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Go backstage at a Dream Theater show, inspect John Petrucci’s guitar rack and you’ll find the 2019 Majesty signature models that are fit for the king of prog-metal. From tonewoods to pickups, all of these new models are special — but the limited-edition Tiger Eye Majesty is truly unique. It’s easy to fall for that smoky finish, but dig deeper and you’ll discover the one-off features that John and our master craftsmen have fused into the build.

It’s an absolutely stunning instrument,” John said, “and it sounds incredible.

Breaking The Blueprint

An electric guitar is only as good as its tonewoods. Scan the specs of the 2019 Majesty series and you’ll find premium mahogany and basswood as the timbers of choice. But the Tiger Eye Majesty breaks from the blueprint. Working closely with our designers and craftsmen, John shared his vision of a one-off model combining a three-piece Honduran mahogany thru-neck, alder body sides and full maple cap, for an amplified voice that oozes character.

What makes this guitar really special is the wood combination,” he explained. “This is the only Majesty that has a full maple top and alder body. I think that combination makes this guitar sound really exceptional.

To The Top

It takes a master craftsman to perfect a maple top. For the Tiger Eye Majesty, our team set out for the finest maple, book-matched to ensure the exquisite flame pattern rippled evenly across the entire top. With the top carefully glued to the Majesty body blank — and left to dry for up to four hours — the Tiger Eye entered the painstaking process of digital carving, with our ultra-precise computer-controlled cutter (CNC), finishing the body and fine-tuning a luxurious top that measures an optimum half-inch in thickness.

What’s really cool,” John explained, “is that this maple top is sorta featured throughout the guitar, so you see it on the headstock, and it continues on the back. It’s a three-piece neck, so there’s a strip of maple in the middle and then two strips of mahogany making up that neck. Absolutely gorgeous.

Finishing Touches

With the CNC work completed, the Tiger Eye Majesty was structurally sound but still a rough diamond, needing a few finishing touches to make it the stunner you see on the shelf. Next, our craftsmen brought the maple top to life with a detailed sanding and staining process, followed by a sealed polyester base coat, then another extensive sand-down. Only then was the guitar ready for the color coat, with the unmistakable Tiger Eye sunburst finish applied and buffed to a gloss-like gleam.

It’s gorgeous,” John noted. “And the Tiger Eye finish makes it that much more beautiful.

Roar Power

With its show-stealing looks and limited production run of 300 six and seven-string models, the Tiger Eye Majesty was the buzz of NAMM ’19. But it’s the performance that promises to make this electric guitar an all-time classic. With bulletproof hardware, ultra-playable neck, 20dB boost and custom-designed DiMarzio Dreamcatcher and Rainmaker pickups, the Tiger Eye Majesty is a winning choice for the most demanding live or studio work – and John is leading by example.

If you want to hear what this beautiful guitar sounds like,” he reflects, “I played it on the brand-new Dream Theater record, Distance Over Time.

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When it came to creating the latest iteration of his signature Majesty, John Petrucci was all in. While holding down duties with the biggest prog-metal band on the planet, the Dream Theater legend was a constant presence at the Ernie Ball Music Man workshops — partnering with our designers and craftsmen as every last aspect of the new breed was pulled apart, reimagined and tested to perfection. You’ll find blue-sky thinking in everything from the fresh finishes to the all-new tonewoods. But perhaps the biggest departure from the original Majesty announces itself when plugged in.

What’s unique about the 2019 Majesty’s are the pickups. Petrucci said.

Ernie Ball Music Man: John Petrucci Gives An Overview of the 2019 Majesty Guitar - YouTube
Tone & Timbers

A great electric guitar is an ecosystem, where every element plays an integral role. Having specified premium mahogany, maple and basswood in the build of the new Majesty models, Petrucci wanted to complement the stunning natural voice of those tonewoods with pickups co-developed with his long-time favorite manufacturer, DiMarzio.

We made the pickups bring out more of the natural essence of the tonewoods used to make the guitar,” he explained. “They are optimized to faithfully reproduce and amplify all of the depth, warmth and boldness that the guitars naturally possess.

