The Blaze 7-string set is something I’ve been playing since it first came out in 1990 as the stock appointments on the Ibanez Universe guitar. Steve Vai was setting the shredder world on fire and was seen on the cover of practically every guitar magazine. It was like the dude could do no wrong. So…. we will not discuss “Slip Of The Tongue” at this juncture. LOL!
Given the path that popular music took in the early-to-mid 1990s, there was little room for players to showboat on a 7th string. Most music on the radio wasn’t even making full use of 2 strings at the time. HaHa! The Ibanez Universe backed away from the verge of relevance for a few years. As is the way of trends, things change. And then heavier music was back on the menu once again. Alt-metal, prog-metal, industrial metal, and even death metal. They demanded the extended lower range.
The Blaze 7-string pickups were really the only significant option at the time, until the DP703 Blaze Custom 7-string pickup showed up around 1998. And then the DiMarzio PAF 7 and Tone Zone 7, both in 2000. And in the years since, it’s a veritable gravity storm of options (get it? Ha!).
What’s going on with the Blaze 7-string set? It’s a hum-single-hum. The Ibby Universe switching that I’ll be covering is as follows:
Pretty basic. The 2 and 4 positions are one humbucker coil and the DP701 Blaze Middle single coil. The Blaze Middle is the only real 7-string single coil option that DiMarzio offers. It’s a little bit hot in relation to the more traditional DiMarzio single coil models. The Blaze Middle does seem to pair well with the level of the DP702 Blaze Bridge and DP700 Blaze Neck.
From my experience with the Blaze 7-string set, it’s going to be right at home with players looking for less mids. All the pickups are wound to a pretty high DC Resistance when comparing to the output. That translate to a fairly compressed character. You might be thinking that will give you a super tight low end. Meh, not so much.
Taking the low B out of the scenario, and the Blaze set can get it done. The Blaze neck would benefit from a touch more of a lively personality when it gets down lower than the 10th fret. And that can be said for many neck pickups across many brands. The Blaze bridge is going to give you what you would expect from something designed for a shredder from the 80s and early 90s. A bit of punch down low and plenty of cut up high. Many people I talk to consider the scooped mids to be a bit too much.
Putting the low B back in to the mix. Well, let’s say that some players might want to tweak their amps a bit. LOL! Or maybe throw an EQ pedal in there. It’s a bit of a first attempt, so of course it won’t be totally perfect. That’s probably why DiMarzio made the far superior DP703 Blaze Custom, which is criminally too hard to find. Think of the Blaze Custom along the lines of how the Evo 2 also corrected some of the issues people had with the original Evolution, for example.
The way the Blaze Middle single coil works in 2, 3, and 4 positions are some great options for clean amp tones. Aside from the bigger-sounding options from the humbuckers, the Blaze Middle is really versatile. Spanky, chirpy, glassy, snappy. Experiment a little, and you’ll find them all. Since it is the only 7-string single-spaced option DiMarzio offers, it’s been in place while I’ve checked out the other 7-string humbuckers. The Blaze Middle does well at holding up in that capacity. It can hit a little hard if you typically use alnico-based single coils.
Want to hear the Blaze set? Check out this video of Steve Vai, off the 1990 Passion & Warfare album:
Let’s look at some specs:
Series – 20.17 K
Inductance – 6.472 H
North – 13.808 K
South – 6.397 K
Parallel – 4.375 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Output – 380 mV
Series – 15.421 K
Inductance – 6.767 H
North – 8.739 K
South – 6.715 K
Parallel – 3.798 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Output – 280 mV
DP701 Blaze Middle
DCR – 13.369 K
Inductance – 2.994 H
Magnet – Ceramic
Output – 200 mV
The Blaze 7-string set remains a staple in the Ibanez menu. Be it as a full set in the Universe model, or just the humbuckers in some of the other guitars. I can say that I definitely prefer the Blaze 7-string humbuckers over the DiMarzio PAF 7 set and about the same as the Ionizer 7 set. The scooped mids of the Blaze set are clearly beneficial to the metal genres mentioned previously. If you’re looking for a little more balanced EQ from the bridge, definitely consider the Blaze Custom. Or more overall balance as a set, check out the Titan 7 set.
For reference, this DiMarzio Blaze 7-string pickup set evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs used were Marshall 1960B cabs loaded with Celestion G12-65s, Vintage 30s and G12M Greenbacks.