Made in the USA, the Ernie Ball Music Man JP6 is one hell of a guitar. Solid basswood body, birdseye hard rock maple bolt on neck, select indian rosewood fretboard, 24 stainless steel frets (nickel on models pre 2012), 15" fretboard radius, 4x2 locking tuners, custom designed floating non locking trem, crunchlab bridge pickup, liquifire neck pickup (older models had D sonic bridge and liquifire neck), master volume, master tone, piezo volume, 3 way (bridge, both, neck) pickup selector, 3 way (humbuckers, both, piezo) selector switch, fishman piezo pickup system in the bridge, 5 bolt "no shift" neck pocket, ultra access cutaway for effortless reach to the 24th fret, and petrucci custom shield inlays.
This guitar has it all. Ultra versatile.
The body shape was designed by John Petrucci, after moving from Ibanez he wanted a shape all his own and this was his idea. Very comfortable, perfect balance when standing, and great contours for when sitting. The neck and body were designed together to get the best access possible to the higher frets. Even though it's a bolt on getting the 24th fret is easier than most neck thru guitars. The guitar came from the factory with super low action and because of Ernie Ball Music Man's amazing attention to detail the frets were amazing, no dead frets or excessive fret buzz (very slight due to low action, but no bad buzz). The neck is one of the most comfortable I've ever played. At first reminded me of a fender but with a 15" radius vs fenders 9.5" and stainless frets. Didn't understand the hype around these guitars, but after playing it for a while I understood. The neck is just so comfortable, fits my hand (along with many peoples hands) like a glove and everything about the guitar just fits with each other to make one amazing guitar.
I always try a guitar unplugged first. If I don't like it then most likely I won't like it plugged in. If I do like it then there's a 50/50 I'll love it or dislike it plugged in, but that can partially be fixed with different pickups. First thing I noticed is how bright and twangy the guitar is. The basswood body and maple neck really make the guitar bright but still smooth. Plugged in the crunch lab is very articulate and creamy. Makes playing almost effortless due to high output, but it's designed well enough that the high output isn't a bad thing like many high gain pickups. With the right amp settings you can get serious low end chunk (without getting muddy) and high end shimmer (without getting ice picky) but it can be EQ'ed how ever you want. The neck pickup is very smooth and bluesy. Not too bassy and not shrill, a nice happy medium. The piezo was amazing. Never tried one before but I was very surprised and how cool it was. Simulates acoustic tones and while it's not dead on it's very very good, and very useful well beyond simulating an acoustic. It can simulate some great single coil tones as well. Since this is a dual humbucker guitar having the piezo simulate single coils is a great feature. I was planning on buying one of these without the piezo, figuring I wouldn't need it, but once I tried it I realized that no matter how much or little I'll need it I'll get it regardless, just because it's so cool and if I ever do want it.
Overall this is one of the nicest guitars I've ever played. Ernie Ball Music Man make some of the highest quality guitars around and at only USA production prices. I don't own one yet but I play one almost every day. I'd strongly recommend these guitars to anyone, from heavy metal guys all the way to blues and country. It can really do it all.
The MusicMan Petrucci model has been a very popular model with guitar players for a while now. It is a truely modern design that takes a lot of the better aspects of other Musicman guitars and puts them into a single model. The model is continually evolving as well with a new version coming out just about every year. This is the original model in the red finish. The finish kind of reminds me of a Wine Red burst but with a plain top. This guitar has a basswood body with a bolt on maple neck. The neck is nice and thin with a rosewood fretboard and 24 jumbo frets. Up top on the 4x2 headstock you get locking tuners and a non locking nut. The tremolo is a non locking unit but it holds tune well. The pickups are Petruccis preferred set of Dimarzios. Depending on when your model was made these can be different. This example was a bit older so it came with a Dropsonic in the bridge and an Air Norton in the neck. The controls are simple with a volume and tone with a 3 way toggle switch.
