The Sonic Ecstasy pickups seem to remain a bit of an enigma. Among both DiMarzio and Petrucci fans, they seem to slip under the radar to a degree. They are pickups I get many questions about, and I am glad to finally have my hands on some. The Sonic Ecstasy set can be found in the Ernie Ball Music Man JP16 guitar.
Let’s cut to the chase. The Sonic Ecstasy pickups sound like a variation of 2013’s Illuminator set. Now, I do like the Illuminators a lot. Players that get them based on my recommendation do have positive feedback about the results. Here is the thing with the open and alive character of Illuminator pickups. They sort of throw a kink in players expecting the more traditional tight fluid grind of 2009’s Crunch Lab / LiquiFire set.
That does not mean the Sonic Ecstasy pickups are an attempt to please the crowd by splitting the difference. For all intents and purposes, it seems as if the Sonic Ecstasy is a tweak to get the same character out of the JP16 and JP Majesty guitars as the Illuminator gets from the JP13. Other end users agree.
In all fairness, that’s something to appreciate. I mean, think about it. You want that Petrucci tone from a certain album, but your guitar’s construction is more like one from another DT era. Swapping a few pickups can be a simpler answer than an entirely new guitar.
You are probably wondering about the differences. Technically speaking, the Sonic Ecstasy is in the same output range of the previous Petrucci signature models. But the resistance is a little higher. In fact, I believe the DCR is the highest of any of the Petrucci models. That is of interest, as that Sonic Ecstasy strikes me as the most polite sounding of the bunch.
What’s also curious is that it does that while bumping the low and pulling back the highs across the board. And then DiMarzio bumps the mids in the bridge position. For me, it can make the Sonic Ecstasy an option for a more versatile and more organic “distortion” class of pickup. It doesn’t look like it on paper, but it pulls it off.
Here’s another example of John Petrucci taking the Sonic Ecstasy set for a spin:
Let’s dig in to some specs:
Sonic Ecstasy Bridge DP270
Series – 14.863
Inductance – 7.521 H
Split – 7.342 k
Split – 7.547 K
Parallel – 3.718 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Output – 420 mV
Bass – 7.0
Mid – 8.5
Treb – 4.0
Sonic Ecstasy Neck DP269
Series – 14.054 K
Inductance – 6.436 H
Split – 7.26 K
Split – 6.838 K
Parallel – 3.52 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Output – 300 mV
Bass – 6.5
Mid – 7.0
Treb – 4.5
If you are familiar with the JP16, you know it has a pre-amp that can be dialed up to 20db and lots of other electronic greeblies in the control cavity. So then, try to consider how that may or may not have any influence on what you’re hearing from those examples.
Additionally, the sharp-eyed types will notice the lack of the special cover on the ones in the video. There does appear to be a level of interest in how the production models for sale have a higher price tag. Which is in line with some of the other more expensive DiMarzio artist models that come with a fancy cover and no option to buy one without the flashy decoration. I know that I didn’t buy one brand new at full price for that very reason. And I wouldn’t blame anyone that also kept an eye on places like Reverb and eBay for a better deal. But if you can’t wait, hit up the Amazon links down below.
So yeah, the short version is that the Sonic Ecstasy can get the lowest-common-denominator designation as a set of refined Illuminator pickups. And that would be fair and reasonably accurate. It will get you Petrucci tones, naturally. It is also versatile enough to do much more I am pleasantly surprised by them and I think if you are already considering this set that you will definitely like them as well.
For reference, this DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy humbucker 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 in use are Marshall 1960B cabs loaded with Celestion G12-65s, Vintage 30s and G12M Greenbacks.
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