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Music Man Axis Super Sport Review

Date:September 26, 2004Axis Super Sport
Manufacturer:Ernie Ball
Author:Ned Cullen

Introduction

The Axis by Ernie Ball Music Man (EBMM) is the same guitar as the original EBMM Van Halen (EVH) model with a few position changes of the volume know and pickup selector. The Axis was introduced when EVH decided to move to Peavey for his signature guitar model. The Axis Super Sport is another incarnation of the Axis with a few twists which will be covered in the features section. The EBMM Axis Super Sport is what is being reviewed here today.

Features

Axis Super Sport headstock First lets cover the basics. The Axis Super Sport (and Axis) is a 25.5 inch scale guitar (ala Fender) however the headstock is only 5-7/8th inches long which is shorter than the traditional 6 tuners on a side headstock. This gives the Axis the appearance of being a shorter guitar. The neck is selected birds eye maple with a maple fretboard. As seen in the picture the neck is highly figured. The neck is unfinished and requires periodic maintenance to keep the wood in perfect condition. One very cool feature of the Axis models is the ability to adjust the truss rod without removing the strings or other components.

The body is flat topped and made from basswood (all EVH models have been bass wood) with a book matched figured maple top, the P90 versions have ash bodies. One thing I will say is the top on this guitar is absolutely stunning with a very beautiful quilt in what EBMM call Black Cherry Burst.

Pickups are custom Dimarzio per EVH's specs and are the same pickups found on the EBMM EVH model. The internals are shields with a graphite resin and the control cover is aluminum lined.

Now lets talk about the differences between the Axis and the Axis Super Sport. The most noticable is the bridge, Axis has a locking Floyd Rose type trem while the Axis Super Sports are available with a vintage tremolo or strings-thru-the-body bridge of chrome plated, solid steel saddles. The vintage tremolo is optional. The other major difference is in pickup selection the Axis has a basic 3-way selector similar to Les Pauls while the Axis Super Sport has a 5-way switch. Placing the 5-way in positions 2 and 4 activate the pickups into single coil mode for the neck and bridge. The Axis Super Sport is also available with P90s.

Action, Fit & Finish

Axis Super Sport body As mentioned above the top on guitar is absolutely gorgeous and the picture doesn't quite capture the effect. Originally I was also concerned about the unfinished neck but after spending a few hours playing any qualms about the neck were quickly laid to rest. The playability and comfort is incredible, your hands just seem to fall into the right place and the action is perfect. I received my guitar setup with 10's have no problem playing for 3-4 hours without fatigue in my hands.

The vintage tremolo on the Axis Super Sport allows the action on each string to be setup independently along with the overall bridge height which allows for a perfect setup. Along with being able to adjust the truss rod with the strings in place make for hitting that perfect setup that much easier.

Sound

The first conclusion would be this guitar produces a very EVH sound. While it does sound good playing Van Halen tunes the electronics also allow a great deal of versatility. Playing through a Fender Champ and a tube screamer with the selector switch in the 2 position hitting Clapton-esque tones or other blues licks sound pretty sweet. During a extended jam session using my Dean Markley RM40 I was able to jump from Stones to Hendrix to Cream to Fleetwood Mac with out a problem just by changing the pickup selection on the Axis Super Sport.

Basically the Axis Super Sport is capable of producing most any sound desired and should not be limited to only reproducing Van Halen sounds or songs. Since acquiring the Axis Super Sport my 2 Strats have not left their cases and my Tokai Love Rocks is still out due to my Axis being tuned down a half step and I'm to lazy to retune in between songs.

Customer Support

If you haven't been to the EBMM forums your missing out. The luthiers at EBMM hang out on the forum and are ready to answer any question along with a knowledgeable group of players.

The contacts page at Ernie Ball has customer service email contact for Music Man guitars and a separate email for International. Some of the email address even have names associated with them so you actually know who your contacting. Imagine that, far more customer friendly than many other brands.

Overall Impressions

I absolutely love this guitar!!! During my search I was focused on finding a Gold Top Wolfgang (I've got a thing for Gold Tops) and stumbled upon the Axis Super Sport with the help of a friend. Best guitar decision I've ever made hands down, the range of sounds allows the guitar to fit into any set. The ease in which the instrument can be played have allowed me to get far more playing time in before fatigue or hand/wrist/arm discomfort becomes to annoying.

Would I buy another? You bet, especially if EBMM releases a Gold Top version.


Music Man Axis SuperSport HH Electric Guitar Translucent Gold Maple Fretboard
Music Man Axis SuperSport HH Electric Guitar Translucent Gold Maple Fretboard

Music Man Axis Electric Guitar Translucent Gold Maple Fretboard
Music Man Axis Electric Guitar Translucent Gold Maple Fretboard

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