Schatten HFN Series Pickups for Steel String Acoustic Guitars


HFN  (passive)

HFN Active and HFN Artist



Studio Microphone Quality Sound

     "The sound of this new guitar pickup is as close to that of a good quality mic as you've ever heard from a guitar pickup...."

The HFN's give you a sound that is much more realistic than that of under the saddle pickups. Along with being simple to install, these pickups exhibit excellent feedback rejection and good string to string balance.

The HFN series for steel string guitars is available in three model ranges: As the HFN (passive) which does not come with a preamp, as the HFN Active which comes with a single channel endpin jack preamp, and as the HFN Artist which comes with a two channel endpin jack preamp that can be run on phantom power.

All HFN's are designed to be used with a preamp - for best results, the HFN passive should be paired up with one of our outboard preamps.


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                                            HFN Models for Steel String Guitars

HFN Passive In Stock Price Quantity
HFN  (passive) Yes $139.95
Gold Button for endpin jack or endpin jack preamp (replaces the original) Yes $6.95
Outboard Preamps      
Schatten Mini Pre Acoustic Instrument Preamp (1 channel) more Yes $69.95
NEW Schatten Mini Pre 2 Acoustic Instrument Preamp (2 channel) more Yes $99.95
HFN Active (with single channel endpin jack preamp)
 HFN Active (HFN with Player endpin jack preamp) Yes $164.95
 HFN Active VT (HFN with Player endpin jack preamp and volume & tone thumbwheel controls) Yes $189.95
Gold Button for endpin jack or endpin jack preamp (replaces the original) Yes $6.95
HFN Artist (with two channel endpin jack preamp that is phantom power capable)
HFN Artist (with Artist II endpin jack preamp) Yes $199.95
HFN Artist Plus 1 (with Artist II preamp and single thumbwheel volume control) Yes $214.95
HFN Artist Plus 2 (with Artist II preamp and two thumbwheel volume controls) Yes $224.95
Gold Button for endpin jack or endpin jack preamp (replaces the original) Yes $6.95
CAB-1 cable  6 feet (required for using phantom or remote power)  more Yes $16.95
RP-1 remote power module (provides 18 volts d.c. from batteries)   more Yes 69.95

Canadian Customers
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Prices shown are in US funds


What Model Should I Get?

Here's a flow chart to help you determine which model of HFN suits your needs the best







HFN element shown mounted to the bridge plate



HFN  (passive)



HFN Active and HFN Artist models



Thumbwheel controls are available as follows:
HFN Active VT has a volume and a tone thumbwheel.
HFN Artist Plus 1 has a single volume thumbwheel control
HFN Artist Plus 2 has two thumbwheel volume controls






The HFN is designed to give you a full, rich sound and will reproduce exactly what your guitar sounds like.

     The HFN series of pickups utilizes an elegant combination of materials: rosewood for its main structure and arching with a light weight brass shell for its noise shielded piezo unit. Total weight of the pickup is a very light 0.2 ounces (7 grams). It will not affect the acoustic sound of the instrument when not in use.

     The HFN will fit virtually any X braced steel string acoustic guitar whether it has a pin bridge or not. The only hole that you need to drill is for the endpin jack or endpin jack preamp. The HFN's have been tested on and installed in 7 and 8 string guitars and also work very well in those instruments.

     The HFN Active comes with our single channel Player endpin jack preamp. The HFN Active VT comes with the same Player endpin jack preamp and adds a set of volume and tone thumbwheel controls.

     HFN Artist models feature our two channel Artist II endpin jack preamp which can be run from an onboard 9 volt battery or from phantom power. The HFN Artists are available with either one or two thumbwheel volume controls. These thumbwheel controls simply stick to the underside of the lip of the sound hole. A single thumbwheel control would be used to control the volume of our HFN pickup. The second thumbwheel control would be used if you wish to add a secondary pickup (like a magnetic sound hole pickup). Having two thumbwheel volume controls allows you to mix and blend both pickups as you like.

