There is no mistaking that this guitar is built for one purpose and one purpose only. With its unprecedented access to all 24 frets, high-output active pickup system and sleekly futuristic aesthetic, the moment you pick it up there’s naught else to do but sweep up and down the neck as fast as your fingers will carry you. The spec sheet is a hand picked hit list of features designed to pitch you towards the speed of sound. The neck is set through the body, headstock at a sharp angle for extra tension, truss-rod adjustment wheel recessed just past the neck joint, the tremolo arm dives octaves deep only to land you back in tune and on dry land, and there’s a push/pull volume pot with 12dB of pure boosted heat for when your 12 minute solo needs that little something extra. The featherweight basswood body is finished with a high octane, racing inspired, frosted satin finish that almost makes you want to hang it on the wall next to an image of Michael Schumacher. One of the most original design features I’ve seen in a while is the recessed three-way switching system poking out just beyond the surface of the faceplate, which is a great way of avoiding unintentionally slapping over to the bridge pickup in one of your more tender moments.
While it may be pitched squarely at those of us more likely to get into arguments about Metallica’s best work than Murakami’s, Sterling’s Majesty is by no means a one trick pony. Its active pickups not only provide some much needed heat to the signal, but they also add a pinch of natural compression that evens out your playing nicely; something jazz fusion players will find particularly useful. Equally, they have an EQ sweep that far outreaches most of their passive counterparts rendering the guitar perfect for drop and alternate tunings, from C standard and beyond. Sure it has its eyes firmly fixed on the fastest gun in the west, but if you believe that tone is all in the fingers then you’ll revel in the versatility and responsive nature of this beast.
In all honesty, Petrucci’s work has never been my cup of tea. There’s something about the competitive nature of noodling in general that seems affected and insincere. There is no denying, however, that some of the design innovations that have sprung forth from genies like Malmsteen (scalloped frets), Van Halen (dive-bombing and tapping techniques) et al. have been among the most playable steps into the future. The Majesty is a prime example of three decades of lightning fast thinking and with Sterling rendering it within the reach of just about every wallet in the western world, there is sure to be repercussions in generations to come.