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Hear John Petrucci play his new Ernie Ball 8-string Majesty for the first time on Dream Theater's none-more-prog new single, Awaken the Master

John Petrucci
(Image credit: Ernie Ball Music Man)

Dream Theater have unveiled the music video for Awaken the Master, the third single from their newly released 15th studio album, A View From the Top of the World.

The track – which follows previously release singles The Alien and Invisible Monster – is as progressive as they come, clocking in at an impressive, but not-at-all-surprising nine minutes and 47 seconds, and incorporating enveloping piano lines from Jordan Rudess, time signature-skipping beats from Mike Mangini and winding, storytelling vocals from James LaBrie.

But perhaps most importantly to guitar-loving fans of the legendary prog outfit, the track marks the first instance of John Petrucci playing his new signature Ernie Ball 8-string Majesty on record.

Petrucci once again establishes himself as a master of the fretboard, traversing ultra-low-register riffs to soaring guitar solos. Sadly, his fretboard antics aren't on display in the track's accompanying music video, though there are plenty of eye-catching animations to marvel at. Check it out below.

“[Awaken the Master is] the last song we wrote, [and is] also the first time I've used my 8-string guitar, which was fun for me,” Petrucci explains, adding: “It's one of the heavier songs on the record due to the range of the instrument.”

Regarding his journey to developing his 8-string model, he continues: “Back in the day when we were writing [1994 album] Awake, I'd always wanted to play a 7-string. So I ordered myself one. I wanted to be inspired again by the instrument without any pre-conception. I used it, and I wrote in my style on the 8-string. It was actually a prototype!”

Petrucci's signature Ernie Ball 8-string Majesty launched last month. Limited to only 100 units worldwide, the guitar boasts a plethora of high-end appointments, including DiMarzio Dreamcatcher and Rainmaker pickups, an angled hardtail bridge and a fanned fret ebony fingerboard, to name a few.

“Think of it as a keyboard player having more keys so he can go lower – that’s what it’s like with this guitar,” Petrucci said upon its release. “Things like scales and arpeggios translate beautifully because their shapes stay the same; I don't use any sort of weird tuning. 

“With chords, you have to adjust and figure out how that added range is going to extend, but that came pretty quickly. There was a bit of learning how to work the sound a bit, but it’s been so much fun.”

We're convinced John Petrucci's been building those guns all these years just so he can safely wield such a guitar – as he says in the December 2021 issue of Guitar World, there is a “connection” between guitar playing and weight lifting, since consistency and form are two principles integral to both disciplines. 

“If you're lifting weights, you can't just throw stuff around willy-nilly; you need to work out with structure and discipline. You need a plan,” he explains.

“With guitarists, you need to focus on specifics – how your fingers are moving, picking angle, conserving motion. It all sounds nerdy, but it works. Guitar playing and weight lifting are very related in my book.”

Sam Roche

Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.