Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci BFR 6 Review
April 23, 2009
Music Man''s verstatile Ball Family Reserve John Petrucci model is a fitting tribute to a great guitarist
Ask most guitar players their top five favorite artists, and most will include John Peter Petrucci in that list. The admiration and respect paid to his remarkable body of work is reserved for few others, and with good reason. He is the guitarist for and a founding member of Dream Theater, and widely recognized as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Petrucci has shared the stage with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai several times on the acclaimed G3 Tour, is a voting member of The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and has released nine studio albums with Dream Theater (the tenth coming later in 2009). To commemorate his skill and dedication to his craft, Ernie Ball has released the John Petrucci BFR 6, which is a Family Reserve entry of his famed Ernie Ball Music Man signature model.First Impressions Opening the case reveals a stunning instrument with impeccable construction, courtesy of the master craftsmen at the Music Man construction facility. A lightweight and very balanced instrument, the Petrucci BFR 6 sits comfortably against the gut, providing excellent access to every note and control without having to worry about providing extra neck support with the fretting hand. Alder is the primary ingredient in the body construction, which is set off with a quilted, bookmatched maple top. As can be expected of a guitar of this caliber, the top instantly attracts the eyes, but closer examination reveals that it is not very deep compared to other maple tops in its price range. This is neither a pro nor con, as some players prefer a more subtle display. Download Example 1 Download Example 2 Download Example 3 Piezo Others enjoy a finish that seems to “move” in the light, displaying what looks like ridges and valleys of moving water when illuminated. A myriad of color options are available (eight total) and a mahogany body with a koa top is offered, as well. Regardless of preference, the look of the guitar exudes class and refinement, with plenty of choices on hand to satisfy the most discerning guitarist. Bolted to the polyester-capped body is comfortable 25 1/2” scale neck that matches the wood option chosen for the body: specially selected maple for the maple top models, or a tobacco-bursted mahogany for the koa top models. The mahogany neck’s color matches whatever body top it is attached to, along with a matching headstock finish. At the neck joint, a comfy sculpt has been carved into the heel to provide easier access to higher frets. Rosewood and ebony fingerboards are available for the previously mentioned necks, respectively. Capping off the accoutrements are two inlays on the fingerboard, a “JP” initial set in a shield on the first fret, and a Ball Family Reserve plaque in the twelfth Hands On Music Man instruments have long been known for their versatility and the Petrucci BFR 6 is no exception; there are a lot of sounds that can be coaxed out of this guitar. Two humbuckers, a Dimarzio Drop Sonic in the bridge and a Dimarzio HH-1 Custom in the neck, can be combined and mixed with an internal piezo system located in the chrome-plated, steel bridge. These sounds are harnessed with two separate three-way controls, one to control the magnetic pickups like a standard switching system, and the other to move between or combine said magnetic pickups and the piezo system. A coil tap lies underneath the magnetic pickup tone knob, and also works in tandem with the magnetic pickup selector to choose which coils are used. Both pickup systems have their own outputs which can be used separately or combined to create even more tones. As complicated and intricate as all this might seem, the switching system is surprisingly easy and fun to play around with. Ernie Ball performed a perfect job in the layout and design of this switching procedure, making the learning curve very small and enjoyable to use. The Final Mojo The Music Man John Petrucci BFR 6 is, in simple terms, a lot of guitar. It is a highly versatile and well constructed instrument, one that most guitarists will enjoy playing, but few will harness all of the power from. Simplicity is still king amongst a large amount of guitarists, and even though the Petrucci BFR 6 is a breeze to use, the sheer amount of tonal options could easily scare off more than one potential customer. One could argue that this is a personal issue, and they would be correct; no player should feel intimidated by an excess of features. However, the features in question add to the hefty price tag, which is always factored in as being a deal breaker/maker. As with most guitars of this caliber, all of the possible cons are personal ones. The luthiers at Music Man really went out of their way to make this one of the finest representations of their art and skill possible, and it shows. The price is accurately reflective of the quality of the instrument, but still out of the price range for a lot of guitarists.
Buy if... You're a fan of Petrucci-esque, technical music and want an abundance of control and options, readily available at your fingertips. Skip if... Simplicity is key. Rating...
MSRP $4199 - Ernie Ball/Music Man - music-man.com