Time for me to introduce you to a used, but exceptionally clean, Musicman Family Reserve Axis Super Sport, from 2010 with a lush ‘bahama blue burst’ finish – Complete with the appropriate certificate, as well as the deluxe oblong case – Condition wise and this is a very very clean guitar – If it does not deserve the ‘as new/mint condition’ tag it is a close run thing – Look between the two humbuckers, to either side of the E strings and where you’d expect to see some pick marks there is virtually no sign of use – Certainly no dings or dints to the gloss finish – No fret wear – So any hint of previous use is minimal, if at all – In short, you’d have to be very fussy to complain about the condition – Comment on the finish – I believe it to be ‘bahama blue burst’
Fender and Gibson both utilise a Custom Shop division to hi-light their elite models, whilst PRS rave about their illustrious Private Stock division – So welcome to the Ball Family Reserve (BFR) models, which represents the pinnacle of guitar building, within the Musicman range – BFR guitars is a celebration of Musicman’s heritage in craftsmanship, featuring the finest luthier skills, tone woods and finishes – The BFR division allows you, the customer, to buy/order a Musicman Guitar, that was previously only available to a few select leading guitar artists – That majestic hand picked and highly figured maple top possesses all the seductive qualities you’d expect to see, under a lush bahama blue burst gloss finish – If you think the pics look good, just wait until you view it in the flesh, as it is jaw dropping time – Note the cream binding on the body, the matching finish on the headstock facia and of course the Ball Family Reserve inlay on the 12th fret – Then view copious amounts of birds eye along the maple neck – As you’d expect the playing performance is remarkable, with a fast and fluid playing action which is as slick as it gets – String bending is controlled and effortless, thanks to a set of high profile/medium width frets, along with a 10″ fingerboard radius – The neck feels silky smooth and ‘played in’ thanks to that special blend of gunstock oil and a hand rubbed wax – The nut width is 41mm, whilst the medium depth neck profile is based on the original Van Halen/Axis model from a few years ago, so you know the guitar can handle a rapid amount of notes per second, as required – Yet drop into a chilled out melodic mode as the mood takes you – Neck measures .853″ at the top nut end and .921″ around the 12th fret
Tonal character :- Don’t think the Axis Super Sport is just a speed machine, as it is loaded with soul and emotion – Such qualities help to ensure that it is a mighty fine instrument, that will allow you to drop into chilled out jazz and blues, throw in some hot country, or let it wallow in the classic rock territory for eternity – On first viewing, it appears that the custom wound DiMarzio pickups only offer the three standard tonal options that are found on most twin humbucker guitars – But similar to a PRS Custom, the 5 way blade switch ensures you have access to two additional single coil flavoured tones, via position 2 + 4 – In this format it will now utilise one switch setting for the inside pair of coils and one for the outside pair of coils from each humbucker – Ideal for those funky rhythm chops as favoured by the Chilli Peppers and Nile Rodgers
As an overview, the Axis Super Sport sits in the middle of the classic Strat and LP tones – As such you’ll hear the clarity, snap, dynamics and quick response that is associated with a Strat, yet the humbucking pick-ups deliver more depth, body and warmth, than can traditionally be found on a Strat – Yet these big humbucking tones are not as moody as per a LP, hence you’ll hear far more clarity and articulation – The Axis Super Sport possesses a natural lively tone, with good definition, which is especially noticeable on clean amp settings – The rich warm tone from the neck pick-up will allow the Axis Super Sport to slip into a smooth jazz and blues vibe if required – Here you can try out some lush Gilmour bends, or those melodic Little Wing style licks – Now click on the dirt switch on your amp and this baby springs into life – Smooth, warm, vintage flavoured tones are instantly available from the neck pickup, with more punch and bite, plus incredible sustain from the bridge pickup, whilst still retaining those smooth and musical upper mids and highs – Remember the Super Sport is very closely related to the original EVH Axis model, so I’m sure you’re fully aware of what the guitar is capable of achieving in the rock department, however the extra switching ensures this a far more versatile package – I’m sure many guitarist will still buy it as a classic rock guitar, but it will easily gravitate into other areas as required – The neck pick-up measures 14.53K whilst the bridge pick-up kicks out 16K – Quite high output levels yet the tone is warm, very musical and reserved, as against sounding like a party animal
Hardware is all top notch with a set of Schaller M6 locking machine heads, that feature stylish ‘pearl’ tuning buttons, along with a Musicman 2 point fulcrum trem, that incorporates a set of solid steel saddles – Note it is set-up with a set of 10-46 gauge strings, with the trem sitting flush to the body, yet only a light touch is required for down pitch – I can edit as required – Add a compensated top nut and you have an instrument with improved intonation, hence even complex chords sound in tune as you move up the fingerboard – Weight wise you are in for a treat as it only just hits 7lbs and 9oz according to my digital scales
With a price tag of £1869, a BFR is not exactly cheap, but I suspect you already knew that, but the build quality, attention to detail and playing performance all ensure it possesses the appropriate attributes that will please many guitar players – Whilst most players these days have more than one guitar, the Axis Super Sport will look good in any collection – Yet it is capable of handling so many playing’s styles, so who knows it may well turn out to be your ‘go to guitar’
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Guitars4You is not another corporate high street guitar store - My selection of premium grade guitars is about quality not quantity. Every guitar has been selected, inspected and approved by me, with particular attention to the set-up and playing performance. Every sale, phone call, email and mail order transaction is handled by me. A journey that is now over 40 years old, has fuelled my knowledge, experience, love, devotion and passion for exceptionally fine guitars.