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  • Writer's pictureBarış Şahin

Dimarzio PAF Pro DP151 Review

Updated: May 8

Dimarzio PAF Pro DP151 Review


Ibanez JEM77FP with PAF Pro Set
Ibanez JEM77FP with PAF Pro Set

What do you picture in your mind when you hear about “PAF Pro”? To me it is flowery, pink and loud. More clearly, Jem77FP! Somehow, I have closely assimilate PAF Pro with the Ibanez Jem77FP Because the very first moment i saw the JEM77FP was also the first time I saw the PAF Pro. Not even black, it was pink and i must admit that pink color bobbins fit PAF Pro so perfectly other colors would not fit that good. Well, after then i could discover some other guitar heros that use PAF Pro on their guitars a shredding tool like Paul Gilbert and Blues Saraceno (in his early years with Ibanez RG550).



Installation

PAF Pro still stands on my “Pink Tiger” for a while. That pink tiger is a superstrat has a Jackson Dinky body made of alder, one piece maple neck in modern C profile, German made Jackson Floyd Rose tremolo with Japanese made stainless steel saddles, 25,5” scale, nickel silver frets, Alpha 500K pots and elixir strings in E-std tuning. Guitar has Dimarzio Super Distortion bridge and Jackson middle pickups. Its primary (unplugged) tone is neutral to fairly bright.


My Superstrat with PAF Pro and Super Distortion
My Humble Pink Bengal

Evaluation

Reviewing a widely known pickup is relatively hard as i have said on my Tone Zone review. Because it is already known by many people and there are too many ideas, too many experiences but more of them, too many prejudices also. So, leave all the expectations and prejudices behind and identifying a pickup from all over again is the way; this is the way! Let’s read the mambo jambo first;


Dimarzio PAF Pro DP151

Magnet – Alnico 5

Advertised DCR: 8,4K Ohm (Series)

Measured DCR: 8,925 K Ohm (Series)

Measured DCR: 4,47 K Ohm (Slug Coil)

Measured DCR: 4,45 K Ohm (Screw Coil)

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

Inductance @100Hz: 1,94 H (Screw Coil)

Inductance @100Hz: 1,94 H (Slug Coil)

Measured C: -31,4 nF (Series)/ -59,7nF (Screw Coil) / -59,4nF (Slug Coil)

Output: 300 Milivolts (advertised)

EQ (T/M/B) – 6/5/5 (old advertised) - 6/4,5/3,5 (fresh advertised)

Gauss: 350G screw, 350G slug (measured at top center of middle pole pieces)

Patents: None



PAF Pro (shortly PP) is very frequently described as bright, tight, articulate and that’s very true. I can summarize PP by using one word; “Versatile”. Maybe the most versatile neck humbucker i’ve ever seen. Let’s saaay, hmm, Duncan ’59 is phenomenal humbucker but it picks guitars. It is beyond a tone dream IF the guitar is right. If it’s not, may become mud nightmare. Air Norton is perfect in the neck for brighter/neutral shred guitars but might NOT be great for muddy guitars. Jazz is awesome when you need clarity in the neck as long as you desire it. BUT PAF Pro may be positioned in muddy guitars and brighter guitars as well. That’s why i pick PP as a first step pickup. I mean when you order a custom-made guitar, even though you might have a rough idea about the woods, scale etc. that will be used and consequently the tone you are about to have, the final tone carries a bit of uncertainty. In such cases, I typically prefer using tried-and-tested pickups that I'm familiar with. Just like Jazz or PAF Pro, depending on the concept of the guitar.


It’s lower frequencies are tight but not rich, not “in your face” much, i mean. Lots of sweet and defined trebles. Mids are generally even and have nothing special :) PP has firm and acceptable level of compression which is useful for shredding. I know all world is telling me or you about PAF Pro has a “distinctive midrange "awww" sound that cuts thru the mix well” and i find that “awww-ness” is bit too exaggerated. Yes, there are mids you can hear but i never feel PP is a mid focused humbucker. JB is, on the other hand, a mid range perfect humbucker and it never fails whatever guitar you play; you sound like Angus Young one way or another :) Nevertheless i never feel like Angus with my PAF Pro :) I believe that Paul Gilbert started this on his Dimarzio Video first…



PPs can be used in the neck and bridge. I have relatively limited experience as bridge humbucker; i have never installed it to the bridge of my guitars. All of my experience about PP on the bridge lies on the Jems and PGMs i’ve played and for the bridge i need an extra push/bite and more meat than PP has. Consequently there are, Dimarzio or not, lots of better options for the bridge. However, i wonder what would be if PP has virtual vintage touch. I assume the inductance would be slightly increased, lower frequencies would be slightly more delightful and those could make PP a better bridge pickup. Who knows?


Steve Vai and Green Meanie with PAF Pro
Steve Vai and Green Meanie with PAF Pro

PAF Pro has been used by many legendary players like Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert and Steve Vai. Eventually people tend to think PAF Pro as a shredders pickup. Yes, they are right about it. PP is a very cool shred humbucker for neck. It’s precise, articulate, bright, powerful, tight, has delightful response to fast pick attacks, very brilliant on legatos… But there is more meat in the dish. Although the PAF Pro boasts a modern look and design, it proudly incorporates the essence of classic PAF pickups within its body. PP is never a copy of a some kind of PAF humbucker which passionately copied to the bones by many competitors, just as Steve Blucher notes on my interview. You all know what they say about true vintage tone pickups; german nickel silver base plate, plain enamel wire, buthyrate bobbins, vintage occurate alnico 5 alloys etc are all but a must. With its brass baseplate, double allen head screw pole pieces, 8,5-9K winding and the lack of maple spacer, PP is not looking like a PAF at all. But it can present (or mimic, whatever you call) a vintage bite, too. By the way, now here, i am not claiming that PP is a true and only vintage king nor has all the taste we love with full of harmonics and overtones flowing. PP never has a allegation like this. I just want to point that PP has some roots to its vintage PAF origins which is unnoticed i believe.


 PAF Pro pole pieces of Black Dog of Joe Satriani
Mind the pole pieces of Black Dog of Joe Satriani

While noodling and considering PP please mind the pole piece adjustment, if you feel anything “not right”. Look at the pole pieces of guitars with PP of guitar heros like Vai, Satriani and Gilbert. For a better string seperation they tend to increase the heigh of the pole pieces slightly (not dead same level with the bobbin) on the neck and that’s what i do, too. If you are about to use it on the bridge, for higher output and more meat, you can deep dive the pole pieces and make PP stand closer to the strings as possible; there you go.


I prefer the outer coil, the one closer to the neck, while splitting and i can say they sound better to me. Since PP has symmetrical wound bobbins no worry about choosing which coil to go with when split mode on. Anyway, the sound is very acceptable.


PAF Pros of Green Meanie
PAF Pros of Green Meanie

Verdict


PAF Pro was born in the 80s and it has everything we love in the 80s. In the neck, come on, those legends can’t be that wrong, right? Vai used it, Satriani used it and still uses in his many guitars, Paul Gilbert used long while, Richie Kotzen used on his cool RGs, Richie Sambora used his signature Fender Stratocaster (well they are bit customised i think because even though all the advertized data emphasises it was PAF Pro yet it had traditional pole pieces)…. All for a reason i’ve just told above and maybe more.


I would recommend you to use it if; you are looking for a versatile neck humbucker that serves well with many styles of music and types of playing, you are not looking something focused, you tend to play brighter, snappier tones from your neck humbucker for your fast picking lines, you are avoiding from mud in the neck, you need to a neck humbucker to pair with Tone Zone or better Super Distortion on the bridge.







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