Review: Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent HH
Upon its introduction a few years ago, the Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent made a bold first impression with its retro-modern space age design, three mini humbuckers with innovative series and parallel wiring, incredibly comfortable ergonomics and stellar construction quality typical of all instruments that Ernie Ball Music Man builds. With the introduction of the new St. Vincent HH model, EBMM now offers a St. Vincent guitar with a more “traditional” dual-humbucker pickup configuration while offering the same visual flair and outstanding playing comfort that have made this model a hit. While the St. Vincent HH has one fewer pickup than the previous version, it still offers five distinct tones, thanks to its five-position blade pickup-selector switch and versatile series and parallel wiring options. The St. Vincent HH offers guitarists who love the look and feel of the EBMM S t. Vincent a range of tones that are more familiar without sacrificing the original version’s versatility and playability.
Most of the features of the St. Vincent HH are identical to those of the original St. Vincent model, but there are a few key differences. The pair of custom Ernie Ball Music Man-designed full-size humbucking pickups, which replace the three custom DiMarzio mini humbuckers, are the most obvious new feature, but other notable changes include a roasted figured maple neck and a variety of new finish options (Blue Dawn, Sea Breeze and Charcoal Sparkle) in addition to the popular Stealth Black finish introduced on the St. Vincent last year. The fretboard is ebony on the Charcoal Sparkle, Sea Breeze and Stealth Black models, while the Blue Dawn finish model has a rosewood fretboard.
Like the three-pickup St. Vincent model, the St. Vincent HH has a slim, lightweight African mahogany body. Neck features include a 25.5-inch scale length, 22 high-profile medium-width frets, 10-inch radius and gunstock oil and hand-rubbed special wax blend finish (except for the Stealth Black version, which has a satin polyurethane finish on its neck). Hardware includes a custom St. Vincent Music Man Modern tremolo bridge with vintage bent steel saddles and Schaller M6-IND locking tuners.
Electronics include a .022uF tone capacitor and 500k ohm volume and tone pots (instead of 250k ohm pots on the three-pickup version). The versatile pickup wiring configuration provides the following settings: bridge humbucker series, single outer coils parallel, both humbuckers parallel, single inner coils parallel and neck humbucker series.
I fell in love with the original St. Vincent model from the minute I picked it up. The St. Vincent HH has all of the same appeal, but the new sparkle finishes add an extra dimension of cool that makes this model nearly impossible to resist for players who adore both flash and function. The roasted maple neck makes the tone even more dynamic and responsive, with percussive attack and rich resonance that provide articulate detail and full-bodied, singing tone.
Thanks to the dual full-size humbuckers, the St. Vincent HH rocks even harder than its predecessor. The versatile wiring configuration provides the usual dual humbucker tones, but the addition of two “in between” single-coil tones makes the St. Vincent HH an ideal performance ax for guitarists who need humbucking and single-coil tones. Best of all, the output levels of each setting are consistent—no volume drop when engaging single-coil settings and also no noise whatsoever when engaging the single-coil settings too. Each pickup setting has its own distinct voice, but all of the settings share exceptional clarity and the ability to go from smooth metallic shimmer to aggressive roar by adjusting the guitar’s volume control.
STREET PRICE: $2,199; $2,399 (Stealth Black)
MANUFACTURER: Ernie Ball Music Man, music-man.com
● Two custom Ernie Ball Music Man humbuckers and five series and parallel wiring options provide a wide variety of full humbucking and single-coil tones.
● New finish options include Blue Dawn, Sea Breeze and Charcoal Sparkle, which are all dazzling sparkle finishes.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The EBMM St. Vincent HH provides all of the fun and funky appeal of the original St. Vincent model, particularly the outrageously comfortable ergonomic design and playability, while offering a more familiar tonal palette to play with.