John Petrucci’s relationship with Music Man stretches back more than a dozen years and encompasses a variety of signature-model guitars.
But in their long history together there’s never been anything quite like Petrucci and Music Man’s newest creation, the JP13.
In addition to now-standard JP model features—a basswood body with a maple top, a 24-fret neck, custom John Petrucci Music Man Piezo floating bridge—the new iteration boasts a variety of options not available on any other guitar in the line.
Most significantly, the JP13 features an onboard active preamp, which, Petrucci says, “is probably the biggest change to the design. And it really was something that I was very much not used to. I had been using cables for the longest time, and what I didn’t realize was that the cables were really loading down my pickups. So the preamp makes the new guitar sound so much more alive.”
The custom preamp allowed them to add a boost circuit. “You just tap the volume knob and it pops up to let you know it’s engaged,” Petrucci explains. “You can adjust the amount of dB increase, and it slams the front of the amplifier. If you’re playing through a distorted amp, it brings up the sustain and the saturation and the gain, and on a clean or semi-clean amp you can really hear the clear boost in level.”
The new guitar’s neck has undergone some revisions as well. Whereas recent JP’s have sported a flat, 20-inch radius and ebony fretboard, the 13 has a rounder 17-inch radius and a rosewood board. According to Petrucci, these modifications stemmed from his desire for a guitar that offers maximum comfort.
“There’s something about rosewood that feels very friendly to me,” he says. “And the 17-inch radius also had a real familiarity. It’s a good balance between having a little bit of a curve and being flat enough to be able to really dig in for shredding.”
Finally, the JP13—which is available in both six- and seven-string versions—comes loaded with custom DiMarzio Illuminator humbucking pickups at the bridge and neck, Petrucci’s newest collaboration with the manufacturer.
Says the guitarist, “The direction I’ve been going in with my pickups lately is for something that offers a wide sonic range, with a low end that stays really tight and articulate and can make single notes feel smooth and liquidy. And part of the reason we called this pickup the Illuminator—other than the fact that there’s a song on the new album called ‘Illumination Theory’—is that it sheds light on the guitar’s tone. The idea behind the pickup is very similar to that of the preamp, which is to open up the sound.”
But for the best explanation of what the JP13 has to offer, Petrucci says that people should merely listen to the new Dream Theater. “It’s the guitar I used during the recording sessions, and I think it definitely influenced the big, aggressive sound of the album.”
He continues. “The truth is, I love all of the models I’ve done with Music Man, and I take them all out on the road with me when we tour. But the JP13 is really unique and special. And obviously the preamp makes it very different from the others, so it just has its own personality. So it’s my favorite of all my guitars right now. I absolutely love it.”
For more information about the guitar, visit music-man.com.