While a good deal of acoustic guitars come with inbuilt pickups and preamps, a great many do not. There are plenty of pre-electronic vin- tage instruments that I’m sure would appreciate the chance to strut their stuff on stage (perhaps in the presence of a bodyguard) from time to time. Whether you’re using a removable pickup, your guitar doesn’t have an active preamp, or the preamp it does have just plain sucks, the Fishman Pro EQ Platinum is designed to solve your tone woes. It also replaces the previous Pro EQ Platinum, which was not quite as feature-packed as this version, and with a totally different look. It’s been completely redesigned from the ground up, and it uses a discrete high-headroom Class A circuit for the highest fidelity and lowest distortion.
This unit is bigger than the average stomp box, and it’s also cleverly designed to work well as a desktop unit for recording. There’s plenty of EQ control available: for starters a slider switch lets you select whether you want the tone stack optimised for guitar or bass. Then there are knobs for for Low Cut, Bass, Middle (with sweepable frequency), Treble and Brilliance, plus a Notch control for isolating and removing feedback-prone frequencies. There’s also a Phase switch for further feedback-fighting fun. Up in the top right there’s a Compressor control for softening the attack of amplified acoustics. On one side of the unit you’ll find two tiny little pots: one is your input gain for getting the optimum level into the unit, and the other is a boost level which corresponds to a boost footswitch for kicking your volume up a notch. As for connections, there’s an XLR DI output with ground lift and pre/post switching for pro sound and recording purposes. There’s also an effects loop and a Tune mode (the big display in the center is the tuner).
SMOOTH AND SILKY
What I particularly like about the ProEQ Platinum is that it does its job so well, that after a while you don’t even notice you’re using it. I’m normally annoyed by the quackiness of my acoustic’s piezo pickup, and the poorly chosen frequencies of its own three band graphic EQ. However, by setting my guitar’s EQ flat and using the ProEQ’s instead, I’ve instantly upgraded my tone to be much more musical and, I’m relieved to say, free of a particularly ear- bothering upper midrange spike the guitar’s preamp possesses. The Compressor knob really takes the sting out of the piezo sound too, since so much of what sucks about many piezos is in the attack of the note - not its sustain. The attack of my acoustic became smoother and silkier but remained naturalistic. The tuner is also very easy to see, and the effects loop is a great addition for inserting ambient effects into your signal chain.
NEW AND IMPROVED
The ProEQ’s real success is in taking whatever guitar you plug into it and making it sound better without fuss, while also giving you plenty of feedback-zapping and tone control options. It’s also very user-friendly: its larger footprint compared to its predecessor means the controls are easier to access.
Hits and Misses
Easily visible tuner display
Handy guitar/bass switch
No level control for FX loop