Evolution & Revolution

Ever since Dream Theater’s 1989 debut album, When Dream And Day Unite, Petrucci’s guitar tone has been on the move. Three decades later, the bold, sonic palette on this year’s Distance Over Time was inspired by the brand-new DiMarzio Rainmaker and Dreamcatcher humbuckers created specially for the latest Majesty models. “These pickups reflect John’s continuing process of refining and expanding his sound,” DiMarzio Chief Engineer Steve Blucher explained.

Although they were initially designed for the Majesty guitar line, their basic performance shows the overall direction John said he wants to follow in pursuit of his personal sound.

Finding His Voice

Voicing a custom pickup is an artform, and the new Majesty models were born from a painstaking process of trial and error.

“Technically speaking,” Petrucci explained, “we smoothed out some of the highs, focused the mids and tightened the low end while slightly decreasing the output. The guitar actually appears louder-sounding as a result, though, because everything is more open-sounding.”

Meanwhile, Blucher’s team worked tirelessly to capture the sound in the guitarist’s imagination. “Both pickups have an increased sensitivity to pick attack and more dynamic range overall,” Blucher said. “The Rainmaker has an interesting blend of both warmer highs and more open mids, to blend classic and modern approaches to the neck position tonality. The Dreamcatcher pickups focus more power on the low mids to allow the bridge position to cut through the mix without brittle highs or muddy lows.”

Mission Accomplished

We could give you the science behind the magnetic fields and pole-pieces – but ultimately, the proof of Petrucci’s triumphant quest for the perfect pickup is evident in the new Majesty series. Whether you first experienced these electric guitars at their NAMM 2019 world debut, heard them on the acclaimed material from Distance Over Time or have just taken delivery of your own – you’ll know this is a one-off instrument where tone and feel co-exist in total equilibrium.

The result is a more forward, clearer, broader and more pronounced and ultimately expressive tone,” Petrucci said of the new seven-model Majesty range. “It’s massive.

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The Ernie Ball Music Man Dustin Kensrue StringRay Artist Series guitar is a collaboration between our award-winning design team and the acclaimed singer-songwriter and guitarist of Thrice, Dustin Kensrue. Featuring innovative design characteristics engineered specifically for Dustin’s playing style, the Kensrue StingRay offers unique features and finishes that offers players a new look at one of our most popular models. Order yours now on our website here.

Ernie Ball Music Man Artist Series: Dustin Kensrue StingRay Guitar - YouTube

I knew what I wanted sonically, functionally, aesthetically, and I knew that Ernie Ball Music Man could deliver it. It plays better than any guitar I’ve ever owned, stays in tune no matter how much abuse I throw at it, and the vintage tint neck, classic color and matte finish look amazing.

Dustin Kensrue

The Dustin Kensrue StingRay includes a lightweight African mahogany body in an exclusive Dark Tobacco Burst satin finish, custom wound Ernie Ball Music Man humbucking and single coil pickups. A stacked tone and volume knob with a 3-way pickup selector, control bypass with stereo out, satin vintage tint maple neck with 22 stainless steel frets, and a super smooth 5-bolt neck joint with a custom laser etched artist series neck plate.

The stereo jack system allows me to essentially control my pickup selection with my pedalboard, which lets me focus on singing and performing.

About Our Artist Series

The Artist Series is a new endeavor for Ernie Ball Music Man, offering artist-customized variations of existing instruments in the Ernie Ball Music Man line to the public for the first time. 2019 Artist Series releases also include the Joe Dart Sterling bass, and the Hunter Hayes and Jason Richardson Cutlass guitars.

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If you’ve heard the new Dream Theater album, Distance Over Time, you’ll know that John Petrucci’s virtuoso fretwork is in a constant state of evolution. And if you caught the world debut of John’s brand-new Majesty range at NAMM 2019, you’ll realize that his Ernie Ball Music Man signature model is keeping pace with that musical vision.

The sounds on this new record,” John explains, “are the result of that pursuit of trying to make the perfect instrument even better. The new Majesty is the perfect guitar. It’s been crafted and created to push the boundaries even further.

