DiMarzio's FRED pickup

Apr 30, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:More output, more sustain, inexpensive.


The Bottom Line: If you want a versatile pickup that can sound good clean and distorted, and achieve amazing sustain, this is a good choice.

The first time I came across a FRED pickup was when I saw this DiMarzio humbucking pickup as standard equipment on the Ibanez Joe Satiani signature guitar.

Alnico magnets:

Using the warmer aluminum, nickel, cobalt magnet, one would assume that this pickup is a mellow, vintage sounding humbucking pickup. Basically, not something a shredder like Joe Satriani should be using but this pickup has enough output and incredible sustain to keep up with hotter ceramic pickups and active pickups.

When I first tried out the Joe Satriani guitar, I wanted to see if this pickup could get a strong rhythm guitar sound distorted and still produce active pickup strength leads and this pickup does it with ease.

Unlike higher output pickups, the FRED is able to sound very good clean, either alone or in conjunction with another pickup. I found this surprising since most pickups are better at distortion and distorted lead guitar or at clean settings. This pickup perhaps can cross the barrier better than any I have heard to date.

The sensitivity of this pickup is amazing and every bend, angled pick attack, and mute is amplified exactly and maybe even exagerrated. This can make for an unforgiving pickup and is not one a player can be sloppier on like a standard, lower output PAF style pickup.

F Spacing:

In most situations, Joe Satriani uses a Floyd Rose type of trem with a slightly wider spacing than the more common Gibson spacing on a humbucker. This Floyd Rose trem spacing, or F-Spacing, lets the pickup track each note more accurately on guitars fitted with most trem systems.

DiMarzio does want to offer this pickup in a standard Gibson spacing for those of us who may want to use this great product on a Les Paul, SG, ES-335, or similar copy with a fixed bridge.

Overall Impressions:

This pickup is not usually standard equipment on most guitars on the market and in most cases, it will be able to increase both output and clarity over virtually every stock pickup out there.

This pickup is a great and slightly less expensive alternative to the pricier active humbuckers (such as the EMG 81 or Seymour Duncan Livewires) and can get the higher output, longer sustaining sound many seek in an active humbucker.

The appearance of the FRED, with its hex nut pole pieces, looks enough like a Gibson PAF to fit right into a guitar with a stock pickup and look like it belonged there the whole time. For those who want to let the world know that this is a hotter and better pickup, DiMarzio produces the FRED in many custom color combinations. Being hot, but not too hot, this pickup can be a hard rocker, or just a more defined, higher output pickup for ANY style of music.

Five enthusiastic stars!

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