Dimarzio pickups - am I the only one..

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by BabUShka, Sep 2, 2021.

  1. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I think it's a rig issue. I've never been able to wrangle anything decent out of an HT5. The Madamp seems like a purpose-built early Fender clone. These things can be dark or spongy.

    If you look at the pickups you do like, they tend to be on the bright and aggro side, while the ones you don't are a little darker and thicker. There are some outliers, but that's my impression overall.

    What tones are you going after? Neither of those amps would be my first (or tenth...) for anything contemporary.
     
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  2. WarMachine

    WarMachine SS.org Regular

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    IME, what you get with the D Activator bridge is a very balanced tone, just a nice high output like you'd get from EMG's. And i can attest to that being true to form because i ran EMG's for many years. With the X bridge pickup, you get the same output, but more bit in the high mids. A bit hard to describe without hearing both side by side, but the X definitely has more bite. It is very articulate.
     
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  3. Neon_Knight_

    Neon_Knight_ SS.org Regular

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    Agreed!
    I'm currently using Super D + Super 2 for E standard, DiMarzio-IBZ for drop-D and D Activators for everything lower.

    I want to try out PAF Pro (in neck) and Evos, but can't see them being an improvement on what I have for my taste.
     
  4. lurè

    lurè Fake Shredder

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    Like most large pickup companies they have such a wide spectrum of pickups that is hard not to find something you like.

    Personally I really enjoyed the Super Distortion for E/Eb tuning and the CL/LF combo for standard 7 string.
     
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  5. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    I haven't used Dimarzios too much so I don't have a complete picture for them. But like any pickup it depends on the model and the guitar it's going to.

    For example I put a Tonezone and AirNorton in an Ibanez guitar that has a Mahogany body and the rest is typical Ibanez (bolt on, maple neck with rosewood fretboard, Edge tremolo). I replaced the Dimarzio/IBZ pickups just because I wanted something thicker for the bridge pickup. Otherwise they were really good pickups. The ToneZone delivered what I wanted but I have the guitar on E standard. The AirNorton is nice but I feel a bit dark for that guitar.

    I have a D-Sonic and AirNorton in another guitar in E standard that is a really bright guitar. The D-Sonic has tamed the brightness a bit but still the guitar sounds bright. The AirNorton is stellar in this guitar.

    I had a pair of D-Activators in a neckthrough Mahogany and maple neck guitar that I didn't appreciate correctly as I afterwards realized where too far away from the strings (for some reason I could not raise them more). But still they were clear and brutal sounding.

    I had a pair of Evo's that were stellar in E standard in a Jackson SL2, but once I tuned to C they sounded muddy. But in E they were huge sounding.

    I tried the Dominions but I just was not a fan. They had an almost split sound quality that I didn't care for.

    I still would like to give the D-Activators another go as well as some other staples of the Dimarzio family, like the Super Distortion or the PAF pr or 36 for the neck or even the X2N (even though this seems it will be too high output).

    As for Duncans, again I've tried a few models but not all. Others I liked more others I liked less. Others I liked but was curious to try other stuff and took them out but never put back in.
     
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  6. Strobe

    Strobe SS.org Regular

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    CL / LF set to me is pretty picky about tunings and amps you play it with. They sound best with a tight amp to compensate for their low mid heavy wide frequency profile. They really work with the Mesa Boogie Mark series - no surprise, that's how they are used by JP.

    Tone zone is another very fat sounding pickup. Great for leads, great for a thinner sounding guitar. More of a rock pickup to me, but it just works well in my RG655.

    You may just prefer a more trebly, tighter pickup. I do, too. They make lots of those. The illuminators in my JP15 sound great for nearly everything and are very tight and non mushy.
     
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  7. Robstonin

    Robstonin SS.org Regular

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    At the end of the day everybody has to figure out the sound of their guitars because no matter what 'tonewood' they're built from there can be significant differences that simply cannot be summed up by umbrella descriptions ala 'mahog = dark' and 'ash = bright'. I used to own a neck-thru, maple + basswood X series Kelly with a Floyd Special that sounded much bassier and fuller than a friend's all mahogany Les Paul Prophecy, both with the same EMG 81/85 pickups, same string brand and gauge, same tuning and both A/B-ed on the same day through the same tube amp.

    OP, FWIW here's my experience with a few DiMarzio pickups that may inform your views a little bit.
    - The D Activator bridge in my nephew's 27 fret Xiphos handles high gain like no other. That thing sounds razor sharp but still retains enough thickness in the bass and low mids. Gratuitous (but low quality) shots of that Xiphos for the fans ;)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    - I didn't like the Dominion bridge in my old EDR470 (luthite bodied). Not as tight as I had hoped for, too honky in the mids.
    - I love the Air Norton in 24 fret guitars but really dislike it in 22 fretters where I think it sounds too boomy and bassy.
    - I adore the Custom 7 (?) pickups that were mounted stock in the RG7620. That's the 7 string sound of late 90s. On a similar note I love the good old Blaze bridge as well. I remember trying out a Universe through a JCM2000 in 2001-2002 and becoming totally infatuated with the low B powerchord!
    - I loved the Breed bridge in a friend's MIK RG270. Really made the guitar sound thicker while retaining a great degree of dynamics. These pickups also sounded fab in that black Jem from the early 2000s that had like screw driver heads as inlays, can't remember the name.
    - I'm not fond of the Steve's Special in any guitar. Its inherent tonal balance actually makes it a bit bland to me.
     
