Hands-On Review:Ernie Ball Music Man 25th Anniversary Electric Guitar
By Dan Day
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Ernie Ball has been making Music Man guitars for 25 years, and now they’ve poured all that experience—combining tried-and-true features with modern technology—into this superb 25th Anniversary instrument. The sample I auditioned had a richly figured, bookmatched maple top made from private stock-grade woods with Venetian redburst finish. A mahogany tone block runs from the end of the fretboard to the bridge to produce a thicker tone. The neck is available with a maple or rosewood fingerboard, giving you the choice of a different feel and tonality. Although the body is larger than any Music Man’s used before, the 25th Anniversary model felt compact and lightweight despite its full 25-1/2" scale length. The top and back have contours that let me snuggle up close to this beauty.
The chambered basswood body is a Music Man innovation (see photo of the interior below). Instead of the four chambers typically found on other guitars, it has 15 chambers that create a strong resonance point I could easily hear by plucking any of the strings. With its chambering and tone block, this guitar creates a niche between solidbody and semi-hollowbody by balancing increased resonance with the reduced possibility of feedback.
The DiMarzio Alnico V humbuckers have been custom-voiced exclusively for this guitar. A five-way pickup switch along with a two-way mode toggle let me choose between series or parallel wiring for a total of 10 coil voicings. Plugged straight into a vintage tube amp, I selected the 25th Anniversary’s pickup position 4 and parallel mode that uses the innermost coil from both pickups. That setting generated articulate fingerpicking and ringing chords when I played R.E.M.’s "Wolves, Lower," and the whammy bar-accented twangfest "Cruisin’" by Gene Vincent. Cranking the volume, I switched to series mode and peeled off some intense leads while jamming along to Fleetwood Mac’s classic guitar workout "Fighting For Madge," trading searing blues-rock licks with Peter Green and Danny Kirwan. Plugged straight into a high-gain amp, I blasted out Foo Fighters "Learn to Fly" and reveled in the chunky lows, visceral punch of the mids, and laser-beam intensity of the highs.
The Ernie Ball Music Man 25th Anniversary electric guitar is an excellent artist’s tool that’s responsive and well balanced onstage as well as versatile and dependable in the studio. Players seeking a creamy-thick sustaining sound may want to give this bolt-on neck axe a try. Not only does it deliver the robust sound you want, you’ll also be impressed with its lightweight body, dramatic styling, and wide palette of tones from state-of-the-art electronics.
Features & Specs
- Chambered basswood body
- Mahogany tone block
- High gloss polyester Venetian redburst finish
- 25-1/2" scale length
- 12" neck radius
- 5-bolt, select maple neck
- Rosewood or maple fingerboard
- 2 DiMarzio custom humbuckers
- 5-way lever pickup selector
- 2-way toggle series/parallel selector
- Optional hardtail with quilted maple top