Electric guitars are often compared to cars, but one important distinction is that car design continues to progress across the board, while guitar design, with a few notable exceptions, seems predominantly stuck in bygone eras.
While only a handful of people still use a 1957 Corvette or 1985 IROC Z as a daily driver, most guitarists are content to play instruments with designs that haven’t changed much, if at all, since the Fifties or Eighties.
The Ernie Ball/Music Man Majesty, designed in collaboration with Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci, is a refreshingly modern instrument that is the electric guitar equivalent of a 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish—a stylish, luxurious, high-performance ax that completely elevates the playing experience.
FEATURES: The Majesty may look like a standard dual-humbucker, tremolo-equipped shred machine, but it boasts an abundance of refinements and versatile features.
In addition to its pair of DiMarzio Illuminator humbuckers, the Majesty is equipped with piezo pickups under the saddles of the floating tremolo bridge that produce acoustic-like tones and textures. The uncomplicated but versatile switching system consists of push pots and a pair of recessed three-position toggle switches that provide instant access to a wide variety of electric and piezo tones, as well as a preamp that boosts gain, and mono or stereo output.
Controls consist of master volume, master tone and piezo volume. Trim pots mounted on the rear of the guitar allow users to adjust the active preamp’s maximum gain boost, mix levels of the magnetic and piezo pickups, and fine tune the piezo pickups’ treble and bass response.
The sleek lines and sexy contours of the Majesty’s body shape aren’t just for show, as the extended bass-cutaway horn delivers outstanding balance and the deep treble cutaway provides completely unobstructed access all the way up to the 24th fret.
The guitar features a neck-through-body design consisting of a basswood body with a maple top and a Honduran mahogany neck with a 25 1/2–inch scale, ebony fretboard and 24 medium jumbo stainless-steel frets. The saddles on the custom floating tremolo are stainless steel as well, and the locking Schaller M6-IND tuners and angled headstock keep the tuning stable even after aggressive tremolo use. Intonation is accurate up and down the neck, thanks to Music Man’s patented compensated nut.
PERFORMANCE: I wasn’t kidding when I compared the Music Man Majesty to the latest Aston Martin Vanquish. The first time I played it was as thrilling as taking a high-performance sports car for a test drive. The guitar is outrageously comfortable in both sitting and standing positions, and the slim neck profile, combined with the neck-through-body construction and deep treble cutaway, makes it easy to play anywhere on the neck. I was particularly surprised by how comfortable it was to play between the 20th and 24th frets, a section of the neck I rarely venture to, as it usually feels cramped and confining.
The Majesty’s crisp, articulate tone starts with its Ernie Ball RPS 10 Slinky strings and ends with its brilliant electronics. Thanks to its basswood, maple and mahogany tone-wood combination, the Majesty’s inherent acoustic tone is quite vibrant, resonant and lively, which results in surprisingly convincing acoustic flattop-style tones when the piezo pickup is engaged.
Those qualities translate exceptionally well to the DiMarzio Illuminator humbuckers as well, which capture dynamic nuances in fine detail. I was particularly surprised by how clean and detailed fast licks sounded on the Majesty, especially when those same licks played on other guitars sound sloppy to me—proof that great tools can result in improved musicianship.
LIST PRICE $3,500
MANUFACTURER Music Man, music-man.com
Piezo pickups mounted under the stainless-steel saddles of the custom floating tremolo provide natural acoustic tones in addition to traditional humbucker/split-coil tones.
A wide variety of tones are quickly accessible thanks to push knobs and a pair of recessed three-way toggle switches.
THE BOTTOM LINE: With its slim, sexy feel, stealthy good looks and versatile but uncomplicated switching, the Music Man Majesty is the guitar industry equivalent of a modern high-performance supercar.