Ernie Ball Music Man, Oneonta + more: our top five gear releases of the week

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Ernie Ball Music Man, Oneonta + more: our top five gear releases of the week

Words by Will Brewster

Our guide to the biggest drops in the gear world this week.

With so many brands to keep up to date with, it can be easy to lose track of all the latest equipment launched into the gear-sphere each week.

Today, we’re taking a look at some of the best releases that might’ve flown under your radar this week, including a whacky signature bass for fusion legend Stanley Clarke, updates to Ernie Ball Music Man’s Steve Morse models, a new model from Godin and two great VSTs to add to your arsenal of plug-ins.

This week’s top picks:

  • Ernie Ball Music Man Steve Morse 2021 Signature Series
  • Oneonta Stanley Clarke Spellcaster
  • Godin Montreal Premiere HT Laguna Blue
  • GForce OB-E Virtual Synthesiser
  • Softube + Empirical Labs Plug-In Suite

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Ernie Ball Music Man Steve Morse 2021 Signature Series

Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse has had two of his signature models with Ernie Ball Music Man spruced up and prepared for another year of shredding. On offer are two new models: the commemorative Y2D, which pays tribute to Morse’s 20 year partnership with Music Man, as well as a conventional Steve Morse model with a bizarre – yet oh so functional – pickup configuration.

The new Y2D model features a stunning figured maple top with a Blue Burst finish, while a poplar body, figured maple neck and 22-fret rosewood fretboard round out the equation. For pickups, this one’s loaded with DiMarzio Morse DP-205 and DP-200 humbuckers in the neck and bridge positions, with a proprietary custom-wound single-coil sitting pretty in the middle position.

For 2021, the standard EBMM Steve Morse Signature steps out in a Blue Sparkle high-gloss finish with a poplar body, figured maple neck and 22-fret rosewood board. It also boasts a unique HSSH pickup configuration that sees a slanted DP-108 Vintage single-coil and a custom-wound single-coil sandwiched between a DP-205 and DP-200 neck and bridge humbucker, with a typical three-way pickup selector switch being complemented by a two-way toggle to blend the bridge pickup and another three-way switch to control the slanted single-coil.

If it sounds confusing, it’s because it is, but don’t fear – Morse has made a video explaining the switching which you can check out below.

Oneonta Stanley Clarke Spellcaster

You certainly don’t see signature guitars as whacky as this come around often. Oneonta Guitar have debuted the Stanley Clarke Spellcaster, a custom-built bass that might seem like a bit of a head-scratcher on first impression, and for good reason. This four-string bass not only shares an identical body shape to the Fender Stratocaster, but also boasts a synchronised tremolo system, making for a one-of-a-kind instrument that only Clarke could have commissioned.

With its Three-Tone Sunburst alder body, maple neck and rosewood fretboard with a unique 25 fret count, the Stanley Clarke Spellcaster is also built with a 30.5″ short scale length to make it all the more playable. It’s also loaded with three single-coil pickups – tuned for bass, thankfully – and a toggle switch to engage all pickups at once, while a five-way pickup selector switch, master volume and two tone knobs for neck and bridge positions round out this unique instrument.


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Godin Montreal Premiere HT Laguna Blue

New from Godin is the eye-catching Montreal Premiere HT Laguna Blue, a cool single-cut hollow-body that looks to appeal to jazz cats, blues boffins and country kings with its sleek looks and striking tones. Crafted from a carved cedar core and fitted into a Canadian cherry body, the Montreal Premiere HT features a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard combination with an accessible 24.75″ scale, while a Seymour Duncan Jazz SH-2n and Godin Custom Humbucker occupy the neck and bridge respectively.

Another noteworthy add-on to the Montreal Premiere HT is its Laguna Blue finish, which Godin state was inspired by their finishing process on their acoustic range. Essentially, the guitar’s thinner finish should substantiate in a more breathy, organic tone, and should feel like a dream to play. Hear it in action below.

GForce OB-E Virtual Synthesiser

The Oberheim 8-Voice synthesiser is an undeniable holy grail of the synth world, yet its relative scarcity – and deservingly exorbitant – price-tag means that owning one will remain a pipe dream for most of us gear heads. Thankfully, GForce Software have taken this matter into their own hands and recreated the classic analogue poly-synth with the OB-E, providing producers with an authentic-sounding VST at a slim fraction of the cost of the original.

Featuring a wild array of knobs to control its 16 VCOs, eight VCFs, eight LFOs and no less than 16 ADR envelopes, the ‘octophonic’ control of the OB-E – meaning you’ve got to program each voice on its own – may be a scary sight to look upon at first, but diving into the software promises to be an extremely rewarding experience for any brave user. 600 presets are also provided to spark instant inspiration, while GForce have also added Mono, Poly, Unison and Split modes in addition to a third oscillator / LFO, eight-step sequencer and stereo delay.

Softube + Empirical Labs Plug-In Suite

In a move that’ll please many a hardware-hungry producer or engineer, Empirical Labs have teamed up with Softube for a run of plug-ins based on some of their most revered products. Apparently, this collaboration has been 15 years in the making, and now, we get to enjoy the fruits of the two company’s labours – cheers guys!

The Mike-E Comp, which is based on the circuit of the legendary Empirical Labs Distressor, combines a preamp with 10 switchable gain settings with a multi-stage soft-clip saturator to cook your signal, and adds a Distressor-like compressor section with five ratio strings, five attack times and four release times, as well as a side chain input.

Elsewhere, the Lil FrEQ offers a comprehensive EQ and de-esser with a ‘warm yet extremely punchy retro sound’, while a Trak Pak for Console 1 channel strip plug-in combines both the Lil FrEQ and Mike-E Comp and maps their controls to Console 1 for a tactile mixing experience.

Missed out on last week’s hot gear round-up? Stress less – head this way to catch up.