Following on from my DiMarzio John Petrucci signature Illuminator bridge review, here is my review of the Illuminator neck model.
With a ceramic magnet, and a DC resistance of 10.50 KOhm, the Illuminator neck model is a moderate output, moderately low resistance neck humbucker. The EQ range of 6 (bass) , 7 (mids) and 5 (treble) gives the Illuminator neck a nice balanced tonal setup, with just enough extra oomph in the mids to ensure it cuts through the mix.
I loaded the Illuminator neck into my 2003 Ibanez RG 450 LTD, with basswood body, maple neck/rosewood fretboard, and Edge Pro bridge loaded up with a Killer Guitar Components brass sustain block. As usual I tested the Illuminator neck through my Blackstar HT-5 head, running into a 1×12″ cabinet loaded with a Celestion Vintage 30.
Starting off on the dirty channel, the Illuminator neck is an extremely smooth and open sounding pickup. It has a bit of classic PAF tone, albeit with a tighter low-end and smooth treble. Thanks to these attributes the Illuminator stays fat and smooth without getting muddy. The Illuminator neck is articulate, especially for a neck pickup. The note separation on complex chords is very good, with each note clearly having its own distinct place. Dirty rhythm work sounds warm, fluid and full without turning into a pile of mud.
Lead work, as would be expected from a John Petrucci signature pickup is extremely fluid and expressive. Notes sound fantastic anywhere on the fretboard, even with a heap of dirt on tap. The Illuminator neck does a good job of picking up harmonics with a combination of good technique and distortion.
Like the bridge model, the Illuminator Neck cleans up extremely well and responds very nicely to picking dynamics. The combination of the two pickups and a great sounding single channel amplifier will yield a fantastic array of clean, crunch and distorted tones, simply from controlling the guitar’s volume and pickup selector.
Over on the clean channel, and the Illuminator Neck is warm and inviting. The tight low end and smooth treble provide a tone that sounds great, not only on its own, but also with some time based and modulated effects. Hit the strings hard and there’s a little bit of spank, but it never gets overbearing.
As mentioned in the bridge model review, splitting the Illuminator bridge with the neck model takes you closer to Strat territory with a pretty bright quacky tone that works great for funky and bluesy stuff. The split setting also works brilliantly for those clean metal sections using some subtle chorus effect.
Overall the DiMarzio Illuminator neck, like the bridge model, is an extremely versatile pickup. Combine the two pickups with the right wiring options and you will have a guitar that will be able to cover pretty much any style of electric guitar-based music. The Illuminator neck covers the strictly clean tones that the bridge model can’t quite create, great full dirty rhythm tones, and those fluid, expressive, dynamic lead tones that players like John Petrucci are renowned for. If you are looking for the perfect progressive metal neck pickup, or just a neck pickup that will cover all your bases then definitely check out the Illuminator neck.
Edit 9 November
Finally made a demo of the Illuminators, using BIAS Desktop for my guitars for the first time.