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  • Writer's pictureBarış Şahin

Dimarzio Air Norton DP193 (at Bridge) Review

Dimarzio Air Norton DP193 (at Bridge) Review

Dimarzio Air Norton DP193 Review

Just like Tone Zone, Air Norton is one of the most selling models of Dimarzio. Simply thanks to John Petrucci. It was like his signature neck pickup for a period. Today, it became like a flagship of neck pickups in the Shred World. In the shred world, everyone's path has crossed, one way or another, with the Air Norton as a neck pickup. But there is something forgotten or/and unnoticed about Air Norton. Unnoticed and unspoken because we all entered into a great acceptance because of John Petrucci and his preference for the neck of his old Ibanez JPM P100. Even though it was explicitly stated in the catalog that it was designed as a bridge pickup at the begining, we have all come to accept this: Air Norton = The Ideal Shred Neck Pickup. But there's more. You, too, will be surprised just as i am.


Installation


The Air Norton with beautiful double cream color i have swapped the place of Virtual Hot PAF on my hand-made superstrat that has a Turkish alder body, a Q-sawn one-piece maple neck in a chunky Endur-Neck profile, a two-point steel tremolo, 25.5” scale, steel frets, Bourns 500K pots, and Elixir strings in E-standard tuning. The guitar has a Dimarzio Al DiMeola Neck and Dimarzio HS-1 middle pickups. Its primary (unplugged) tone ranges from balanced to medium-bright.


Evaluation



Let’s read the desciption first;


The Air Norton™ started out simply to be the Airbucker version of the Norton. We thought it would make a distinctive-sounding bridge pickup with high-gain amps, but we soon discovered that it’s a radically neat neck pickup, too. The tone is deep and warm, but not muddy. It’s hot, but not distorted. It’s even got cool harmonics, which are really unusual for a neck humbucker. The patented Air Norton magnetic structure reduces string-pull, so sustain is improved; and pick attack and dynamics are tremendously controllable and expressive. Combine the Air Norton with an Air Zone, The Tone Zone or Steve’s Special in the bridge position for a perfect blend of power and tone, or use an Air Norton in the bridge position with an Air Classic Bridge model in the neck position for a distinctive medium-output blues-rock sound.


When the Air Norton is in the neck position, it's a warm, open-sounding pickup with enough power to balance with all bridge humbuckers. Try it with 500K pots for maximum treble and harmonic presence. In the bridge position, the sound is medium output with solid lows and biting harmonics. You can try it here with 250K controls, or a 500 K volume and 250K tone to fatten the highs up a little. Combines well with Air Classic in neck, and also with The Cruiser, The Chopper, and Blue Velvet single-coils.”


I’ll start why i picked Air Norton (AN shortly) after all? Because of two reasons; i) i am a fan of Virtual Hot PAF, you may all know it :) And look at the catalog data and understand my curiosity;


dimarzio catalog

The similarity of those values made me think of trying AN for the bridge someday. But untill the last couple of months, it was in sleep where my second reason happened: A friend called Amilcar Pretzen on facebook. I don’t know if it is his real name but he is such a cool guy, biggest Dimarzio fan and experienced rock&roll warrior. Anyway, on some of our chat he mentioned how he loved AN and bla bla bla, i found myself thinking about reconsidering the AN all over again, after more than 10 years. So i got a budget in order to buy it and drop an order. ~9 days later, i had a double cream Air Norton.

Dimarzio Air Norton DP193 Review

Anyway, here comes the measurement part


Dimarzio Air Norton (DP193)

Magnet – Alnico 5

Advertised DCR: 12,58 K Ohm (Series)

Measured DCR: 12,38 K Ohm (Series)

Measured DCR: 5,60 K Ohm (Screw Coil)

Measured DCR: 6,78 K Ohm (Slug Coil)

Inductance @100Hz: 6,30 H (Series)

Inductance @100Hz: 2,67 H (Screw Coil)

Inductance @100Hz: 2,78 H (Slug Coil)

Measured C: -22,7 nF (Series)/ -48,4nF (Screw Coil) / -38,3nF (Slug Coil)

Output: 270 Milivolts (advertised)

EQ (B/M/T) – 6,5/7/5 (old catalogs) – 6/6/6/5,5 (official website)

Gauss: 280G slug, 260G screw (measured at top center of pole pieces)

Patents: Airbucker&Dual Resonance

 

After first couple of days after install, i impressed so much and bought another Air Norton (used) which was manufactured in the late 90s or early 2000s i believe. Anyway, i measured it, too. Here are the values: R=12.70K, L=6.39H, C=-21,9nF. On the other hand, I'm wondering if DiMarzio has changed something in their wax potting process because my relatively older DiMarzios, just like the Air Norton i’m talking about, always had a greenish wax residue, and you could even scrape it off with your fingernail from the baseplates bottom. But the situation seems different in the more recent DiMarzios I've acquired. My Al DiMeola, Super Distortion and that Air Norton was pretty shiny and haven’t seen a visible wax residue. Curious.

 

At the begining i will say all of my evaluations are should be considered as a bridge pickup and will publish my thoughts of AN as a neck pickup later.


