In what is a monthly calendar highlight for fans of high-end electric guitars, Ernie Ball Music Man has lifted the curtain on its March 2021 Ball Family Reserve models.
There is a super limited edition Albert Lee, John Petrucci and Steve Lukather models, plus an all-new Coral Blue Burst finish for MusicRadar favourite, the Sabre.
Where to start? Why not at EBMM's most high-profile artist, John Petrucci. This new for March 2021 JP15 sees the 21st-century S-style resplendent with a rosewood build. What luxury to behold! And it pairs a lightweight okoume body with a micro-thin maple veneer and rosewood top, with a bolt-on rosewood neck and fingerboard.
The spec is, of course, is top dollar, with a pair of DiMarzio Illuminator pickups complemented by a piezo system secreted in the six-saddle floating tremolo. Both magnetic and piezo systems have independent outputs, so you can really go to town in crossing the streams between electric and faux acoustic guitar tone.
Elsewhere, you've got the usual flourishes – stainless steel frets, Schaller M6-IND locking tuners... Oh, it's just a peach.The tremolo cover comes signed by JP himself, and it is limited to 89 pieces worldwide. With a street price of $3,599, this represents reasonable value for a collectible piece.
The Albert Lee in Seafoam Sparkle is a magnificent looking specimen too. Limited to 59 pieces worldwide, its disco floor finish is complemented by a most-opulent roasted and figured maple neck and fingerboard.
The body is okoume, and the HSS pickup configuration sees a DiMarzio humbucker joined by two EBMM singlecoils for a tone profile and feel that is Fender-esque – albeit through a Jetsons-esque retro-futurist lens. A vintage vibrato completes the picture.
As with the JP15, this piece is signed by the artist. It will set you back $2,799 from selected EBMM retailers.
The Luke III, meanwhile, is a future-forward S-style with an okoume body and a bolt-on roasted maple neck and fingerboard.
This BFR release has black block inlays 22 low wide frets, a double-locking Floyd Rose vibrato and a pair of custom wound Music Man humbuckers, with a ceramic 'bucker at the neck and an Alnico at the bridge.
And, of course, this Luke III comes finished in Black Sparkle. $2,999 and it's yours.
Finally we have a special edition Sabre in Coral Blue Burst. Limited to 60 units worldwide, this has a similar format to the Sabre we know and love, with an okoume body topped with highly-figured maple, only this time we have a rosewood neck and fingerboard instead of the figured maple.
Again, the neck is bolted-on, and you'll find a pair of custom-wound Music Man HH-2 humbuckers at the neck and bridge, with a 5-way pickup selector switch and volume and tone controls making it a guitar for all seasons. It is priced $3,499.
The BFR March 2021 models are out now. See Ernie Ball Music Man for more details and links to order.