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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Successful Installation of Fishman Thinline Pickup in Spider Bridge

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

Mike Conner - Posted - 01/14/2023:  12:12:43

I had great success installing a standard guitar undersaddle pickup in a spider bridge dobro!. Details in the attached PDF. It sounds really, really good, and a fraction of the Fishman Nashville and JD Aura version.

... see next post ...

Props to @dobrodave for inspiring this effort!

Edited by - Mike Conner on 01/21/2023 04:31:55

Mike Conner - Posted - 01/14/2023:  13:09:34

Just realized the links in the original document don't work. Attached is a revised version that should fix that...

daver - Posted - 01/14/2023:  18:08:40

Creative solution!

My experience is that the tension screw will loosen with playing and needs to be tweaked on occasion. Have you made provision for this? Are the saddle inserts slip fit rather than press fit so they can be removed easily? I would imagine having the removeable coverplate strap would make any work like that easier.

Mike Conner - Posted - 01/14/2023:  18:33:13

As I described, the saddle insert is sanded smooth to slip into the spider bridge slot and ensure the saddle makes firm contact with the pickup. I really don't think that saddle inserts _should_ be so tightly press fit.

As you stated, having the palm rest removable is an advantage with the pickup. I can remove the cover to slip out the saddle and pickup to expose the tension screw. This is certainly not as convenient as the conventional split saddles, but the upside is that the pickup sounds as good as it does in a standard flattop undersaddle installation. It's worth the compromise to me.

This installation is in my "backup" dobro, a 2009 Mastereso, which has been sidelined since I built my own in 2021. My build sounds loud and awesome, and will likely remain just as an acoustic. All the extra volume and tone is kind of lost when you plug in anyway. The Mastereso is a really good instrument, so I'm a winner both ways now!

Mike Conner - Posted - 01/17/2023:  18:07:27

Having tested the dobro with the pickup, and acoustically, I measured for a new taller saddle, 0.1" taller than the test version. Big improvement acoustically, which I was hoping since maximizing the saddle height is a well known setup goal. No effect on the pickup performance that I can discern.

The new saddle measures 0.470" in height, including the 0.190" thick ebony cap.

Mike Conner - Posted - 01/24/2023:  17:03:23

Update 24Jan23:
After more testing, I concluded the string-to-string balance could be better. Either the 1st or 6th string volume would be slightly lower based on the relative positions of the pickup sensor and saddle.

The Dobro string spacing is 0.45 inches, for a total span of 2.25”. Research online suggests that the maximum active string span may be 2.125” for the Matrix pickup I recycled.
- Fishman does make a replacement sensor ACC-MAT-NPU with a total width of 2.65” and an active length of 2.5” for $110 plus shipping.
- Elderly has the same part as FMPE-1/8 described as Fishman 1/8" Matrix Element for $70 and free shipping. Fishman 1/8" Matrix Element (
I replaced the old sensor with this new one, retaining the maple shims and the taller 0.470” saddle previously tested.

Big improvement in string-to-string balance and overall volume from the pickup.

Revised detailed report attached:

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