Ernie Ball Music Man: Inspired Innovation - The All-New John Petrucci Majesty - YouTube
Design Reborn.

Almost two decades into our longstanding partnership, John Petrucci still has the same blue-sky curiosity as when he first pitched the Majesty concept to us in 2001. Back then, the guitarist recalls the brief was all about “strength, beauty and speed” — and those founding concepts still remain today. But take any of the seven new Majesty models off the shelf in 2019 and you’ll realize these guitars go beyond, with eye-popping finishes, fresh wood combinations and bespoke pickups that help this prog-metal legend — and players at every level — break new ground.

The idea,” John says, “that somebody is going to pick this instrument up and enjoy all of the work that we did — and get as much out of it as I do — that is something I really value and cherish.

Ernie Ball Music Man: John Petrucci Gives An Overview of the 2019 Majesty Guitar - YouTube
Colors Refreshed.

There’s no mistaking the Majesty. As if that ergonomic double-cut wasn’t unique enough, the new 2019 range offers seven bold finishes that defy players to leave them in the rack. Choose between bewitching Enchanted Forest, refreshing Blue Honu, burnished Red Sunrise or the Dark Roast finish (inspired by John’s favorite coffee). Move fast to secure the alluring limited-edition Tiger Eye, or shine a spotlight on the opaque finishes of the moody Stealth Black and color-flipping Kinetic Blue.

That finish goes back to the whole color change thing we did on the original JP guitar when I first started playing Ernie Ball Music Man,” John says. “Depending on how the light hits it, it’s either blue, or purple, or somewhere in-between.

Tonewoods Revised.

Each Majesty model has a neck-through for unbeatable resonance, but your chosen finish is far more than skin-deep. The Enchanted Forest, Blue Honu, Red Sunrise and Dark Roast models all feature a fusion of lightweight mahogany body and neck with a maple top section. The Stealth Black and Kinetic Blue finishes feature a basswood body with mahogany neck, while the Tiger Eye breaks the Majesty mold with an alder body, full maple top and mahogany/maple three-piece neck.

That combination of mahogany, alder and maple,” says John, “makes this guitar sound exceptional.

Pickups Rebooted.

The quantum leap for the Majesty’s tonewoods and finishes is matched by the new models’ revolutionary pickups. John was insistent on keeping his long-standing loyalty to DiMarzio, making the tones of the 2019 Majesty’s even more personal to him. The custom-designed DiMarzio Rainmaker and Dreamcatcher pickups at the neck and bridge positions complete his signature model to his exact specifications.

We realized we’d never designed a DiMarzio specifically for these guitars,” he recalls. “That’s where the Dreamcatcher and Rainmaker came from. I had all my guitars at my disposal when we were writing the new album, and to have a guitar come out of the case and jump out at me like that – you wouldn’t have thought it’d be able to happen, because the Majesty already sounds so amazing…

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Ernie Ball Music Man signature artist Jason Richardson has teamed up with Guitar World to give an inside look into his guitar playing techniques. In the latest episode, Richardson breaks down his elaborate six-string, two-octave arpeggio-playing techniques by demonstrating a modes-based application.

Jason Richardson - Applying six-string arpeggio exercises to the 7 modes - YouTube

Richardson primarily utilizes a one-note-per-string approach, and further builds on how to achieve these arpeggios:

I generally prefer to not do any barring when moving from one note to the next, instead switching fretting fingers sequentially, as this eliminates any ringing together of consecutive notes. This approach results in some unusual fret-hand manipulations as I quickly pivot from, say, the index finger to the middle, then back to the index, or the middle to the ring to the index, as I play through an arpeggio shape.

Once you become accustomed to doing this, however, I believe you’ll appreciate the sonic benefits from what may at first feel a little awkward. Regarding the pick hand, I use strict alternate (down-up) picking technique as I ascend and descend across the six-string patterns. Just as eliminating barring prevents two notes from ringing together, avoiding the sweeping technique of dragging the pick across two or more adjacent strings in a single downward or upward motion will yield a cleaner and more precise performance, with clear articulation of each individual note.

The seven string shredder also features his guitar tabs within the lesson for easier navigation of these techniques.

