Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay Electric Guitar
It’s over 40 years now since the luthiers at Music Man drew a line in the sand that marked the turning point between the ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ eras of guitar design. Introducing active electronics to the fray is considered by many to be the moment that defined the next 20 years of exploration. When the Ball family bought the company out in 1984, they took that baton and steered guitars into the uncharted waters of quirk and nuance for which they remain infamous to this day. With this latest update to their extensive six string range Ernie Ball Music Man has clearly taken a look back through the yearbooks for a bit of inspiration.
Sterling by Music Man StingRay SR50 Electric Guitar
The StingRay SR50 is designed with particular deference to the original Leo Fender Music Man guitar design, but reimagined and updated by the Ernie Ball Music Man design team. It’s available in Ernie Ball Music Man and Sterling By Music Man versions. This review is for the latter.
Sterling by Music Man Cutlass CT50
The ‘Music Man’ portion of the Ernie Ball Music Man name was a company founded by Leo Fender in 1974, and the earliest bass and guitar models were new instruments that showed an evolution from what Leo had designed before. Since then — and especially under the guidance of Ernie Ball — the company has taken things pretty far from those original design styles, but they bring it right on back with the Cutlass. Available in EBMM and the more affordable Sterling By Music Man models, the Cutlass is a bolt-on, three-single-coil guitar that feels a little more ‘Leo’ than anything EBMM has released in years.
Ormsby Guitars Hypemachine Copper Top Multiscale
I was quite excited when I was asked to write a review for this guitar — a one-off custom — because I was already quite familiar with it. Having played it on a number of different occasions including at an ‘Ormsby Meat-up,’ (a bunch of dudes showing off their guitars and eating lots of manly stuff), at the Melbourne Guitar Makers Festival and at the NAMM Show (where it impressed Ola Englund, a man who knows a good guitar when he sees it), it was nice to finally get some on-on-one time.
Yamaha Revstar Series
Throughout its 50-year history of guitar making, Yamaha has long been a viable alternative to major manufacturers. The original SG Series put its own spin on Fender’s Jazzmaster, the RGX and RGZ series have always looked to challenge Ibanez’s RG series, and their RGZ series offered a point of difference to Fender’s household Stratocaster. As a Japanese manufacturer, it exemplifies the country’s renowned make and quality of guitar, while also utilising multinational reaches to produce guitars speced with desirable custom-shop parts. All of which make the Revstar series – a completely new range of guitars designed and assembled from scratch – a rather exciting prospect.
Godin Progression Plus
Godin’s are the classic “I didn’t know I wanted it until I played it” guitars. This model is equal parts traditional and forward-looking, and is sure to appeal to those who want something a bit Stratty but aren’t necessarily concerned with it being an actual Strat or direct copy.
Tokai Surftone AST-S38-OTM
Tokai’s 70s-era reproductions of classic American guitars are legendary in their own right – in fact they made the original guitar companies sweat quite a bit – so you know that when you buy a vintage-inspired Tokai today, it has quite a pedigree. These ST-Style guitars are part of Tokai’s new limited edition Surftone series, which are exclusive to Australia. They’re based on classic models but each with custom modifications to modernise the playability. They’re available in limited numbers.
Ormsby HypeGTR Run 1
Australian luthier Perry Ormsby has been dropping jaws with his stunning custom work for years now, but previously if you wanted one of his guitars you basically had to get in line and wait for your beautiful one-off creation to come to you. Now Ormsby has created a line of instruments designed in consultation with Facebook groups, and built at the World Musical Instruments factory in South Korea. The first samples were on display at the NAMM Show this year, and I made sure to drop by and play them quite a bit during the show.