As a big fan of Ernie Ball MusicMan guitars and basses, I’m always scouring my local Craigslist and eBay for good deals on them, whether or not I actually have a need for one (need? the fuck is need?). I’ve been able to get pretty lucky before, and I once scored a JP6 for $1100 that had a lot of “character” (finish chips) that I played a great deal and loved very much. I’m into them because they feel, play, look, and sound great, and the factory (which is in San Luis Obispo, California) has crazy high quality control.
But although $1100 was a steal for one of these awesome guitars, to some people that’s a fortune. (Actually, it’s a fortune to me too, but I sacrifice basic comforts for gear). And that’s for a USED one. The new ones will (understandably for the quality) run you double or more. For someone who wants the same basic features as the EBMM models such as the Steve Lukather signature Luke, the John Petrucci JP6/7 series, or a Stingray bass, but quite a bit cheaper, there’s Sterling by MusicMan.
The Sterling guitars offer affordable alternative to the EBMM masterpieces by having them made overseas. This is not uncommon by any stretch (think Squier by Fender or Epiphone by Gibson), but having played the Sterling guitars, I can honestly say they are quite a bit better than most import versions of expensive guitars. Many of them have identical pickups to their EBMM counterparts and the same inlays to boot. The woods used may vary, and the hardware might not be the same, but if you’re not THAT picky about those things, then you should consider one of these cool axes, maybe as a backup to your EBMM of the same model, or as a serious step up from your cheesy Squier Bullet.