Which Artists Play Music Man Guitars?

Published on 15 May 2023


Music Man are one of those brands who have risen to the top on their own terms. Leo Fender’s DNA is most certainly in there (Music Man was the company he co-founded after selling Fender) but the brand very much has its own identity. Straight out of San Luis Obispo in California, these beautifully eccentric creations bring a spark of inspired creativity to the guitar world, and as a result have picked up a most impressive roster of artist endorsees.

Today, we feel like it’s worth showcasing this artist aspect of the brand a little, particularly when there is such a bevy of beautiful instruments attached to the subject! From prog metal gods to avant-pop iconoclasts, the stable of talent connected to Music Man is a diverse one indeed, and a most impressive one to boot! Who is your favourite? 


John Petrucci

The Dream Theater fret wizard has been an intimidatingly talented proposition for decades, so any brand he chooses to wield is a great indicator of quality. Petrucci has actually had a gazillion different Music Man guitars over the years, ranging from his somewhat Superstrat-like JP series models to his altogether more ‘alien’ looking Majesty instruments, with or without carbon fibre veneers!

As you’d expect from a ferocious shred-metaller, all of his models perform like Lamborghinis, with flat radius fingerboards, signature pickups and (often) nitro-boost switches built into the electronics! Most of his guitars are available as 6 or 7 string guitars (the Majesty is available as an 8!), and you’ll also see special editions (including super high-end ‘chef’s kiss’ BFR Ball Family Reserve models) with limited edition timbers and finishes.

Basically, if you are a Petrucci fan and you can’t find a Music Man guitar of his to suit you, then wow are you picky!


Steve Lukather

Session ace and Toto gunslinger Steve Lukather has appeared on more records than electricity. He’s also another Music Man artist who has a whole stable of guitars to his name. The Luke guitars all share largely the same body shape (though the Luke III is a tiny bit bigger than previous iterations) so the changes found between his Luke, Luke II and Luke III models are more about hardware choices and pickup configurations.

Lukather was an early adopter of active EMG pickups, so early models featured those. Subsequent Lukes have incorporated his various signature DiMarzio pickups, and most recent Luke III guitars actually have specially made Music Man pickups, which is a pretty confident flex for the bran; after all, if someone as discerning as Lukather is happy to go with the in-house efforts over his own previous signature units, then they must be pretty dang great! He must have one of the world’s most experienced sets of ears, so he’s hardly going to just go with the flow on such an important element.

If you are looking for a guitar that can wear many musical hats, and look simultaneously flash and dressed-down, then you’ll likely love the Music Man Luke.


St Vincent

Annie ‘St Vincent’ Clark is a unique, singular artist, and as such requires a suitably unique guitar. Often, when companies try to deviate from the blueprints of the 1950s, they end up facing market indifference and then bankruptcy. Not so with Music Man, who seem to be able to offer up designs that skirt around ‘crazy’ without abandoning that common touch that marks a guitar as an attractive proposition to the masses.

St Vincent’s guitar is a real triumph of design. Like a space age surfboard mixed with a giant lozenge, this bold design could very nearly be a misfire of epic proportions, but somehow the Music Man St Vincent snatches triumph from the jaws of regret, and quite spectacularly so, too. We wonder if there could have been a little design inspiration from Bo Diddley’s famously square Gretsches? Wherever the initial idea came from, the final product is unique, stylish, awesome and thrillingly individual: there are no preconceptions about how to use this guitar.

Over the ten years in which the model has been available, we’ve seen pickup changes and finish options come and go, but that fundamental, singular design remains. Like all Music Man guitars, the St Vincent models are wonderful to play (do Music Man make the best necks in the business? Could well be!), and that uncompromising body shape actually lends itself to the player quite comfortably.

If you want to break free of stylistic shackles, we recommend taking a test drive on a Music Man St Vincent.


Tosin Abasi

Talking about unique shapes, Tosin Abasi’s new Kaizen guitars certainly make a similar case for uniqueness, though they perhaps owe a slight debt to Albert Lee’s (see below) model? That and a Jackson Warrior? We can kinda see it! This unique, cyber take on guitar design is perfect for such an innovative player, and it’s worth remembering that Abasi has not only been an Ibanez endorser in the past, he’s also created a guitar company of his own! This speaks volumes again about Music Man’s production quality, if such a deliberately meticulous person is willing to come onboard.

For Tosin’s music with Animals as Leaders, some extended range action is required. The Music Man Kaizen models, therefore, are available with 6 or 7 strings. All include multiscale necks and an ‘infinity radius’ fingerboard (it’s conical instead of circular, basically), to bring forth a guitar that belongs very much in the 21st century.


Albert Lee

Country picking legend Albert Lee has always blended tradition with elements that are decidedly more original. So it follows that his guitar begins with a traditional S-type vibe before turning up the ‘weird-o-meter’ somewhat and achieving a design that’s one foot in the past, the other in the future.

The Music Man Albert Lee is made with an Okoume body to keep the weight nice and light, and can be had with either three single coil pickups or a pair of humbuckers. If you are a Strat person but want something a little left of centre, they don’t come better built than this!


Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez has been the nucleus of not one but two highly influential bands over the years. First off, with At the Drive-In, he brought explosive power and highly idiosyncratic playing to a vital post-hardcore sound Then, with The Mars Volta, he took those qualities and expanded on them, creating epic prog vistas and turning himself into one of the most influential players in recent years as he did so.

Always playing along to the beat of his own drum, his guitar choices have been more than interesting. In early ATDI years, he’d only choose Squier Supersonics; then, he worked with Ibanez to create the ORM-1. Nowadays, he’s a Music Man artist, initially favouring Albert Lee and St Vincent models before creating his own signature model, the Mariposa.

The Mariposa definitely fits in with Music Man’s ‘house style’, featuring an original shape that’s familiar and yet unique. The two custom-wound humbuckers have their own volume controls and there are no tone pots, just as Omar prefers. Check out that laser-etched pickguard! We showed up for the cool look, but we stayed for the gorgeous feel and expressive tone. You definitely don’t need to be a Mars Volta aficionado to appreciate this offset original. But if you’re not, why aren’t you?


Tony Levin

No blog about Music Man instruments could be complete without the inclusion of Tony Levin. One of the world’s greatest bassists (and not a bad photographer, either!), Levin divides most of his playing time between Peter Gabriel and King Crimson, but he’s also a highly revered session player. Throughout all of these duties, if he’s not playing a space-age Chapman Stick, he’ll be seen with a Music Man StingRay bass.

It seems kind of crazy that he doesn't have his own signature models (he’s far better known than some of their guitar endorsees…), but then perhaps he just doesn’t want one!

Tony goes between 4 and 5 string models, and has spoken often about how important the active EQ section on his StingRays are to both his live rig and his studio sound. From the Court of the Crimson King to Solsbury Hill and back, the StingRay can do it all with punch and pizzazz. 


The Ernie Ball Music Man Family

This selection today hopefully shows how diverse the Music Man brand are. To attract players from such different schools of style is impressive, particularly when those artists happen to be masters of their craft. And this isn’t even everyone with a signature instrument!

As mentioned earlier, Music Man are one of the few brands who can put out fresh guitar designs - that don’t instantly have Fender or Gibson reaching for their lawyer hotlines - and have them find a legitimate place in the market. That is no easy feat! But then again, passion and quality speak for themselves, so maybe it’s just a case of guitar players giving them a shot out of curiosity and then falling for the instruments due to their own merits?

Whatever it is, some of the most famous and influential artists on the planet agree that Music Man is as good as it gets. 

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