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Review of the Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III Electric Guitar - Signature Model

Author: Guitar Planet MagazineTime: 2024-01-25 06:40:00

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III Signature Model Guitar

The Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III is the latest signature model guitar for acclaimed session guitarist and Toto lead guitarist Steve Lukather. Released in 2021, it builds upon the previous Luke signature models with some refinements and new features while retaining the exceptional playability that the Luke series is known for.

Overview of the Luke III Signature Model Guitar

Visually, the Luke III features an elegant body shape with a nice sparkly blue finish. It has a double-cutaway alder body with a carved maple top, maple neck with birdseye figure, and rosewood fingerboard. The pickups are DiMarzio Transition humbuckers which are very versatile. It also comes equipped with Music Man's patented tremolo bridge system which stays in tune exceptionally well even with heavy use of the whammy bar.

Design and Construction of the Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III

The Luke III is precision-crafted in Ernie Ball Music Man's California factory using high quality components and attention to detail. Several design aspects contribute to both the great sound of this guitar as well as its amazing playability.

Body Shape and Finish

The body has an elegantly contoured double cutaway shape, made of alder which helps produce a clear, balanced tone. It has a finely finished transparent blue sparkle paint job which allows the figured maple top underneath to shine through. The overall construction, rounding, and smoothness of the body edges make this a very comfortable guitar to play either seated or standing with a strap.

Neck Profile and Fingerboard

The Luke III has a roasted maple neck with a soft V-shaped profile that fits nicely in the hand. The fingerboard is rosewood which helps bring out the midrange and low end. It has a 12-16" compound radius which allows for easy bends and an overall very fast, slick feel. The medium-jumbo nickel frets are smoothly finished for speed. The heel of the neck joins the body seamlessly, allowing excellent upper fret access.

Hardware and Electronics

It features a set of Ernie Ball Music Man designed Schaller locking machine heads which help keep the guitar in tune. The compensated nut ensures accurate intonation all along the neck. The patented Music Man floating tremolo bridge is very solid and stable, yet flutters nicely for vibrato effects. The chrome hardware overall is high quality and durable. This guitar is loaded with DiMarzio Transition humbuckers, with a gain boost circuit activated by a push-pull volume pot. It has exceptional tonal versatility thanks to the 5-way pickup selector switch.

Sound and Playability of the Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III

With its specialized design and premium components, the Luke III delivers exceptional sound across a wide range of musical styles, along with buttery smooth playability ideal for extended practice or recording sessions.

Pickups and Tones

The DiMarzio Transition pickups are very dynamic and responsive. They excel at everything from sparkling cleans to roaring distorted tones. Combined with the active gain boost, you can conjure up intensely saturated modern metal tones, glassy strat-like single coil tones, warm jazzbox neck pickup tones - everything in between. From funk to fusion to rock and metal, this guitar handles it all sonically.

Comfort and Feel

Its lightweight, contoured body and fast roasted maple neck make the Luke III feel almost like an extension of your body rather than just an instrument. It's very comfortable to play either seated or standing for extended periods. The flat compound radius fingerboard allows for easy, fluid lead playing all across the neck. Despite the use of a tremolo bridge, the tuning stability remains rock solid. Overall it's incredibly fun and inspiring to play.

Pros and Cons of the Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III

Advantages of the Luke III

There are many advantageous features that make the Luke III really stand out:

  • Amazing build quality and attention to detail
  • Versatile, dynamic pickups suitable for any style
  • Exceptional tuning stability from the tremolo bridge
  • Very lightweight and comfortable contoured body shape
  • Roasted maple neck that feels smooth and slick
  • Onboard gain boost circuit for high gain tones
  • Seamless upper fret access
  • Premium components like Schaller tuners, DiMarzio pickups

Drawbacks to Consider

There aren't very many downsides to this guitar, but here are a couple small things to keep in mind:

  • The transparent blue finish shows fingerprints easily
  • The smaller headstock size takes some getting used to visually
  • As a high-end instrument, it comes with a premium price tag

Ideal Uses for the Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III

Studio Sessions

With its tonal versatility to cover many different musical styles and genres, plus its exceptional tuning stability and playability, the Luke III really excels as a premium studio guitar. You could easily use it to lay down country-style chicken pickin' in one session, then shred through high gain metal riffs in the next session afterwards.

Live Performance

The Luke III is also well-suited for demanding live performance situations. It cuts through a mix very nicely thanks to its clear, balanced tone. The tremolo bridge handles aggressive vibrato techniques without going out of tune. Lastly, the smooth neck and lightweight build make this guitar comfortable to stand with on stage for long sets without fatigue setting in.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III is a thoughtfully refined version of Steve Lukather's signature guitar that delivers on all fronts. Featuring versatile pickups, extremely stable tuning, and a slick playing feel, it's equally suited for the studio or stage. The attention to quality is evident, from its seamless fretwork down to small details like the recessed strap buttons. Overall if you're looking for a high-end guitar that covers a lot of ground tonally, plus has silky playability for fast lead work, it's easy to give the Luke III a strong recommendation.


Q: What are the standout features of the Luke III guitar?
A: The Luke III has a comfortable, ergonomic body shape, roasted maple neck, DiMarzio Transition pickups, and Music Man tremolo system.

Q: How does the Luke III compare to other Music Man models?
A: It has some similarities to other Music Man guitars but the Luke III has its own unique design tweaks preferred by Steve Lukather.

Q: What styles of music is the Luke III best suited for?
A: It's extremely versatile for rock, blues, jazz, fusion, country, and pop studio sessions or live playing.

Q: What are the pros of the Luke III guitar?
A: Great comfort, playability, solid tuning stability, versatile pickups, and premium quality construction.

Q: What are the cons or disadvantages of the Luke III?
A: Higher cost than some comparable guitars. Signature model style may not appeal to all players.

Q: How does the Luke III neck feel and play?
A: It has a smooth roasted maple neck with an oil finish. Comfortable medium V-shaped profile.

Q: What are the Luke III pickups?
A: It has two DiMarzio Transition humbucker pickups that offer a wide tonal palette.

Q: Does the Luke III stay in tune well?
A: Yes, the tuning stability is excellent thanks to the Music Man tremolo system.

Q: Is the Luke III good for recording studio sessions?
A: Absolutely, its versatility makes it an exceptional studio guitar.

Q: Can the Luke III cover a variety of musical genres live?
A: Yes, it adapts very well to blues, rock, jazz, country, pop, and more genres live on stage.