Ernie Ball By Mu­sic Man Majesty Monar­chy


Australian Guitar - - Contents - STEVE HENDERSON

John Petrucci’s work with Dream The­ater con­tin­ues to draw new fans, and his dy­namic per­for­mances dur­ing var­i­ous G3 tours (with Satch and oth­ers) has broad­ened this fan­base by demon­strat­ing his im­mense rock chops. His work with Mu­sic Man and Mesa/Boo­gie has pro­duced some de­fin­i­tive in­stru­ments that ap­peal to a wide va­ri­ety of play­ers. His sig­na­ture amp, the Boo­gie JP2C, is an ex­traor­di­nar­ily ver­sa­tile head that cov­ers a lot of styles, and the cur­rent range of Petrucci‑re­lated Mu­sic Man gui­tars (11 dif­fer­ent mod­els) like­wise of­fers a ver­sa­til­ity, in each gui­tar, that can cover a range of styles from metal and pro­gres­sive metal, to rock and pop to coun­try. This is be­cause the pri­mary prod­ucts of these in­stru­ments are rooted in tone and feel, not vol­ume, shred‑abil­ity or im­age.


The Mu­sic Man Majesty Monar­chy is a tone mon­ster. A pair of DiMarzio Sonic Ec­stacy hum­buck­ers and a Mu­sic Man piezo sys­tem in the bridge do the busi­ness but don’t mean much, or do much, if the lum­ber isn’t do­ing its job. In this re­gard, the Monar­chy has a ma­hogany through‑neck con­nected seam­lessly to a ma­hogany body with a fig­ured maple top fea­ture. The ebony fret­board car­ries 24 medium‑jumbo stain­less steel frets, per­fectly crowned. Ma­hogany has long been con­sid­ered the per­fect com­ple­ment for hum­buck­ers, and it con­trib­utes a strong midrange pres­ence to the out­put. Even unplugged, you can hear the pro­nounced mids and feel the long sus­tain.


Elec­tron­i­cally, the Monar­chy pro­vides a wide va­ri­ety of op­tions. The DiMarzios de­liver a broader range than most and the out­put has some se­ri­ously rich tones. There’s the piezo sys­tem, an ac­tive preamp, a three‑way for the hum­buck­ers, an­other three‑way to as­sign the pick­ups (hum­buck­ers or piezo or both), a push/push for the 20‑deci­bel gain boost func­tion, a sec­ond push/ push (un­der the tone con­trol) to ac­cess cus­tom pickup choice, and a mono/stereo out­put op­tion. In ad­di­tion, the back plate houses trim pots for the piezo EQ and boost level. That’s a lot of con­trol and a lot of di­als, switches and elec­tri­cal thin­gies, but once the pa­ram­e­ters are set for the in­di­vid­ual player, the ba­sic knobs and switches can be used in a very con­ven­tional way: a cou­ple of three‑ways plus vol­ume and tone.

As part of the Majesty se­ries, the Monar­chy has an asym­met­ri­cal lower body pro­file and a fig­ured maple in­sert around the pick­ups and bridge. The off­set waste and long up­per horn makes the gui­tar per­fectly balanced, and at three ki­los, the Monar­chy is an easy lug. The deep tre­ble cut­away pro­vides plenty of up­per fret ac­cess while the slim, nicely‑shaped neck, the pol­ished ebony fret­board and the per­fectly‑dressed stain­less steel frets all make for a smooth and un­hin­dered play­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. From every an­gle, the Monar­chy looks and feels like a premium gui­tar.

The Monar­chy also sounds like a premium gui­tar. Var­i­ously us­ing a Mesa/Boo­gie Mk IV (Simul‑Class) and vin­tage Boo­gie quad, a Mesa TransAt­lantic into a cus­tom 212 (with G12‑65s), an old tweed Bass­man and a Fish­man Loud­box Mini as the test amps, the Monar­chy showed its many per­son­al­i­ties. The Monar­chy’s clean tone through

the Bass­man and the Boo­gie’s clean chan­nel is big, bold and rich. It’s a sur­prise to hear so much har­monic con­tent from pick­ups with so much out­put (usu­ally, tone is sac­ri­ficed for vol­ume) but these Sonic Ec­stacy trans­duc­ers have some real class. Through the Bass­man, notes pro­duced by the Monar­chy have a warm kind of tone that’s clean, but not en­tirely pris­tine – very sweet and very mu­si­cal. En­gage the boost and the Bass­man roars with a solid, tune­ful drive, sim­i­lar to a JCM800 but with the ex­tra sub­son­ics of the 6L6 tubes. It’s like chan­nel switch­ing on a sin­gle-chan­nel amp from the gui­tar – a very cool fea­ture. I added to this a Zen­drive, a Mesa Flux-Five and an old Boss DS-1 (40 years on and it still pumps out a great sound), and the Monar­chy pro­duced a range of use­ful sounds from a pretty sim­ple, set-and-for­get sig­nal chain.


Into the drive chan­nel of both the TransAt­lantic and the Boo­gie Mk IV, the Monar­chy pro­duces some amaz­ingly smooth tones with sus­tain for days. The value of a through-neck de­sign is the trans­mis­sion of vi­bra­tion from the fret­board to the body, cre­at­ing a kind of res­o­nance ‘loop’ that, the­o­ret­i­cally, in­creases sus­tain and dy­nam­ics. Com­bined with the long scale and 17-inch ra­dius, it makes for a great com­bi­na­tion.

In all, the Monar­chy is one of the most dy­namic gui­tars I’ve ever played. Even the nat­u­ral com­pres­sion of the over­drive chan­nels doesn’t squash the Monar­chy’s touch sen­si­tiv­ity. And it’s ca­pa­ble of some fat tones, too. Even dis­torted chords dis­play a string def­i­ni­tion that is clear and balanced, and sin­gle notes leap out with a voice that has body and siz­zle. Add in the “acoustic” el­e­ment from the piezo sys­tem, and there’s plenty of tone shap­ing avail­able.

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