DiMarzio Pickups

Instead of writing individual reviews, I opted for all-in-one article that can be useful for comparing different pickups. I’ll only review pickups I had in one of my guitars.

Bridge Position

DiMarzio Crunch Lab DP228

This is one of the most balanced pickups I’ve tried. There’s plenty of output to drive amp into overdrive, but there’s no lack or excess of any frequency range. That’s why some people find if a bit boring and sterile, nothing sticks out 🙂 Highs are bright enough to have decent artificial harmonics and clarity, but not too much to make it sound shrill under high gain. Mids are not as scooped as Steve’s Special which makes it sound a bit more “alive”, but they are not very pronounced. Lows are very tight, so palm muting won’t sound muddy. It’s really a Petrucci-sounding pickup. I wouldn’t recommend it for bluesy sounds because it still lacks mids to cut through. Surprisingly, I does bluesy stuff very nicely. Take a listen to “Lazy” demo below.

Of course, Crunch Lab is not symmetrical, having that metal bar on one side, but I didn’t bother to try how it sounds with the bar closer to the bridge. Chrome bar looks mean which is a plus 🙂

Get it if you: like Petrucci’s sound; like tight and smooth sound
Avoid it if you: like pickups with a lot of “character”; want mid-heavy pickup; want traditional PAF-style or hot-rodded PAF-style pickup

Video Clips

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DiMarzio FRED DP153

This grew into being one of my favorite pickups. I bought it to replace Tone Zone because I was sick of muddiness and it’s the perfect tool for the job. That guitar already had PAF Pro in neck, so it sounded like a good idea to get FRED and make it into an early Satch pickup combo. It’s a relatively balanced pickup with slight mid hump, resembles PAF on steroids with boosted output and harmonics. What’s awesome about this pickup is artificial harmonics that are effortless to get and it cuts through the mix very very well. It’s not as powerful as Tone Zone, but it’s a very versatile pickup that can do bluesy, creamy Satch-style stuff as well more aggressive sounds with a right amp/pedal. Lows are tight and highs are bright but not too much. I think it’s also a great pickup for EVH-style “brown” tone. It’s a perfect match for PAF Pro in neck position, very balanced combination as far as power and tone are concerned. What it does not do as good as PAFs is cleaning up with volume pot, so bare that in mind.

Get it if you: like Satriani’s sound; like “brown” EVH sound; like tight sound; need clarity
Avoid it if you: like warm pickups; want a pickup that cleans up easily as PAFs

Video Clips

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DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary Bridge DP223

I got a pair of 36th PAFs for my Mini Les Paul project aiming for that traditional Les Paul tone. When it comes to PAF sounding pickups there are so many options, ranging from $30 Chinese pickups to $300+ boutique hand-made pickups. DiMarzio promises authentic PAF tone at very reasonable price. Bridge model (DP223) is slightly warmer and hotter compared to the standard PAF (DP103) for better matching, but PAFs are very balanced pickups that can perform in both positions very well, so it’s not “wrong” getting two DP103.

I like these very much. They are not too powerful to mess up cleans, and they can do pretty much anything with a right amp. I can get some nice rock sounds, think Led Zeppelin, Free and such. Also it covers stuff like Guns’n’Roses pretty well. Hell, with overdrive in front of my Mesa preamp clone and an EQ after, I can do Metallica or even more aggressive stuff.

Get it if you: need a PAF-style pickup; need a versatile pickups that can cover a lot of ground
Avoid it if you: are after a modern sounding pickup

Video Clips

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DiMarzio Tone Zone DP155

This was the very first DiMarzio pickup I got together with PAF Pro. I loved it for many years, but bass and low mids are so overwhelming that I eventually lost interest and replaced it with FRED. It’s got decent harmonics having in mind massive bottom end and enough power to drive amp nicely. However, it’s not tight enough to do palm muting very well. No matter what I do, it sounds flabby.

Get it if you: need warmth and power
Avoid it if you: like palm-muting or tights riffs

Video Clips

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Neck Position

DiMarzio Liquifire DP227

Liquifire is a hot rodded version of well known Air Norton previously used by Petrucci. It’s supposed to have a bit more output, but a bit less bass and treble which adds focus to mids. For higher gain solos it really sings. Interestingly, it never gets muddy, even when heavily overdriven. It even produces artificial harmonics surprisingly well for neck pickup. It cleans up nicely unlike Super 2 or other hi-output neck pickups.

Liquifire is not symmetrical, i.e. it’s coils are not the same. I wouldn’t expect from a neck pickup that orientation will make any noticeable difference because it’s not as close to the bridge as the bridge pickup. However, I tried installing it both ways and could easily tell the difference. I liked it more with the cable exit pointing towards controls because it has more even response. If it’s installed the other way round there’s a noticeable frequency peak somewhere in lower mids that gets pronounced when picked harder. Also, when it’s installed like that, switch positions that combine neck pickup with middle or bridge will sound a bit different. Standard RG/JEM wiring suggests that neck pickup is installed with cable exit facing the upper horn. If installed the other way, position 4 on the switch switches middle pickup in parallel with coil closer to neck which sounds a bit different than stock sound.

Get it if you: like liquid lead sounds; do fast alternate picking on neck pickup
Avoid it if you: want a quacky-sounding neck pickup

Video Clips

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DiMarzio PAF Pro DP151

This is probably the most versatile DiMarzio pickup. People use it in both bridge and neck position, mixed with other pickups or as a pair. It’s a balanced pickup slightly on the bright side of the spectrum which makes it a great neck pickup, but also a good focused, bright bridge pickup. I haven’t used it in the bridge position myself, so I’ll only comment on sound in the neck position. Being bright, it’s got a lovely quack sound to it that sounds awesome when playing pentatonic solos Satch-style. It’s very clear sounding, similar to PAF, but slightly hotter. Can do “Sweet Child of Mine” rather well 🙂

Get it if you: like classic PAF sound on steroids; like clarity and depth
Avoid it if you: want a mid-sounding pickup

Video Clips

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DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary DP103

Everything said for DP223 applies to DP103 as well. It’s a very versatile, balanced pickup that can do pretty much everything. Cleans are rich and beautiful and leads are nice and warm. It can do “Sweet Child of Mine” tone very nicely.

Video Clips

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    The idea behind this site is to share my experience with Do It Yourself approach to guitars, amplifiers and pedals. Whether you want to save a couple of bucks by performing a mod or upgrade yourself instead of paying a tech, or want to build your own piece of gear from scratch, I'm sure you will find something interesting here. Also, this is the home of DIY Layout Creator, a free piece of software for drawing circuit layouts and schematics, written with DIY enthusiasts in mind.