Highlander Pickups are favored by lots of pro players, including Woody Mann, Martin Simpson, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Bob Brozman and others. The biggest attraction of Highlander pickups is their fat, complex tone. The tone of all undersaddle pickups is a bit stringy by definition, but the thick, coaxial design of the Highlander gives it the ability to sense the entire movement of the bridge, giving you a pleasing blend of body and string that is unlike any other undersaddle. This same design also makes these a great match for resonator guitars, and Highlander is the pickup of choice for anyone playing a National or Dobro.
One caveat about installing Highlander pickups in your guitar: All undersaddle pickups sit in the bottom of your guitar's saddle groove, and they typically run some sort of thin pilot wire to the preamp inside the guitar. Most modern undersaddles can be installed without any modification to your bridge or saddle. But Highlander's slightly thicker pickup element means that you may need to rout the bottom of your bridge to fit the pickup under the saddle. The current design of this pickup is more slender than the rope-ish Highlanders of old, but I still think the pickup benefits from a modified saddle groove.
I have had experience with DTAR Timberline and Wavelength UST systems, as well as the newest Fishman Matrix system. I also have K&K pure mini and Seymour Duncan Mag-Mic experience. They all have good sound and their pros and cons. This Highlander IP-1 was purchased to replace one of the DTAR systems that went bad. The Highlander is very basic in that it has no onboard controls but it does its main job very well. The tone achieved with this pickup installed in my guitar is very pleasing. Not harsh or artificial or quacky. It produces a very realistic, believable, acoustic tone. One that is easy to use without a lot of tone shaping.
Probably the biggest debate among users of acoustic pickup systems is the comparison of amplified tone to the non-amplified tone of the acoustic guitar. I am not going try to answer that debate but I will say that as soon as you try to make your acoustic sound louder than it can through natural occurrence, you have left the "true acoustic tone" realm. For me personally, I am looking for an amplified acoustic tone that simply sounds really good. The Highlander IP-1 achieves that easily and very believably.
The guitar in which I installed this pickup, from a practical standpoint, only allowed for a UST pickup. The DTAR pickups, when they work, sound really good. However, I've had enough experience with them to know that they are somewhat delicate and prone to failure if not "very carefully handled". Because of that experience, I wanted to try something different. The Highlander was an obvious choice and upon installation has proven itself to sound great. Only time will tell how well it holds up to long-term use but I expect good things and lasting performance.
I wanted one of these for twenty years.Installed myself.Suggest buying the installion kit if doing yourself.True acoustic sound.No feedback.So simple.
These pickups are the best; why they're not known far and wide is a bit surprising to me. That being said, I'm happy to feel like I'm in on the secret!
My luthier has confessed that he doesn't love the installation process for these, as they are indeed a bit more involved, however I have found them to be worth the hassel...just bring your luthier an extra thank you coffee. :)
I play mine with an Fishman Aura Spectrum, and find the two blend very very well.
I've fitted quite a few of these over the years.
Although they've been around a while, I've found nothing better for certain applications.
They seem to be just that bit more articulate than most other undersaddle pickups.
Noticable especially in a 12 string is the note separation/clarity and not too 'over-the-top' output level.
Correct installation is IMPORTANT!
Buy the gear and do it right.
Shipping was fast, the product is great. Thank you very much!