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Tanax

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May 22, 2010
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553
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Stockholm, Sweden
Hi!

Forgive me if this has been asked before, or if it's a silly question.
Are the pickups in these 2 models the same? It just says "Custom Music Man" so I'm unsure :)

If they are not the same, which guitar would you say fits better for classic rock (or maybe some older metal)? Like which one would be more "Les Paul":y?
If they are the same, I guess same question :p

Price difference between them are not too big, though I'm slightly partial to the premium flame/quilt top on the Luke III. Push boost is a nice feature too!
Other than that, the only other differences are nut width and radius, right?

Thanks in advance!
 

jayjayjay

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Feb 18, 2021
Messages
183
They're custom wound, but my understanding is that EBMM custom-winds to a given model. So, the Sabre pups aren't the same as the LIII. Sabre pups have been described as more modern voiced. The LIII pups were voiced to Steve Lukather's specifications.

I don't have an LIII, but I have a Sabre - increasingly it's my number 1 instrument. The body is thin and contoured, and the neck is also on the thinner side. I think the LIII has a thicker neck profile, from what I've read.

Considering what Luke plays, I'm betting the LIII is tonally better for classic rock. Also, the LIII can be had in HH and HSS configurations, while the Sabre is only HH, so there's that aspect to consider.
 

SWRMM

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Jul 3, 2022
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California
I recently bought a Sabre but played and tested the Sabre and LIII extensively on several occasions. Why I ultimately chose the Sabre over the LIII:

- Sabre neck is thinner in depth but wider at nut and last fret which I like. LIII neck is too narrow for my taste.
- LIII neck is more "soft-V" shaped vs "modern C/D" in Sabre.
- I like Sabre's medium high-profile frets vs LIII's wide low-profile frets.
- I think the LIII pups are active vs passive in Sabre but both sound great.
- I typically like the floating tremelo on LIII vs "decked" tremelo on Sabre but the Sabre still felt good. I'm still getting used to it though having come from a Schaller trem on my Gibson Explorer Korina custom shop and standard trem on my Fender Strat Professional.

In the end it was a very tight race but Sabre took the win due to its neck and frets. I'll also say it was not the easiest a/b comparison since the Sabre comes with 10s strings vs 9s on the LIII which I play on all other electrics, but I found myself liking the 10s on the Sabre enough where I've tried 10s, 9s, and even 9.5s on it since I bought it. Leaning toward 9.5s or 10s now even after playing 9s for 35+ years.

Both guitars are fantastic, and my Sabre gets all my electric play time since I brought it home. I'll try to take and post photos sometime soon, but it's the limited-edition Blue Dream color with all black hardware. Killer looks!
 

Tanax

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May 22, 2010
Messages
553
Location
Stockholm, Sweden
Interesting, good to know that they are indeed different! Thank you for your replies!

You all may have swayed to team Sabre, glad to hear so many positive things about it! There are seems to be more YouTube content of the Sabre as well.
What do you mostly play on your Sabre's? I realize you can probably play anything on it, but very interested in what you think it lends itself extra well for?
 

SWRMM

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Jul 3, 2022
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3
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California
I play a pretty diverse range of genres and am still dialing in my Sabre's sound (all for home personal recreation use), but so far where I see it shining is with clear, shimmering balanced clean tones and heavy distortion crunch rhythms and soaring solo leads. Cleans are good for melodic fingerstyle songs as well as shimmering chords, and the distorted rhythms and solos are probably my favorite so far. Think heavy hard rock (maybe metal) crunch chords and smooth legato solos like Steve Morse or Eric Johnson but with more distortion and heft.

So far I'm not a huge fan of the split-coil pup settings but I'm spoiled with a nice strat with single-coil pups for that. I also think the strat takes the cake for blues music but the Sabre holds it own for blues too in HH mode. Overall, the Sabre's HH pups are hot enough for my taste and sound "modern" as has been described and definitely hotter as expected than my Gibson pups.

Another aspect that hasn't been mentioned in this thread is the ebony fretboard choice on the Sabre. I've always played rosewood or maple, and I think rosewood is the only choice for the LIII. However, the Sabre is available in rosewood, roasted maple (which looks awesome) or ebony. My Sabre has the ebony fretboard, and while this wasn't my first choice going into testing out the guitars, I think it's a great fretboard material for this guitar and adds to the sharp cutting attack of notes not to mention looking killer with the all black hardware. I have played ebony fretboards on classical guitars over the years but never on an electric, and I love the feel and look of it on my Sabre. Now I have all three materials (rosewood on Gibson, maple on strat, and ebony on Sabre).
 

SWRMM

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Jul 3, 2022
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California
Another thing I really like about the Sabre pups is the note articulation, especially with heavily distorted chords. Other guitars can sound “muddy” with heavily distorted chords but the Sabre pups keep a nice note separation and articulation that sounds great. Can you tell I’m really enjoying my new Sabre? :)
 

Lucien2

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Nov 13, 2021
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29
Location
Baltimore, MD
I ended up with a Luke, despite the neck being my least favorite on paper. In the real world, I was lucky enough to get to play both and just loved the Luke. Mine is used though, an older LII with active HSS pickups and I liked them better than the split coil voice on the Sabre. You can always float the Sabre bridge; someone decked this LII and put 10s on it. I used the EBMM tech notes to return it to stock
 

JasonT

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Nov 12, 2006
Messages
916
I’m a huge fan of the LIII HH. Its my #1, 2, and 3. I bought a Sabre and returned it within the GC return policy window. Nothing wrong with the Sabre. Great guitar. I just preferred the LIII. The soft v-shape neck carve on the LIII is more comfortable to me than the thinner Sabre neck - same with the body contour on the LIII. Soundwise, the LIII is very versatile. I love that the in between sounds don’t have the typical volume drop, and the on board boost is great. The Sabre to my ears was a bit more modern sounding. Again, not bad, different. If possible to play them, you should. The feel is different and the sound is too. Either way you go, you’re picking a great guitar!
 
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