Steve Lukather has been known to have used active pickups for many years now. With his new Ernie Ball Luke III signature guitar he decided to travel a different path in his search for tonal bliss. With the help of DiMarzio he has created a new signature pair of humbuckers.
The DiMarzio Transitions are named after his forthcoming new solo album, which will be out in January 2013, and are featured all over the album. Lukather was looking to start over sonically speaking, and wanted a new more organic voice for his guitar. Here I review the Transition Bridge pickup.
I loaded the Transitions into my Ibanez RG 550 (basswood body, maple neck/fret board, Edge bridge with brass block and spring claw), and tested them through my Blackstar HT-5.
First up I tested the Transition bridge through the dirty channel of my HT-5. The Transition bridge model is an interesting pickup. It has a relatively high output of 365mV, but a very moderate DC resistance of 11.05Kohms. The EQ specifications of 6 (bass), 7 (mids), and 4.5 (treble), and aforementioned low resistance lead to a very balanced and organic tone. A ceramic magnet gives the Transition a quick response, but surprisingly it’s not too harsh sounding like some ceramic magnet equipped pickups can be.
With a large, but not flabby low end, the Transition has a great organic crunch. It is heavy whilst still sounding quite clean and articulate. It takes a little more work to get get pinch harmonics and the like compared to some other high output pickups, but when you do they really sing.
The Transition is also very responsive to picking dynamics. Pick soft and the tone just cleans right up, hit hard and it all gets really raunchy. Roll the guitar’s volume back and the tone cleans up really nicely. This pickup an excellent choice for people who play with single channel amplifiers and control their clean and dirty tones with a guitar’s volume control and their picking hand.
Adding an overdrive pedal to the dirty channel really showcases the Transition bridge’s versatility. The balanced tone and relatively low compression allows the Transition to show off how articulate it is even under high levels of gain. String separation and definition is very impressive, making it an excellent choice for very heavy guitar tones.
Heading over to the clean channel and much of the same can be said for the Transition bridge pickup. The balanced tone makes for great rhythm and lead playing alike. Pick softly and you’ll beautiful clean glassy tones. Dig in and everything gets fatter and raunchier.
Splitting the Transition bridge with the IBZ/USA hum-cancelling single coil I have installed in the middle position of my guitar yielded funky, twangy Strat tones. It would probably be quite useful for players who dabble in country music in this position too.
Overall the DiMarzio Transition bridge is an extremely impressive versatile pickup. Its combination of moderately high output and low resistance make for a pickup that players of pretty much any style of music could easily use. It is just as at home playing clean guitar work as it is shredding faces off at high gain. The Transition’s ability to go from big raunchy crunch to sweet glassy sounds just from the hit of a pick will impress many a player. If you are looking for something new to try in a bridge humbucker you really cannot go past the Transition Bridge.
Check out Steve demoing the new Transition pickups.