For more details and a video of Richardson in action, check out the full article here.

2019 Jason Richardson Cutlass 7 Guitar

The Jason Richardson Artist Series Cutlass 7 string guitar features a Buckeye Burl top with trans alder body and Ernie Ball Music Man humbucking pickups. The figured roasted maple neck with ebony fingerboard is highlighted with 24 medium jumbo stainless steel frets, 15-inch radius and a slender neck carve for fast playability. The Jason Richardson Cutlass contoured lower body horn is a unique feature allowing for extreme upper fret access to all 24 frets. Ernie Ball Music Man 7-string pickups are custom wound to Jason’s exact specifications offering heavy crunch rhythm tones and a clear, bright top end for endless soloing. Electronics include a volume control with up to 20dB of boost and push tone potentiometer, that via the 3-way pickup selector offer some exciting coil tapping options. Other specifications include an Ernie Ball Music Man floating Cutlass tremolo, all black hardware, and Schaller locking tuners. The neckplate is laser etched with a custom Jason Richardson signature logo to signify its artist series destination. Available July 2019 worldwide.

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With its exquisite shape and bold color options, the Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent guitar is recognizable no doubt. Designed by our Ernie Ball Music Man engineers and Annie Clarke herself — better known by her stage name St. Vincent — the instrument has attracted loads of attention. Clarke’s unmatchable talent and signature guitar have hailed plenty of praise, with Guitar World magazine noting her as “possibly the first true twenty-first-century guitar hero.”

Clarke’s success as a performer and guitarist landed her signature guitar — which she used on her 2017 MASSEDUCTION tour — in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art  exhibition, “Play it Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll.” Featured in the “Guitar Gods” gallery, Clarke’s instrument is displayed among the likes of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Prince and many more notable artists.

This exhibition explores the instruments that came to define the music. Often an extension of the artists themselves, these objects are designed and engineered to perform both visually and audibly. They are decorated, exaggerated, and, most importantly, beloved — by those who play them and those who watch in awe. They are the link between the artist and the audience, the physical source of a glorious noise.

The iconic instruments here were played by some of the most influential musicians across seven decades of artistry. In their own way, they represent the countless instruments picked up by ordinary individuals, inspired by their musical heroes and rock and roll’s defiant spirit.

Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll - YouTube

The guitar, a 2017 matte neon yellow St. Vincent HHH, has an African mahogany body, roasted maple neck, and ebony fingerboard. Also featuring mother-of-pearl intersecting circle inlays and our Ernie Ball Music Man “modern tremolo” vibrato bridge. It will be featured in the Met Fifth Avenue exhibit until Oct. 1, when the historic guitars will move to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. If you’re in New York, make sure not to miss this great opportunity to see some of the world’s most infamous instruments!

Strings

St. Vincent plays her signature guitar with Ernie Ball RPS Regular Slinky guitar strings.

**** All photos courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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It’s hard to miss Nicole Rich on stage — with her hot pink hair and bubblegum colored Ernie Ball Music Man Caprice bass to match, the Doll Skin bassist brings a unique flare to the pop-punk scene. The four piece all-female ensemble formed at the School of Rock in Scottsdale, Ariz. and have been releasing their “bratty” punk songs to the world ever since. Doll Skin has toured alongside big names including The Dead Kennedy’s, HELLYEAH, and Social Distortion, while also securing a spot on last year’s farewell Warped Tour. Never afraid to be brutally honest, Doll Skin is loud and proud, and has no intention of being silent.

We had the opportunity to speak with Rich about her first introduction to music, Doll Skin’s third album, and the one thing she can’t live without on tour.

Q & A with Nicole Rich

EB: How did you get your start in the music industry?

NR: I grew up always loving music but when I entered high school it became my entire world. I wanted anything to do with the industry, working as a roadie, merch person… you name it. It wasn’t until I saw a parallel between myself and a musician [bassist Lyn-Z Way of Mindless Self Indulgence] that I realized I could be in the industry by actually playing music. I picked up the bass shortly after realizing I wanted to be just like her and here I am today!

EB: What was your earliest memory of music?