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  8. Neon_Knight_

    Neon_Knight_ SS.org Regular

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    [QUOTE="Edika, post: 5313914, member: 23674"
    I had a pair of D-Activators in a neckthrough Mahogany and maple neck guitar that I didn't appreciate correctly as I afterwards realized where too far away from the strings (for some reason I could not raise them more). But still they were clear and brutal sounding.
    [/QUOTE]
    Ibanez Xiphos? Did you change the pickups or sell the guitar?
     
  9. skullfxr

    skullfxr SS.org Regular

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    I don't really care for most Dimarzio pickups tbh. There are a few that I love, early 80's Super Distortion and PAF Pro, are great. I like the Virtual PAF is great.

    The tone zone is probably one of my least favorite common pickups. I didn't like the crunch lab. The Satch signature in general I have not enjoyed at all. The saving grace for me is with Dimarzio is the 1980's stuff, the current Super Distortion and the current EVO. which I absolutely love. PAF Pro can be ok.
     
  10. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Ibanez Xiphos? Did you change the pickups or sell the guitar?[/QUOTE]

    It was in an Ibanez V, the VBT700 model. I did change the pickups to a Seymour Duncan Alternative 8 that I found it was too bright. But again it was also far away from the strings. I did a final change to a SD Blackout set and really liked the sound but I ended up trading the guitar with a member here. I regret doing that though as it was the only V guitar I've played that actually balanced. I think at some point I might ask him if he still has it and see if I can buy it back lol!
     
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  11. Marked Man

    Marked Man SS.org Regular

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    The original D Activators rock bigtime! I became an instant fan when I bought my very elusive B.C. Rich Bich. BCR could not have selected a better set for this guitar's intended purpose.

    And the more time passes, the more I like bright pickups. Probably in no small part due to upper frequency hearing loss, but oh well!

    Bich.jpg
     
  12. Neon_Knight_

    Neon_Knight_ SS.org Regular

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    I'd rather have a bright pickup that I can dial back the treble on than a dark pickup with boosted treble. The latter tends to sound thin and shrill.
    D Activators seem to have plenty of everything across the frequencies, so offer plenty of versatility for amp shaping at high gain.
    The more I play them, the more I love them.
     
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  13. Hoss632

    Hoss632 SS.org Regular

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    the dream catcher/rain maker could be an option. still a JP signature set but to my ears hearing them side by side are hotter than the CL/LF set. The Fortitude might be my favorite bridge pick up Dimarzio makes at the moment. Though it's more vintage in output it sounds brutal with high gain, I mean it's the sig pup for Gojira's Joe Duplantier.
     
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  14. Marked Man

    Marked Man SS.org Regular

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    One thing is for sure looking at Petrucci's sig pickups: He likes rolled off treble frequencies, as in 4.5 -5 out of 10, not my thing. My favorite Dimarzios are the D Activator (6.5) and Evo 2 (6).
     
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  15. Hoss632

    Hoss632 SS.org Regular

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    I have never played a dimarzio loaded guitar in all honesty let alone a jp. To me most dimarzio seem to be much tamer in the treble frequencies vs Duncan's though.
     
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  16. Marked Man

    Marked Man SS.org Regular

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    Agree. Duncans have the bite I love at the bridge, but often too much treble for neck HBs like the Jazz. Dimarzio has most of my favorite neck HBs: Air Norton, PAF Pro, PAF 36th, Blaze, Gravity Storm.

    Favorite overall Dimarzio combo: Evo2/Air Norton

    Also a growing fan of the D Activator set.
     
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  17. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy SS.org Regular

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    I agree to the mention that the D-Activator X set is clear, balanced, and articulate making it easy to shape in any way you want. I haven't tried any other DiMarzios, but I love my X set on my PRS S2. Moreover, I like its cleans on parallel wired too.

     
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  18. Hoss632

    Hoss632 SS.org Regular

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    Agreed. I remember seeing a guy who had an ibanez with a dimebucker in the bridge and a dimarzio air norton in the neck and that guitar sounded really good.
     
  19. supertruper1988

    supertruper1988 SS.org Regular

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    I dont think writing off the whole company based on 3 pickups is the way to go. I dont like all 3 of the pickups you mention in the OP but I generally like DiMarzio as a company and have other pickups from them that sound great.

    I am a huge fan of the Area pickups for Strat and I am having a hard time picking a favorite bridge pickup between the Norton or the Fred. I also like the breeds in my RG and I like the Air Norton and PAF pro for neck pickups.

    The Super Distortion is a great pickup for 80s hard rock and the PAF (DP103) is a great neck pickup to pair with it.

    I dont like some pickups from duncan and BKP but I dont call the entirety of the products they make "bad" based on the fact that the Duncan Distortion is the worst bridge pickup in history (IMO) and that every BKP I have tried sounds exactly the same :shrug:
     
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  20. Ross82

    Ross82 SS.org Regular

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    The best and pretty much only Dimarzios I've used to extent are the Super Distortions, Blaze II's and PAF7. Super Distortions we're awesome and sounded excellent in drop B where I used them for years. The Blaze II's I had in my old RG7620 were not bad by any means but they also didn't really shine in any particular area either so I guess they were a pretty good all-rounder. PAF7's I could not stand, way under powered and sloppy sounding for my applications. I tried so many times to work with them as I'd heard other people seemingly get decent results with them but I couldn't do it.

    I honestly couldn't say why I haven't used Dimarzios more, it just seems like most of the guitars I've owned didn't have them and any aftermarket swaps I've done went in another direction. I do fondly recall those Super Distortions though!
     

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