have a new reso due later this year and am struggling with which route to go.  Any thoughts or input?

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