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DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary neck and bridge humbuckers DP103 and DP223


DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary neck and bridge humbuckers DP103 and DP223

From the manufacturer:

Here are the characteristics that make a great vintage humbucker: a soft magnetic field, sweet tone, perfect balance between warmth and clarity, the ability to go from clean to distorted by pick attack alone. For our PAF® 36th Anniversary Neck we wanted to continue in the path of pioneers such as Seth Lover (designer of the original Patent Applied For humbucker) and create pickups that combine all of the characteristics of great vintage humbuckers. These pickups are not merely clones. We re-engineered the PAF® using our patented technology and Larry DiMarzio’s own 1959 cherry sunburst Gibson® Les Paul® as the reference. Larry’s Gibson® Les Paul® has a uniquely amazing sound and it’s not only due to the pickups — it’s the total fusion of many elements of the guitar itself. Although the pickups have a weak magnetic field, the sound is well defined: almost like a single-coil. We duplicated the weaker magnetic field in order to allow the strings to vibrate longer, as well as focus and articulate the attack and output. We use computer-controlled winders to consistently layer the 42-gauge custom-coated wire, achieving the exact frequency response we want. Then it’s dipped in our custom formula to eliminate squeal and microphonics. The cover is made from nickel-silver and our new plating makes it more magnetically transparent than the originals. The PAF® 36th Anniversary Neck is smooth but not muddy. It performs equally well in the neck or bridge, just as the best humbuckers from the 50s did.  The PAF® 36th Anniversary Bridge is hotter than the Neck. It is not only for set neck 24¾” scale guitars, but it’s also an excellent bridge pickup for trem-equipped bolt-ons.

There is no reference standard for the sound of a humbucker from the 1950s. All of them had variations in output and tone, and these differences could be quite large. Recently, we have focused our research on making pickups with warm highs and bright lows. This combination is only found in our favorite vintage humbuckers, and it’s really good for a pickup intended for both the neck and bridge positions (DP103). It allows the bass strings in the neck position to avoid muddiness, and the treble strings in the bridge position to be warm and not brittle.

The PAF® 36th Anniversary Bridge model has the best qualities of the Virtual PAF® bridge and Virtual Hot PAF® pickups and then some. It’s as loud as the Virtual Hot PAF®, but has as much low-end and midrange definition as the Virtual PAF® Bridge Model. The highs are actually bigger and smoother than either model. The 4-conductor version also splits very well. Single-coil mode is bright, but not at all sterile-sounding.

Seth's picks for best videos/sound clips:

I guess there's no better place to start than with the man himself, so here is a video Larry DiMarzio posted of a Guitar World Magazine "shootout" of sorts, between a 2002 reissue 1959 Gibson Les Paul with his DP103 and DP223 36th Anniversary PAF pickups, and Larry's personal original 1959 Gibson Les Paul with old Patent Applied For Gibson pickups in it. After some explaining, we begin by hearing each guitar unamplified, starting with the 2002 reissue at 1:12, then moving to the original 1959 at 1:29. The only real difference between the two (other than the age and the pickups, obviously) that I can see is the reissue has Kluson tuning machines, while the original has Grovers...making slightly NOT original! After some explanation of the setup of the amplifier (straight into a Vox AC15 Hand-Wired Head and its cabinet), we start the true comparison with the bridge pickups. At 2:51, we hear the original 1959 PAF bridge pickup, followed by the 2002 reissue Les Paul's 36th Anniversary DiMarzio at 3:08. The 36th definitely holds its own here, aounds remarkably similar, just a touch darker and with a few more low-mids coming through. He begins the neck pickup comparison at 3:39, starting with the 2002 reissue. He plays the original '59 at 4:07. I really notice how much more the high frequencies come through in the original '59. The question is, is it a result of the aging of the wood and the lacquer for 50 years, or is it the frequency response of the pickups themselves? We get to compare the sounds of both guitars with the pickups combined starting at 4:40, first with the reissue, then at 5:12 with the original '59. Again, the 36th Anniversary pickups come close, but the original PAF's have just a little extra high end. Interesting. At 5:25, he kind of just lets loose and seems like he forgets he's supposed to stay in the middle position, so in the middle of the demo of both pickups he switches to the neck, and I think he understands that he won't have many more opportunities to play an original '59, so he switches to the bridge pickup at 5:41 and switches back to the middle at 5:45. I think the DiMarzio DP103 and DP223 36th Anniversary pickups are about as close as you're going to get to the sound and feel of 50+ year old PAFs.

