For 17 years now Music Man has teamed up with John Petrucci to create guitars that shred. Together the bona fide metal guitar god and the player-driven manufacturer are a formidable guitar-making force. First it was the original JP6 and its floating tremolo that altered pitch seamlessly, all the way through to 2014’s Majesty, equipped with digital pickup switching, and the African mahogany body of last year’s JP15. It’s only right that in 2016 we have a new Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci signature guitar – the JP16. This model harks back to the original and the Ball Family Reserve models, but thanks to some fresh new features, brings to the fore its own tonal personality.
LOOKS THE PART
It’s no secret that Ernie Ball Music Man necks are just about the best in the business. When picking up the JP16 for the first time, the streamlined – seriously thin-roasted maple neck and smokey ebony fretboard are immediately noticeable. The finish on the neck – gunstock oil and a hand-rubbed wax blend – produces a superbly clean and smooth surface that enables quick movement, uninhibited. All 24 of the medium jumbo frets are then made easily accessible with a nicely contoured cutaway. The next thing you notice is the weight, or lack there of (3.52kg). This is a slender build punctuated by the return of the scooped forearm contour, featured only in the original JP6. It’s a luxury to be able to slot your arm into the glancing pocket, and one can see it making a real difference when playing extended shows or working through a solid rehearsal or recording session. The JP16 has a basswood body with a high gloss Black Lava finish. It’s a great looking guitar, bold and menacing. Add to that the new Floyd Rose 1000 Pro Floating Tremolo system – the action of which is nice and smooth – and you have a sturdy, streamlined beast at your disposal.
HANDLES THE HEAT
The JP16 has a pair of DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy humbuckers and a 20+ dB gain boost push/push volume pot for tone shaping. These pickups are catered to Pertrucci’s playing style, heightening mid and low frequency response in what is an intensely rich and powerfully deep tonal spectrum. On the neck pickup there’s enough sonic depth to dial up the gain for a hot and searing solo, while still maintaining that desired lower-end girth. Push the gain boost to bring new life to licks, where the tremolo can then come into play. Arpeggios, hammer ons, pull offs and sweep picking are the domain of the JP16, paving the way for hi-gain settings. The neck pickup lends itself to ferocious riffage, with a meaty, thick sustain. Another feature is the push/push tone knob, which can split the pickups while in the middle position for a single coil sound. While this produces an interesting thinness, it’s not necessarily essential to the guitar’s sound quality. Tonally, the JP16 is at its best when impactful, warm and immediate.
ITS OWN KIND OF BEAST
Ernie Ball Music Man does a great job every year at recreating a little bit of magic with John Petrucci. From the JP16 and its low-leaning tone metal guitarists are going to get a lot of reward for effort.
For more details, head to cmcmusic.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Bumped up low-end, courtesy of DiMarzio Sonic Ecstasy humbuckers
20db gain boost for cranking up solos
Thin, lightweight body
With the style of the guitar, don’t see the need for the coil-splitting capability