The vintage-style, chrome Music Man, bent-saddle tremolo bridge (fixed bridge available) is a two-post variety that is set flush to the body with a protective strip attached under the bridge. This was a smart design decision, as this guitar’s tremolo will see heavy use, given its silky feel and its admirable ability to stay in tune. The chrome strap buttons feature white plastic bushings that match nicely with the chrome input jack. The neck is firmly attached to the body at the 17th fret with the use of a 5-bolt sculpted neck joint with chrome neck plate and provides easy access to the upper frets. The 1-5/8" white melamine nut is finely cut with what appears to be the appropriate tuning offsets with its edges smoothly honed. The pearl-button, locking Schaller M6-IND locking tuners are well seated and add to the guitar’s classy appearance. The control cavity is tidy and coated with a graphite acrylic resin with black aluminum control cover.
The efforts of the EBMM design team are also apparent in the playability and tone of the 25th Anniversary model. The guitar is lightweight, resonant and balanced in both standing and sitting positions. The neck is very comfortable due to its carve and finish; that along with the excellent fretwork makes this guitar play very “fast.” The selection of tonewoods provides the basis for the guitar’s full tone with a tight low end. The midrange emphasis from the mahogany center block is augmented by the fatness and balanced tonal response that basswood typically provides, and blends well with the snap and clarity on the high end that a maple top can provide. The bolt-on 25.5" scale maple neck adds to the guitar’s articulation and, unlike other chambered guitars, the chambered body does not soften the attack but rather adds to its resonance.
Plugged in, you immediately get the sense of the capabilities of this instrument. Using a vintage blackface Fender Bandmaster driving a 2x10 Music Man cab, the guitar responds with authority: tight, full lows, strong lower mids with just the right amount of snap and high-end definition. The bridge pickup exhibits a strong fundamental tone across the entire frequency range, with a slightly compressed voice that responds very well to pick attack. The neck pickup is bloomy yet articulate, with just a hint of overtones. The dual pickup combinations offered some interesting differentiation, with Fender-esque quack tones to be found in positions 2 and 4 and wonderful, full, clean dual-humbucking tone in position 3. The series/parallel voicing offered a wider differentiation in tonal response. The parallel setting produced a softer tone with additional high-end response at a slightly lower output than the series setting. The substantial sustain and articulation of this guitar was merely enhanced when put through the paces with a Carr Mercury at full tilt. Chords sound huge yet controlled in all positions, with single notes sounding full and clear. Even in high-gain settings, the guitar’s articulation was very impressive.
The Final Mojo
The 25th Anniversary Model is a well-designed instrument that succeeds in joining outstanding playability with an articulate, sustain laden voice in a single offering. Happy Anniversary to the folks at Ernie Ball/Music Man and we look forward to seeing what the next 25 years bring from the team.
You're a Music Man collector or seeking a dual-humbucking guitar that could possibly define playability.
You're on a budget (perfection comes at a price) or seeking true single-coil tones with your humbucking rig.