NR: Probably singing songs at bedtime with my dad. He would make up dance moves or hand motions to go along with songs and it was always so fun as a kid to sing and motion along to his favorite songs.

EB: Who has been your biggest inspiration in music?

NR: Lyn-Z Way for sure. I was a huge fan of emo in high school and through My Chemical Romance I learned of her band and how much of an incredible bassist and performer she is. Seeing someone I could relate to playing music made me want to play more than anything and as I’ve grown as a musician I’ve taken huge inspiration from Bikini Kill, Paramore, and The Regrettes. Other women playing music inspires me more than anything.

EB: This career isn’t an easy one.  What inspires you to wake up every morning to write, record, and perform?

NR: The reality that I am truly living my dream. Of course there are ups and downs in ever career but the high’s of being a musician make you feel on top of the world. There is no better feeling than playing an energetic live show or writing a song you’re incredibly proud of. I love it more than anything I’ve ever done and I feel so lucky to call this my career.

EB: What is your best memory on stage?

NR: Our very first Warped Tour set was an insane memory. I remember looking out at the crowd and doing my very best to take in the moment and recognize that I was actually playing a festival I had only dreamed of playing. The venue was in Seattle and our stage faced a bunch of “amphitheater” style seating so it really felt like we were playing to a huge crowd.

EB: What’s the most abnormal thing you can’t do without on tour?

NR: Flip flops to shower in. Truly nothing worse than showering in a venue bathroom while barefoot.

EB: What was that pivotal moment in your career when you realized you knew this is what you wanted to do?

NR: I don’t know if there was an exact moment but probably after one of the first times we came home from tour. Being on tour feels more like home than being home does and once I realized that I think is when I knew I wanted to do this forever.

EB: How does playing music make you feel? How do you want people to feel when listening to your music?

NR: I feel every worry wash away from me when I start playing, any stresses I had during the day are completely erased when I play a live show. I want people at our shows to feel as weightless as I do on stage.

EB: What made you choose your Music Man and how does your instrument inspire you to create your signature sound?

NR: I really enjoy having an instrument that I feel fits me. My Caprice bass has a brightness I really appreciate in my tone and gives me an incredible live sound. My bass feels one with me when I’m playing it

EB: What is one piece of advice that you would give someone trying to jumpstart their career in music?

NR: Lots and lots of practice and say yes to every opportunity you’re presented with. Work hard and take pride in what you’re doing, no one.

EB: What’s next for Doll Skin?

NR: Our third album, a big ol’ summer tour with New Found Glory, and a sick tour over in Europe with our pals from Warped Trash Boat and Capstan.

Strings

Nicole Rich plays a custom Ernie Ball Music Man Caprice bass and relies on Ernie Ball Super Slinky bass strings. Lead vocals Sydney Dolezal plays Regular Slinky’s and guitarist Alex Snowden uses Paradigm Super Slinky’s.

Listen to Doll Skin
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In 2015, Ayla Tesler-Mabe posted her first cover to YouTube, soulfully playing John Mayall’s Bluebreakers “Hideaway.” Fast forward four years, the now 18-year-old boasts a following of over 300k on Instagram, plays to sold out crowds, and finds her name featured in Rolling Stone magazine. Driven by a deep passion for music, Ayla has developed into a professional guitarist, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and composer, garnering millions of views on her YouTube videos from people all over the world. Her rise to instrumental success has help land her current gig playing guitar alongside childhood friend and Stranger Things star, Finn Wolfhard, in the twangy rock band Calpurnia.

We had the opportunity to speak with Ayla about her musical inspirations, tour life, and her unwavering love for Clif Bars.

Q & A with Ayla Tesler-Mabe

EB: How did you get your start in the music industry?

ATM: I played my very first paying gig right after my 13th birthday. I was on bass in an all-kids Led Zeppelin tribute band, and we got to play at the Vancouver Art Gallery a few times. From that moment on, I knew with that I wanted to spend the rest of my life playing music. After that I began posting videos of me playing covers of songs I loved on social media, which led to opportunities to connect with incredible people in the industry, people that I never would’ve even dreamed I’d be able to work with.

EB: What was your earliest memory of music?

