Happy birthday to the DiMarzio PAF Pro pickup! Turning 30 scares the bejeezus out of many, but the PAF Pro is standing the test of time like a champ. It has a history of being selected as the weapon of choice over the years for artists that include Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Scott Dalhover, Larry Mitchell, Earl Slick, Joey Concepcion, and we could go on all day. This pickup has drawn players from rock, funk, jazz, and blues in support of a who’s who of great bands.
You’ve seen me mention the PAF Pro in the bridge position as I checked out the DiMarzio Bluesbucker and the DiMarzio EJ Custom Neck. Yep, it’s good in both pickup positions, just like the classic PAF pickups that we all grew up listening to from songs on the radio from our favorite bands. I’ve installed it in both bridge and neck positions in the same guitar with the same series/parallel wiring options via nice Bourns 500k push/pull pots, wired up with aeronautical grade hookup wire and going out a shiny new Switchcraft 151 jack. When placed in the neck position, I paired it up with a DiMarzio Dominion bridge humbucker – which was one of the suggestions from DiMarzio when I asked about different neck options for the Dominion.
Being classified as a medium output pickup, the PAF Pro makes it’s bones in any application I threw at it. The balanced voicing, the symmetrical coils, and the even EQ really makes it a workhorse for so many types of music. And I didn’t get the impression that I was playing something medium powered, as much as playing a bit of a chameleon that blends with all ranges. It remains polite in series mode for clean amp tones and it totally rips it out on a dirty amp setting.
The low end holds firm and punchy with enough presence to keep things full. The highs are edgy with a complimentary character that avoids being shrill. Mids are even and balanced to to help punch when dirty and be airy when clean. Like so many of the DiMarzio humbuckers in a neck position, doing lead work with the PAF Pro is a pleasure… it’s never nasally and has the focus to help solos jump out of the mix. Going into parallel mode on a clean amp setting in either position reveals a very nice chimey open character that further avails the PAF Pro to being so versatile.
When it comes to focus and articulation, the PAF Pro delivers the goods to give the pickup a slightly more open feel. When considering that so many humbuckers born in the 80s were all about more power and more output, it was common to end up with something that would be sounding compressed and easily lost in so many of the dense mixes of modern bands. Not so much with the PAF Pro.
Series – 8.132k, 5.157H
Split Screw – 4.07k, 2.31H
Split Slug – 4.052, 2.293H
Parallel – 2.03k, 1.042H
Treble – 6.0
Mid – 5.0
Bass – 5.0
Output – 300 mV
Alnico 5 Magnet
Here’s a 1992 video of Paul Gilbert, playing the PAF Pro and talking about his approach to his pickup needs:
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, Twitter or his website is darthphineas.com