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  • Writer's pictureBarış Şahin

Dimarzio Al Di Meola (DP201) Review

Updated: May 9

Dimarzio Al Di Meola (DP201) Review

Dimarzio Al DiMeola DP201
Dimarzio Al DiMeola (DP201) in Double Cream

Larry Dimarzio had a huge impact on electric guitar scene in the late 70s, this is indisputable. As you may read his insightful article about his “Super Distortion”, that humbucker (S.D. shortly) penetrated literally everywhere; not only the guitars of rock stars but also the jazz players like Al Di Meola (ADM shortly) found a field to apply. His legendary first two albums (Land of the Midnight Sun and Elegant Gypsy) have the timbres of Super Distortion, even his most spellbinding, thrilling, influencial proto-shred hit named “Race with the Devil on a Spanish Highway”. BTW, did you know what was the inspiration behind this song? “You Really Got Me” from Kinks :)

Anyway, let’s look how was his set up for that track (By Chris Gill published on Guitar World January 02, 2020); “However, most of the guitar’s tonal variety on Race is produced by simple variations in volume control settings while both pickups are engaged. For fatter, singing tones on solos, Di Meola backed down the bridge humbucker’s volume knob, and for a brighter attack with a hollow, horn-like midrange he used both pickups at full volume, sometimes backing down the neck pickup’s volume knob to further emphasize attack”

In 1978, DiMarzio announced a brand new ADM signature set of humbuckers according to his own taste and tonal choices of those days: DP201 and DP202. After years with Super Distortions, his preferences were different from the S.D. Both pickups had lower windings, lower output, and alnico 5 magnets, but I’ll mention the nerdy stuff soon. As far as I know, his albums "Casino" and "Splendido Hotel" have the tonal colors of ADM pickups. I don’t know if it is a placebo effect or something from the recording technology or the guy from the recording console, but I perceive an alteration in the electric guitar tones between the first two albums and the following duo, in a good manner. The first two had powerful yet raw sounds, while the next two feel more elegant.

Vintage Ad from Dimarzio on Al DiMeola  Models
Vintage Ad from Dimarzio on Al DiMeola Models P201 and DP202

Anyway, many years passed, ADM pickups went under a special run rather than regular floor production, and a guy from Eskisehir finally bought a double cream ADM neck for his custom super strat. Here's what his thoughts are:


The ADM neck I bought still sits in its cavity 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 Virtual Hot PAF bridge and Dimarzio HS-1 middle pickups. Its primary (unplugged) tone ranges from balanced to medium-bright.

Dimarzio Virtual Hot PAF, HS-1 and Al DiMeola Neck
That's my Goldie with Dimarzios


Well, my guitar had a PAF Pro on the neck and a Breed on the bridge, which I really enjoyed. However, I wanted to control the overdrive level of the bridge, and the Breed got into overdrive relatively easier. Hence, I wired the Dimarzio Virtual Hot PAF so that I could have more headroom and lower compression. I was pretty happy with the PAF Pro on the neck, but this time it was slightly more powerful than the Virtual Hot PAF and changed my balance. So, I needed something slightly less powerful than the PAF Pro, and I considered the ADM neck. Millivolt levels provided by Dimarzio for your consideration are: PAF Pro: 300mV, Breed Bridge: 356mV, Virtual Hot PAF: 265mV, ADM Neck: 230mV.

Dimarzio DP201 Al DiMeola Neck

Magnet – Alnico 5

Advertised DCR: 10,87 K Ohm (Series)

Measured DCR: 10,59 K Ohm (Series)

Measured DCR: 6,43 K Ohm (Screw Coil [g+w] )

Measured DCR: 4,87 K Ohm (Slug Coil [r+b] )

Inductance @100Hz: 4,47 H (Series)

Inductance @100Hz: 2,15 H (Screw Coil)

Inductance @100Hz: 2,07 H (Slug Coil)

Gauss: 380G Screw (neck side coil), 380G Slug (arithmetic mean of the values measured from the D and G strings)

Measured C: -25,5 nF (Series)/ -35,8nF (Screw Coil) / -66,6nF (Slug Coil)

Output: 230 Milivolts (advertised)

EQ (B/M/T) – 6/4/6 (advertised)

Wire Gauge: 42 & 43 AWG

Patents: Dual Resonance

For years, the ADM set has not been in regular production. Reviews and information about them are not as common compared to other humbuckers like Evolution, PAF Pro, Tone Zone, Fred, etc. Dimarzio introduced the ADM neck in their catalogs as “Hi-Fi musical. Has lots of harmonics for a neck humbucker” and “Clean, warm tone with a wide frequency range & harmonics.” Well, I couldn't agree more with the second description. It really is clean, almost as possible for a >10K neck humbucker and warm. Think of PAF Pro and make it “slighly” less powerfull, make it warm as possible untill the borders of mud. It responds well to the volume pot.

The basses are rich and not as tight as I thought before. No, not flubby either, not even the slightest. Trebles are warmer, never harsh but plentiful. Mids are there, too. However, my experience was that they are not as low as the EQ chart of Dimarzio. It works well with the Virtual Hot PAF if you like a well-balanced output between bridge and neck pickups. Generally, I tend to prefer my bridge pickup slightly/moderately more powerful than the neck to push the amp with my bridge hb while keeping everything sane with the neck to enrich the tonal palette of the guitar. So, I ,also, need to try it with the ADM bridge model. Furthermore, the response to the pick attack of the ADM Neck is quite satisfying.

My guitar is not dark sounding; therefore, I may not find myself in the dark realms of mud. So, if you have a guitar with dark/closed/too warm tones, be mindful of that.

What about the Droid attack on the Harmonics? Hear, I will. Good relations with the Harmonics, I have. Don’t expect the harmonic response of “Fred” on the bridge but responds very well for a neck humbucker especially higher gain levels.

Dimarzio Al DiMeola (DP201) Review
Dimarzio Al DiMeola (DP201)

When you turn the gain knob on your amp fully up, for me, another identity comes into reality. The ADM neck has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome. In the crunch amp settings, it’s polite and warm, while under high-gain stages, it transforms into a magnificent shred neck humbucker. I like the Air Norton as a shred neck humbucker, but the ADM neck has a more organic feel and more liveliness.

When you split it (the neck side bobbin) ADM neck presents relatively nicer, fullier and more stratty tones than most of the 7-8K neck humbuckers in their split state. Some guitars have unuseable neck split options, you know. The ADM neck makes you enjoy your ride.

My guitar has the HS-1 in the middle. Not under production anymore, but I found it as “new old stock” somehow, and it feels very nice. The 4th position is a combination of ADM outside bobbin and HS-1 in parallel wiring, and it’s so clear and beautiful. You may have surprisingly sweet cleans with right kind of/amount of reverb. Totally usable for some specific needs. The 2nd position is a combination of ADM inside bobbin and HS-1 in parallel wiring, and it’s also lovely for your quacky/stratty sounds.

dimarzio dp201 neck humbucker
Some of my Axes


ADM Neck is exquisite; if you have a guitar with relatively neutral or bright tone and you need warm yet clear old-school tones or want something between (in terms of output) PAF Pro and Air Classic, or if you are a shredder and want something like the Air Norton but feels more organic, breathing, and more sensitive to touch, then yes, the Al Di Meola neck is for you.

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