ATM: Since I was a baby, and still to this day, I like to fall asleep to classical music. Mozart’s composition “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” was in constant rotation as my first choice nighttime tune. I recall listening to that piece over and over again every night until I finally knew every twist and turn of the intertwining melodies and arrangement better than I knew the alphabet at the time.

EB: Who has been your biggest inspiration in music?

ATM: It certainly is difficult to choose only one, but The Beatles have had an astronomical impact on me. They ignited my love of music, and to this day remain an endless source of inspiration. Even though I’ve listened to their discography an uncountable number of times, I still find myself hearing new nuances I have never heard before, and still can’t help but listen with the same enthusiasm as I did the first time I heard their music all those years ago. They changed music forever!

EB: This career isn’t an easy one.  What inspires you to wake up every morning to write, record, and perform?

ATM: It is both daunting and incredibly exciting to be at such an early point in my career. I certainly can’t say that I am as weather-worn and experienced as many of the amazing musicians whose footsteps I am trying to follow. Even in my limited time spent on the road and the 12-hour days locked up in a recording studio, I sometimes need to remind myself of what I love about music so I can motivate myself to keep pushing forward and give 110% in all that I do. It’s inspiring to think that I have yet to write my best music, and as I continue to understand the guitar more, the more I can see how much I don’t know. It’s that thirst to always be better and reach that next level in my artistry and musical expression that gets me to hop out of bed and try to push myself further.

EB: What is your best memory on stage?

ATM: As incredible as it is playing for people you don’t know who just love your music, there is is something very special about playing to important people in your life like family and friends. Unfortunately, my current gigging situation makes this rather difficult more often than not. When I’m not playing in totally foreign cities and countries where my friends and family are far away, I’m playing in my hometown Vancouver, where almost every venue is 19+. I’m still in high school, so a lot of my friends are not legally able to come out to see me play. Although Calpurnia had the opportunity to play two nights at The Vogue Theatre this last December and all of my under-19 friends and family could finally be there. Just because of the way the stage is lit at that venue, I could see every single one of them in the crowd and got to play to them the entire time. That was amazing!

EB: What’s the most abnormal thing you can’t do without on tour?

ATM: Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif Bars!  However, unless you happen to be a high-performance athlete who needs a daily dose of superfood nutrition before an insane workout, they sadly aren’t as nutritious as we’d all like to think they are.  But they’re so delicious. Also quite helpful when the tour schedule gets hectic and you don’t have time to grab a proper lunch. But yes, they taste insanely good.

EB: What was that pivotal moment in your career when you realized you knew this is what you wanted to do?

ATM: There was a part of me that always knew that I wanted to be a musician, even before I had picked up an instrument. I think when I started performing live, I knew that this was something I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. I started noticing how I was able to connect with people in the crowd through my music. It was such an amazing feeling to see that my music was connecting with some people in that way, and I couldn’t see myself wanting to do anything else but that!

EB: How does playing music make you feel?  How do you want people to feel when listening to your music?

ATM: I know this might be a cliche answer, but the feeling really is indescribable. Music has the ability to touch people in such a profound way, and actually having the capacity to create music that might touch people that really is the most inspiring feeling in the world. I just hope I can move even just one person who listens to my music the way that my favorite music has moved me.

EB: What made you choose your Music Man and how does your instrument inspire you to create your signature sound?

ATM: The Valentine is truly one of the most versatile instruments I’ve ever played. Versatility in an instrument is very important to me as I love playing many different styles of music ranging from jazz to funk to rock and beyond, and the inspiration that comes from being able to play an instrument that really doesn’t have any boundaries has transformed the way I play guitar. Also, the Valentine has this uncanny ability to both completely cut through the mix and still be one of the most sonically rich guitars I’ve ever heard. The roasted maple neck doesn’t hurt either.

EB: What is one piece of advice that you would give someone trying to jumpstart their career in music?

ATM: The harder you work the luckier you get. It’s a well known fact that the music industry is fundamentally built on connections, who you know and who knows you, so I think that the more you put yourself out there and establish yourself as an artist that people want to work with and take interest in, the more likely it is that certain opportunities will arise for you. When I was first trying to get things going for myself, I tried to go to every local jam in my city and play with as many different musicians as possible. I also put videos of my playing out onto social media, in the hopes that I was building a sort of “online résumé” for myself. Try to be the hardest working musician you know!

