Guitar Gear Review: DiMarzio HS-2 DP116 Hum-canceling Strat Pickup

This is a pickup that I wasn’t even looking for. It came as stock on the Jackson Guitars – Official! PC-1 model guitar. There was some thought to changing out all the pickups in the guitar, but the sustainer circuit looked to be more work to deal with than I was wanting to put in at the time. So I left the stock pickups and it’s worked out very well.

Who doesn’t like the tone and voicing of a classic single coil pickup? Sharp or glassy or biting or chimey. But not everyone likes the hum. That’s why them made humbuckers after all, right?

Companies have made hum-canceling “single coils” for a while now. Some get it right. Some are close, but no cigar…so to speak. You may want more output or less output or more sizzle or more chime or just about anything you can think of. And that’s why there are so many to choose from.

However, the DiMarzio HS-2 has been around for 35 years. Pickups with that sort of life typically have something going on. And there are times when some companies throw a big to-do when a product reaches that sort of a milestone. I have no idea if DiMarzio will be doing that with the HS-2…rather than just let the pickup speak for itself.

This pickup is in the middle position of my guitar. It’s mated with a pretty strong bridge humbucker. For what I do, I find it to be equal to the task. Generally speaking, I use single coils for clean tones….as in, a clean amp settings. Bright and bell-like with a bit of a snap when you dig in, but with a touch of a presence on the low end. The HS-2 definitely delivers. It also has a bit of a smoother delivery, as I’d call it, to where it’s not overly sensitive to pick attack. For me, that means that if my picking in a little inconsistent that day, I won’t have soft notes and loud notes. Oh, I can if I want to, but it when it’s done on purpose and not the result of spending less time playing. lol!

Because of the layout of this guitar, there was an initial concern about the dirty amp settings. Would the pickup hold together? Would it get too dark or be too weak? Would it retain definition? Well….it all came together just fine, putting my concerns to rest. It has just the right amount of what I’m looking for in the middle position of the guitar that it’s in.

A cool thing about this pickup is that DiMarzio allows a convenient cover to determine the color. If you have a black cover and put it into a different guitar and you want white…well…just swap out the cover to white. Easy. There are so many “single sized” pickups out there these days that are limited in that capacity that it’s nice to see thought given toward the simple things that yield large dividends when needed.

series – 14.97k
output – 90 mV

The HS-2 comes with 4-conductor wiring, so you can have tons of rocking fun with different sets up. The word is that it has an amazing vintage tone when wired up for a single coil operation. It generally comes with the v-shaped flange on the baseplate, but it’s also available without it so that it can fit in the more narrow cavities found on brands like Charvel® Guitars and Jackson.

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Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas