NAMM 2024: Ernie Ball Music Man has finally dropped Rabea Massaad’s long-awaited Artist Series models, refining the classic Sabre design into a surprising new form

Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre Rabea Massaad signature
(Image credit: Music Man)

NAMM 2024: After months of waiting patiently for its arrival, Ernie Ball Music Man has finally unveiled details of Rabea Massaad’s new signature guitar, which arrives in two distinct variants.

As expected, the new signature models make some significant changes to the standard Music Man Sabre and come in two choices of finish.

Massaad had given us a pre-emptive first look at the guitars back in December when he revealed on his YouTube channel that he “wasn’t supposed to talk about these”. Now all the details of the finished products have dropped.

So, what has Massaad done with the Sabre’s canvas? Unlike the standard model, there’s a custom tapered neck carve and recessed lower horn to improve access to the upper frets. Now a staple for gigging guitarists, there are also glow-in-the-dark side dots across the neck.

One important change – and one we all saw coming – is the inclusion of Massaad's signature Bare Knuckle Silo humbuckers. Featuring Alnico V magnets and twin screw coils, the pickups set out to offer depth, clarity and a versatile output range, making the set suitable for alt-rock and tech-metal alike.

Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre Rabea Massaad signature

(Image credit: Music Man)

"I need a pickup with the ability to create glassy, ambient leads and warm, clear chord tones,” says Massaad of the humbuckers. “Equally I need it to sound crushingly heavy and aggressive. The Silo humbuckers give me everything I need and more.”

The pickups can be split with push/push electronics – as opposed to the often-fiddly push/pull set-ups found on other guitars. They also have a five-way pickup blade allowing for fine-tuned tonality options. For its bridge, there’s a fixed Music Man-branded tremolo that comes with a whammy bar.  

Its two finishes allow players to choose the dark or the light side, with a bright Frenzied Flame Burst available exclusively through the Ernie Ball Music Man Vault. On the dark side, a Vileblood Burst will be more widely available via Ernie Ball direct and Music Man's usual retail partners.

The British prog guitarist was unveiled as an Ernie Ball artist in April 2023. The newly-forged partnership sees the musician working with Music Man’s luthiers in aiding the development of its future builds. This two-pronged release is the first fruit of the partnership’s labor.  

Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre Rabea Massaad signature

(Image credit: Music Man)

As revealed in that video, both guitars have baked maple bodies, with the Vileblood model comprising an ebony fretboard, whilst the frenzied flame burst keeps things light with a flame maple alternative. These tweaks take the signature Sabres further away from the standard model, which offered an okoume body and maple top.

Prices for the models are yet to be confirmed. As Music Man guitars are made in small quantities, that has naturally impacted their price. In his YouTube reveal, however, Massaad did mention that budget-friendly Sterling models will be made available in the future.

Music Man is part of the Ernie Ball family and is no stranger to signature models, with the likes of St. Vincent, John Petrucci and Steve Lukather all putting their name on Music Man builds. One of its recent creations, the Kaizen – which was designed and built in collaboration with Tosin Abasi – recently received five dazzling new finishes. The brand has been crafting American-made guitars since 1974.

For more information, head to Ernie Ball Music Man.

To keep up to date with all the latest gear releases ahead of NAMM 2024, head over to our guide to the latest NAMM 2024 news.

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Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.