Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty 8-string review

The king of progressive metal guitar, John Petrucci, has a new signature eight-string, and it's a typically regal work of high-end luthiery, packed with clever, player-friendly details

Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty 8-string
(Image: © Ernie Ball)

Guitar World Verdict

With its incredibly fast and comfortable playability and impressive variety of electric and acoustic tones, the Music Man Majesty 8-String makes an ideal main instrument for players seeking unlimited expressive range.

Pros

  • +

    Harmonically complex electric tones and superb piezo tones.

  • +

    Push/push engages an active preamp with up to +20dB boost.

  • +

    Exceptional playing comfort.

Cons

  • -

    No left-handed models.

  • -

    Expensive.

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Ernie Ball Music Man Man’s long-standing collaboration with John Petrucci has resulted in the fascinating evolution of both his original JP signature guitar and the innovative Majesty model, the latter introduced in 2014. 

The new Music Man Majesty 8-String represents the pinnacle of Petrucci and Music Man’s collaboration to date, offering incredible tonal versatility, the performance advantages of a multi-scale design, refined playability and sleek, modern styling. 

The Majesty 8-String is ideal for guitarists seeking to expand their expressive capabilities, but unlike many other 8-string guitars, which are “specialty” instruments that most players will only use for a few songs, the new Majesty makes an ideal main instrument that can fulfill the roles of several guitars. 

Features

Featuring a solid body that is two inches longer than the 6- and 7-string electrics and an overall weight of less than eight pounds, the Music Man Majesty 8-String instantly feels familiar and comfortable. 

The construction consists of a Honduran mahogany neck-thru-Basswood wings body with figured maple “shield” in the center of the body encompassing the pickups and bridge and finished in a variety of vivid color options (Okelani Blue, Emerald Sky, Wisteria Blossom and Sanguine Red).

The multi-scale 25.5-to-27-inch neck features 24 slanted medium jumbo stainless steel frets, a flat 17-inch radius, ebony fingerboard, 2.25-inch nut width, compensated melamine nut, signature Music Man truss rod adjustment wheel above 24th fret and thin, flat profile with a smooth high-gloss polyester finish. Smoothly rounded cutaway, forearm and belly contours as well as a deep recessed neck heel ensure optimum playing comfort.

Hardware includes a slanted string-thru body hardtail bridge with chevron-shaped cover for comfortable palm muting, Schaller M6-IND locking tuners and custom black metal dome-top knobs with rubber grip inserts.

Sophisticated electronics deliver an incredibly versatile palette of tones. Pickups consist of custom slanted DiMarzio Rainmaker (neck) and Dreamcatcher (bridge) humbuckers and a piezo bridge pickup.

A recessed three-position toggle located below and between the humbuckers provides series neck and bridge humbucking settings and a parallel middle/both setting. The magnetic pickup tone control’s push/push function can also engage only the inner single coils in parallel when the selector is in the middle position.

An additional three-position toggle on the upper cutaway horn selects magnetic pickups only, both piezo and magnetic pickups or the piezo pickup only. The magnetic pickup volume control’s push/push function can engage an active preamp that delivers up to +20dB boost. The third control knob located nearest to the output jack is for piezo volume.

Trim pots adjustable via holes in the back control plate allows users to tweak the maximum output of the preamp boost, the magnetic/piezo pickup balance and piezo bass and treble EQ, while a small push switch engages mono or stereo output. 

Performance

The Majesty 8-String’s body is close to standard size, while the neck is considerably wider and longer than a standard six-string neck, but the instrument is remarkably well balanced, keeping the neck solidly in optimum playing position without any neck dives. The overall playing comfort is impeccable – some players may need time to adjust to the fanned frets, but once you do the fingers will fly with ease from the highest to lowest registers. 

I particularly liked the added twang and definition of the sixth (low E) string with its 26.5-inch scale length, as well as how tight and punchy the seventh and eighth strings sound. 

The Dreamcatcher bridge pickup produces a distinctive vocal-like midrange that sounds exceptionally fat and full when playing single-note lines but also blends well with the treble and bass frequencies when playing chords. The Rainmaker neck pickup sounds more scooped in the midrange, producing vibrant, bouncy rhythm tones.

The piezo pickup sounds remarkably acoustic-like through a standard guitar amplifier, but when the magnetic and piezo pickups are split in stereo and the piezo output is routed to a PA or acoustic-electric amp it sounds even more rich and harmonically complex.

The range of tones is remarkable, from standard to baritone electric, humbucking and single-coil, and outstanding acoustic-style sounds. Being able to shift from massive, heavy distorted lower range tones to sultry, singing acoustic textures at the flick of a switch is a revelation, particularly for players who prefer to play a single ax all night long.

Specs

  • PRICE: $4,199
  • ORIGIN: USA
  • TYPE: 8-string electric guitar
  • BODY: Honduran mahogany neck-thru build with basswood wings and maple shield top
  • NECK: Honduran mahogany
  • SCALE: 25.5"
  • FINGERBOARD: Ebony, with Atlante Majesty inlays, 24 medium jumbo stainless steel frets
  • PICKUPS: DiMarzio Rainmaker (Neck), DiMarzio Dreamcatcher (bridge), Fishman Powerbridge piezo saddles
  • CONTROLS: Custom Music Man active preamp; push/push volume for gain boost, 500kohm push/push passive tone for custom 2 pickup configurations, 3-way toggle pickup selector, with custom center position configuration; 3-way toggle piezo/magnetic selector, push/push mono/stereo button
  • HARDWARE: Schaller M6-IND locking tuners, Music Man Custom piezo hardtail bridge with chevron cover and solid steel saddles
  • FINISH OPTIONS: Okelani Blue, Emerald Sky, Wisteria Blossom [as reviewed] and Sanguine Red 
  • CONTACT: Ernie Ball Music Man (opens in new tab)

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Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.