British prog guitarist Rabea Massaad has offered an exclusive first look at his two new Music Man signature guitars via a new YouTube video titled “I’m not supposed to talk about these”.
Massaad was unveiled as an Ernie Ball artist back in April, with the guitarist aiding the American luthiers with improving future builds. While it was revealed then that a signature based on the Sabre model was in the pipeline, it now turns out there are two signatures in the works.
For the two models, Massaad revealed that he wanted to go for a light and dark approach in terms of both aesthetics and tonewoods. Both guitars feature baked maple bodies, with the lighter version boasting a flame maple neck and fretboard in contrast to the ebony 'board on the darker model. While the dark prototype has a flame maple neck, Massaad expects that to change to birdseye maple on the final build.
These tweaks are in contrast to the standard Sabre’s okoume body and maple tops. These signatures have also received an additional carve to the cutaway for a bolder look, and a far deeper carve on the rear to offer improved access to the higher frets. The fretboards are specked with donut inlays and Luminlays on the side– a key upgrade to the standard models.
Other standout changes include gig-friendly push-push tone pots to flit between humbucker and single-coil modes and come loaded with Massaad’s favored Bare Knuckle Silo pickups (Standard Sabre models come with own-brand Music Man humbuckers).
Rabea was also influential in moving the position of the Sabre’s five-way pickup switch, pushing it further away from the strings. Now, it nestles beside the volume knob.
While there isn’t a mention of what price the models are expected to fetch, the guitarist accepts that they “will be expensive”, with Music Man guitars made in the US in small numbers. Currently, standard Music Man Sabres are around $5,000, but he adds that there will be Sterling versions, which will offer a similar approach at a lower price point. Sterling Sabres are typically less than half the price of their Music Man compadres, going for roughly $2,000 each.
"The most important thing is to have a guitar I'm inspired to play, that feels fantastic and plays, looks and sounds good," says Rabea Massaad. “In my case, it’s about having the guitars and feeling proud of them
“We're very nearly there with these guitars,” he continues. “They're pretty representative of the final stages of development. It's really exciting!”
Upon signing to Ernie Ball in April, the Music Man brand had said its work with Rabea would “incorporate unique designs that are specifically engineered for Rabea’s playing style”. Now, with Rabea’s sneak peek video, we’re given a first taste of what those changes constitute, with the extra carves, alternative woods and Silo pickups conspiring to give the Sabre a shot in the arm.
Rabea’s new relationship with Ernie Ball follows its collaboration with Animals As Leaders guitar wizard and Abasi Concepts founder Tosin Abasi. Together, the pair created the eye-catching Kaizen model.
We can expect to see the new signature Sabre in all its glory at NAMM in January.