Review: DiMarzio Sonic Ecstacy Humbuckers

When it comes to guitar tone connoisseurs, Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci undeniably ranks among the elite. This is a man who refines and upgrades the design of his signature model guitars every year with useful sonic and performance enhancements instead of the cosmetic and superficial changes typical of many other artists’ instruments.

However, if Petrucci weren’t to change pickups for the rest of his career, I wouldn’t blame him. The new DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy Bridge and Neck humbuckers originally designed for his Music Man JP16—and also featured on his Majesty Monarchy models—are the closest thing I’ve heard to perfection for players who prefer high-output pickups for rock and metal with stunning midrange clarity and big but focused bass.

DiMarzio offers separate bridge and neck versions of the Sonic Ecstasy. Both are only available with F spacing (for guitars with a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge) and feature a passive, high-output design with a ceramic magnet, four-conductor wiring, one row of six flathead screw-adjustable polepieces and another row of six flat polepieces, and a distinctive custom cover with a graphic black and matte silver metal engraved design. The bridge pickup is hotter, providing 420mV output and 15.3Kohm DC resistance, while the neck pickup has 300mV output and 13.8Kohm DC resistance.

While many high-output ceramic humbuckers can have exceptionally brilliant treble response, with the Sonic Ecstasy midrange is dominant and the bass is big and prominent as well. The pickups are an ideal complement for guitars built from tone woods that inherently deliver bright treble, such as basswood, maple (particularly maple tops), korina and swamp ash. However, the tone of the Sonic Ecstasy pickups also can enhance a guitar with dark tone character, providing a significant upgrade in tonal clarity in midrange and bass frequencies.

Sonic Ecstasy pickups are definitely hot—slight distortion is noticeable even when an amp is dialed to low levels of gain. The midrange remains big, fat and full sounding no matter how hard the amp is pushed, and the bass sounds similarly big without ever getting flabby or unfocused. The pickups work equally well for playing aggressively distorted chords where every individual note can be heard and playing solos with a sweet, voice-like midrange that dominates even the densest mixes. Sonic Ecstasy pickups are a lead player’s dream, but the rhythm tones are equally impressive for players looking for the right balance of clarity and crunch.

LIST PRICE: $199.99

  • The high-output, ceramic magnet design delivers 420mV output/15.3Kohm DC resistance for the bridge pickup and 300mV output/13.8Kohm DC resistance for the neck pickup.
  • The pickup covers feature a distinctive matte silver and black engraved design with all 12 pole-pieces exposed.

If you’re searching for fat, singing lead tones and big, aggressive rhythm tones that don’t sacrifice clarity, DiMarzio’s Sonic Ecstasy humbuckers are your quick ticket to tone nirvana.

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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.