Now we are talking. This guitar went from good/very good to great.

cybermgk

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Bought a new Sterling by Music Man Cutlass couple of weeks ago. NGD review here How good is the 2021 Sterling Cutlass.

As mentioned, this is a much better than price guitar. A great set of stock features. As is, a fantastic first guitar, or a great guitar for anyone else.

The stock pickups were/are surprisingly good. The single coils were designed to work in an HSS guitar with 500K pots with the Humbucker. They were decent single coils. I'd put them as notch above Squire CV pickups, maybe as good as a few generic Fender pickups. The humbucker was definatley better than amy stock pickup in a guitar at this price point, I have tried. Granted Ernie Ball Music Man stock Humbuckers are better. But, I'd say they were almost as good as Epiphone Probuckers, perhaps Alnico Classic level. Definately a little more mid scooped than I'd like.

And, they all worked well together. Though on that, I think the Single Coils were a little under-powered for the humbucker. You had to have them pretty high to balance volume wise, AND, thus had a narrower functional area (to my likes) where they didn't sound rich enough and dragging on the strings too much, But, it was still there, some play room. Also, for a 12" radius, the staggered poles. imho wasn't needed. And we are talking pronounced staggering.

But, in reality, would have been fine guitar as is. Feels so great to play, It would get a lot of play time. BUT, it did have a very Generic tone. Not meh, just generic. I really don't need another generic sounding strat, even an HSS. My Fender, Deluxe roadhouse Strat can do that tone (and more). Have more than a few Humbucker guitars that can give me better than generic Humbucker bridge tone.

Still, played only this guitar fr the last couple weeks plus. Just to make sure.

And then went on a research trip. Looked at just replacing just the Humbucker. More I thought about that, the more felt the generic single coil tone was what would be wasted. So, on to finding a set of Single coils that would work well with a particular Humbucker AND 500K pots AND give me something different than I have.

I finally ended up on putting Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound SSL-4 flats in the single coil spots, and a Seymour Duncan Custom Custom Trembucker (Humbucker spaced for trem guitars bridge) TB-11.

This upgrade just made this one of my favorite guitars now. Action, feel, neck, playability and now tone.

The Custom Custom just nails that melodic lead solo tone. Think Satriani, Gilmour. Prominant Mids make it just stand out, in good ways. Bottom end is a little loose, so not what you want for modern metal chugging. But, not what I want for this.

The Quarter Pound are great too. They remind me a bit of P90s. I have a strat with 2 P90s in it to compare. Yes they have some P90 fatness to them, but definately more strat single coil top end. Definately stronger mids that typical strat single coils. BUT, that works perfectly with the Custom Custom. Amp can be set for both pickups and left alone. Some find them too strong for some clean tones. Not me, if you use your volume pot properly.

Granted, pups cost half what the guitar cost. But, now, the guitar is as good as the Ernie Ball MMs I have had and played, for a lot less.. Plus, the flat black bobbins, break up that solid gloss black a la page look it used to be.

I also copper foiled the pickguard while I had it off.


20210923_111930.jpg
 

Bobby Mahogany

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Really nice!
It will look killer relic'ed in a few years if you play it enough!
:thumb:

What's the body wood?
Just curious.
 

ARandall

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How do you find the Poplar?
Some find it has a snotty midrange.
 

cybermgk

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ARandall

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Sort of like the tone your voice gets when you have a head cold.
 

cybermgk

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Sort of like the tone your voice gets when you have a head cold.
Maybe a little bit with the stock pickups.

But the Quarter Pounds have a fatter, punchier mid range than typical strat pup, with a lot of higher end mid harmonics, And the Custom Custom is pronounced and focused mids across the epectrum. It works with the SSH-4 Quarter pounds, particularly in position 2. All of them, mitigate and counter any muffling of mids the poplar may have. Well, imho, and as always ymmv. .