EB: What’s next for you/your projects?

ATM: I’m hoping that 2019 is the year that I can get a whole lot more of my music out to the world. By the time this comes out, one of my projects, Calpurnia (which is more on the “rock” side of things), will have released another single and accompanying music video. We’re hoping to have an album recorded and released sometime this year, which would be amazing! We also have some really cool shows and festivals booked for the next few months, which I’m so grateful and excited about. As for my other project, Ludic (more on the “funky/jazzy/soul” oriented side of things), we have our debut single coming out in early April, as well as some more singles and an album on the way. Once I’m done high school in June, I hope to be able to revert back to my 10-hours-a-day practice and songwriting schedule. I can’t wait.

Gear

Ayla Tesler-Mabe plays a Ernie Ball Music Man Valentine guitar and the Ernie Ball Regular Slinky 10 gauge guitar strings.

Listen to Calpurnia
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Country singer and songwriter Hunter Hayes sat down with Marty Schwartz of Marty Music to talk about his all new 2019 Ernie Ball Music Man Artist Series Cutlass guitar. In the latest episode of Schwartz’s Guitar Tours, Hayes recalls his first introduction into the “Strat world” and what initially drew him to the Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass guitar. The five-time Grammy nominee details his love for the Steve Lukather model, and after three years in the making, his Artist Series Cutlass guitar is the perfect combination of the two. Check out the full interview below and watch as Hayes gives his first official demo of his signature model.

It’s everything I need in a single guitar to go play a one off gig.

Hunter Hayes Unveils His Signature Guitar | Marty's Guitar Tours - YouTube
Hunter Hayes Cutlass

The Hunter Hayes Artist Series Cutlass model is a very diverse instrument with wide-ranging sonic capabilities. This guitar is made from lightweight alder with a premium roasted figured maple neck, custom Ernie Ball Music Man pickups made to Hunter’s exact specifications, and a brass saddle piezo bridge system. The electronics package is highly diverse with 3 volume knobs offering a variety of tonal combinations. The 5-way switch operates magnetic single coil pickups in the traditional Bridge, Bridge + Middle, Middle, Middle + Neck, and Neck configurations, but also has the option of blending in piezo acoustic textures from the middle volume knob. A third volume knob will allow the Neck single coil to be added to the Bridge, Bridge + Middle, and Middle positions bringing instant warmth to the desired tone. In addition, a two-way toggle switch adds up to a 20db boost to any magnetic pickup selection for increased volume when needed. The slender neck carve is very comfortable especially for lead work but feels buttery smooth when comping chords or playing rhythm. Other specifications include Ernie Ball Music Man hardtail bridge and custom metallic blue finish. The neckplate is laser etched with a Hunter Hayes signature logo to signify its artist series destination. Available May 2019 worldwide.

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Rapidly gaining praise in the world of instrumental rock and beyond, Ernie Ball Music Man artist Gretchen Menn isn’t your average guitar hero on the rise. She once flew regional jets to support her six-string habit, and has studied the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Jimmy Page, and fellow Music Man artist Steve Morse. Menn has been featured on Guitar Player Magazine’s list of ‘50 Sensational Female Guitarists‘ and was nominated by readers of Vintage Guitar Magazine as ‘Artist of the Year’ alongside Steve Vai, Dan Auerbach, Rik Emmet, and Alan Holdsworth.