     Installation is quick and simple and takes about 15 minutes. All HFN's come fully wired, complete and ready to install. The Active and Artist models also include a self adhesive velcro mount cordura nylon battery bag. Neat and tidy.

The Design Of The HFN

     Due to its' design, the HFN for steel string guitars sounds like and behaves more like a good quality studio microphone; something that you would never expect from a pickup. Noticeably absent is the usual 'quack' that you get from under the saddle pickups because what you're getting is the sound of the instrument itself, not just the percussive response that you get from placing a pickup in contact with the underside of a guitar saddle. Since the pickup really does respond and sound like a mic, adding any sort of microphone in conjunction with the HFN is really quite unnecessary.

     The pickup is designed to allow it to flex and move along with the soundboard of the instrument. There is a certain amount of flex built into the arching of the rosewood pickup base and as well there is both some flex allowed and some isolation from the soundboard provided by the 3M VHB foam mounting tape.

     Utilizing a single piezo sensing element that comes into contact with the soundboard of the guitar through the 'feet' of the pickup base allows for several things. First, the HFN is able to sample from more than one spot and to sample those spots across a span of time. Second, since we are able to do all this with just the one element, the chances of creating mechanical phasing issues caused by having to use more than one sensing element is eliminated.


About HFN's With Our Endpin Jack Preamps

     HFN Active: A single HFN is all you really need. So, we've now made our HFN pickups available with our Player endpin jack preamp. One pickup, a single channel preamp.....and volume and tone thumbwheel controls are avaiable if you'd like them.  

     HFN Artist: When you get the HFN with our Artist II endpin jack preamp you're getting something very unique. The preamp has two channels, so you can add that magnetic pickup that you have to our HFN and balance the output with the trim pots on the circuit board. For added convenience the Artist II endpin jack preamps can come with thumbwheel volume controls for each channel. As well, the preamp can be run from an onboard 9 volt battery, or from Phantom Power (up to 48 volts dc) supplied by a mixer or amp, or from our RP-1 outboard battery box.

Installation Instructions and Fitting Template

Installation Instructions:  HFN (passive) pdf      HFN Active series pdf     HFN Artist series pdf      

     Should you have any concerns about whether an HFN will fit properly within your guitar, you may download the following pdf which contains full size drawings of all HFN bases. Do not scale this page when you print it after downloading: HFN Pickup Template (if you need to check the fit) - pdf




     If you take a moment or two and bounce back and forth between the pickup samples and the studio mic sample you'll see what we mean when compare the sound of the HFN Artist to the sound of a studio's pretty darn close.
     The sound bites provided for steel string guitars all come from an independent source: guitarist Doug Young We'd like to thank Doug for helping to beta test the HFN Steel String and for taking the time to record these samples.


Without naming names (except for our's) here's how things sound:
Guitar  with a studio mic
Guitar with Schatten HFN Artist  (bridge plate mounted system)
Guitar with Schatten HFN Artist  (bridge plate mounted system) EQ'd
Guitar with Brand 'X' pickup (under the saddle pickup)
Guitar with Brand 'Y' pickup

Here are a couple of other sound bites courtesy of Poor Charlie
00 Martin with HFN-Artist- A little slide and bottle neck (no EQ)
00 Martin with HFN Artist- A little more (No EQ)









      "I've been trying the HFN out in several different guitars (it's very easy to install) and i've found that it works best with my new Yamaha CPX15N11.

     I recently had this guitar customized with a hand painted image of my favorite work of art The Duel After the Masquerade by Jean-Lon Grme. It's therefore a very special guitar that needs a very special pickup, I think the HFN could be the one! The guitar sounds great unplugged and now it sounds great plugged in too, very natural sounding and warm.

     The controls are very simple, but that's just how I like it to be on my guitar. I've been using it with the Ultra-sound DI and they go great together. It means that my guitar can look pretty, and I can keep the technical stuff on the floor out of sight. I hate lots of controls on guitars, I like to go a little wild on stage, so I'm prone to knocking the controls. The HFN controls are well hidden and basic, perfect for me as I run around the stage!"

