Paul Gilbert has been one of my favourite guitar players for many years. Not only is he a master guitar player, with the ability to shred faces off, he also has the versatility to cover so much musical ground. Paul also injects a real sense of fun into playing the guitar.
Having been a DiMarzio endorsee for many years, it came as no surprise that he eventually ended up creating his own signature pickups. The surprise was that he collaborated to make a single coil set, after predominately using a range of humbuckers throughout his career. It made sense though, because at the time Paul had moved from his RG-based PGM series of signature Ibanez guitars to an all-new shape, the Fireman. Paul’s first model came with single coil pickups, so the timing was right to develop a single coil range of pickups that suited the original Fireman concept, and his desire to use single coil type pickups.
I loaded the Injectors into my heavily modified 2008 Squier Bullet Strat, which has a basswood body, maple bolt-on neck with rosewood fretboard, with a vintage-style six screw tremolo bridge. In the middle is an old DiMarzio-made Ibanez IBZ/USA hum-cancelling single coil pickup. I tested the Injectors through my Orange Jim Root #4 Terror head, running into a 1×12″ cabinet loaded with a Celestion Vintage 30.
First up, with a dirty tone on the Jim Root Terror, it’s clear that Paul Gilbert and DiMarzio created a winner when they designed the Injector Bridge. With Alnico 2 magnets and a DC resistance of 11.35Kohm, the Injector bridge creates a great blend of vintage tone with a more modern, moderately compressed bite. This pickup traverses the line between single coil and humbucker so beautifully. With the EQ specifications of 6.5 (bass) – 7.0 (mids) – 6.5 (treble), and output of 185mV, the Injector bridge’s output is nice and big and fat, like a humbucker, but it still retains a stronger single coil pickup’s chunk and grind. Single notes have a fantastic attack, and chords are big fat and warm, without being overwhelmingly muddy.
Drop the guitar’s volume knob down and the Injector Bridge cleans up pretty nicely, with just a bit of grit. Split with the IBZ/USA I have in the middle, and the tone get a bit softer and rounder on chords, but single notes still have a nice snap to them.
Switching to a clean tone, and the Injector bridge demonstrates an excellent cutting rhythm sound, without being to brash or woolly. There is excellent string separation when playing open and full barre chords, and notes snap and sparkle when playing lead parts.
Switched back to the dirty side of things, and the Injector Neck is an interesting pickup. With Alnico 2 magnets and a DC resistance of 8.56Kohm, the Injector Neck is softer and rounder then the bridge model. The Injector Neck has the EQ specifications of 6.0 (bass) – 6.5 (mids) – 7.5 (treble), and output of 160mV. At first the neck model feels like it may be a bit too soft to be paired with the bridge model, but it actually compliments it quite well. Articulation is still excellent, and notes just jump out of the guitar, while bends sound big and delicious.
Rolling back the volume on the neck model leaves a fairly woolly tone that may not be overly useful to some players, but split with the middle pickups over a more versatile tone with some snap and sizzle.
Over on the clean side of things, the Injector Neck is far more usable for clean tones. It finds a nice balance, with plenty of warmth, while still retaining some top-end sparkle on chord work. Leads find a nice balance between humbucker and single coil, with a nice full moderate output humbucker tone, that still retains some neck strat pickup characteristics.
Overall, the DiMarzio Paul Gilbert signature Injector Bridge and Neck pickups are a brilliant pair of pickups. The blend of humbucker tonality with strat single character make them a versatile pickup set that can cover a range of styles. They can dish up the heavy, and then dial right back into clean territory with their own unique character all the way.