Here's a cool example of the DiMarzio 36th Anniversary pickups in a more modern guitar. He starts at 0:06 by playing the DP223 alone in his Ibanez RGA121 through his Marshall DSL401. He's using a moderate gain sound and he has rolled his volume down slightly. With this guitar, the DP223 sounds thick and rich, with a lot of harmonic content. There seem to be less highs here, but that just may be a result of the volume being rolled off. At 0:54 we hear the DP103 alone, again with the volume rolled off a tad. Again, thickness is the rule here. I love the "roundness" of the neck pickup's voicing. Next, at 1:40, we hear the neck pickup coil-tapped through the same volume-rolled-off-medium-gain sound. I hear a bit more pick attack here, a little more "chirp" at the front of the note. At 2:24, we hear the both the DP103 and the DP223 together. This sounds more like the middle position of a Les Paul to my ears (as it should!). Next we hear both pickups coil-tapped and combined with the volume rolled off, at 2:54. Very much like the middle position of a Tele in this combination. He returns to the DP223 alone at 3:40, the same sound he started the demo with. At 4:30, he switches to a clean sound and begins his demo with the DP103 alone. Nice thick Jazz tone here. He moves to the DP103 coil-tapped at 4:54, and again, this sounds most like a Tele neck pickup to me. At 5:10, we hear both pickups combined in full humbucker mode, while at 5:27 we get both pickups combined in coil-tapped mode. The DP223 is showcased by itself with this clean sound at 5:53, rounding out the clean section of the demo. From 6:10 to the end, he turns the crunch back on and opens the volume on the guitar all the up, and goes through a few of his favorite pickup configurations again, so 6:10 to 7:03 is the DP223 in full humbucking mode by itself, 7:03 to 7:36 is the DP103 in full humbucking mode, 7:36 to 8:08 is the DP103 coil-tapped, and he ends the video with the DP223 by itself again. Very smooth, thick pickups with nice high end clarity.

This is another in the "change your low-cost guitar into a monster" category. Not only has this guy made his guitar better, he's kind of made it a "Swiss-army-knife" capable of lots of different tones. He has the DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary pickup set in his Epiphone Gold Top Les Paul, and it lookd like he's playing it through an Orange Tiny Terror amplifier. He starts the video with a selection of a tune that's not normally played on a Les Paul Style guitar. His guitar is wired in such a way that he is able to coil tap each pickup, widening his tonal palette, so here he takes advantage of that and plays with both pickups combined and coil tapped, giving us a sound that is very much like the middle position of a Tele, or the "in between" position in a Strat. At 0:37, he continues the Hit Parade and switches to the DP223 in full humbucking mode with a bit more gain. After a little bit of the full pickup, we hear it split at 0:49. At 1:16, he changes to the DP103 in coil-tapped mode, again, playing something that would normally require a single-coil guitar to achieve. 1:51 brings a change to the DP223 alone in full humbucking mode again, with a little bump in the amount of distortion. At 2:16, he cleans up the tone and taps the DP223, playing something you'd expect to play on a Strat. He improvises a nice lead on the bridge pickup at 2:48, opening up the distortion a bit. He keeps the same sound on the amp, but switches to the DP103 in full humbucking mode at 3:07, again improvising some nice sustained leads. From 4:30 to the end he plays with the full DP223 again (seems to be his favorite sound). It's really striking to see the array of tones available from these pickups, especially when you take advantage of the coil-tapping options.

This one features the DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary Pickups in an Ibanez RG570 being played through a Kemper Profiler modeling amplifier. After some interesting still pictures of the pickup replacement process, he begins his demo by playing a familiar tune on the DP103 (the neck pickup) alone. Great sustain and pick attack definition. He switches to the DP 223 alone at 1:10, and we hear the upper mids distinctly with this pickup. Again I am struck by the amount of sustain this guy is able to achieve with these pickups. At 1:37, he plays a little more on the DP103 alone, and then at 1:51 we're back to the DP223, this time with a bit more gain. There's some nice metal riffage going on here, and the DP223 really delivers the crisp clear pick attack that is so important for djent-style stop-time metal riffs. We're back to the DP103 at 2:06, with a little less gain this time. He illustrates how nicely these pickups clean up simply by rolling off the volume first with the DP103 at 2:06, as I said, then at 2:35 with the DP223. He ends the video starting at 2:55 by playing a short riff on the DP223 in high gain mode again. Great sustain and pick attack.

Yes! A cool video with just a Les Paul (replica) through a 50 watt JCM800! This guy has several videos, in each one he uses same guitar and amp, he just changes the pickups for each video. In this video, of course, he has installed the DiMarzio 36th Anniversary PAF DP103 and DP223. Basically for the whole video he just switches back and forth from the DP103 to the DP223, so you can scroll to pretty much anywhere and listen for a minute or so to understand how these pickups sound in this guitar. To hear the DP103 by itself, listen at 0:00, 0:40, 1:11, and 2:23. For the DP223 scroll to 0:31, 0:53, 1:58, and 2:44. Also check out 2:57 for some Drop-D ZZ Top. Good stuff. Really nice highs in this video, distinct without being too piercing.

Here's one more form our friend notonmonday. He's still playing his RG570 through his Kemper Profiler modeling amplifier. This is just a quick demo where he plays exclusively through the DP223. Maybe you have asked the question,"Ok, I see the DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary Pickups can do the classic rock thing really well, but how are they in a metal context?" This video shows us that the DP223 does just fine. Excellent clarity of pick attack, nice mids, smooth highs. Really versatile humbucker.

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