     Ashley Hicklin






     All of my main instruments now are vintage ones, I love the looks, the vibe and the sense of a history to them, and that they all have their own individual voice. I'm using the HFN Aritst Plus one in my early 1930's Kay Kraft, and in my old Oahu acoustic lap slide. I use the BJ-02 Std. in my banjos.

     The thing I love about Schatten pickups is their ability to truly capture the quality of the instruments individuality and tone. This is not just a generic amplification of an instrument, but a true representation of its tone and colour. I love my instruments, and want them to sound as good on stage as they do in my living room.

     Thanks Schatten for doing what you do so well.

     Thanks very much,

     Marcel Desilets










August 16, 2010
I had recently ordered a Schatten HFN-C (passive) and was blown away by the sound on my classical guitar using a K&K preamp! You guys have a good thing going for sure.
I quickly ordered a second pickup for steel string (see below), and I was hoping it could arrive in Iowa by this Friday...
is that possible?

August 17, 2010
Hello Jonathan, and thank you for your order.
We shipped it on Monday August 16 with UPS and it is scheduled to arrive at your destination on Thursday August 19. Here is the tracking number so you may follow its progress. 1xxxxxx 68 4467 xxxx.
Please let me know your thoughts on the pickup or if you have any other questions.
Rod Rose
Sales Manager
Schatten Design Acoustic Pickups

August 20 2010
Thanks, arrived, installed and sounds great. Best amplified sound I've had yet on steel string. Warmer than K&K and less sensitive to hand pressure on the bridge (I do a lot of damped string strumming)





     From one of Canada's most famous JUNO and CCMA performing and recording artists:

.........I had Les put one of his new HFN acoustic pickup systems in my road guitar (that's the Lado that I'm playing in this photo). The amplified sound is amazing. I feel like I'm playing one of those guitars worth about 3 or 4 grand. In the future I plan on asking Les to design me a mandolin, with of course, one of his new pickups........Their pickup technology is wonderful and they're nice people too!
Jamie Warren





     I first came across the Schatten HFN series pickup while we were on tour in Australia with Xavier Rudd. His tech had an HFN and was raving about it. It wasn't until 6 months later when I actually got around to picking one up and having it installed that I realized - this pickup was designed by Les Schatten - who just happens to be my hometown luthier.
   When I had the pickup installed in my guitar and tried it out, I was almost speechless. I tour with a Martin acoustic, and a couple of Taylors. Although i do love Taylor guitars, I found their "Impression Pick-up System" to be pretty always seemed to sound thin, especially in larger venues.
     All that is now a thing of the past now, having installed the HFN. It's a mind boggling pickup. The closest to microphone sound I've ever heard - and very stable on stage even when stage volume has to be cranked. The fact is, Schatten pickups sound WAY better than both my Martin, and my Taylor systems, and will undoubtedly be planted in every guitar I own -I'm tellin' everyone I know :)
D'Ari Pouyat



      I am very, very happy to be a Schatten user. I have the HFN Artist in my vintage Gibson J45. I love it so much that I'm installing one in my vintage Martin D28 as soon as I receive it in the mail. I also have your VVM mando pickup on my Loar era Gibson A mandolin.
     I am a full time working professional and I expect the best sound out of my instruments. I also expect to reproduce that sound through the PA. And lately sound guys are taking note of how good my instruments sound coming down the line.
Thanks so much for making non-permanent, great sounding gear.
 Clay Cook


Hey Rod ol' buddy,
    I just got off stage one and a half hours ago and I gotta tell you this now (before I hit the after show get together) the HFN Artist is sensational! The band immediately noticed the difference at the sound check and I got a load of compliments after the gig.
No feedback (and you're not going to believe this but) my channel on the main FOH (front of house) mixer was not at all equalized.

