Guitar Pickup Review

DiMarzio Air Norton 7

The Air Norton 7 is, you guessed it, DiMarzio’s 7-string version of their legendary Air Norton 6-string humbucker. Is it really that simple? Yeah, it kind of is. Let’s take a look at how.

The original Air Norton is renowned as a popular option for the neck position. Why is this? Eddie Van Halen, of course. DiMarzio tells us that the Air Norton is the production model that most closely resembles the specs of the highly coveted neck humbucker of the Ernie Ball Music Man EVH guitar. The Eddie association puts the Air Norton in to consideration for many players. We will talk about the 6-string version at another time. As well as the original Norton humbucker that is ground zero.

Like it’s little brother, the Air Norton 7 is using the DiMarzio Dual Resonance tech. The Virtual Vintage Tech is also at play here.

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.

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.

An interesting happenstance is that there is no Airbucker tech going on in the Air Norton 7. And there is no VV tech with the 6-string Air Norton. Could it be that DiMarzio is getting the “feel” of the Airbucker effect by using the VV approach? They play their patents pretty close to the vest. And I don’t want to go poking the bear. LOL! However, I think it’s a reasonable assertion and worth going with… unless there comes a time when someone within DiMarzio instructs us all otherwise.

What I do know is that the specs between the 6 and the 7-string are remarkably similar. More on that in a minute.

DiMarzio Air Norton 7 Black

This humbucker 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 and the Blaze neck model. 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

As you can see, there is an auto-split situation going on in between the bridge and middle position.

DiMarzio Air Norton 7 Unplated Nickel
DiMarzio Air Norton 7 Unplated Nickel

In the bridge, the AN7 is a vintage-hot class example of what you really want in a 7-string humbucker. Very balanced and extremely versatile. This is the sort of tone that does so many things well enough to make you want to buy another 7-string guitar.

From what I can gather, I’m thinking that a lot of what is going on here has to do with the DiMarzio patented tech. We should all know by now how the Dual Resonance tech opens up and dials in the tuning of the frequencies. And since each coil is it’s own thing, the relative resonant peaks play together and react off one another. But I think it’s more of how the Virtual Vintage tech is tweaking inductance to take a bit of the hard edge of the ceramic magnet.

There is a fairly balanced voice at work here. The low end has a footprint, but without being heavy or murky. Highs are bigger and deliver some space around the notes. Harmonic content is off the charts. The AN7 is solid for riffing, it delivers for lead work, and it brings the goods to cover everything from modern metal to Grandpa Rock.

When you try the Air Norton 7 in any position, do your self this favor. Take the time to do a few things. One is to spin the bobbins around to be sure to hear the different coils in both orientations. The other is to experiment with which coil you want to split.


Just for giggles, let’s compare the numbers of the 6 and the 7-string version of this bad boy:

Air Norton 7 DP793
Series – 12.997 K
Inductance – 6.331 H
Split – 5.744 K
Split – 7.275 K
Parallel – 3.209 K
Magnet – Ceramic
Output – 260 mV

DiMarzio Air Norton 7 Tone Guide
DiMarzio Air Norton 7 Tone Guide

Air Norton DP193
Series – 12.838 K
Inductance – 6.104 H
Split – 5.449 K
Split – 7.419 K
Parallel – 3.139 K
Magnet – Alnico 5
Output – 270 mV

DiMarzio Air Norton Tone Guide
DiMarzio Air Norton Tone Guide

It’s quite a challenge to find example of any Air Norton version at play in the bridge position. What I can show is the Air Norton 7 in a demo by Angel Vivaldi. The AN7 is in the neck and the Tone Zone 7 is in the bridge. Consider it a little something for the players that still want the Air Norton 7 in the neck slot.

Angel Vivaldi demos DiMarzio Air Norton 7 and The Tone Zone 7 pickups

The Air Norton 7 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 AN 7 comes with 4-conductor lead wire and is available in five solid colors, 4 zebra colors, a half dozen cover options, and nickel, gold, or black pole piece colors.

For reference, this DiMarzio Air Norton 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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