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Ernie Ball Music Man rolls out new five-string DarkRay and a pair of exquisitely shreddable Jason Richardson Cutlass electric guitars

Ernie Ball Music Man Jason Richardson Cutlass
Jason Richardson with his signature Cutlass in new Majora Purple finish (Image credit: Ernie Ball Music Man)

Ernie Ball Music Man has just updated two of its flagship electric and bass guitar lines, unveiling a new six and seven-string Artist Series Cutlass for Jason Richardson, and a much-anticipated five-string version of the DarkRay – both with limited-edition finish options.

Let’s start with the DarkRay 5. This is huge news. For the first time, EBMM’s next-gen StingRay designed in collaboration with Darkglass Electronics is available in a five-string format. 

Like the four-string DarkRay, this is a StingRay reimagined with a Darkglass preamp. The preamp offers a clean 2-band EQ, with drive and blend controls, and a three-way lever switch to chose between clean mode, the tight distortion of Alpha mode, or the Omega fuzz mode. A bright colour-coded LED illuminates to let you know which mode is active.

Otherwise, this is a StingRay, with the same feel and super-premium build – gunstock oil on the neck, hand-rubbed with wax, shielded electronics, the whole nine yards.

It has one large neodymium humbucker positioned near the bridge, an ergonomically contoured body comprised of select hardwood, a roasted maple neck topped with an ebony fingerboard, a 4+1 headstock with lightweight custom Music Man tulip-style tuners. 

Ernie Ball Music Man is offering the DarkRay 5 in Starry Night or limited edition White Sparkle finishes, the latter limited to 100 instruments worldwide.

It has also made the DarkRay 4 available in White Sparkle, too, and this is available exclusively via the Vault and limited to just 25 units. The DarkRay 5 Starry Night is priced $2,799, while the DarkRay 5 White Sparkle is $2,899. The DarkRay 4 White Sparkle is $2,799.

As for the Jason Richardson's tricked-out signature guitars, the Cutlass is now available in a quite exquisite Majora Purple burl finish, with all the details from that buckeye burl top looking like the sort of thing Nasa would photograph in deep space. That ornate top is applied to a wood-bound solid alder body boasting a super-generous extended cutaway to open up all of the fingerboard. 

Like the DarkRay, EBMM we have a limited edition finish, with the Jason Richardson Cutlass available in a crisp ’n’ clean opaque Empress White. This has a maple top and arrives with black binding and hardware, with a 24-fret ebony fingerboard and a bolt-on roasted figured maple neck. The Majora Purple has a roasted figured maple fingerboard and neck.

Both models are fitted with a pair of custom ceramic humbuckers and an active preamp with a silent circuit. There is a push/pull gain boost on the volume pot, a push/push coil-split on the tone pot, and a three-way pickup selector. A custom floating vibrato offers wobble on demand.

The new Jason Richardson Cutlass models are priced in line with the extant Natural Black Burst and Rorschach Red models, with the six-string pegged at $3,599 and the seven-string at $3,799.

See Ernie Ball Music Man for more details.

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.