AX40 review by Ernie Ball / Music Man

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (13 votes)
Ernie Ball / Music Man: AX40

Price paid: £ 500

Sound — 10
This is one of the best guitars I have ever heard, clean and with distortion. The pickups are amazing, considering that they are stock, so don't even think of changing them! There is a lovely balance of mid, with the top and bottom end. I find the fact that there is no tone knob good because you get the best sound you can get out of it all of the time, but if you want to have a bit of a difference, maybe got for the AX20, which has tone. This guitar is meant to be more suited for metal and rock whilst the AX20 is the more versatile one but I can play most things on my AX40, from Muse to love ballads (I couldn't think of a band that plays these!)

Overall Impression — 10
I love it. Simples. I was considering a Telecaster when I got this one but the AX40 was better at every turn. Sounds better, looks better and plays better. If I lost it I would defo replace it. Even when I eventually get a real Musicman, I will still use this guitar.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Its built like a rock and its very solid, and it stays in tune really well. When I get a drop d Switch that you stick on the bridge, I will happily play a gig without a backup, because of course due to the locking system I can't tune up and down at the moment. It is defo built to last, and it gets better and better with age.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Well, when it first came, everything needed a tweak. It took a while to get perfect but I might have just got a bad one because others who have one have said that its good straight out of the box. The action for me was a bit high and the Floyd Rose needed lowering but those were just little things to make it perfect. We also oiled the neck then took some of the laquer off and that gave a really nice played in feel because at first, the neck was slightly unfriendly, but a days playing will sort that.

Features — 9
These are quite recent guitars and they are the new sub series to Ernie Balls MusicMan guitars. It is a basswood body and a maple neck and fret board with 22 frets. It has a maple veneer quilted top and my copy is transparent gold. One of the big features about this guitar is the neck- it is a symmetrical, so it is a little thicker on one side for maximum stiffness and grip. I like this about the neck because it feels great in the hands but not too bulky like some Les Pauls can be. Try it before you buy one though.

It has a locking system, but I would not call it a Floyd Rose as it only lowers the pitch, as there is no routing in the guitar to bend upwards. This is not a problem for me as I do not use the trem much but for any of those who count on their trem like Steve Vai, this is not for you. However the tuning is very stable because of it.

Another feature of this design of guitar is the one volume knob (no tone!) and one three way pickup switch. Also, there are pearloid tuning pegs, which are a very nice addition.

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I like this guitar simply because it works with anything, from EVH to Pagans Mind. Only problem is that like a Les Paul, its weighty and unbalanced.
    Odd shape that I'd probably have to get used to, but no tone knob? I know I'd be routing out another cavity in that bad boy right away...
    The only thing i don't like about the guitar is that it is not routed for a floyd (as said in the review) and the fact that there's only a volume knob and IMO its in a bad location. Honestly, i think the JP50 is better
    I personally do not like a supposed to be floating trem only capable of dives. Routing for a tone knob was mentioned; hell, I'd route the trem for it's full potential. Or just invest in something else. Flaxwood anyone?
    I got this babe and really love it. This is exactly a replica of the Axis used by EVH as principal during the Balance tour. You can see lots of videos with it. The famous 'can stop lovin' you' is where it shines the most. Of course it is gold, the blue one is uncommon. My point is that musicians and non musicians LOVED this guitar when they saw the video, don't understand why people complains here that's ugly. I love it.
    Very nice review! Played several M/Ms thought them wonderful guitars, but didn't like the EVH styled ones cuz of too many reaons to include here. Actully, just bought a new axe that I love, am writing reviow, so wanted to find an intellegent exapmsmple (read lots, lots bad!) and figured that guys with enough brains to buy E/Bs, was probably a good place to look. So, this is the first time I looded here caring I cared about the writing, not for and not data. For once, I figured right! But, I should have checked. but I didn't know E/B now had an afforable sub-species, never mind if it's not usa built, it can always be tweaked at that price. Me, tried to replace Strat Plus, preices Stupid! Found better than Plus in NJ. custom buider, occasionally puts something on ebay, paid 525 (everything) about s**t! YA DONE GOOD ON THE REVEW tho! NOW IT KNOW sorry its too late. Thanks: Stupidcaster
    they r great guitar to play for the price they r excellent..the maple neck is very fast and tone great may not b every ones taste..i actually dont really use tone i may knock it back for fake jazz or something but if i am playing for real i got volume max and never use tone..i like the idea of simple particularly live u dont need distractions..great guitar for this price..ebmm make great instruments though i would go for a JP6 i still want one of these
    But the good thing about the volume knob is that when playing with distortion, you can roll it back and totally clean up the tone! Its most effective with Fuzz. But I got the Drop D tuner, and I found that it wouldn't fit on the stock bridge. So I replaced the bridge and found that some of the tone was lost. Also I put some locking strap pegs on and they won't stay on. So the moral of the story is: LEAVE THIS GUITAR STOCK!
    I've played with a few of these in the past, not beyond the typical 15 minute Guitar Center visit really and was never overwhelmed. Over time, I was intrigued to try and find a blue one and finally did and so far I am impressed. No one should think for a moment, they are getting a $2K Music Man, because it is not that. It is however a very capable guitar and an excellent value for the avid guitarist. Even for the advanced guitarist this is plenty. I thought I'd be looking for a set of Axis pickups, but I am leaving it stock as the sound is VERY impressive. A much better sound buy than other similar $300 guitars.