Axis review by Ernie Ball / Music Man

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  • Features: 10
  • Sound: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (33 votes)
Ernie Ball / Music Man: Axis
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Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features — 10
I purchased my Axis new from Guitar Center in 2013 (I got a great discount because it was the display model), so I'm guessing it's a 2013 model. For all the specific specs, there's the link to the MM website. This guitar has a BEAUTIFUL birds eye maple neck, and it feels like it's been worn in already. It's so easy to play. Very fast neck. Stunning green quilt top guitar, it was a guitar center exclusive color. On stage, depending on the lighting, the guitar can look bright green, dark green, blue-ish green, or even like a green/black quilt combo. But at home when you look up close, it's translucent. You can even see the brown in the wood underneath the top. The guitar looks and sounds a bit like a les paul and a tele had a baby. MusicMan Floyd Rose, lowers pitch only. 1 volume knob, no tone. 2 DiMarzio humbuckers. Schaller M6LA tuners with pearl buttons. Came with a hardshell case. I rate this a 10 because that's all I need. I don't ever touch tone knobs. Simple, beautiful design.

Sound — 10
I could spend days describing the sound and still not do it justice. I've played this guitar live doing many styles of music, from rock, ska, country, jam band, funk, electronic, shred, metal... And after every show, everyone wants to know what kind of guitar I'm playing. For rock, this guitar punches through the amp with a trebly, but extremely clear tone. You can hear every note in a chord perfectly. The squeels it creates are beautiful and effortless. The clean tones are fantastic and clear too, especially when using the middle pickup (which is perfect for country!). Even though it looks like a shred machine, this guitar can get a wonderful twangy tone. The floyd rose doesn't seem to affect the sustain at all. I LOVE the Floyd Rose. First one I owned. Stays in tune perfect, I can do tons of little tricks that sound good and are flashy... I love it. Just requires some extra time, care, and attention. As far as shredability, it IS Eddie Van Halen's signature design. Ernie Ball hasn't changed the specs much since it came out. It's stupid how easy it is to play this guitar. However, I actually had to adjust my playing a bit because of how easy it is to play. (Other guitars are Eric Johnson strat & Gibson LP Classic... so different). It just sounds like the best of both of those worlds. The LP and EJ were instantly demoted to back ups when the MM came around. 

No matter what style of music I'm playing my rig stays the same. I use a Marshall JVM205H through some stock Marshall 4x12 cab from the '90s. The guitar doesn't make any unusual noise. It's quieter than my LP, which has Duncan Distorions. Overall the tone is very warm and bright. Nails the "brown sound" with minimal effort through whatever amp its going through. The tone versatility that this thing gets is UNREAL. Whatever you're trying to play, this guitar can help you out. Can I rate this an 11? Please?

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Was set up perfect from the factory! When I went to pickup the guitar though, good ol' guitar center f-ed with it and put .10's on it, and didn't adjust anything. Of course, it wasn't as simple as just re-string it with .9's. I'm broke, so I went ahead and started learning how to mess with guitars (perhaps not smart on a $1600 guitar... but it worked for me!). I never messed anything up, the guitar is very easy to adjust. I ended up completely changing the settings around after guitar center messed with it though, so I can't really recall the major differences between factory setup and now. I know the action was set very very low, and I have it a little higher than it came originally. I also messed with the trem springs. But hey, nothings perfect, it came set up amazing and if you need to change anything it's easy to adjust it without paying a tech.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar has been gigged very heavily, and I have had no issues on or off stage. The case is reliable. The hardware shows little wear, even after all the sweat and beer that it's seen. I replaced the strap buttons with Schaller strap locks, but the originals worked great while they lasted. I always bring a back up, and never end up using it. This guitar is too fun to play, I get sucked into it. So no a backup guitar isn't required... But if you break a string in the middle of a set with a floyd, you're going to want a back up.

Overall Impression — 10
My main band right now is a funk/jam band sort of thing, however, I grew up on Van Halen. With this guitar, I can have perfect tone on stage with my band, and also at home when I want to play some VH. It's a tone machine. Whether or not you like Eddie, that dude knows tone. As I stated earlier my amp is a Marshall JVM205H, and the only thing on my pedalboard that affects my tone is a compressor (which is vital for gigs in my opinion). If it was stolen, I'd clean up my feces and then find that sucker or sell the EJ or LP for a new one.

Pick one up for yourself and try it if you can... I had always wanted to try one, and this was the FIRST one I had ever seen. And I freaking bought it. I had no car at the time, but it was the last one they had in stock. No regrets. I can't compare this guitar to any other... It's like a Les Paul and Tele had a baby with a Floyd Rose on it. It sounds more full than a Charvel or Kramer, but plays with even more ease. Worth every penny... I can't stop staring at it/playing it. I can even claim that it took my playing to the next level. Plus it's not one of those guitars that people see everyday... People definitely remember beautiful guitars, and any finish this baby comes in is beautiful.

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