Review: Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre HH Trem in Cobra Burst

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Review: Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre HH Trem in Cobra Burst

Music Man Sabre
Words by John Tucker

Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre HH Trem | CMC Music | RRP: Enquire for pricing

Ernie Ball Music Man is a key player in the electric guitar and bass game. Ernie Ball has left an indelible mark on the music industry since its inception in 1962. The company was founded by Ernie Ball himself, a musician and entrepreneur with a passion for creating high-quality strings that could withstand the demands of professional musicians.

Ernie Ball’s Slinky guitar strings, introduced in the 1960s, revolutionized the industry by offering a set of precisely gauged strings that appealed to guitarists seeking a customized feel and sound. This innovation quickly gained popularity among iconic musicians, including Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, cementing Ernie Ball’s reputation as a trailblazer.

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Over the years, the company expanded its product line to include bass guitar strings, pedals, and other musical accessories. Ernie Ball’s commitment to innovation and quality has made it a staple in the music world, trusted by both amateur and professional musicians alike.

Music Man, a brand synonymous with precision and innovation in the musical instrument industry, was established in 1971 by Leo Fender, Forrest White, and Tom Walker. Building on Leo Fender’s legendary contributions to the electric guitar, Music Man became renowned for crafting instruments that combined meticulous craftsmanship with cutting-edge design. And was eventually bought by Ernie Ball, bringing it into the fold in 1984.

One of Music Man’s earliest successes was the StingRay bass, introduced in 1976. This groundbreaking instrument featured an active preamp designed by Tom Walker and a unique humbucking pickup, setting a new standard for bass guitar tonality. The StingRay’s popularity soared, solidifying Music Man’s reputation as a pioneer in instrument technology.

In addition to bass guitars, Music Man expanded its product line to include electric guitars and amplifiers. The company’s commitment to quality and innovation attracted the attention of prominent artists such as John Petrucci, Steve Morse, and Albert Lee, who collaborated with Music Man to create signature instruments that reflected their unique styles.

Continuing in the footsteps of their own legacy, Ernie Ball Music Man have introduced a new player to the game, the Sabre. Featuring an Okuome body, thick maple top and sensational custom Music Man Humbuckers in a HH configuration, the Sabre delivers lively and dynamic sounds with striking clarity and excellent sustain. As fitting to its striking name, the Sabre has an equally striking aesthetic, with book-matched premium top and a contrasting natural binding against which the raw beauty of the flamed maple grain is perfectly highlighted. The body of the Sabre is slim and contoured with a slightly wider neck (1 11/16” at the nut) it is a highly playable guitar feeling as comfortable on the hands as it is confidence inspiring, responding brilliantly to the fingers, and set up really well out of the box. Speaking of the neck, it is a gorgeous piece of roasted maple and features 22 frets of Medium High-profile Stainless Steel, and brilliant feeling Schaller M6-IND locking tuners. The Sabre has a 5-way switch for pickup position which we will explore in further detail later, Tone and Volume pots and Music Man’s super smooth modern Tremolo, with a brilliant Push-in method of attachment. Music Man are correct in their statement, the Sabre really is “A Player’s Guitar.”

Touching on the body of the Sabre in closer detail, we find ourselves once again drawn to the glorious book matched Okuome (a heavy African Hardwood, notable for its sustainability), and the Flamed Maple top’s bindings are formed from the exposed edges in a very gently carved fashion. The roasted figured Maple neck is no slouch either, with the classic configuration of 4 and 2 for the tuners, this leaves the Sabre with a brilliantly compact headstock, and no need for string trees or strange angles due to the reasonably linear string angle beyond the compensated graphite nut.

Music Man Sabre HH

The 5-way switch offers a great range of tones, with the neck position and bridge position being the respective humbucker in series, the second position is the outer coils of the humbuckers split and run parallel, and position 4 is the same, but the inner coils, and position 3 in the center, is both humbuckers in parallel. When using the positions 2 and 4 there is a pristine kind of retro tone, almost Strat-like on position 4, similar to a blended single coil position, but it still sounds very modern thanks to the custom wound-in-house humbuckers. The low-mids are very present and the bottom end is glorious, while there is still a decent smattering of top end even with the tone wound a bit back which I found to help a lot with lessening the muddiness and low mid confusion you can get with some higher gain tones. The output on the Sabre is brilliant, lending itself well to heavier genres, while still sounding superb on a clean channel.

From experience it is a little suspect to approach such a personal choice as a guitar with a pros and cons list (or maybe lack thereof cons)t, but I do have some things I want to mention as personal favourites. First of all, having fallen in love with the necks of StingRays from time immemorial the Sabre fails to disappoint, with a sensational waxed gunstock oil finish, having just the right amount of slide without getting sticky when you play for a while. The factory setup, with Ernie Ball Slinky 10-46 gauge strings is without a doubt in my top three best feeling setups out of the box, and the experience of the guitar being perfectly in tune with the fingers, is one that never gets old, it really is a serious piece of gear. My other favourite aspect of this guitar that I have come to expect from the premium Ernie Ball Music Man creations is the ridiculous amount of sustain the Sabre draws out on a clean amp. While the price tag establishes Ernie Ball’s USA-made instruments as the top-tier, the Sabre is an excellent guitar that I would recommend for someone who wants a high build quality, excellent finish, and outstanding playability, that sounds killer in a clean environment and really comes to life in a heavier signal chain.

For more info and local enquiries, visit Ernie Ball Australia.