Greg Suarez

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Mar 25, 2014
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194
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Dayton, Ohio, United States
If you are ignoring this guitar because you don't like what it looks like, I have two things to say to you: 1) get over yourself because you're missing out on the sleekest guitar ever made, and 2) more for those of us who "get" this guitar.

After I opened the shipping box and slid the case out, I picked up the plastic TSA-style case (proudly sporting a "Music Man Majesty" badge) and was shocked by how lightweight the package was. I honestly thought the guitar was not in the case. I was relieved to discover the guitar was in there, it's just light. Really light. Really, really, really light - almost like it's made of plastic. And it's slick and it's relatively slender. The design of the Majesty makes you think this inanimate object is ready to jump out of your hands and jet away at light speed. As John Petrucci has mentioned in interviews, the Majesty (nee Stallion) was inspired by German sports cars. Mission accomplished. The Majesty truly is the sports car of guitars. It is the perfect mid-life crises purchase to go with a brand new cherry red BMW 6 Series.

The neck is extremely fast and the neck-through design gives you easy access to the 24th fret unlike any guitar I've ever played. The control knobs feel a bit beefier than the average JP6/7 knob, and the push/push controls feel incredibly smooth and effortless. I much prefer these over push/pull, as knob grip can sometimes be hit-and-miss with the pulls (especially on Gibsons, in my experience). The pickup and piezo switches are notably smaller than past JP models, and will take a little getting used to for seasoned JP players. One awesome new touch is that the fretboard inlays (set into a gorgeous, dark ebony board) are mirrored, including the Majesty/Dream Theater logo at the first fret.

Before plugging in an electric guitar, I always play it acoustically for a while. This, more than anything else, will tell you if the guitar will sound good plugged in. Unplugged, the Majesty is bold, bright and aggressive. It even has a very subtle "growling" overtone I've never heard in an unplugged electric guitar ("growling" is not quite right, but it's the closest word I can come up with).

Plugged in, the Majesty roars. It's a gorgeous, dramatic and authoritative sound that pours out of the DiMarzio Illuminator pickups. My primary experience with the JP models is with a standard basswood JP6 with the Crunch Lab/LiquiFire combo. Compared with that tried and true combination, the Majesty is the equivalent of a trusty caterpillar that has blossomed into a majestic (natch) butterfly. A butterfly with teeth. The Majesty presents like a JP6 that has been supercharged and had a thin veneer of compression removed from its sound. The Illuminator duo, coupled with the maple cap, mahogany neck-through and ebony board (no cap, maple neck and rosewood on standard JP6s), produce a sound that is tighter than the previous DiMazio pair, but at the same time more open and expressive. The piezo system remains unchanged, but receives the similar benefits of the new wood combination as the magnetic pickups. Also of note is the dual 1/4" output of past JPs has been pared down to a single output. The use of either a mono or TRS cable dictates how differently the piezo system operates. Some will hate this because they prefer to use a different amp for each output, but I applaud this move as I personally never use two amps simultaneously. Simpler is better for me.

One of the most striking and audible differences between the classic JPs and the Majesty is the Majesty takes the JP's already impressive levels of sustain to a completely different plane of existence. Kicking into a creamy lead channel is exactly where the Illuminator neck pickup is most at home. It grabs hold of the strings' vibrations and refuses to let go until the last bit of tone has been squeezed out of the note's very life. The guitar sings and sustains unlike any guitar you have played before.

There are only a couple of things about the Majesty I don't like, and they're both cosmetic. The first is the color options. They are all pearlescent colors inspired by sports cars. Normally I like these colors. But for some reason, I don't really like them on this guitar. I chose the Glacial Frost/white because I do like the contrast of the bright body against the dark fretboard. If you look at the fifth picture I posted, you can really see the pearl characteristic of the finish in the sun reflection on the neck.

My second complaint is the faux carbon fiber maple shield design on the body. The color gradation of the etching muddles the aesthetics slightly. If it were real carbon fiber it would look far better, but probably sound terrible. This etching is probably why I don't care for the body colors. The brownish gradation of the etching disturbs the boldness and authority of the colors. If MM could somehow find a way to make that carbon fiber a consistent, darker color, I think that would solve my problem with it.

Ultimately, color and aesthetic choices aside, the Music Man Majesty is one of the most amazing new designs to shake the foundations of a guitar market that has grown stagnant on slight variations of age-old Fender and Gibson designs. The Majesty is a bold and ballsy guitar that very few manufactures would have the guts to release. It is a futuristic guitar for creative players interested in evolved design philosophies and taking their chops to the next level. The absolute best compliment I can give the Majesty is I can't wait to get another one. The next guitar I buy will be a 7-string Majesty, likely in the Iced Crimson finish. But this kind of money is not easy for me to get, so by the time I'm ready for a new one, I hope the color options have been extended.

If you snub this guitar simply because of what it looks like, you are doing yourself a terrible disservice.

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Greg Suarez

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Mar 25, 2014
Messages
194
Location
Dayton, Ohio, United States
More of the new hotness.

And just for good measure, I included a photo of my small "family."
 

