Guitar Gear Review: DiMarzio DP214 Virtual Hot PAF Humbucker

What a cool pickup! This one was brought to my attention by one of my pals on the inside of the pickup business. Yep, I’d never heard of this one before. I was talking to him about going through a lot of the Van Halen-themed pickups, and he got right to business by pointing out this one. Virtual Hot. VH. EVH? Get it? Yeah, he had to spell it out for me pretty much the same way. Haha!

It’s not “officially” offered, but you can easily find them brand new in the box at several totally well-known and reputable outlets. Just Google.

So, yeah, this one went in the bridge of that same guitar I’m using for all the VH-themed pickups. It’s wired to a p/p pot for series/parallel. It’s just like every other DiMarzio, so it installed without a hitch and we were off and running.

First off, this is a great rock pickup. Focused, articulate, raunchy, edgy, biting, and powerful. The name of the pickup lays it right out there. It’s a hot PAF-style pickup. But it’s not just an over-wound PAF, which can lead to a voicing quite the contrary of what I just described. What you get with this pickup is a pickup that’s designed to be hot. Yeah…I know that might appear to be double-talk…but…talk to any good pickup winder and they’ll agree that over-winding does not always mean more output/volume. Also, some guys like this pickup with a 250k pot…I can see where some players would get down with that…a 500k worked fine for me.

On a dirty amp setting, the VHPAF is right at home. It sits well within the mix and it can easily jump right out for lead work. Riffing is punchy, chords are open and lead work has edge. All the harmonics I tried were quick to chime or ring or squeal with presence and sustain. This would easily be a top pick for me to bring life to a set-neck 24.75″ scale singlecut guitar.

On a clean amp setting, this pickup is a spanky. It is prepared to break up in series mode, and going in to parallel mode delivers heaping helpings of snap.

Info from DiMarzio reflects
Output mV: 265
Treble: 5.0
Mid: 6.5
Bass: 6.5

My readings show
series 10.11k
split north 5.05k
split south 5.06k
parallel 2.53k

Now, I know that there is a big school of thought on what DiMarzio production models can be used in place of the pickups that DiMarzio makes for the EBMM Axis/EVH. I can dig where the numbers are on paper when compared to a few pickup models…but using my ears, I do think this tone comes closer that many may realize.

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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