From the manufacturer:
Steve’s Special™ is a non-traditional approach to high-output bridge humbucking pickup design. Hot humbuckers usually concentrate most of the pickup’s power in a narrow frequency bandwidth for maximum impact. Using our patented dual-resonance design, Steve’s Special™ takes the opposite path, spreading the sound over a broad range. Bass and treble frequencies are boosted while the mids are pulled back, so the pickup’s power doesn’t kick a high-gain amp into overdrive as easily. This makes Steve’s Special™ a good choice for both fast soloing and clean chords, because individual notes won’t smear together with heavy overdrive, and clean sounds have an almost “hi-fi” quality.
Clean overdrive with high-gain amps. Steve’s Special™ is very effective in Dual Sound® and coil-splitting clean modes. For soloing, this is a very good pickup to play with a midrange-heavy amp: the mid-scoop in the pickup's sound keeps the initial pick attack clean, and the notes don't run together as much with legato playing, even with heavy overdrive.
Ethan's picks for best videos/sound clips:
Here is a clip comparing the DiMarzio Steve's Special to the Bare Knuckle Juggernaut bridge pickup. Skip to 0:20 to hear the Steve's Special, sporting a heavy scooped sound with very pronounced lows and highs. The Juggernaut in comparison at 0:42 has a little more focus in the mids for a more present tone. Listen to the Steve's Special again at 1:05 and notice how responsive it is to sharp pick attack, yielding a very precise sound that is edgy and articulate. The Juggernaut sounds very similar in comparison (listen at 1:23), but has less of a round sound and more bite to it. For aggressive rhythm riffing, both pickups really excel. The Steve's Special is a little heavier sounding with its scooped EQ (listen at 1:30), while the Juggernaut has a very focused midrange crunch (1:55). For lead tones, you really can't go wrong with either pickup. Listen at 2:18 to hear the Steve's Special with brilliant detail for a singing lead tone. The Juggernaut may have a little more bite in the mids, yet it tends to have fewer harmonic overtones (listen at 2:39). Both pickups work wonders in either a rhythm and lead context, with only subtle variations in tone.
The player is "Avant Guardian" and he is using an Ibanez RG Premium into a Line 6 Sonic Port through an Apple iPad with Positive Grid JamUp Pro XT through a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 into Pro Tools 10.
Here is an extensive look at the Ibanez RG 2550 Special Edition guitar, equipped with a DiMarzio Steve's Special in the bridge and a DiMarzio "Humbuckers from Hell" in the neck. To focus on the Steve's Special, listen from 3:10 - 3:30. This pickup has a nice scooped crunch sound that is perfect for classic rock. Whether you're playing big open power chords or ripping leads, the Steve's Special has a thick sound that is rich and clear. Dial in a little more gain and you start to get a more aggressive metal rhythm sound -- with tight lows, airy highs, and a smooth saturation that is even and clean (listen from 3:50 - 3:55). Skip to 5:00 to hear just how easy it is to activate harmonic overtones with this pickup; you can literally make notes squeal (5:45) for an epic lead tone. For cleans, you get a nice hi-fi sound that is warm and glassy. The scooped EQ really fattens up the sound, giving it great depth, clarity, and warmth.
The player is Kanal von Saiova and he is using an Ibanez RG 2550 Special Edition through an Engl Steve Morse Amp.
The first half of this video highlights the sounds of the DiMarzio Steve's Special bridge pickup. On a clean setting, this pickup has a very round sound with warm lows and a high end that sparkles without getting too brittle. The result is a fat clean sound that has a lot of body and richness to it. Kick in some gain and this pickup starts to scream (listen at 1:05). There is plenty of treble on tap to cut through with a lot of bite and the low end does a fair job at keeping the tone relatively balanced. The lack of mids may be a problem for some, however, since the tone may lack some focus and could sound a little tinny in a full mix; however, I have faith that this pickup has enough definition and punch to easily cut through with brilliance. Furthermore, this pickup is designed in such a way that allows each individual note to articulate in a very clean way; even with thick saturation, the notes tend to disperse evenly without ever getting muddied up.
The player is using an Ibanez RG2550 Prestige guitar.
This clip highlights the epic lead tone you can get with the Steve's Special pickup. It is a very expressive pickup that makes your playing sound extremely melodic and musical right off the bat. The Steve's Special really adds definition to each note and has an incredible response to sharp pick attack. This makes every nuance in your playing shine brilliantly with a smooth tone. The scooped EQ allows lows and highs to sing -- giving notes a bell-like quality that is round and open. A little delay and reverb can go a long way too, adding ambience to your lead tone for a killer virtuoso sound.
The player is using an Ibanez JS100 guitar.
In this video, the player is attempting to recreate some of the lives sound of John Petrucci, using a DiMarzio Steve's Special in the bridge position. Jump to 0:30 to hear some nice processed clean tones. It's hard to tell which pickup is being activated, but I would assume it's in the middle position -- activating both the Steve's Special and the Air Norton neck pickups. The result is a glassy clean tone with deep lows, while the effects give it this big stereo sound. On a gain setting, you can get some killer prog rhythm tones (listen from 2:15 - 2:30). A bit of vibrato, chorus, and delay will go a long way, adding depth and power to your tone with the help of the Steve's Special; power chords will sound larger than life for an epic sound (2:30 - 3:00). Lead tones are a given with the Steve's Special (3:30), lending to a vibrant tone that is open and airy, with a round and articulate character.
The player is Matteo Farindolini and he is using an Ibanez RG 620 BM through a DV MARK Multiamp.
This video showcases an Ibanez JPM100P4 guitar with a Steve's Special pickup in the bridge. Jump to 1:50 to hear tight rhythm tones, with great clarity for a high-output pickup. The Steve's Special also sounds amazing in a lead context (2:02), with solid definition and upper harmonics that sing. It does have a bit of a scooped sound, which could be a problem for some players who like a little midrange bite. Nonetheless, the Steve's Special is a great sounding pickup perfect for progressive players who call for precise rhythm tones and huge leads.
The player is using an Ibanez JPM100P4 '98 through a variety of amp setups including a Marshall DSL50, Mesa Triaxis, and Laney VC50 poweramp. He used a pedal at 0:47 called the Z Vex Mastotron fuzz. Everything was recorded through a DIY isocab with a Celestion V30.