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User Review

Beware - the Axis has been cheapened down over the years! - Reviews Music Man Axis

Value For Money : Poor Audience: Anyone
I owned a 2013 standard USA Axis and a 2014 Axis Ball Family Reserve (a.k.a. "BFR" model) for a few years. It had been nearly 20 years since I had played an EVH Music Man signature, so I had little to compare it to. My initial impression was that it as a very good-sounding guitar with a buttery-smooth neck.

But soon enough I ended up purchasing a '91 and '95 EVH model and noticed how the Axis, especially the standard model, has obviously been cheapened down over the years. The 2013 neck is *similar* to the EVH models, but definitely not identical by any means - and of course the neck is 1/32" wider to make it "idiot proof"... The Axis lacks the highly custom asymetrical neck design that was supposedly copied from Eddie's second Frankenstrat (the famous Kramer from 1984-19889-ish). The neck is also MUCH thinner than the EVH models, and although I can't be sure, I recall the late '90s/early 2000s Axis versions being much more close to the EVHs overall, with a thicker neck and a heavier body.

Anyway, the 2013 Axis standard weighed more a pound less than all the Music Man EVHs I've ever tried, and although it still blows many guitars out of the water, I suspect there are other small downgrades here and there to cut back on production costs including the build quality of the Floyd Rose and perhaps even that of the pickups. Also, the birdseye maple figuring on the back of my 2013 model was almost non-existent, whereas my EVHs have a moderate amount of birdseye while other EVHs have even more. The old EVH models simply seem more solid built, are heavier, and have a stronger sound. Their necks are not fat by any means, but definitely "middle of the road" hybrid C/D type necks compared to the skinnier C-style neck newer Axis necks.

The 2014 "BFR" Axis I owned was of better build quality (it better be for the price!), and did in fact have a bit fatter neck than the standard, but still rather generic and slimmer compared to the original EVHs. My 2014 "BFR" Axis, which had a mahogany tone block in the body, still didn't weight quite as much as the old EVHs. It didn't sound as good as the EVHs either!

I just wanted to point out this phenomeneon, that apparently Ernie Ball has been gradually cutting back on the quality of these guitars while keeping the prices sky high - still piggy-backing off of the EVH signature, and still claiming it's the "same" guitar minus the well-documented cosmetic changes. I think it's pretty ridiculous and I would highly suggest NOT purchasing one new, and seeking an older model Axis if you don't want to buy the actual EVH version...

Again, even the newer Axis models beat the pants off most run-of-the-mill guitars, and I'd take one over a Strat or Les Paul any day in terms of a playability - but compared to the original EVHs, they do pale in comparison. I ended up selling all of my Axises (Axi?), and I would be very leery of buying a new/newer guitar from Ernie Ball-Music Man without doing some heavy investigating first!