NAMM 2023: Rabea Massaad has joined the ever-swelling ranks of Ernie Ball artists, and is working with Ernie Ball Music Man on the development of a signature model that is based on its modern classic Sabre S-style.
Massaad, who was a long-time endorsee of Chapman Guitars, was photographed at the Ernie Ball booth at NAMM noodling on a Sabre that looks like it could well be a prototype of his signature guitar.
There are a few clues. Well, four. First off, that transparent burst finish is not one of the options that EBMM offers for the sabre. Secondly, those are most definitely Massaad’s signature Bare Knuckle Silo humbuckers on that guitar. Third, the hardware is gold on this model, which is definitely off-menu, and, finally, there looks to be a bit more contouring to that lower cutaway to enhance upper-fret access.
Besides welcoming the popular guitarist, producer and YouTuber onboard, and revealing his string preferences (Skinny Top Heavy Bottom 10-52), Ernie Ball was not letting much out of the bag. We know a new guitar is coming, only when, and exactly how it might look is yet to be confirmed.
“Rabea is currently working on a new Ernie Ball Music Man Artist Series guitar design that will be based on the Sabre guitar,” said Ernie Ball. “The instrument will incorporate unique designs that are specifically engineered for Rabea’s playing style.”
That style could be loosely described as contemporary progressive metal, incorporating down-tunings, a little chug, technically adroit leads that some might call shred, but above all Massaad’s approach to the instrument is stylistically adventurous.
His present artist deals include Neural DSP, with whom he has developed his own signature guitar plugin suite, Archetype: Rabea, complete with a fully-functioning synthesizer. Massaad announced his departure from the Chapman roster on 29 December 2022, after “an amazing 10 years”, and said that he promised to make the brand proud.
“To be a part of the Ernie Ball Music Man family is something I never thought I’d be able to say,” he said. “Being on the back of the pack alongside so many musicians I’ve looked up to since I started out and having a Music Man guitar with my name on it is truly a pinch myself feeling I don’t think will ever pass.”
Massaad will be joining a lineup that includes the likes of St Vincent, Albert Lee, Omar Rodríguez-López, Steve Morse, James Valentine, Jason Richardson, Tosin Abasi, Steve Lukather and John Petrucci. Earlier this week, Ernie Ball Music Man unveiled a new six-string version of the futuristic Kaizen guitar it developed with Abasi.