Used by everyone from Kurt Cobain to Ace Frehley, the DiMarzio Super Distortion pickup changed the sound of rock – and the future of electric guitar tone

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana performs on stage at the Astoria Theatre, London, 5th November 1991. He is playing a Fender Jaguar guitar.
Kurt Cobain's heavily modified Fender Jaguar featured a DiMarzio Super Distortion bridge pickup. (Image credit: Ian Dickson/Redferns/Getty Images)

The replacement electric guitar pickup is so commonplace these days that most guitarists have swapped pickups on at least one of their guitars to improve its sound. 

However, for about the first two decades of the electric solidbody guitar’s existence, very few players ever thought of changing their pickups, and the few who did found it wasn’t a very easy task. 

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.