Guitar Pickup Review

DiMarzio Illuminator 7 Set

The Illuminator 7 humbucker set is the 2013 entry into the John Petrucci line of signature pickups. The design has the intent to match with the Music Man JP13 7-string guitar to nail John’s tone of preference.

For the loyal readers, you know I’m a fan of the Illuminator 6-string set. In fact, I find that set to be my own personal favorite Petrucci set from the 6-string selection. As such, that make the Illuminator 7 set something to look forward to. Let’s start with looking at the basic specifications of the guitar this set is meant for.

The JP13 7 is a basswood body with a maple top – Eddie liked that and John Suhr says it maybe the Holy Grail of tone. The neck is mahogany with a 25-1/2″ scale rosewood board that has 24 stainless steel frets. There is a mahogany “tone block” in the body that the bridge and pickups mount in to. Since the neck is bolt-on, the tone block is not just an extension of the neck. Without spending all day doing a deep dive, I’m guessing the body is routed out for the dimensions of the mahogany and the tone block is glued in to the cavity. the guitar also has an active pre-amo for a gain boost. I cannot speak to if that colors the tone or if so, how much. The test guitar I am using has a totally passive harness.

John Petrucci w JP13 7
John Petrucci w JP13 7
Virtual Vintage Tech

What’s that? For the most part, they put ”dummy poles” between the normal pole pieces. The installation is in the underside of the bobbin, so they are not visible when looking at your typical operating humbucker. The purpose is to alter the inductance to ”tune” the coil(s) in a way not traditionally possible.

The Virtual Vintage tech is in the neck model only.

DiMarzio Illuminator 7 w Nickel Poles
DiMarzio Illuminator 7 w Nickel 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. This is the same guitar in use for all 7-string evaluations, including the Crunch Lab 7 / Liquifire 7 set.

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

Ibanez Universe Switching

If you already familiar with the 6-string version, the Illuminator 7 is slightly more slanted toward the archetypical Petrucci characteristics. Which is to say there is a bit of the inherent tightness and compression and precision going on here.

Aside from that more precise attack in the lows and the low-mids, the highs have that highly identifiable JP big strong presence. That’s the cool thing about this set. The high end has a respectable footprint that has the edge and cut that you want and need. And it does it with a vocal sweetness that does not get shrill or sounds like an ice pick.

The midrange is really the cat’s meow. Significant roaring mids that rip it up for hard rock and for progressive rock/metal. Some players and some pickup companies can struggle with the midrange. You have to give it to DiMarzio for taking those frequencies seriously enough to break it out in to the low and the high midrange for their Tone Chart.

Clean amp settings are really quite at home with this set. The moderate inductance and hot-vintage range resistance put these pickups right in the Goldilocks range. You can easily dial in clean tones from sparkling to dirty with your guitar’s volume knob.

DiMarzio Illuminator 7 w Black Poles
DiMarzio Illuminator 7 w Black Poles

The Illuminator 7 is all over the self-titled 2013 Dream Theater album. Check out this video for an example of the pickup in a band setting:

Dream Theater – Along For The Ride (Audio)

Illuminator 7 Bridge
Series – 10.721 K
Inductance – 6.182 H
Split – 5.393 K
Split – 5.355 K
Parallel – 2.686 K
Magnet – Thick Ceramic
Output – 410 mV


Illuminator 7 Neck
Series – 10.198 K
Inductance – 6.232 K
Split – 5.139 K
Split – 5.073 K
Parallel – 2.554 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Output – 270 mV


The Illuminator 7 set is going to be good for hard rock, shred, metalcore, prog rock, doom, thrash, extreme metal, hardcore, classic rock, punk, djent, nu-metal, 80s metal, blues rock, garage, prog metal, fusion, grunge, heavy metal, and more. The Illuminator 7 comes with 4-conductor lead wire and is available in 9 color options, a half dozen covers, and with your choice of nickel, gold, or black poles.

For reference, this DiMarzio Illuminator 7 humbucker pickup evaluation was conducted with the following: Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. ADA MP-1 Tube Pre-Amp loaded with Tube Amp Doctor ECC83 Premium Selected tubes, using the ADA MC-1 MIDI Controller. Fryette LX II Stereo Tube Power Amplifier. Physical cabs 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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