The Steve Lukather line of signature guitars gets an extensive makeover this year with the introduction of the all-new L4. Available in an HT SSS and HT HH configuration, and a limited edition 30th anniversary version featuring an HT HSS pickup configuration with Music Man double-locking floating tremolo. The L4 is the culmination of over 30 years of collaboration with Platinum and Grammy award-winning artist Steve Lukather whose list of accomplishments includes an extensive session career (guitarist on over 1500 recordings), major contributor on the multiplatinum Michael Jackson "Thriller" album, and leader and a significant contributor of the legendary rock band Toto.
When it comes to signature guitars, Music Man go all in. While it's common for some other brands to simply palette-swap an existing model (and maybe change the pickups) and call it a day, Music Man will work with their artists to conjure something completely unique from the ground up. Such is their commitment to giving their artists what they want, that signature models make up the bulk of their range, and the majority of what we'd consider the "classic" EBMM designs - the Morse, the Axis (yes, this was a signature model), the JP (and now the Majesty), and of course, the Luke.
NAMM 2023 saw the introduction of the fourth iteration of Steve Lukather's iconic signature guitar, and while the outline remains largely unchanged since the Luke I launched in 1994, the new L4 represents a significant evolution of this timeless design.
Aside from the new finishes, perhaps the most significant change is the pickups. Available for the first time with three single coils, alongside more traditional HH and HSS configs, the new L4s all feature Music Man's new HT pickups. Inspired by the processes that led to the development of Ernie Ball's M-Steel and Cobalt Slinky strings, these heat-treated pickups offer higher output than traditional designs, while also offering extended dynamic range and frequency response. This is quite the achievement, since the hotter a passive pickup gets, the more the constricted the dynamics, high treble and deep bass tend to become, but the clever folks over at Music Man seem to have pulled off genuine alchemy here. It's clearly been a big enough change to catch Lukather's attention, and when you plug these guitars in, it's easy to see why.
Of the five new L4 models announced, the one that immediately caught my eye was the limited edition 30th Anniversary "Steamroller" - not just for its stunning aesthetics, but for how it harks back to the original Luke I with its HSS pickups and recessed Floyd Rose tremolo - a rarity, since most Lukes since the Luke II have come with a standard 2-point tremolo.
Let me tell you, "Steamroller" is an appropriate choice of name here, because this guitar is an absolute monster. It comes straight out of the case with an almost-too-easy setup that practically dares you to shred on it, and the neck feels unbelievably good under the hand. To be fair, that's something that seems to be common to all Music Man guitars, but there's something about the neck shape on the Luke that just *works*. It's crazy fast, but it's not a "shredder's" neck profile, and you can wrap your thumb around it and wrestle it too if that's what you're into. Sonically, those new HT pickups really deliver the goods, while the HSS configuration offers the kind of versatility that a player like Lukather requires - whether it's huge slabs of rock, Texas-inspired blues, "MJ" funk picking or soulful throaty lead tones, the L4 delivers.
The new Music Man L4 is a guitar befitting one of the all-time greats. It offers incredible playability, elegant and eye-catching visuals and a palette of stunning tones that will not only hang in any musical setting, but excel. This is a serious instrument for serious players, and if that's you, you need to check one out.
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