The playability on these guitars is great. Petrucci plays with a super low action and sets his guitar up with the neck as flat as possible. To be able to pull this off you need precise fit and finish on the neck. The radius is about 15 inches which is pretty flat. The neck is similar to an Ibanez neck and this is understandable since Petrucci use to play Ibanez guitars. The bridge is a nice solid piece. It kind of reminds me of PRS tremolos. It is very solid and stable even without a locking nut. The lack of locking nut makes the guitar a bit easier to tune and whatnot. The basswood body means the guitar is super light. Newer models have other tonewoods that are a bit heavier.
Petrucci always has a good sound thanks to his huge rig. The pickups in this guitar are the set of pickups he used early in his Musicman days. The Dropsonic was the big new thing at the time and nowadays people have moved on from it. It had its problems. It was an asymetrical design which means it sounds different by the way its oriented. Petrucci orients his with the blade facing towards the neck for a thicker sound. The problem with this pickup is that it is really noisy. Tone wise the pickup to me is a mix between the x2n and the tonezone. It is hot and bright with crazy harmonics. This leads to a bit of noise as expected. The Air Norton in the neck doesnt have any of the problems. It is a classic Dimarzio neck pickup. It has a very smooth modern lead tone. It has the output to keep up with a hot bridge pickup like the Dropsonic but has the smoothness to not sound harsh when playing leads and single note lines.
This guitars are great solid shred guitars for people who want something that can do more than just metal. They can do metal fine but they have a more subtle look and a very versatile sound. A lot of these models also come with Piezo as well but if you get one without that you can save a bit of money. To me these guitars are like grown up Ibanez's. They dont need the pointy edges any more but they still have all the playability. The stock pickups are night and day better than what you get on most Ibanez guitars as well.
Petrucci is the guitar player for Dream Theater. He is one of the most modern guitarists out on the scene. The specs on his guitar are constantly changing as he looks for a more refined tone. His guitar has evolved pretty much since he was with Ibanez over to Musicman. Although being different companies the important parts of the guitar have taken a linear evolution. This guitar now is pretty current example of the standard Petrucci without a piezo system. This guitar has a Basswood body with a maple neck. The fretboard is rosewood with 24 jumbo frets. The radius on the neck is 15 inches so it is pretty flat. It has locking tuners up top and a proprietary Musicman non locking tremolo system down at the bottom. The pickups are what Petrucci is using currently. He is constantly working with Dimarzio to refine the sound of his stuff. The neck pickup is a Dimarzio Liquifier while the bridge pickup is a Crunch Lab. The guitar has a master volume and a master tone with a standard 3 way toggle switch.
The Petrucci neck profile is his own. It is kind of like an Ibanez neck but slightly thicker. The neck bolt is Musicmans unique 5 bolt design which curves away giving a comfortable space for your hand. The jumbo frets and the super flat 15 inch radius means you can get a low action across the board. The back of the neck is finished with gunstock oil and hand rubbed to get a super smooth feel on the back of the neck. The locking tuners are a great touch for a guitar that does not have a locking nut. All guitars should have locking tuners if they dont have a locking nut. The tremolo design is similar to a Fender non locking tremolo but it seems a bit more comfortable on your hand.
Petrucci has a super modern sound and it can be heard on a dozen or show Dream Theater records. He has been using Dimarzio pickups forever and this set is the latest evolution of the pickups he has been using. The Crunch Lab is a super thick bridge pickup. It has an unique design where one half of the pickup has a rail magnet and the other half has normal pole pieces. Petrucci prefers the rail magnet facing away from the bridge and this gives the bridge position more low end. This unique design also makes the pickup a bit noisy. This version isnt as noisy as the old D-sonic was but it is still noisier that you expect a humbucker to be. The liquifier in the neck is super smooth for your fast prog solos. It sounds like its name and has a very liquid sound. It is super smooth but has just enough high end bite to keep it from sounding muddy. This pickup is great for sweeping and all the other super fast shred techniques. It is smooth enough to sound good when you are playing fast but bright enough not to sound like a blur.
