NAMM 2023: Sterling By Music Man has gone big in its NAMM 2023 releases, unveiling a string of updates to its mid-priced electric guitars range and crowning it with the much requested St Vincent Goldie, bringing Annie Clark’s triple-gold-foil electric to the range for the first time.
As with the Ernie Ball Music Man version, this Goldie is available in Velveteen or Cashmere finishes – there is no black, sorry, Silk Charmeuse finish as yet – but at $829 it is a lot more accessible. The Goldie is not the end of the signature guitar action. Albert Lee’s retro offset has been reworked with P-90 pickups, while Omar Rodríguez-López’s stunning Mariposa has a sweet new Daphne Blue finish.
Other new models include the Cutlass CT50 Plus, which refreshes the popular double-cut with a newly designed HSS pickup configuration, while the super-affordable Cutlass CT30HSS is now offered in two classic finishes, Mint Green and Vintage Sunburst.
Let’s take a closer look, and there’s only one place to start.
St Vincent Goldie
We’ve had to wait a while for this. Ernie Ball Music Man launched the St Vincent Goldie in 2021, with St Vincent’s idea behind the model that it would be “the perfect marriage of my quirky old pawn shop guitars and the OG STV model.” Its trio of gold-foil mini-humbuckers were inspired by vintage Firebird pickups and were developed specifically for the model.
The Sterling By Music Man St Vincent Goldie really does nail the look of the original EBMM model. It has the finishes, the matching headcaps on the reverse headstocks. We’ve got roasted maple for the bolt-on neck, and rosewood fingerboards. The 25.5” scale is faithful to the original.
There are always going to be a few differences when translating a high-end electric guitar into one offering plenty change from a grand. Here the angular body is carved from nyatoh as opposed to okoume. The vibrato is a vintage-style unit as opposed to the custom chrome-plated modern tremolo of the original. There are locking tuners to keep everything ship shape.
But this Sterling By Music Man St Vincent Goldie promises to be every bit as versatile, with its five-way pickup switching and volume and tone pots all designed to squeeze every bit of tone out of its trio of gold-foils.
Albert Lee AL40P
The Albert Lee has always seemed to be one of guitar’s most slept-on signature models. Like the EBMM designs for St Vincent and Omar Rodríguez-López, it has that retro-futuristic vibe, an offset body shape that’s all angles.
New for summer 2023, it is decked out in Sherwood Green and Vintage Cream, and equipped with a pair of P-90 pickups that in retrospect seem like a no-brainer for a guitar like this, which has hitherto been offered in Daphne Blue with dual humbuckers.
This is quite a different guitar. Besides the pickups, the Albert Lee AL40P now has a lightweight poplar body, and a roasted maple neck.
There is no confirmation as to what the fingerboard is but previous versions of the model have been jatoba, which from a certain remove looks indistinguishable from rosewood. The familiar vintage-style Fulcrum vibrato remains.
The Albert Lee AL40P is priced $599.
Okay, so there aren’t any sweeping changes as far as we can tell for the Mariposa. We still have that sui generis body shape. There are two humbuckers, three-way pickup switching, volume and tone controls, a roasted maple neck, a vintage-style tremolo unit and locking tuners so you feel a little easier going hard on the whammy bar.
Yup, it’s a Mariposa, all right, only now it is available in Daphne Blue. It wears the finish well, with those block inlays on the fingerboard really classing things up. It is priced $599.
Cutlass CT50 Plus
The Cutlass CT50 Plus is all about versatility, and it stacks the features high. You get a newly wound complement of pickups. They are modern voiced, with a humbucker at the bridge, single-coils at the middle and neck, with a five-way switch for eking out all the in-between tones. Expect the bridge ‘bucker to packing plenty of heat.
If you have ever spent some time idly eyeing up John Petrucci’s Ernie Ball Music Man signature models – and why not, they could well be the acme of 21st-century guitar design – you might have coveted an onboard boost switch, and wished your guitar had one, too. Well, the CT50 Plus has got something kind of similar – similarly inventive at least – by way of a push-push mid boost control that could come in very handy for making a knuckle sandwich of those power chords, or finding something a little extra for your solos.
Sterling By Music Man calls it “the perfect all-in-one workhorse for any modern player” and fittingly rounds off its blue collar credentials with its cool Aqua Grey and Chalk finishes. It is priced $649.
At $349, the Cutlass CT30HSS is the most affordable of Sterling By Music Man’s new 2023 models, and you can think of it as a scaled down version of the CT50 Plus that offers a similarly versatile electric guitar design.
Again you’ve got the HSS pickup configuration, with a five-way selector switch for taking your tones across the map. There is a vintage-style vibrato unit, and the trademark 4+2 headstock, oversized like a paddle. Whether you go for Mint Green or Vintage Sunburst, the finish options are cool, classic and look the part. And the price is not to be sniffed at.
All of these NAMM 2023 models are available from 1 May. For more details, head over to Sterling By Music Man.