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dannyc09

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Apr 30, 2014
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41
Location
burnley, England
Great honest review there greg.

Im torn between the white and the blue to be honest. But im so looking forward to getting hold of one.

Thanks.
 

Greg Suarez

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Joined
Mar 25, 2014
Messages
194
Location
Dayton, Ohio, United States
great review thanks!

Out of curiosity, did JP approach you guys about designing this guitar, or did you approach him about making something so different? Did he have to convince you very much to go with the wild design, or were you pretty much on board from the start? Also, what were the biggest manufacturing challenges in making a completely different kind of guitar?
 

Barry1977

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Feb 9, 2014
Messages
128
Location
Liverpool
To be honest Greg i really think the carbon fiber effect really compliments the fretboard from the photo you have taken
Im getting the glacial frost at the beginning of July..Cannot wait!

Hope you are enjoying your Majesty and your review was much appreciated!
 

JasonT

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Joined
Nov 12, 2006
Messages
914
Thanks for the review.

Personally I love the pearl colors and the white appeals to me. Great choice!
 

FantasyMetal

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Joined
Oct 17, 2011
Messages
565
Location
Old Town, Maine, United States
Ultimately, color and aesthetic choices aside, the Music Man Majesty is one of the most amazing new designs to shake the foundations of a guitar market that has grown stagnant on slight variations of age-old Fender and Gibson designs. The Majesty is a bold and ballsy guitar that very few manufactures would have the guts to release. It is a futuristic guitar for creative players interested in evolved design philosophies and taking their chops to the next level. The absolute best compliment I can give the Majesty is I can't wait to get another one. The next guitar I buy will be a 7-string Majesty, likely in the Iced Crimson finish. But this kind of money is not easy for me to get, so by the time I'm ready for a new one, I hope the color options have been extended.

I was actually thinking this same thing when I sat down with my Glacial Frost 7. I can't think of a single guitar company that consistently tries to push the boundaries in radical ways and stretch out beyond what is traditionally expected. I mean Fender and Gibson, while making quality products, seem to be actually going back to what was popular in the 50's and 60's rather than moving forward. It's only fitting that one of the paragons of progressive metal chooses a progressive guitar company to meet his needs. Kudos Music Man, you deserve it.
 

Greg Suarez

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Joined
Mar 25, 2014
Messages
194
Location
Dayton, Ohio, United States
To be honest Greg i really think the carbon fiber effect really compliments the fretboard from the photo you have taken
Im getting the glacial frost at the beginning of July..Cannot wait!

Hope you are enjoying your Majesty and your review was much appreciated!

I don't mind the carbon fiber idea, in and of itself. The part about it I don't like is how it fades to a slightly lighter color as the etching reaches the center point of the body. If the etching stayed a consistent and dark color through the entirety of the shield design it would look stronger and emphasize the body colors even more. As it is now, the fade of the carbon fiber distracts my eye somewhat.

When I first saw the guitar I immediately fell in love with the body design/silhouette, especially the extended upper horn and reduced lower horn. As embarrassing as it is to admit, when I'm at work on a boring conference call or overlong meeting filled with self-important wank jobs who love to hear the sound of their own voice, I tend to space out and doodle guitar designs. I invariably design something similar to the Majesty with the extended upper horn. The only thing I didn't like was the carbon fiber shield in the center. That has really grown on me over time, but the fading color design of the carbon fiber is the only thing I don't like.

I am really enjoying my Majesty. I had an extended solo jam session last night after putting a set of the new M-Steel strings on it. With the sustain of the guitar and power of the pickups, I am finally able to really get a controlled feedback sound, almost like a sustainer or a semi-hollow guitar. It's perfect for something like the guitar interlude of Dream Theater's "The Count of Tuscany" where JP uses a volume pedal and controlled feedback.
 

Big Poppa

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Feb 9, 2005
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Coachella & SLO, California
This was a collaboration initiated by JP nearly 3 years ago.....I answered the phone on a saturday with JP wanting a stallion...powerful strong graceful....then I called drew....then we make abpout 50 prototypes including a few total start overs.....This guitar is why we do what we do......create tools for artists....There is probably not a company that would have stuck with this and spent the money....the development of this guitar seriously afftected the last two years total earnings.
 

Greg Suarez

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Joined
Mar 25, 2014
Messages
194
Location
Dayton, Ohio, United States
I was actually thinking this same thing when I sat down with my Glacial Frost 7. I can't think of a single guitar company that consistently tries to push the boundaries in radical ways and stretch out beyond what is traditionally expected. I mean Fender and Gibson, while making quality products, seem to be actually going back to what was popular in the 50's and 60's rather than moving forward. It's only fitting that one of the paragons of progressive metal chooses a progressive guitar company to meet his needs. Kudos Music Man, you deserve it.

If you want to really push your new Majesties to stellar heights, try the new EB M-Steel strings. My local Guitar Center finally got some in stock, and I got a set of 10-46 for my Majesty and 9-42 for my Strat. I did my initial play testing of the Majesty with the factory strings (RPS's, I believe), and as amazing as the Majesty sounds with those, the M-Steels are like a shot of adrenaline. They're a bit pricier than Cobalts and way pricier than regular Slinky's (like, 3x as much), but, man, they are worth every penny of it! The M-Steels take a bit of getting used to, from a tactile perspective, as they are rough, rough, rough... like running your fingers over emery boards. But that's probably partly what gives them that extra crack. I quickly got used to it.