The Petrucci Musicman guitars are great all around guitars. I have sene them used for many different types of music not just Metal. They are just good all around workhorses. They are not so specialized that you can only play one type of music on them they are generalists. They are best at anything that requires a modern sound. The Dimarzio pickups in this guitar give it a super modern sound that is good from prog to pop. If you are looking for a good all around guitar with a good modern sound the Petrucci Musicman is a good guitar.
When I was hunting for a killer superstrat type guitar, I looked at several options in my sub $2,000 price point. I looked at Ibanez, Jackson USA, ESP, Carvin, all the usual suspects. However, reviews online kept leading me to this one... the USA made Music Man John Petrucci signature model. I'd heard about Music Man before, but had very limited experience with them prior to October of '09 when I purchased my JP6. Now, I'll say that I'm not normally very gung ho about the idea of signature guitars, but this one was definitely an exception. The feature-set is very lucrative for a lead based guitarist like me. Some of the highlights are as follows:
*Basswood body with contoured rib and arm scoops
*Maple neck with rosewood fretboard, 24 frets, and Music Man's proprietary gunstock oil neck finish (extremely fast and smooth, plus it is easy to clean as well!)
*Dual DiMarzio humbuckers (Models from 2005-2009 have the D-Sonic in the bridge and a Petrucci Special in the neck, whereas the models from June 2009 and onward have the Crunch Lab and LiquiFire in those positions.) I've had both sets of pickups in identical JP6s so I will discuss the tonal differences in the sound column.
*Custom designed Music Man recessed two-point tremolo (non-locking)
*Schaller M6 locking tuners
*Music Man compensated nut
The guitar is extremely ergonomic and sits very well on the body. While it is heavier in weight compared to say, the Parker Fly's that I've owned, it's still quite light for a standard superstrat. I've had two of them, a 2007 (NOS) and a 2010. Both were very consistent in their features and general quality, which I think speaks very favourably to Music Man's QC department. All in all, this is definitely a very stellar guitar with a feature-set that allows great versatility with the piezo pickup option, but because of its design, it really allows lead players to flourish and play to their best!
As I stated above, the guitar's design is quite ergonomic. It balances very well in sitting or standing positions, and is light enough to not act as an inhibitor to stage antics. The upper fret access is definitely a high point (pun intended) overall. When I would go to play a fast run covering the whole of the fretboard, I never had to worry about my hand hitting a neck joint.. it would just glide to the top. Obviously the system wasn't FLAWLESS (being that the guitar was a bolt on), but as far as upper fret access, I had no real problems with either of my JPs.
Possibly the best feature of the neck is the finish. Music Man uses a proprietary blend of gunstock oil and wax to finish their necks, and the end result is a slick and EXTREMELY comfortable neck to play on! This finish, combined with a thinner but manageable neck profile really allowed my fingers to fly about the fretboard. It really made for a killer playability experience overall... and it's definitely one of the biggest, if not the biggest, selling points of the JP6 (or even other EBMM guitars in general.)
The other big point about this guitar is the tones that it offers. The JP has a custom wiring scheme that is optimized to offer maximum performance from minimal controls. On the magnetic side, there is a volume, tone, and a 3 way toggle switch. The switch offers three sounds which are different from the typical 3 way setup in one big way. You have your standard neck and bridge pickup settings, but the middle position is actually the inner coil of each humbucker. This provides a very "jangly" sort of tone that has less output, so it allows you to get good cleans just by hitting the toggle and the channel switcher on your amp, as opposed to having to coil tap your humbucker or engage parallel wiring. If this wasn't enough, you've got the option of a piezo pickup. For those who don't know, a piezo pickup is a design that allows very acoustic-like tones. To activate this, there is a second 3 way toggle that selects magnetic signal, piezo signal, or both mixed together (a very unique sound to be sure.) But wait, there's even more! The JP has two 1/4" jacks. One of them is stereo to allow use of the piezo, and the other is magnetic only. What this allows you to do is use the piezo toggle as a kill-switch of sorts... which I found quite cool to have!
All in all, this is definitely an extremely versatile instrument that allows a whole variety of tones with very minimal controls which is definitely a great thing!
