Ernie Ball Music Man Luke III

Today I want to talk about an extraordinary electric guitar; the Ernie Ball/Music Man Steve Lukather Luke 3. It is one of the most even, engaging sounding strat-type guitars on the market, encompassing a range of modern and vintage aesthetics.

The body is alder, a classic tone wood for strat guitars. The neck is made of roasted maple, a process where the wood is baked, to take out any excess moisture and ensure stability over the life of the guitar. The fretboard is rosewood, with 22 wide-flat frets and a 10” radius. The neck shape itself is a V type. So within these parameters lie the vintage vibe I spoke of. The late 50’s strats had a V neck and a smaller fret. The difference with the Luke 3 is the radius;  the older strats had a 7.25” radius, which made bending above the 12th fret problematic, as well as intonation. So the combination of a wider radius with the vintage frets and neck shape make for an extremely familiar, but much more comfortable playing experience.

Onto body shape. Although it is a modern interpretation of the classic s-type guitar, it feels as good or better than the aforementioned, and hangs perfectly on a strap. The finish is polyester, perfectly applied. There are a number of color choices available, my favorite being Bodhi Blue.

The tremolo is a 2 point with bent steel saddles, with a groove in each saddle so that the string stays in one place. The block is made of brass. The older strats had a 6 point trem which in my opinion, is trickier to keep in tune. The Luke trem is a marvel of engineering. It stays perfectly in tune, even after prolonged use. And the brass block really contributes to the evenness, stability, and overall improved tone of the instrument.

The pickups on the Luke 3 are a joint collaboration between Steve and DiMarzio Pickups. Called ‘Transitions’, there are 2 stacked single coils and a humbucker in the bridge. I’ve found this combination can cover virtually any musical ground. And they are dead quiet, i.e., no single coil hum. In addition, the volume knob has a push-pull function that allows for an active boost anywhere from 12 to 18 decibels. And that is adjustable within the cavity in 2 ways. The overall volume boost can be varied, along with the volume for positions 2 and 4.

The original Luke had EMG active pickups designed for Steve. That model is still available also, but personally, I like the Dimarzios.

The tuning gears are locking. The nut is compensated, allowing for the guitar to play in tune anywhere on the fretboard; whether open strings or chords, it really does make a difference. After playing the Luke, a lot of other guitars just feel ‘out of tune’.

The Luke 3 is a completely professional instrument and is an absolute blast to play!! It plays effortlessly, balances correctly and is at home in any environment.

A word about Ernie Ball/ Music Man. They are one of the last family owned instrument manufacturers in the US. The still care about doing everything right. As Sterling Ball said; ”the difference between a good guitar and a great guitar is 100 details”. In my opinion, they’ve gotten all of those details to coalesce in an imminently playable, comfortable, professional instrument that is perfect, literally, right out of the box.

N Stuff Music is proud to be an authorized Music Man dealer.

For more info, just log onto or call 412.828.1003

-Mark Lucas

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