Guitar Pickup Review

DiMarzio Air Zone

The Air Zone is a variation of DiMarzio’s best-selling Tone Zone humbucker. It’s the Tone Zone with DiMarzio’s patented Airbucker technology. Some may remember that the Air tech is a byproduct of the development of the Eddie Van Halen humbuckers in the early 1990s for the Ernie Ball Music Man guitar.

As a personal observation, I think it’s cool that DiMarzio flat out tells you what this pickup is. Same goes for the Norton and the Air Norton (which will be up for discussion in another upcoming article!). If you like the Tone Zone but would like a different tweak to the voice, you know right where to look. Pretty simple. Also pretty respectful to the customer’s intelligence.

DiMarzio Air Zone Red w Nickel Poles
DiMarzio Air Zone Red w Nickel Poles
Airbucker Tech

DiMarzio’s Air technology is literally about putting air between the magnet and the conductive screws and/or poles. What does that mean? Glad you asked! HaHa!

To give some pickups a more vintage character, some might tinker with the gauss strength of the magnet. The thing is that meddling with that magnetic charge can have inconsistent results. For more consistent result, DiMarzio uses that “air” as a way to alter the field of a fully charged magnet.

For that air gap, there are a few ways that have been of note. One is to essentially remove the keeper bar and place a few non-conductive (i.e., rubber, silicone, etc.) rings around the poles on the underside of the bobbin. Another method is to use poles that literally taper to a smaller diameter as they pass through the bottom of the bobbin. The more narrow diameter keeps the poles from making contact with the magnet. A model like the AT-1 does both.

Dual Resonance Tech

Dual Resonance is basically mis-matched coils. Coils being imperfectly matched is not all that much of a big deal. It’s common for several pickup companies to allow about a 5% variance. But Dual Resonance is an intentional mis-matching of the coils to produce a specific “tuning” of the pickup’s voice.

According to the patent, it is pretty much about putting a similar number of turns on each coil. But with different wire gauges. Trust me on this one. Don’t waste too much time trying to figure out how they make the sausage on this one. Just enjoy your tasty meal and move along. LOL!

DiMarzio Air Zone Black Metal Cover
DiMarzio Air Zone Black Metal Cover

The Air Zone is going in the bridge position of a 2023 MIM Fender Player Strat HSS w/ a Floyd Rose. Alder body, 25-1/2″ maple neck, pau ferro board. Warmoth pickguard in a Jake E Lee configuration, which only matters in as much as a 5-way switch and a single volume pot. The harness is a CRL 5-way lever switch and a Mojotone Vintage Taper CTS 500k pots with a Switchcraft output jack. 09-42 strings in E standard tuning.


It can be easy to imagine the Tone Zone that “sounds like” it has an Alnico 2. I mean, a degaussed or a weaker Alnico 5 does share characteristics of an Alnico 2. We all get that approach. But it’s not that simple. Let’s kick around a few numbers. From the published specs, the Air Zone has about 1% more resistance. Well within tolerance. The TZ has about 13% more output! Another nail in the coffin of the “DCR = Output” mentality. And from my own readings, the TZ has about 3% more inductance.

If you’re a total pup nerd, that’s interesting in as much as the biggest variance is the output. Well, you are reducing some of the force of the magnetic circuit. What does that all mean? How does it translate to the sound that comes out of the speaker?

From what I’m hearing, the Air Zone is a more musically complex and harmonically diverse voice. It has the power and the push of the TZ, but with a little more finesse and savoir faire. The natural decay of a note works itself into the commonly cherished crosstalk of the mechanical noise of finger on fret. Super interesting feat for a humbucker that looks on paper like a heavy hitter.

The Short Version

Gear geek techno-babble aside, you want the bottom line. Right? LOL! Alright then, here it is:

Imagine a DiMarzio humbucker that would be ideal for Jake E Lee or Warren DeMartini or even Allan Holdsworth. I might even suggest Andy Timmons, but he already has his own model! HaHa! In fact, I might say that some can consider the Air Zone as a place between the Tone Zone and the AT-1 model. Dare I say it might even be on the short list for another alternative to the coveted Music Man EVH bridge humbucker

It has the punch and the power and the roaring mids and the sweetly present high end. And that’s all in the bridge. Yes, I know that some people put it in the neck. I have to admit that it’s so cool in the bridge position that I didn’t have it in me to change it around prior to this article! LOL! However, it is in the neck position of the following demo video!


Check out this video of Paul Gilbert using both the Tone Zone and the Air Zone in the same 1978 Ibanez Iceman

Paul Gilbert talks about installing a DiMarzio The Tone Zone and Air Zone in the 1978 Ibanez Iceman that he bought on Reverb

Series – 18.122 K
Inductance – 8.15 H
Split – 8.378 K
Split – 9.767 K
Parallel – 4.511 K
Magnet – Alnico 5
Output – 323 mV

DiMarzio Air Zone Tone Guide
DiMarzio Air Zone Tone Guide
DiMarzio Air Zone Black w Black Poles
DiMarzio Air Zone Black w Black Poles

My take is that this is a solid and versatile humbucker. It adds a richness to the harmonic squeals that makes it an obvious choice for high-octane rock styles. The tonal attributes are easy to control by playing technique and by the volume control. I would consider it something that any player on a true tone quest has to try.

The Air Zone is going to be good for blues rock, pop, garage, hard rock, shred, fusion, prog metal, thrash, prog rock, classic rock, alt rock, grunge, hardcore, 80s rock, 90s rock, heavy rock, alternative, blues, and other rock and metal styles.  It is available in all the fun DiMarzio colors that you can find on the DiMarzio website. Pole pieces options are nickel, gold, and black. The Illuminator also comes in a 7-string version.

For reference, this DiMarzio Air Zone humbucker pickup evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller.  In addition, real cabs in use are Marshall 1960BMojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s and Classic Series G12M Greenbacks.

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