Purchased from: Amazon.com
Sound — 8
DiMarzio's flagship humbucker gets installed in a Gibson Les Paul this time. The results? Outstanding.
I've known all about the Super Distortion for many years, and the versatility it possesses. My 2016 Gibson Les Paul Traditional T came home with the Gibson 57 Classic+/57 Classic set, and I thought, "what the hell happened here?". They were way too bright, brittle, a bit nasaly, and certainly not hot enough for my liking, so out they went. First, I tried the Seymour Duncan JB, and we had a disagreement of sorts about just how much high mids we were going to have.
The Super Distortion was recommended to me on several online forums for Les Paul players, stating I shouldn't be dissuaded by its EQ spikes in the bass and midrange. They were right. It rounds out and warms the LP back up to where you would expect it to be. I have it paired with a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates neck model, and the combination is really complimentary...sort of like a "hot vintage" setup. I feel like the Gibson pickups were very limiting...like they were strangling the life and expression out of the guitar, and the SD really opened it back up.
Thick lows, crunchy mids, and fat highs. Chords are big-bodied, but allow the sound of each string to blossom. Harmonics are pretty good, but perhaps not as pronounced as something like a D Activator or Evolution. Not as "murky" or "hazy" sounding as a Tone Zone. (No offense to you TZ folks out there...it just makes my rig sound like someone threw a blanket over the front of my cabinet.)
A note about the bass response--I certainly wouldn't say that the lows are really tight, but I wanted a more open sound anyway. Prominent, yes, but tight? I guess I honestly wouldn't use that word.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The usual nonsense applies here. Pickups don't really break or malfunction all that often, so long as you are using them in the manner for which they are intended, and barring any "worst case scenarios". That said, it certainly does have classic DiMarzio quality written all over it--the bobbins are solid, the pole pieces are set very well and show no signs of defect, the wax potting was done perfectly. Uncle Larry also left me a rather generous amount of lead wire from the pickup, so installation was very simple. An easy 10 for this one.
Overall Impression — 9
I play lead guitar in a metal/hard rock band, and the SD is a great addition to my Les Paul. The highs are fat, but cut through. The bass is prominent, but not super tight. Mids are crunchy and classic sounding, especially paired with my Marshall JVM 410H/Vintage 1960 half stack. Handles overdrive/distortion very well, and even cleans up okay, although I'm more apt to use the neck pickup for cleans.
I try to stay away from words like "perfect" or "ideal", but the Super Distortion has really shown me that it is right at home in a Les Paul and can handle whatever I throw at it. It delivers a sound that is very close to what I picture a heavily distorted LP to sound like. If you want extra tight lows, this may not be the best choice for you, but the open sound and well-rounded overall character of this pickup serves its reputation very well. I find it's great for those Iron Maiden/Dio/Ozzy kinds of tunes, but usually switch to something tighter sounding if I dabble in thrash or speed metal.
Thousands of players have used the Super Distortion for 45 years, with little or no change to the pickup since its inception. That alone gives it a pedigree that it deserves, and I'm certain this pickup will continue to serve players well for decades to come.