Musicman has what they call the BFR or Ball Family Reserve. These Family Reserve guitars get the first pick of the best woods and best materials that come into the factory. These guitars are hand made in the USA by Musicmans most experienced luthiers. The Luke is the traditional design but more geared towards heavier music. The guitar features an alder body with a bookmatched flamed maple top and a mahogany tone block in the center of the guitar. The guitar has a bolt on neck bolted on with 5 bolts. The neck on this example was birdseye maple with an ebony fretboard. The neck has 22 medium frets with dot inlays. The pickups in this guitar are EMG pickups in an HSS configuration, something you do not see much for active pickups. There is an 85 in the bridge and 2 SLV's in the middle and neck. There is a 5 way switch to switch between them along with the master tone and master volume control.
This guitar has more of a Gibson feel than the other Musicman models. The neck on the guitar is slightly wider and flatter and the frets are not as tall. This flatter neck lets you get the action down nice and low. With a low action the ebony board feels great on your fingers and is smooth as glass. This BFR model is slightly heavier than the normal Luke model because of the high quality woods they use on the family reserve models. It has the beefy Musicman tremolo and it is nice and sturdy like an improved Fender tremolo. It has locking tuners which helps with tuning stability even with no locking nut. The back of the neck has a nice raw finish to it and is very fast. The small headstock helps improve the balance of the guitar. With the EMG pickups you will need a battery for them to operate but the batteries last for hundreds and hundreds of hours plugged in. In my experiance you will rarely need to change batteries more than once a year.
This guitar has a much fatter sound than the traditional Musicman guitar like the Silhouette or something. With the EMG pickups this guitar just screams when you throw any amount of gain on it. The 85 in the bridge is one of my favorite pickup choices. The 85 is a lot more beefy sounding in the bridge than the 81. With this guitar you dont really need the searing top end bite of the 81 in the bridge position. The 85 combined with the great woods they have chosen give this guitar a supe rthick tone that sounds great in all types of music. The 85 is great for metal too. Harmonics just jump right out and you can really hear everything you are playing no matter how much gain you are running. The single coil EMG's are something I cant admit I play much but they sound great on this guitar. They really take the EMG tone and give it some single coil qualities. They ring like a bell and offer the clarity you would expect with a single coil that is also an active pickup.
The Luke is more my type of Musicman. It has a more modern feel mixed with a Gibson feel. Thats the best way I can put it. The neck is flatter than on other Musicman guitars but the frets are not as big. These two qualities together mix well since with the flat neck you dont need huge frets to get good playability. The EMGs work well in just about every situation. You have good single coils which are great for cleans and lighter stuff and the 85 in the bridge that can beef up any guitar. If you are looking for a Musicman guitar that has less of a strat feel and more of a modern feel the Luke is the model for you.