Picture yourself back when you first started playing. You’d picked up your first electric guitar 6 months earlier; some cheap Strat copy that came in a package deal with a 10w practice amp and all the accessories necessary for your parents to feel like they were getting a bargain. You walk into the room at the back of your teacher’s house where you’ve been learning all the barre chords and even had a crack at a few Hendrix solos over the course of the last year, and there it is. Hanging on the wall all shiny and new like it was plucked straight out of that Guns N’ Roses video you’d taped off Rage. The youthful awe, one day you’ll have an axe like that! The EBMM Luke III looks and feels like it was designed to have that very appeal.
OFF THE WALL
No bones about it, this is a guitar for the player who knows their Lochrians from their Phrygians. It’s sparkly, red, 21 frets over 25.5” and is absolutely begging to be shredded to pieces! Its alder body is light as a feather and the re-roasted, quilted maple neck balances it out nicely on your lap. The action is low on the Indian rosewood fretboard and you can’t seem to help yourself but open up on that one Malmsteen thing you keep in your back pocket for just such an occasion. The feel is fast and smooth and there’s plenty of give in the Super Slinkys they’ve strung it up with.
Designed for Steve Lukather, guitarist for Toto and leading exponent of all things fusion, it’s the first in his series of Luke guitars to feature his very own signature Transition pickups. Designed in conjunction with DiMarzio, the two single coils, mounted in the neck and middle positions, and humbucker at the bridge take the reigns from the EMG Noiseless sets that originally tempered the signal path and they certainly hold their own. Overtones aren’t nearly as deadened as with the EMGs, and they retain their own effervescent characteristic with- out losing any of the immaculate cleanliness their predecessor is notorious for. The ace in the hole it the extra 12db at your fingertips by way of the pop-up pot switch. Simply tap on the volume knob and the 9v battery mounted in the back kicks your signal into overdrive sending your sweep-picked solo through the air like a lightening bolt!
Lord knows it laps up that overdrive! However, played clean it’s clear that, aside from having designs on the lowest noise floor imaginable, this guitar is a mainline to just about every tonal possibility. Like the grandson of the 80’s Super Strat, if you go easy on your pick hand at the neck pick-up it’ll chime away with a shimmery, chorus-like sheen. Whack the 5-way toggle over to the bridge and you have all the rambunctious, barking brightness you could ask for.
In fact the damned thing is full of tricks! Schaller locking tuners make restringing achingly easy with little-to-no wind on necessary to nail the strings down. The hardened steel bridge is designed to float so that you have the option of diving and rising with the tremolo arm. It even seems to me to be next to impossible not to hit pinch harmonics with the greatest of ease. All of this, and more, is at your beck and call and who would expect any less from the guy who taught us how to love again in songs like ‘Rosanna’ and ‘Hold The Line.’
All in all, it’s not a guitar for everyone. If you’re a four-chord wonder, looking to grunge it up a good two decades too late then maybe steer clear. If, on the other hand, you have an itchy trigger finger, a head full of modal movements and designs on shredding so hard EVH knocks on your door looking for advice, then look no further. Ernie Ball Music Man’s Luke III will not only help you get there but will hang out with you backstage once you do.
For more details on Ernie Ball Music Man products, head to cmcmusic.com.au.
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Not for everyone