AX20 review by Ernie Ball / Music Man

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.2 (10 votes)
Ernie Ball / Music Man: AX20

Price paid: $ 403.31

Purchased from:

Sound — 9
I play classic rock, heavier blues (ZZ Top, Gary Moore, and anywhere in between), and sometimes I wander into guitar based rock (Van Halen, Eric Johnson.) The guitar has a full sound. It sounds like an expensive Epiphone Les Paul (yeah.. not a Gibson people) with a Fender bite to it. It sounds a lot more natural than my Laguna LE322 where the distorted tone sometimes sounds like its kinda computer generated or something. Unfortunately, mine feedsback pretty quickly with higher gain (a la Guns N Roses) and there is a faint hum in the background even on the clean channel of my amp.

I tend to stick with the neck humbucker alone or the bridge humbucker alone for distortion settings, and I find that all the selections are usable on clean settings. The two and four positions have a quirky thin sounds that can come near a Sultans of Swing (by Dire Straits) tone if you try really hard.

Biggest Pro: Unique sound.. its mostly les paul with a Fender bite.

Biggest Con: The pickup selections 2 and 4 dont work well with distortion.

Overall Impression — 9
As I said I play mostly classic rock and I think this guitar is a good match for me. I am just a junior in high school, but I have been taking lessons for over five years from a Berklee grad. I play it through a Boss Blues Driver, DigiTech Hot Head, EH Memory Toy (I'd save up for the MXR Carbon Copy if I were you..), and a Boss Chorus Ensemble into a Roland Cube 30. (Sometimes I use a DigiTech 200A processor instead which has been discontinued.) If it was lost or stolen I would look around again and play a few guitars in local shops, but I would probably come back to this one. I love the unique tone and body shape, but I hated the ringing bridge thing.. I'm glad its at least quieter now.

Overall, its a great buy for about $400 bucks. Here's a hint: when Guitarcenter has a sale tell because they like to beat them. Guitarcenter's 10% off Slash event became a music123 discount of about 20%!! Don't get a Epiphone Les Paul or Mexican Fender.. This guitar has a little bit of both in it. Get it.

Reliability & Durability — 8
Well I've only had it a week and I have the Laguna LE322 in case anything happens to this one. I'm a bit worried about the ringing of the B string against the bridge (which does get amplified and sent through my amp) and the clicking pick up selector. Aside from those things it seems solid.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
It was set up very well. For some reason the open B string (the second one) creates a high pitched ring as it buzzed or resonated against the bridge.. I couldn't tell which it was doing. I adusted the pickup height and individual string heights along with swapping out the factory strings and the ringing is now barely audible. I think the guitar came stock with .10-.46 EB Super Slinkies because when I put a new set on the guitar the intonation was still perfect.

Features — 9
Basswood Body w/ Creme Binding, tummy contour.
Quilted Maple Veneer Top
Maple Neck w/ Rosewood Fingerboard
Locking tuners
Music Man Designed HardTail bridge
22 Medium Jumbo Frets
25.5" Scale
5 Bolt Music Man Designed Neck Joint
2x Sterling A5 Zebra Humbuckers
5 Way Selector (1-bridge, 2-bridge and neck inner coils, 3-all coils, 4-neck parallel, 5- neck)
42mm Nut Width (1.65")
Spoke Wheel Truss Rod Adjustment
Heavy Duty Gig Bag Included
Transparent Orange Finish


Biggest Con: The pickup selector makes a clicky sound when switching between settings.

15 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Dark Aegis
    good_blink_plan wrote: Wow, are guitarists really so shallow as to not buy a guitar based on looks?
    Guitarists are shallow enough to bash guitars based on the name on the headstock
    I love the look of it, personally. I've been dying to try one for so long!
    Bastard ugly. Looks like bloodclot. Theres lengths I would go to get a good sound, but not when it looks like that..
    ^ I agree, this is one unattractive guitar. I hear good things about the quality of Musicman guitars though.
    wow. this is one ugly guitar. but i think it has good sound quality. musicman guitars have good credibility to me.
    I'm sure it sounds great, but I have to agree with everyone else on the ugliness.
    good_blink_plan wrote: Wow, are guitarists really so shallow as to not buy a guitar based on looks?
    Personally I love the shape of the Axis. Its comfortable and its like a fat deformed version of a tele. I used to have a Van Halen one and they are great guitars. Comfortable and versatile.
    Dark Aegis wrote: good_blink_plan wrote: Wow, are guitarists really so shallow as to not buy a guitar based on looks? Guitarists are shallow enough to bash guitars based on the name on the headstock
    Well, that's quite stupid considering how ernie ball/musicman guitars are pretty good.
    I dont think its ugly and the buzzing/ringing problem seems to have pretty much worked itself out if anyone is concerned. i do admit that if i see a squire on a headstock i think poorly of the guitar.. i think epiphone and sterling are more respectable.. that might sound dumb.
    Well this is not a Music Man/EB guitar.....its a glorified OLP! Nothing even ties the company to MM/EB except they copied there guitars..... I guess Huyndia is the same thing as Jaguar.....oops? Did I say that? Rock and roll.....