Petrucci and Music Man come up with a road-ready hotrod. By Steve Henderson
It seems that every year or so, Music Man produces another John Petrucci model. Their relationship with Petrucci is certainly fruitful and the guitars, while they are certainly signature instruments, have a little something for everyone. In other words, they’re not so specific that they feel limited to Petrucci’s deal, but do in fact cover a lot of sonic and stylistic territory. This is great because while the Majesty might have globs of that Petrucci mojo, there’s room for each player’s own vibe to shine through. This is a smart design (and marketing) and allows a guitarist to invest in their own sound without the restrictions often imposed by a signature guitar.
This latest instrument, the Majesty, has all the detail we’ve come to expect from the Music Man: high quality materials, smart design, great craftsmanship, and practical features. Some nice touches include the elongated upper horn (for perfect balance on a strap), the extra scooped (and shortened) treble-side horn (for complete fretboard access), the tilt-back headstock (for a consistent break angle over the nut with no string trees or graduated tuner posts), the all-black livery, stainless steel frets and bridge saddles, and - a personal favourite - the low-profile switches that are located out of harm’s way (you won’t accidentally bump them into a new selection).
The construction is simple: a mahogany through-neck with basswood body wings and a maple top – about three kilos’ worth. An ebony fingerboard (25.5” scale, 17” radius) with 24 perfectly dressed frets makes for a controlled and expressive feel. Bends - subtle or extreme - are so easy. The inlays are actually little mirrors that look great under stage lights. The strings are anchored at one end by Schaller locking tuners and at the other by a floating vibrato bridge with a pretty serious sustain block. Played acoustically, the Majesty has loads of snap, bite and natural sustain. Combined with the locking machine heads, the trem comes back to tune every time – you gotta love that.
The Majesty’s electronics include a pair of DiMarzio Illuminators and a piezo system in the bridge, a built-in gain boost preamp, a three-way for the magnetic pickups (with a customisable centre position) and a magnetic/piezo three-way (mag, piezo, or both). To make this as simple at possible, the front knob is magnetic volume with a push/push for the gain boost, the middle knob is magnetic tone with a push/push for changing the “middle” switch position from parallel humbuckers to parallel single coils (the inside coils), and the back knob is piezo volume with a push/push for selecting eother a combined or separate mag/piezo output (you’ll need two amps). The switches are fast and very quiet, and the knobs are smooth and slightly recessed for a clean and classy look.
BANG FOR YOUR BUCK(ERS)
These Illuminators are marvellous pickups. They certainly do the Dream Theater thing, but there’s so much more to them as well. Bluesy licks have a little extra harmonic breadth, and straight ahead rock tones have a broader midrange Q that accentuates some of the maple’s upper-mid colour. Into a tweed Bassman, the front pickup has a bold and round tone that is warm enough for jazz and bright enough for big, clean rock rhythm. Into an AC-30, the same pickup creates a rich crunch that’s hard to resist. Slip a drive pedal in-between and you’ll hear a great rock ‘n’ roll lead tone. The back pickup is bright but not shrill – it has plenty of treble, but with body and weight. A 50w JCM800 produced iconic classic rock tones, while a Mesa Boogie Mark IV delivered sounds from Dream Theater (naturally) to Santana to an edgier version of Larry Carlton.
Together, the two humbuckers have a nice rhythm sound. Push the single coil switch and you’ll hear an amazing Strat tone – throaty, expressive and loaded with character: the best I’ve heard from split humbuckers. Add the piezo pickup to this and there’s an immediate organic woodiness, an extra flavour for any rhythm part. This is one of the coolest features of the Majesty.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Honduras mahogany is ultra-stable and feels great. The heelless through-neck facilitates complete upper fret access, and the perfectly balanced body makes it a pleasure to play, standing or seated. It’s hard to describe how much fun the Majesty is to dig into – you just want to keep finding new sounds. It’s light and resonant, and the neck is ultra-comfy and quite infectious. Beautifully crafted and with great tones, the Majesty is a stylish and classy guitar with a touch of Corvette-style street racer swagger, never losing sight of its role as a super playable gigging guitar.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Honduras mahogany/basswood/maple body
• Music Man John Petrucci piezo floating vibrato bridge
• Schaller M6-IND locking – chrome
• Two DiMarzio Illuminators; bridge piezo system
• 24 medium-jumbo stainless steel frets
• Great to play
• Well crafted
• Wide range of tones
• Not a subtle design
• High price point
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