Manson DR-1 Matthew Bellamy Signature 2016 Numbers Edition review

Muse man gets new military mash-up

  • £1899

MusicRadar Verdict

You'd have to be, ahem, dead inside not to love this thing...


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    Not cheap.

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Matt Bellamy of Muse is Manson's most famous customer, and this new DR-1 is the fourth signature model currently offered by the Devon firm.

The DR-1 costs a lot more than the £449 Cort/Manson MBC-1, but compared to the £3k-plus DL-1 and SDL-1, it's almost a bargain! It's rare, too - just 99 of these 'Numbers Edition' DR-1s will be made (you can see ours is number 14), and while further guitars will be made available after the initial 99, they won't be individually numbered.

Our Drone is stock, but if you're feeling a bit flush, you can pimp it with a Sustainiac for infinite - until the battery goes flat - sustain, or Matt's bridge unit of choice, the Psychopaf PF-1.

Unlike the basswood Cort or the mahogany DLs, the DR-1 has swamp ash lurking beneath its Military Olive Green finish, and compared to the tech-toting guitars he's famous for, this is much simpler, with a Manson MBK-2 in the bridge and a Seymour Duncan Cool Rails 'bucker in the neck position, with a simple two-knob/one switch set-up to control matters.

Dial in some overdrive and you can control the dirt level just by adjusting your picking attack.

The bolt-on maple neck runs a Fender-style 648mm (25.5-inch) scale and comes topped with an inlay-free ebony 'board that plays host to 22 medium jumbo frets. Playability is smashing. Matt's favoured V-shape neck profile makes the DR-1 so easy to get to grips with while the beautifully finished frets allow for a low action with no choking or buzzing.

The MBK-2 was developed for Bellamy around Black Holes And Revelations, and its dynamics are fabulous. Dial in some overdrive and you can control the dirt level just by adjusting your picking attack. Crank up the gain, and while there's a huge amount of grunt, there's no mush.

You can hear every note loud and clear, no doubt in part thanks to the vibrant swamp ash body wood, the twangy scale length and the sharp attack of the ebony 'board. That clarity extends to the Cool Rails, which has a warm, clean character, but transforms into a spluttering synth-like monster when you expose it to some silicon fuzz.

£1,899 is a lot of money, but when you consider we're seeing Asian-made guitars breaking the £1,000 barrier these days, the British-made, hand-crafted DR-1 is more than competitively priced. Its tones, playability and build quality are good enough for a world class guitar hero.