We had the opportunity to speak with Menn about her musical inspirations, Music Man instruments, and the one thing she can’t live without on tour…

Q & A with Gretchen Menn: EB: How did you get your start in the music industry? GM: I grew up in a family that valued music of all sorts, from Bob Dylan to Beethoven. Music was always around, always a part of my life. I had some requisite piano lessons when I was five, and I played the flute for about three years in elementary school. Guitar was the first instrument that really captured me, and my love of it and seriousness about it grew the more time I invested. A pivotal moment was deciding to study music in college and taking classical guitar lessons with Phillip de Fremery, an amazing musician, teacher, and former student of Andrés Segovia. EB: What was your earliest memory of music? GM: I think probably my mom and dad singing to me at bedtime. That would have been really early… Or dancing around my living room to the soundtrack for Hans Christian Andersen with my sister when we were about two and four. EB: Who has been your biggest inspiration in music? GM: I couldn’t pick just one. So many people inspire me in such unique ways. Steve Morse has been one of my biggest and most enduring inspirations—not just for his guitar playing, though obviously that, but also his compositional abilities, and the type of person he his—incredibly hardworking, practical, and genuinely humble. EB: This career isn’t an easy one. What inspires you to wake up every morning to write, record, and perform? GM: The love and fascination I have for music. Though music carries with it immediate, inherent rewards, much of the path involves delayed gratification. Having to develop patience and embrace the process of working hard are challenges music demands of me that help make me a better person. EB: What is your best memory on stage? GM: There have been so many wonderful memories on stage… recently I played the City of Guitars Festival in Locarno, Switzerland. I was there for less than 48 hours, and the whole trip was surreal. Everyone was so incredibly kind and treated me SO well. The stage and the square where they held the festival were gorgeous. The festival house band were fantastic musicians who were impeccably-prepared. I was nervous to be scheduled to perform last of the night, and assumed they had me on as the “closer” to be playing as everyone filtered out. To my amazement, the audience stayed. It was both perplexing and overwhelming—this gorgeous Swiss square with people as far back as I could see. Beautiful smiles, wonderful engagement, incredible support. I tried to fix the details of the moment in my mind, knowing I’d always treasure them. EB: What’s the most abnormal thing you can’t do without on tour? GM: A sleeping bag. Hotels can be sketchy, and it’s nice to have a barrier between me and who-knows-what disgustingness has happened on hotel sheets.  EB: What was that pivotal moment in your career when you realized you knew this is what you wanted to do? GM: It was at a Dixie Dregs show, and I was watching the musicians, marveling at how joyous everyone seemed, how connected [they were] with each other and the music. Then it dawned on me that what they were doing was their job. I thought, ‘Oh, wow… if I worked hard enough, could I do that as a career?!’   EB: How does playing music make you feel? How do you want people to feel when listening to your music? GM: Music—playing it, performing it, creating it—involves the entire emotional spectrum for me. I have moments of pure flow, bliss… moments  of humor or delight… moments of self-loathing, terror, frustration. I certainly hope not to impart those negative ones to anyone else, and I do my best to redirect them to something useful (like motivation to work harder) when they crop up for me. While I don’t have an agenda of how my music should affect anyone, I want my listeners to feel respected—that I am not wasting their time with anything that was phoned in or created in an offhand, lazy, or egotistical way. My belief is that if I can create from a place of honesty, integrity, and commitment to doing the best I can at the moment, no harm will come of it. EB: What made you choose your Music Man and how does your instrument inspire you to create your signature sound? GM: I have used Music Man instruments from day one. I still have my first guitar—a gorgeous blue burst Silhouette. As someone whose interests span a large range of styles, my Music Man guitars have the versatility and flexibility for the whole gamut. They are home to me. EB: What is one piece of advice that you would give someone trying to jump start their career in music? GM: Know why you’re doing music, and keep that in sight as you forge and navigate your path. Work hard, never stop growing, and be a good person. Okay, that’s more than one thing.    EB: What’s next for you? GM: I’m working on music for a couple of new albums, doing shows with both my original trio and Zepparella (a tribute to Led Zeppelin), heading to Germany in the summer for a performance of some of my original material and teaching a week-long workshop. I have a bunch of educational materials either just released or soon to be—with JamPlay, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and now on the Zepparella YouTube Channel for a series on the music of Led Zeppelin (the Zepparella Learning Channel). And I am always studying, practicing, composing. Gear

Gretchen Menn plays with an Ernie Ball Music Man Silhouette guitar and the Cutlass RS SSS guitar. She also plays with Ernie Ball Paradigm Skinny Top Heavy Bottom strings.

Listen to Gretchen Menn
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