How can I succinctly summarize Air Norton for you? What if I said it's the easiest and quickest way to get Les Paul tone from your Superstrat? Want to know how? Let’s go on…


Before installing the Air Norton on my guitar, the only thing on my mind was how different or similar it would be to Virtual Hot PAF (VHP shortly). After installing it, the first thing I noticed was the distinct warm feeling in my bridge tone. In that manner, AN is totally different than VHP. This is where EQ numbers given may sometimes be so misleading because according to the EQ given the only difference between VHP and AN should have been 0.5 point mid hump. But the tonal difference islike day and night. But… They also share some very significant fundamentals. First they both have similar output. Nevertheless AN is, thanks to its magical mid character, slightly more audible. Warmer where VHP was brighter. I can’t say AN spongy but considering both AN and VHP, spongier than VHP. But the essense part where they devide is the mids. AN has distinctive mids like half triggered wah pedal. So gave my bright superstrat a fluety, nasal Les Paul feeling and it is amazing. All across the neck, i have that exceptional singing tone. I read a post on a forum that having an AN in the bridge is like having two neck humbuckers. I can understand that reaction and i must say it is good resemblance. Because AN makes you feel like you have an overwound PAF. What did Dimarzio told us on the catalog? It is hot but not distorted. Indeed.

When evaluating the overall EQ architecture of the Air Norton, we can say that the basses are rich and clear, the highs are somewhat spongier, trailing slightly behind other frequency groups, while the mid-mids are pronounced.


At the bridge, AN as a moderate output humbucker fits in perfectly. Think of Tone Zone but rip all the over-compression, too boomy lows, mud and some output out off it. Now you are closer to Air Nortons tone. But completed? No, AN has more. Like what? AN is a truely dynamic humbucker. You can easily manipulate the tone by volume pot or even your phrasing with your picking. Moreover picking makes clear difference; play it with your thumb or hard pick or softer pick makes a tone different than another. Yes, definetly that makes difference on all pickups but with dynamic pickups, it makes the alteration more audible. I set my amp slightly above the breaking point and i can effortlessly drop clean just by lowering the volume pot. Or just use your thumb, you are clean and punch it with a hard pick and you go overdriven. Set my amp into heavy distortion zone and i get massive, thick in-your-face tone.



I haven’t got experience with drop tunings much but the drop D and it was also good. But boomy or loose. It makes the sound from cream to creme brulee :) But can’t imagine for something lower, no comments about it.


Harmonics are another advantageous aspect of the Air Norton, but you may know it already. Because maybe all of you had experienced AN at the neck before. Furthermore you are familiar with some Dimarzios with popping harmonics like Fred, right? Fred has more of them comparing, btw.


My guitar had Dimarzio Al DiMeola Neck humbucker, remember? Haven’t read yet? Click here. It had warm response and i must admit they combined tremendously. They both have warmer tone. As a result i have now a guitar with all the modern aspects but vintage creamy tone. I just have some very minor dissatisfactions with my middle pickup Dimarzio HS-1 whichs output is little bit too low. I want to try something from Dimarzio Area line or Chopper or Fast Track-1. I hope someone from Dimarzio also reading this and help me about it ;)

Dimarzio Air Norton DP193 Review

You wonder about its cleans? Well, i am not the guy who loves humbuckers for cleans (that’s why i iked HSH guitars with split 2nd&4th and 3rd positions) but AN really has usable tones when clean by itself.


Air Norton made me understand my bridge humbucker preferences better in the manner of inductance measurements of mine. I’ll list some of my favourite mid output birdge pickups;


S.Duncan Seth Lover B: 5.66H

Ibanez V7 (modded): 5.62H

Air Norton: 6.30H


These values indicate that i) the ideal range for the bridge pickups I like/prefer is between 5.5 to 6.5 Henries inductance and ii) I can choose a pickup with a higher inductance for brighter guitars (or setup), and a lower inductance for a warmer guitars relatively for more balanced tone relatively. Of course, this is a very rough generalization and, like all generalizations, there may be (and will be) important exceptions. I will continue to experiment, experience, and research more on that naturally.


At the begining i told Air Norton for the bridge unnoticed. That’s not all true. In fact, i should be noticed because of Bill Nash since he “Nash-ifiehs” some Les Pauls and converts original pickups with Air Norton (bridge) and Bluesbucker (neck). He had noticed :)



If your guitars tone is bright AN, in the reflection of the facts i’ve told, can be a great choice. If it is warmer, can be considered. But more than warmer, i would think twice and then think twice again. Moreover,  If you have a guitar with too nasal tone and don’t want for more, if you are looking brightness for the bridge humbucker, if you are looking for moderate to high output humbucker, if you want more natural compression, be careful and think twice.


Conclusion


As I've mentioned in my previous reviews, the guitar market is quite conservative. Therefore, I'm not entirely sure if guitarists in need of a medium output 'hot PAF' would readily opt for the Air Norton. However, I can sincerely say that the Air Norton sounds very much like a overwound PAF to my ears. It’s warm, precise, fluety, dynamic and singing. Thanks to its awe-inspiring character, Air Norton can turn the piercing bridge tone of your super strat with a double locking trem into the warmth of a Les Paul.


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4 Kommentare


Barış Şahin
Barış Şahin
15. Feb.

I, too, should try that by myself 😊

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Igor Romanovsky
Igor Romanovsky
15. Feb.

Other hidden gems could be Bluesbucker in neck and Fantom in bridge. Probably i like em more than Fralin Noiseless P90.

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Barış Şahin
Barış Şahin
15. Feb.
Antwort an

Bluesbucker is in my list but who knows? I can't keep buying pickups forever by myself :(

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Igor Romanovsky
Igor Romanovsky
15. Feb.

Great post. I recorded DP214 and DP193 in same LP tribute bridge, and DP193 with tone on 9 sounds scary close to VHPAF with tone on 10. I was playing live on DP193 over my recording of DP214 to match the sound as close as possible.

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