Mark Lucas | Guitarist | Live | Session | Arranger

MORE RUMINATIONS ON THE ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN CUTLASS

One sound that has been very attractive to me since I lived in Boston is a 60's Strat with a rosewood fingerboard.

Unlike a maple board, rosewood has a punchy, tight response. Notes seem to jump off the board quicker; more transients, and in some ways, more overtones. More muscular, in essence.

I've played and/or demoed most of the Music Man guitars on the nstuffmusic youtube channel. The overriding thing about them is quality. They're set up perfectly right out of the case. Fit and finish is exemplary. Sterling Ball once said that the difference between a good guitar and a great guitar is 100 details. One of the most compelling details is the fretwork. There really aren't many US companies doing this level of work. And it shows over the long term. I've played a lot more expensive instruments that did not have this excellence present. Every note played is even without anomalies, regardless of how it s set up. It took me a bit of trial and error to get it where I like a guitar to be. I've done one neck adjustment and removed one spring from the tremolo, which originally had 3. I use .09-.42 Ernie Ball Slinkys instead of the .10-.46 set it came with. I've done a bit of pickup adjustments, as I like the neck and middle single coils to be adjusted down, a lot; particularly, the neck pickup, which carries a lot of harmonic information, being close to the end of the board. The bridge pickup is adjusted up a bit, but not a lot. I have the trem set up to float, but just a bit. The pickups and their accompanying silent circuit and buffered output jack all contribute to a multiplicity of tones and range, which are astounding. I use the neck pickup a lot for a more modern jazz sound, and the range of the tone control is not to be underestimated. Very useful and powerful.

I have 3 guitars with stainless steel frets, and I really can't say enough about them. There are discussions about how they sound brighter than nickel silver, and whilst true, its not an unpleasant brightness, to my ear. The fact that stainless just does not wear out more than compensates for the tonal differences. The compensated nut also makes a huge difference in how 'in tune' the guitar plays. It's not a heavy guitar weight-wise. I had it on a scale, at 7.4 pounds. The playability, with a rounded neck pocket makes a lot of other guitars feel clunky by comparison.

I really appreciate the fact that Music Man is one of the last US companies, one that provides all of their workers and staff with a living wage, consistently produces extraordinary guitars and strings, and has totally professional customer service.

 

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