Designed to deliver more power and punch than a vintage-style humbucker—but without the loss of high-end detail that typically accompanies an overwound design—the Virtual Hot PAF ($99 retail/$72 street) combines the best elements of a vintage-style pickup with the muscle associated with DiMarzio’s high-output humbuckers. In fact, AB’d against an old two-conductor Super Distortion, the Virtual Hot PAF’s output level matched it within a few dB. This thing is loud, but where the SDHP is known for its corpulent bottom and middle, the Virtual Hot is balanced, open, and airy, with plenty of top-end and a quick dynamic response. The pickup I reviewed—a bridge model with four-conductor wiring (which allows for split-coil and other switchable options)—was tested in that position on a new Epiphone Dot Studio (see review, May 2005). It would have been nice to have a matching neck model to test in combination, as this pickup was a big improvement over the Dot’s stock unit. Overall the Virtual Hot PAF delivers what you might expect from a hot DiMarzio humbucker with a vintage soul.