The Sterling by Music Man line of guitars is meant to be an affordable alternative for anyone who likes the designs of the many signature models offered by Music Man. They are import versions of the domestic Music Man models, and you can tell they’ve made an effort to keep as many of the details the same as was possible at this price point.
The Sterling JP157 is based on the JP15, in my opinion, one of the very prettiest iterations of the Petrucci signature line. It comes in a Sahara Burst finish on a flame maple veneer over an African mahogany body, with a roasted maple neck and fretboard, locking tuners, a 12 db output boost in the push-push volume pot, and Sterling by music man designed pickups and Modern Tremolo bridge.
There’s always some compromises made when making an import version of any instrument, but the kinds of choices a company makes can really make a difference in making you feel good about plopping down your hard earned. This guitar has a ton of premium features that you usually don’t find on import guitars in this price range, giving you much more value for your $700 street price.
The locking tuners, pearloid inlays, volume boost and roasted maple make this guitar look and feel less like an affordable imitation and more like an axe that stands on its own. The only things that might give it away, if you closed your eyes, are the neck profile and feel for the fretboard. It feels solid and plays fast, mine came set up with very low action and a straight neck with a little bit of fret buzz, but that kind of comes with the territory for shred guitars.
My only criticisms of this guitar are that the neck feels a bit thicker than other JP models I’ve played, and that these white inlays are practically invisible against the maple fretboard – but that might be Petrucci’s fault, I’ll be sure to ask him next time I see him.
All in all, the Sterling by Music Man Jp157 is an easy investment in a great guitar, and it’s a hell of a lot of guitar for the money.