I actually got this Sunday, of the 4th weekend. Been to busy enjoying it and getting to know her to make this thread. With the sale, a coupon, trade-in, I got it for a shade uner $1100 (almost half street price).
I decided to check out the Sam Ash 'Hidden Sale', basically 15% plus I could use coupons. I went primarily to look at the Gretsch Streamliner line. I have 2 Fender Deluxe Roadhouse Strats. The 15' doesn't get the play the 16' does (just love that satin neck). I've been trying to sell it locally for quite awhile, so didn't mind taking a hit on trading in. Unlike Guitar Centers, Sam Ash really take care of the guitars that are out. So, I figured if something else caught my eye, what the heck. US made PRS wasn't out of the question.
The Streamliner's are nice guitars. I really liked the Jr center block models. I'm just not a big box guitar guy. GREAT bang for the buck. The Broad tron or Broadcaster pickups have a hint of the Gretsch tone. Sound pretty good. But, ultimately, they didn't add a lot to what I already have. It would have been adding another great bang for the buck guitar, that ultimately wouldn't get played a lot.
Then I saw, that the Sam Ash here, sells Ernie Ball Music Man guitars now. I have a friend on another forum, a phenomonal player, whose opinion I respect a lot. He has nothing but EBMM guitars now, and swears by them. He has sold off some very nice guitars after getting his Music Man. Sam Ash had several of their Thrashy types (long horns), as well as Super Strat and Strat analogs. I'm not big on the long horn look (though I can see the appeal for some). I'd be trading in a VERY versatile Strat, so those didn't seem like a good choice
But, they also had as their 'Guitar of the Week', an Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine in Trans Maroon. Yes, it is technically a Signature model for James Balentine of Maroon 5. Of that, I really didn't care. What struck me was the Music Man reputation, and the tonal possibilities.
On first picking it up, you can tell it is a quality instrument. It just feels like quality. It is made from top quality parts, wood, right here in the U.S. The Neck is striking. It's a seriousally flamed, BAKED maple neck that is treated with oil and wax only, except for the head. One of THE most comfortable necks I have ever played. The 'slab' body reminds of a Telecaster, but is a wedge shape. It is thinner at the 'top side, than the bottom. It isn't as comfy as having a scarf, but it beats a Tele.
Below is the full set of features. There are Stainless Steel Frets, Schaller Locking tuners, Compensated Nut, Individual, vintage steel saddles, string through. The bridge is one of the most solid of this type I have ever come across. Precision adjstment on height, etc. Pots are top notch push push. Even the backplate is coated Aluminum metal for better grounding along with the completely treated cavity with acrylic resin. Sculpted neck joint is very nice too. Tele like Single coil in the Bridge (but in HB sized shell), and a MM Humbucker, that splits in Neck. More on tone later. There is a separate, adjustable 'Silent Circuit' for each pup to remove single coil hum and a built-in 5-20db boost circuit.
There is attention to detail all over this guitar. This is a phenomonally built guitar. It may cost more, but, you know you have quality in your hands. This guitar allows for as low an action with zero buzz as you can get (even too low, such that bends fret out on half tone bends). It has rock solid tuning. I was abusing the strings and it never budged. Intonation was/is spot on. It's the first guitar I have had with a compensated nut. Not sure if that has anything to do with it. But the individual bridges also have enough travel to get perfect intonation over whole fret bboard. The Valentine is easily the best setup from maker guitar I have ever had.
How does it sound? In a word, fantastic. The Bridge pickup definitely has a Tele vibe. In Valentine's words, with working with Ernie Ball, he wanted to create a guitar that could cover their whole set, have a classic/vintage 'feel' but be modern. He tried to combine aspects of a Tele with an ES 335. The Bridge has all of that Tele vibe. The Neck as a humbucker is very glassy, VERY balenced across the frequencies, with great bottom end and high end sparkle. BUT, it can also be split by hitting the Tone knob push/push. And unlike any other guitar that does this, it doesn't lose volume or even output. This is from the Neck Pickup Compensation circuit when the the neck is split. It has an adjustable (via trim pot in cavity) boost. So, when you go coil split, single coil, no loss of output or volume, just that single coil tone. You can even set it to be boosted for lead play if you want. Middle position is extremely useable, with a bit of spank. Neck Humbucker and bridge SC work great together, and definitely does split. And then there is a 5-20db boost switcheable with the Volume push push. Trim pot in cavity adjusts the 5-20db. So with all of that, the different configurations, boost, using your knobs, this is almost the one guitar to rule them all. Can't quite get that thick, distorted, humbucker, bridge tone. But, with the boost up, and bridge, you can get pretty much P90 tone.
These are MM unique pickups, wound in US. I have never had pickups that respond to different strings like these do. I went from the stock Slinkys to Fender Pure Nickel, and you REALLY hear the different Strings, like no other guitar does. Sure, others I can hear a difference, but it was like different pickups or guitar, with different strings. The 'Silent Circuit' works like a champ.. DEAD quiet in single coil settings. I haven't tried the trim pots, which adjusts how much the circuit quiets, to see if the tone is affected. Sounds so damn good now, and is silent, so why?
And overall, I just think it is a stunning looking guitar. Also comes in Trans black, Satin Natural, Trans Buttermilk.
About the ONLY complaint I have is the 1 5/8" at the nut width. But it tapers to a normal Les Paul width at last fret. And, it IS expensive
Size - 13-1/4" wide, 1-3/4" thick, 38-7/16" long (33.7 cm wide, 4.5 cm thick, 97.6 cm long)
Weight - 8 lbs, 0oz (3.63 kg) - varies slightly
Body Wood - Ash
Body Finish - High gloss polyester
Body Colors - Trans Maroon, Trans Black, Trans Buttermilk, Satin Natural
Bridge - Music Man® Modern hardtail with vintage bent steel saddles
Pickguard - Shell
Scale Length - 25-1/2" (64.8 cm)
Neck Radius - 10" (25.4 cm)
Headstock Size - 6-3/8" (16.2 cm) long
Frets 22 - High profile, medium width, Stainless Steel
Neck Width - 1-5/8" (41.3 mm) at nut, 2-1/4" (56.9 mm) at last fret
Neck Wood - Select roasted maple neck
Fingerboard - Select roasted maple neck
Fret Markers - 1/4" Black Face dots
Neck Finish - Gunstock oil and hand-rubbed special wax blend
Neck Colors Standard – Natural with finished headstock
Tuning Machines - Schaller M6-IND locking
Truss Rod Adjustable - no component or string removal
Neck Attachment 5 bolts - perfect alignment with no shifting; Sculpted neck joint allows smooth access to higher frets
Electronic Shielding - Graphite acrylic resin coated body cavity and aluminum control cover
Controls - Custom Music Man® active preamp; push/push volume for gain boost, 500kohm push/push passive tone for custom spilt pickup configurations - .022µF tone capacitor
Switching - 3-way lever pickup selector
Pickups - SH - Music Man® custom wound staggered pole piece single coil (bridge) and humbucker with chrome covers (neck)
Left Handed -No
Pics don't do the beauty of the neck wood justice, ah well
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