Ernie Ball Music Man’s Ball Family Reserve Spring 2022 collection has been unveiled and it is a typically audacious display of high-end electric guitar making.
It sees EBMM’s Albert Lee, Valentine and Luke III models given a limited edition refresh, and rounding out the lineup is the StingRay 4 bass guitar, a short-scale stunner resplendent in Bombshell black with tortoiseshell block inlay.
As ever, these are not cheap and are not made in huge numbers. Only 55 of the Bigsby-equipped Valentine Carmelo models will be released worldwide, with 105 of the short-scale StingRays, 80 apiece of the Luke III Woody and Albert Lee Ghost In The Shell models.
Let’s start with the Albert Lee model. Priced $3,499, it has a solid Honduran mahogany body finished in translucent white (the figurative Ghost In The Shell), with a full rosewood neck, a laser-etched headstock, pearlescent block inlays and matching tuner buttons.
It has a trio of single-coil MM-90 pickups, master volume and tone controls, a five-way blade-style pickup selector, and a vintage-style two-point tremolo for some on-tap whammy bar wobble.
If the factory wiggle stick is your vibe, the Valentine Carmelo (also priced $3,499) might be your speed. It has a solid ash body, a roasted figured-maple neck with a 10” radius rosewood fingerboard.
A pair of Custom “Ranger” humbuckers can be found at the neck and bridge positions, controlled by a three-way pickup selector plus volume and tone pots. And you can watch Cooper Carter put it through its paces in the demo below.
The Luke III Woody is a real boutique take on Steve Lukather’s next-gen signature guitar. It is no doubt named for that exquisite premium figured walnut burst burl maple top, which really does class up what was already a classy solid okoume chassis. Its tremolo plate comes hand-signed, and like the Lee signature model the headstock is laser-etched.
It’s built for high-performance, with a doublecut silhouette opening up all that upper-fret territory, and there are a pair of custom-wound humbuckers offering the heat of a ceramic magnet at the bridge position and a more vintage voiced Alnico model at the neck. Of course, should you need something else to puncture the mix, there is an active onboard preamp that can administer +12bB of boost. The Luke III Woody is priced $3,999.
Finally, the StingRay 4 in Bombshell offers an immaculate single-humbucker platform for the sort of plummy old-school thump that 30” short-scale basses specialise in. It has an ash body, a figured maple neck and fingerboard, and as mentioned above, that tortoiseshell ‘guard and block inlays look incredible. It is priced $2,899.
For more details, head over to Ernie Ball Music Man.
The BFR models, by their very nature, run a little on the pricey side, but that's okay – those looking for a more affordable take on EBMM design can check out the recently unveiled Sterling By Music Man 2022 models.