This guitar, being designed for John Petrucci, is obviously going to excel at the sorts of tones that he uses. I'm not a HUGE Dream Theater fan, but I definitely go for a similar tone/rig setup to John's. When I purchased the guitar, I was using a Mesa Boogie Mark III (green stripe) head and a Basson Sound B212 speaker cabinet with Emience Legend drivers. All in all, I was able to get excellent clean, mid-gain, and higher gain settings (more specifically on the 2010 model.) Being that I owned two Petrucci's made three years apart, I have had experience with both sets of the pickups used in the guitars from 2005 onwards.
2007 JP6 - I found the Petrucci Special neck pickup to be extremely smooth and vocal like. It had medium output, so I found that it cleaned up very well using the volume control on the guitar, but it also took gobs of gain quite well. I used it only for lead passages or clean tones, relying on the bridge pickup for all of my rhythm based sounds. The D-Sonic was a fairly hot pickup... though it didn't have absurd amounts of output. I found it to be a bit more sterile on the cleaner and low gain type of sounds, which was something that I didn't care for. The higher gain tones were nice, but I found that it didn't have the tightness that I was looking for (I found it to be more of a looser vintage vibe, but still with lots of output available.) It's definitely a great sounding pickup, just not for the modern high gain type of tone that I expected it to do.
2010 JP6 - The LiquiFire neck pickup carries on where the JP Special left off. It retains a lot of the liquid like quality of the JP Special (hence the name), but I found that it had a little more output overall and seemed to have a little more kick to the sound. I found myself using it in the same manner that I had the JP Special, but I was trying different settings (IE: Less gain, more high end, etc) with better results. The Crunch Lab is what I expected the D-Sonic to be. It had a tighter attack and took high gain a lot better. Where the D-Sonic might have gone a little bit muddy, the Crunch Lab stayed nice and chunky, even at very high gain settings. All in all I felt these pickups were certainly an improvement over the JP Special and D-Sonic due to the fact that they simply sounded more like the pickups I expected from a John Petrucci signature guitar.
Being that the current production models (from June 2009 onwards) have these new pickups, I have no problem recommending a new JP6 to someone who really wants a great modern sounding superstrat.
When I was shopping, I tried various "mass production" guitars from Ibanez, Jackson USA, and Fender, and looked into guitars by companies like Carvin, ESP, or Parker (I own a Fly Deluxe, so I considered complimenting it with a NiteFly or another USA Fly.) However, in my seaching online, I kept coming across Music Man, Music Man, Music Man. It was my first foray into the "boutique" world and I haven't looked back since. The Music Man guitars have a great thing going for them. Sterling Ball is notorious for his stance on quality control, and I can safely say (having owned two JPs and played numerous JPs, Axis' and Silhouettes) that it's all for something. The guitars are extremely consistent and play/feel like very few others do and that's a great selling point. The Mystic Dream flip/flop finish is really eye catching and really made me stand out on stage in any setting, which was great as well.
My only real caveat with the guitar was a personal one, and that was the fact that it said John Petrucci on it. I'm not JP, so it felt very odd to have a guitar with his name on it. Ultimately it sort of limited me, as I found myself playing mainly Dream Theater type riffs or JP type lead lines. Obviously this would be more of a psychological thing, but in the end it was a bit frustrating. The other thing of note is that EBMM guitars almost always develop paint cracks by the neck pocket. At first I was scared and thought they were wood cracks, so I arranged to have a replacement guitar shipped in via my dealer. However, after doing research I realized that they were finish cracks only. It's nothing to worry about structurally, but it is an annoyance for sure, and you would think that Music Man would make inroads to fix it in some way... ah well.
All in all, the EBMM JP6 is truly an awesome "shredder's" guitar. It has a killer design, great neck profile with that gunstock oil/wax blend finish, plus now it has been updated with the stellar DiMarzio LiquiFire and Crunch Lab humbuckers. A great guitar that I would surely buy again if I was in the market for that specific type of guitar. However, I realized that a Les Paul was more my speed, so I no longer own one.