Typically, I find Poplar bodies rather meh across the spectrum, neither enhancing or detracting that much from any one range, low, mid or highs. Which I think calls for pickups with some attitude and character. Think this combo does that.
 

blouie

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Looks great! Did you ever compare to the EBMM version. Here's mine - it is FANTASTIC. Still have more Gibsons than EBMMs but EBMMs rock and I imagine the Sterlings are great.


lx9zegejzf7gy804uypo.jpg
 

cybermgk

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Looks great! Did you ever compare to the EBMM version. Here's mine - it is FANTASTIC. Still have more Gibsons than EBMMs but EBMMs rock and I imagine the Sterlings are great.


View attachment 562985
Cutlass to Cutlass? No.

I did own, for awhile an EBMM Valentine. By far the best guitar I've ever had. But, because it was so great, and retained almost the entirety of it's new price, used, when I had to raise a bunch of cash fast, it was sold first. I have also tried a couple of other models, including an EBMM Cutlass.

Comparing the Sterling or SBMM vs the EBMM Cutlass and Valentine, it compares favorably. That said, it is NOT an EBMM. But, you can be easily fooled, holding one, that the SBMM is an EBMM, at least for a little.

So, yes EBMM is a better guitar. You can feel it, holding one and playing and hearing. But it also costs over 4 times as much. Not sure, I can feel, play, hear 4x the difference.

But, compared to anything close to this price point, from someone else, or even more, up to and including MIM Fender, it is as good or better, imho. And, in cases where it is as good, it is cheaper, THings like the Trem on the Sterling, are top quality, steel block, bridge etc, albeit Asian manufacture. Anything else in this price point, and more is usually small blocks, pot metal, etc.

But, EBMM vs SBMM, it really is a matter of level of materials used. That and whom and where they are made. In comparison:

EBMM you get SS frets, SBMM you get Nickel usual frets
EBMM you get Alder Body, SBMM it's Poplar
EBMM you get VERY figured Flame maple, roasted maple neck, SBMM you get Non figured, to lightly figured Roasted Maple neck. EBMM is also hand rubbed Oil finish. I BELIEVE the SBMM is just the roasted Maple as is.
EBMM you get Shaller Locking tuners, EBMM you get a high quality generic Asian locking tuners. Yea, I can feel a difference here. Who knows, some day, I might replace them, but no need right now.
EBMM aluminum lines the PG, SBMM doesn't
EBMM uses Music Man pickups, SBMM uses wound to their specs, unique to Sterling, Asian pickups.
EBMM uses full-sized top brand pots, SBMM, uses dime sized, but still top quality Alpha equivalent pots.
EBMM uses a top of class switch, SBMM uses a fairly standard run of the mill Asian switch.
EBMM uses a covered modern trem, SBMM uses an uncovered Vintage trem.
EBMM Cutlass has a 10" radius, SBMM 12"

Other than the Alder vs Poplar, and beauty of EBMM necks to the Utilitarian SBMM, the only big, 'felt' difference is the stock pickups and the tuners. The tuners are fine. But, no they are not Schallers.

I have never played a EBMM and thought, hmm, these pickups might need replacing. Not sure if may ever replace the EBMM pickups. THey are as good as almost anything out there.

But, yea, from the get go, I thought the SBMM, pickups, though decent, usable etc, they might have to go.

But, even with that change, foiling the PG,I'm still a little less than a third of the price of an EBMM, Granted, the EBMM still, looks nicer with that flame neck, covered bridge. Even if I upgrade the tuners, switch and pot, still just a little over a third the price of an EBMM, and still cheaper than a MIM Fender (and imho a better guitar).

BUT, all that said, if I had the $$$ right now for an EBMM, yea, I'd still buy that.
 

jlf599

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I've moved almost entirely from Gibsons to EBMM. There's just something about those necks.

The Morse HH (last on the left top) is the best LP I've ever played. :) Stories go that the BFR HH was basically built to a Joe Bonamassa spec with a LP-like neck and similarly voiced pickups. It feels like it's true...the neck shape and size on that particular guitar feels almost identical to my LP Standard but with the EBMM oil and wax finish. The weight (or lack of it) is nice, too.

The Cutlass is the Strat I've always wanted.

The SBMMs to me are a step above most of the "step-down" brands like Epi and Squire. (That's not looking down on either of those -- they both have some great guitars in their lineups). The SBMMs are killer bang for the buck.
 

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zdoggie

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looks good to me if your happy that's all that counts.

zdog
 


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