I put a set of Cobalts on my bass, and that thing kicked alive, too. I used the standard factory strings on that for a while. And then, out of curiosity, I put a set of DR flatwounds on it, which was the biggest mistake I ever made in my entire life. The Cobalt bass strings are amazing, but I hope EB puts out M-Steel bass strings eventually.

I think the reason so many guitar companies are just mimicking Fender and Gibson is because the market is rough. I am friendly with the co-owner of the oldest and best local musical instrument store in my area (Hauer Music in Dayton, OH). They are a Fender dealer, and used to be a Gibson dealer before they decided to sever ties with Gibson due to their retailer policies. He said that the only big-ticket guitars they can sell are vintage style, like Strats, Teles and the guitars they sell from Heritage. If it's a more modern guitar like an Ibanez, he can only really move the cheap, imported stuff, and he can't sell the bulk that Guitar Center can of low-end instruments like that. The in-stock guitars of my local GC sort of echo these sentiments. They have a nice amount of $1500-$4000 Les Pauls and Strats, and then an avalanche of $400 Jacksons, Deans, LTDs and Ibanezes made in Indonesia. They do have one Ibanez made in Japan: a Steve Vai Jem that has been hanging there unsold for at least, no kidding, 3 years. It's now marked down with a big orange tag. I think they're desperate to get rid of it. The GC down I-75 in Cincinnati has much more high-end guitars in stock - they even have a separate room for high-end guitars. But even that is filled with, mostly, custom shop Les Pauls and Strats. Although, they do have a couple of Team J Craft Ibanezes, and even a couple of Lukes and a JP12. The only MM guitar the Dayton GC has is a Luke III with a roasted maple neck, and I anticipate that thing hanging there unsold for a long time, given the buying habits of local players. I think they also have a SBMM bass of some kind. That's it.

So, yeah, it is impressive that a company like MM would take a chance and release something as radical as the Majesty. I'm glad it is selling so well for them. When I bought mine from GC, I bought the only white 6-string in the entire chain, which had just arrived at their Manhattan store. Luckily I bought it before they opened it, because when I got it, it still had the plastic shroud.
 

Greg Suarez

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Joined
Mar 25, 2014
Messages
194
Location
Dayton, Ohio, United States
This was a collaboration initiated by JP nearly 3 years ago.....I answered the phone on a saturday with JP wanting a stallion...powerful strong graceful....then I called drew....then we make abpout 50 prototypes including a few total start overs.....This guitar is why we do what we do......create tools for artists....There is probably not a company that would have stuck with this and spent the money....the development of this guitar seriously afftected the last two years total earnings.

WOW! I didn't think the design of one guitar would have resonated so much within the company. I mean, I am in the business world and have an MBA, but I'm not familiar with inner financial workings of a guitar company, especially a privately held company which is not obliged to release financial statements and have the transparency of a public company.

I am becoming more obsessed with the Majesty as time goes on. The little aesthetic touches grab my eye. Like the mirror inlays, tilted headstock and the extended lower bout of the bridge cover that mimics the flow of the center shield design.

Last night I was jamming with it after putting a new set of M-Steels on it, and I was amazed at the kind of sounds I was able to bring out of it that I couldn't with even a standard JP6. The combination of the neck through body, Illuminator pickups and probably also the M-Steels open doors of entirely new levels of potential that I have never experienced with another guitar, and I have played MANY over the years.

I'm not saying all of this because you are who you are. Honestly, MM deserves every accolade they get for this guitar. I have tried out almost everything else out there (to the dismay of my wife) and I always find some flaw that makes me quickly fall out of love. The one exception is the Stratocaster, the guitar I grew up playing and will forever love. As far as designing a guitar for tomorrow and that has the audacity to brush off the safe redesigns and incremental "improvements" that every other guitar manufacturer considers an evolving product line, the Majesty really is the next generation of guitar. This is the one.

Picture the opening scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ancient man in the form of Neanderthal apes have discovered how to play guitar thanks to a giant black monolith. After a particularly dramatic and rambunctious jam session, one of the apes tosses his Stratocaster into the air. The camera pans up in a tight shot following the Stratocaster ascension. Suddenly the Stratocaster immediately turns into a MM Majesty as it begins a short ascension, landing in JP's hands.

Fin.
 

kbaim

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Aug 16, 2003
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Location
Red Rock Country

Picture the opening scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ancient man in the form of Neanderthal apes have discovered how to play guitar thanks to a giant black monolith.

This was not unlike the scene repeated over and over again at Music Mans open house some years back where many of us picked up their guitars to similar effect.
 

fbecir

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Jul 3, 2005
Messages
2,726
Location
Paris, FRANCE
Audrey Tautou is French. Therefore, French people are awesome.

It's the first time that somebody compares me with Audrey Tautou :
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Most of the time, people compare me with Chewbacca !
 
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