Guitar Pickup Review

DiMarzio D Activator 7 Humbucker Set

The D Activator 7 is the next stop along the path of 7-string pickups. If you are a fan of the 6-string D Activator, you should be liking this just fine. In fact, many of the artists that use one version will use both. One of the things that both platforms incorporate is DiMarzio’s Dual Resonance technology.

DiMarzio D Activator 7 Nickel Cover w Black Poles
DiMarzio D Activator 7 Nickel Cover w Black Poles
Dual Resonance Tech

Dual Resonance is basically mis-matched coils. 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.

DiMarzio D Activator 7 Double Cream w Black Poles
DiMarzio D Activator 7 Double Cream w Black Poles

This set is going into an Ibanez Universe 7-string. That’s a basswood body, 24-fret maple neck, 25-1/2″ scale rosewood board, and Edge 7 locking tremolo system. The harness is original, as is the middle Blaze single coil. The guitar has a standard tuning of low B on the 7th, using 09-54 strings.

The Ibby Universe switching that I’ll be covering is as follows:

Ibanez Universe Switching

Of course, there will be the inevitable questions about comparisons. Some players out in the wild can consider the 6-string version to be very precise. So much so that there are those that think it on the rigid side of the spectrum. And that is sort of the thing with the goal of the design, which is to offer the best parts of some active pickups but without the sterility.

My first impression of the D Activator 7 is that the overall vibe is a little more organic that I am expecting. To be clear, I am thinking I am going to be hearing an over-the-top razor-sharp focus djent-only machine. Not so much! Yes, it is going to handle the more extreme metal genres. But it is so much more.

While not fully aware of any behind-the-scenes development of either of the D Activator formats, the 7 is one of the most “at home” iterations I think I’ve heard. As in, it sounds like it is made for the 7-string realm. The voice is awash with harmonic content that really brings character to the focus in the lows and the presence in the highs.

The clarity yields an outstanding touch sensitivity, as well as versatile dynamics. It’s the sort of thing that can make guitarists have to step up their game. As a result, developing the pick attack and working the volume pot can deliver an incredibly wide range of sonic tapestries.

Positions 2 & 4

Who remembers that this is in an Ibanez Universe? That’s a hum-single-hum with the auto-split in the 2 and 4 positions. That takes the inside coil from the respective D Activator 7 and blends it with the middle position Blaze single coil. Wow! Very usable clean tones. Shimmering, snappy, glassy, transparent, crystalline. An excellent option for the highly processed 80s clean and perfect for the modern cleans in some of the extreme metal genres.

DiMarzio D Activator 7 Black & Red
DiMarzio D Activator 7 Black & Red

D Activator 7 Bridge
Series – 11.008 K
Split – 5.878 K
Split – 5.155 K
Parallel – 2.746 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Output – 460 mV

D Activator 7 Neck
Series – 7.436 K
Split – 3.726 K
Split – 3.707 K
Parallel – 1.8584 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Output – 380 mV

Tone Chart
DiMarzio D Activator 7 Tone Guide
DiMarzio D Activator 7 Tone Guide

You hit the jackpot on these demos. First up is an official DiMarzio video of Whitechapel’s Alex Wade:

And another official DiMarzio video, this time with Whitechapel’s Zach Householder:

But it is stock in the Ibanez ICTB721, so how about we check that out:

It’s also stock in the Ibanez Xiphos model:


If you like the 6-string version, you will be at home with this set. As has been my experience with the DiMarzio approach to the same model across the different platforms, it’s as if they start from the ground up. Meaning that they appear to prioritize the target at the end of the road more than the path it takes to get there.

The D Activator 7 set is going to be good for fusion, hard rock, progressive metal, djent, nu-metal, thrash, metalcore, hardcore, garage, classic rock, alt rock, tech metal, shred, 80s rock, 80s metal, tech metal, and more. It is available in a wide selection of bobbin colors, several cover options, and 3 pole piece colors.

For reference, this DiMarzio D Activator 7-string humbucker pickup set 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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