Paul Gilbert has been using DiMarzio pickups for, yikes about 25 years now, but in all that time he’s never had a signature pickup. Instead he’s preferred to use various humbuckers such as the Tone Zone, PAF Pro and PAF Classic. DiMarzio pickup designer Steve Blucher even told I Heart Guitar in 2009, “It would be difficult to do a pickup for Paul, because he goes between a large number of guitars with different pickups. I don’t think he’d care to be limited to one model.” So it came as some surprise late in 2010 when DiMarzio announced that not only was Pablo Gilberto getting a signature pickup, but that it would be a – gasp! – single coil. Gilbert uses his Injector set all over his most recent solo instrumental album, Fuzz Universe, and the new Mr. Big CD, What If. Both albums feature a more earthy, attack-laden Marshall roar than the hi-fi ADA MP1 and trebly Laney tones Gilbert has used in the past.
Gilbert had been using DiMarzio Area 67 single coils in one of his Ibanez Fireman models for the past few years, and the new Injector neck and bridge single coils are still paired with an Area 67 in the middle position in his Fireman. The bridge model (DP423) is one of DiMarzio’s hottest hum-cancelling single coils, with an output of 185mV and a DC resistance of 11.35k. It’s built with six individual Alnico 2 magnets and about 40% less magnet pull than a standard single coil. The tone chart on DiMarzio.com puts the treble at 6.5, the midrange at 7 and the bass at 6.5.
The neck Injector (DP422), also Alnico 2 loaded, has an output of 160mV and a DC resistance of 8.56k. The tone guide lists its properties as treble 7.5, midrange 7 and bass 6. By contrast, the Area 67 has an output of 120mV and a DC resistance of 5.86k, with treble 9.5, mid 4 and bass 3.
I installed the Injector set (and an Area 67 in the middle position) in my sunburst Stratocaster, using DiMarzio pots and switches too, and plugged into my Marshall DSL50 set for a straightforward overdrive sound similar to that used by Gilbert on his recent recording.
The bridge Injector sounds fat fat fat, and extremely loud. While some single coils are more suited to clean sounds than dirty ones, it’s obvious from the very first note that the Injectors are designed for distortion. They thrive on it. The output is huge for a single coil, and the attenuated treble when compared to the Area 67 means you can really dig in to the notes, and let those bends scream without sounding harsh or screechy. The bridge Injector definitely leans towards the ‘fat and chunky’ realm of Strat pickup rather than the thin and twangy side, and the pick attack is a solid wallop, while power chords sound big and warm. The single-note articulation is great, especially for legato techniques, but Gilbert is known as a very solid speed-picker and the Injectors also track fast playing very well.
The neck Injector has lower output than the bridge unit, but the perceived volume is the same because it’s sensing a louder area of the string. The tone compliments that of the bridge unit quite nicely, and is again fat and thick rather than the hollow sound sometimes associated with neck single coils. The articulation is again very pronounced, which is great for double-stops and big vibrato as well has speed-picked runs. It also sounds great for big greasy bends, and would be a great match for the Tone Zone in guitars with a humbucker/single coil pickup configuration.
Both pickups clean up well when you back off the volume control, and although the clean sound is quite nice, it may be a bit woolly for those who require a clean tone most of the time. The in-between sounds, however, are stunning, with wide headroom and very low noise. It’s possible to set your amp for a sweet spot where hard picking brings out full-on overdrive while softer picking and a lower guitar volume setting sound sweet and mellow.
The Injector set won’t give you Gilbert’s signature sound as you may know it from Mr. Big and Racer X – after all, there isn’t really a signature Gilbert tone as such, since he never settles on a single use-for-everything pickup – but it will give you the articulation, attack and fatness of his two most recent CDs. It’s up to you whether you want to try to play like Gilbert or not, but if you’re after single coil attack in a noiseless, high-output format and with a huge, fat tone, there’s nothing else out there like the Injector set.Click the links below to buy the DiMarzio Injector from Musician’s Friend.