     You read it right, my channel did not need to be EQ'd. I plugged into the stage board that went straight to the mixer and whammo, that was it! It was just pure guitar, pure Schatten pickup and linear mix and it kicked butt.
We had a PA of 2000 watts tonight and that's loud for an acoustic band. So you go figure.......Tell Les for me.....Yes!!
Talk later, Regards, Roly



George Arvola

May 12, 1948 - April 13, 2016 

 ..........Long time friend, musician, teacher, passed away a little while ago after a brief illness.

     I played bass for a year or two in George's jazz band. I'd like to say that I was a good bass player, but I wasn't. I always thought that it was kind of George to let me play with the group as they were all much better musicians than I was.                               

     I can remember a couple of things quite vividly, even though they took place half a lifetime ago: a white knuckle drive down an icey 401 from Kitchener to some bloody city or other to play a New Years eve gig..... and golf games where we'd get on the course just after dawn, play 18 holes, have breakfast, and I'd still make it to work by 10 am when I opened the music store I used to have.... and lastly the famous canoe trip down the Grand River which took about ten hours instead of the 4 or 5 that we figured it would since rivers don't travel the way a crow files.

     Didn't see George at all in the past bunch of years. I'd talk to him on the rare occasion but that was about it. We were long time friends, almost forty years. When I visited him in the hospital shortly before he passed, there was a student of his there talking to him at the time. He introduced us and explained to the other fellow that although we were old friends and hadn't seen eachother for years, he felt that we could continue any conversation from where we had left off, no matter how long it was since we last talked.

     Time has a habit of catching us out.


Hi Les,

Love the new pickup you installed in my 1972 D28 Martin a few days ago. (What took me so long?!?!) Looking at different options, yours is clearly the least obtrusive acoustic pickup (invisible) and captures the authentic acoustic sounds best of anything I've heard. It's what I need for folk, celtic, bluegrass (and likely anything else).

Also, here's a pic from Cederatree Studios a few years back while recording here with Northern City Limits. It shows another Martin (1977 D18 . . . next on the list to receive a Schatten pickup!)

All the best and thanks again for turning this around on very short notice!!
Tom Nunn


About Pickups & Amps


Passive Pickup - A piezo pickup.

Impedance - To simplify things as much as posssible we'll say that impedance refers to the range in which an amplifying device can 'hear' a pickup plugged into it.

Preamp - A device specifically designed for use with piezo pickups that increases the signal strength and lowers the impedance of a passive pickup.

Active Pickup - A piezo pickup with an attached preamp.

Microphone Preamp - a device that may be built into and mixers that is designed to work with microphones. These units will not generally work with passive pickups.

'Normal' Electric Guitar Amps: A passive pickup has an impedance of approximately 2 mega ohms (2 million ohms) which virtually all 'normal' electric guitar amps can generally handle without issue.

 'Acoustic' Amps: may or may not require the use of a preamp with a pickup and that will depend upon whether or not there is a special built in preamp section to that amp that specifically allows for the choice in plugging in either a passive (non-preamped) or active (preamped) pickup. This choice is quite often in the form of pushbutton on the amp's control panel. Many acoustic amps show a selection that may indicate the choice of 'high impedance' and 'low impedance'.

Low impedance in these instances usually indicates that in this range the amp will handle an impedance of 1000 ohms or less - which will allow active pickups with preamps to be used.

High impedance in these instances may indicate an allowable impedance into the 2 or 3 mega ohm range - which will allow passive pickups to be used. Or it may indicate a maximum input impedance allowed of  20,000 ohms or less - which will handle magnetic electric guitar pickups but not passive pickups. You should carefully read the technical specifications of your acoustic amp in order to see what it will do.

P.A. Systems, Mixers: all of these units will require the use of a preamp between themselves and a passive pickup. Microphone preamps built into P.A.'s and mixers are not designed for use with passive pickups and will not work properly.

Computers: Due to the vagaries and variables inherent in the sound cards found in computers, the only thing that we can advise is that a preamp will almost certainly be necessary.