Music Man Luke III – Neptune Blue PDN – Review. -
20/05/2015

History

The Music Man brand is mostly known for its now legendary Stingray bass and line of amplifiers. Originating from an earlier company named Tri-Sonix, it was founded by Forrest White (Ex-Fender) and Tom Walker, and headed by Leo Fender himself after his sale of Fender to CBS. Later in 1984 it was purchased by the Ernie Ball Group, and has long been producing its line of guitars endorsed by guitar greats such as John Petrucci (Dream Theatre), Steve Morse (Deep Purple) and Steve Lukather (Toto).

Introduction.

Moving on from the history, in this article we will be reviewing the latest Luke III signature model (Steve Lukather – Toto) model with dual humbucking pickups and a limited edition Neptune Blue finish. This model is only available through the Music Man Premium Dealer Network.

This guitar is quite a departure from the previous Luke models as it has a 30% larger body when compared to the standard model and a maple neck/fingerboard which is unusual for a Luke, as most others have rosewood fingerboards. Also it does not have active EMG pickups as on most Luke models, but does include an active boost. Therefore the guitar is actually more retro in vibe that the original Luke but has the versatility thanks to the active boost circuit.

Specifications.

The guitar has a solid  body made from select African mahogany and as mentioned before, is finished in Neptune Blue with a polyester finish which is usual for Music Man Instruments (As opposed to Nitrocellulose for high end vintage spec Fender and all Gibsons). The 25 ˝ inch scale neck and fingerboard comprise one piece of maple which, has been “roasted” in high tech ovens. This visually makes the wood look darker and also removes the moisture and impurities for a highly stable neck.  The neck is finished with Music Mans proprietary Gun stock oil and wax blend. The headstock back and front are finished while the back of the neck is left natural for faster playing without the sticky varnish some players complain about on finished necks.

All the hardware is finished in chrome; frets are low profile not dissimilar to vintage frets but wider. The bridge/tremolo is of Music Mans own design and vintage in style. Tuners are Schaller M6-IND locking items with the trademark four up two down Music Man arrangement to provide a straight string pull for better tuning stability.

Moving on to electronics, a pair of DiMarzio humbucking pickups are installed together with a five way switch and the aforementioned boost circuit. This is activated by pushing the volume knob down and then it springs up to engage the circuit. The five way switch allows selection of the bridge, neck or both together in positions 1, 3, and 5 or can spilt the coils to allow the outer coils to be selected on position 2 and inner on position 4. To balance these sounds under the rear back plate two trim pots are provide to allow setting the overall boost level and the difference in level between humbucker and coil tapped sounds. A single tone control rounds off the control section.

A quality hard case is also provided.

Fit and Finish

The Luke III guitar is classed as a premium instrument and therefore the fit, finish and quality expected is very high. I am pleased to say that it meets expectations in every way. The paint finish is flawless and stands up well to normal use. The fret work is of a high standard with very smooth rolled edges. The gun oil infused neck makes for a fast playing and slick instrument. Electronics are top notch and should have no problems with regular use.

Sounds

Plugged into my Blues Junior valve amplifier The Luke 3 sounds very fenderesque, the bridge pickup has a Telecaster like sparkle clean dirties up nicely with some overdrive and can crunch like a rock monster when driven hard . Move to position 2 and this engages the outer coils in parallel which give us a Stratocaster like quack evocative of any great Dire Straits tune.

The middle position with both humbuckers gives us a useful rhythm tone, whilst position 4 splits the two inner coils also in parallel and provides a darker version of the sound at position 2. Last but not least the neck humbucker has a warm jazzy tone clean and is the clear choice for soaring overdriven solos.

With any of the positions the active preamp can also be engaged this give clean/dirty sounds a punchier warmer sound and more volume whilst adding gain and overtones to already overdriven tones. It’s like a “more” switch if you will that goes up to “eleven”.

Summary

A superbly made and unique guitar, which should appeal to guitar players of all styles.

By Ernest H Slade
www.gear-review.co.uk

 
 
 
 
Guitar was signed by Steve Lukather of Toto on 23/05/2015 in Dublin.