Steve Lukather is one of the most prolific session guitarists of the past 30 years.
During that time, he’s held down gigs with Toto and Ringo Starr while contributing guitar work to more than 1,500 records. To date, Ernie Ball Music Man has produced three Luke Signature Series guitars for Lukather.
The newest incarnation is the LK100D from Sterling By Music Man, created as a mid-priced offering based on the Ernie Ball Music Man LIII. While this is certainly an affordable guitar, its quality, unique tone and playability might make it the first choice for Luke buyers of all budget levels.
Features: The LK100D is a handsome instrument, but as with any great guitar, its design achievements trump any aesthetic considerations. It features a basswood body, which delivers a deeper and less sparkling tone compared to the alder-bodied Ernie Ball LIII. It’s contoured across the top and neck heel in a way that prevents any part of it from cutting into the player’s forearm or wrist, and the long, thin horns act as resonance-enhancing tone forks while contributing to the guitar’s assertive looks.
The floating Sterling bridge features a palm rest, and the bent-steel bridge saddles open the treble response to an almost Strat-like jangle. The guitar’s electronics are nearly identical to the LIII’s and feature direct-mounted DiMarzio Lukather Signature Transition humbuckers, a five-way switch, a passive tone pot and a push/push volume knob with a nonadjustable active preamp to boost the signal to 12db.
The bolt-on maple neck’s mild V shape is reminiscent of a neck from the Fifties that’s been played continuously for the past 60 years. It has a deeper V contour at the nut that tapers almost to a C shape at the 12th fret. Its narrow, palm-supporting carve makes perfect sense when you take note of Lukather’s tendency to play with his thumb well over the fretboard edge rather than pressed against the neck’s hill. A 12-inch radius across the rosewood board allows for multi-step bends, and the small headstock has the familiar 4/2 configuration of locking tuners.
Performance: The LK100D’s clear and deep base tones provide a neutral foundation that works well with a range of amps. The DiMarzio Transition pickups really create the guitar’s voice, offering dense layers of overtones that become stronger as the gain is increased, making this guitar ideal for intense jazz fusion and shredders who don’t muddy their gain with lots of effects. Both pickups are well balanced, with the bridge pickup offering gobs of tonal fat and the neck pickup more capable as an articulate, clean-channel option. Metal players may also prefer the LK100D for how the basswood blends with high-gain rigs.
List Price: $1,243
Manufacturer: Sterling by Music Man, sterlingbymusicman.com
Solos and overall drive are enhanced by a push/push volume pot that engages an active preamp which provides up 12db of clean signal boost
A soft, tapering V carve and narrow fretboard make the neck brilliantly comfortable for all styles of play, especially for guitarists with smaller hands.
The Bottom Line:The Sterling by Music Man Steve Lukather “Luke” LK100D has a comfortable body and neck and an adaptable tone personality that will reward experienced and first-time ax-swingers alike.