The Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci signature is one of our editorial team’s favorite guitars ever made.  Between us we have had the chance to play over 100 of them.  However, with EBMM usually introducing a new variation of the model every year, it can be confusing to figure out which one is right for you.  We put this article together to help navigate all variations of the Petrucci model.  In addition to this article, we also have a very convenient chart that compares all JP models.  You can view the chart by clicking here.  Oh, and if you’re after a new guitar, why not stop by our store?

First things first, there are two terms you’ll likely see used when people discuss the Petrucci signature online.  Here’s what they are and what they mean:

BFR:  Ball family Reserve.  These feature special woods and used to include a BFR inlay, but no longer feature the inlay.  Examples of special woods include koa, flame maple tops, and rosewood necks.

Loaded/Unloaded:  This refers to the standard Petrucci model being available with a piezo and shield inlays.  The “loaded” version comes with the piezo, inlay, and a matching headstock. If the guitar lacks any of the 3 features, then it is referred to as “unloaded” (IE, Piezo and Matching Headstock but no Shield Inlays)

Also worth noting is that the build quality on all Petrucci models is equal across the board.  The increased price tag associated with some models does not correlate with overall build quality.  The only reason they are more expensive is because of materials and labor differences involved in making one version of the Petrucci signature compared to another. The same staff works at the same factory and they all work on every EBMM guitar, so there is no discrimination of quality from anything they offer.

Now, let’s get started!

These are the standard Petrucci signature model.  They have been in production since 2001 and are available in two versions.  One is the “loaded” version with the shield inlay and piezo, and the other has no piezo or shield inlay.  Both versions come in six and seven string flavor.  Occasionally, you’ll see these pop up in limited or special colors.  These have a basswood body, with a maple neck that usually has some figuring. Another unique feature that was unique to the standard line until 2016, is the forearm contour scoop, which creates unparalleled comfort for anyone playing it. If buying used, it is worth noting that newer versions of this guitar come with stainless steel frets but the older ones do not have the stainless steel fret upgrade.  These tend to sound fairly warm with the stock pickups. This model features a number of finishes to choose from.

Here’s a loaded JP6 in mystic dream with a rosewood neck in action:


JP6/JP7 Non Anniversary BFR:
These are essentially the loaded JP6/JP7, but with mahogany necks and alder bodies.  They usually feature a special wood top such as koa, or flamed/quilted maple.  The 6 strings also can be ordered in baritone flavour (27.5”).  The BFR is usually a tad brighter than the normal JP model if it has a maple top.  The Koa Models differ from the regular BFRs by having solid mahogany necks and bodies, and also have the option of chrome or gold hardware. The koa models are warmer and thicker sounding than the other models due to being made primarily of Mahogany. This model features a number of finishes to choose from.

Here’s a koa top BFR being played:

…and a standard BFR:

Note on BFRs: When introduced, BFRs featured an inlay on the 12th fret that indicated “Ball Family Reserve”. 2013 was the year where this was modified, and instead of having a 12th fret inlay, the neck plate now bears a BFR etching. So a JP13 or a JPX without the 12th fret inlay, is still classed as a BFR just check the neck plate on the guitar.


Anniversary Models:

These are probably our favorite Petrucci model.  They sound very tight and have loads of attack as well as a 3-dimensional sound to lead playing thanks to the chambering.  Sometimes people find them a bit bright or harsh, but if you pair them with the right pickups, they sound absolutely fantastic. This model introduced several features such as a 5 way, and jumbo frets which is unique to the X. The top horn of the non-anniversary BFR and Standard JP was also refined and made to be the same size as the lower horn of the JP, giving the Anniversary Series a bit more symmetry. If you’re looking for a Petrucci to play metal with, then this is the one we recommend you pick up.  These are very similar to the BFR (Non-Anniversary) and have a chambered alder body with a maple top and mahogany tone block plus a mahogany neck with an ebony board. This model’s finish is called barolo.

A JPX in action:

Fairly similar to the JPX, except without chambering.  These also saw the return of medium jumbo frets instead of the jumbo frets found on the JPX.  The big change that came with this model is the noticeably flatter fretboard, which has a 20” radius as opposed to the 15” radius you find on the standard JP. These are generally tighter sounding than any other JP models and have a slightly more compressed sound, making it a great guitar for rhythms and chunky/tight playing. This guitar was the first JP model to ever feature stainless steel frets, which translates into longer fret life, impressive resistance to corrosion and rust, and a glassy feel that almost never goes away. This model’s finish is called onyx.

This Variant saw only two major changes from its predecessor, the body wood was changed from Alder to Basswood, and the color was changed to cherry sugar.  This model was introduced in 2012, and along with it was the announcement that all JP models made from then on would feature stainless steel frets. This includes any model built after the JP12 was announced (IE: JP Standard/JP Non-Anniversary BFR/JPX built after 2012 features stainless steel frets). These guitars sound very different from the XI and are a bit warmer and more rounded off in nature, making leads very smooth sounding.

Check out this video of the JP12 in action:

The JP13 changed the Petrucci series by introducing a unique active preamp and a solo boost which can be activated via the push push volume knob.  The solo boost is basically a gain boost similar to what an EMG Afterburner does. The JP13 has a basswood body with a maple top and mahogany tone block, the neck wood once again is mahogany.  Instead of using the ebony fretboard that Petrucci chose for previous variations, this uses a rosewood board.  This model was also the first to feature Petrucci’s new signature DiMarzio Illuminator pickups.  In my opinion, the Illuminators sound much better than the Liquifire and Crunchlab. The radius on this guitar is different from the JPXI and JP12, as it features a 17” radius. This model’s finish is called platinum silver.

This model features a roasted…well everything.  The JP15 is a model that is based off of the PDN run seen in 2014-15, the guitars feature an african mahogany body and as a very first outside of a run and in a production line, a roasted maple neck and fretboard. The flame/quilt top is also roasted giving the figured top a bit more depth than usual. The 15 is the first JP model to ever be completely satin giving a smooth frictionless feeling to the entire guitar whenever the player comes into contact with it. The finish this model uses is called sahara burst.

This year, EBMM launched the JP16, the newest entry to the Anniversary line-up. A slew of new options include use of the Standard JP’s arm scoop on an Anniversary BFR Body, a Floyd Rose 1000, and a lack of Piezo from a BFR/Anniversary BFR for the very first time. Featuring a roasted maple neck, smokey ebony board, and a basswood body, the guitar has a very bright and resonant tone as well as being extremely lightweight due to its basswood body. The introduction of the Floyd Rose 1000 saw some mixed responses, as EBMM’s own proprietary non-locking JP tremolo system has always been widely accepted as a great unit. The Floyd Rose 1000 is a very stable trem for the user that wants to be able to go wild on their guitar and not worry about issues with stability. It is made using the same parts as the German OFR and is simply assembled in Korea instead Germany, so for all intents and purposes, there is no visible nor performance related issue making it inferior to any other trem. This model’s finish is called black lava.

Majesty & Majesty Artisan:
The Majesty is the biggest departure from the usual JP signature model.  The radical shape was controversial when first released due to the rather unique aesthetic.  The standard Majesties feature a basswood body with a maple top and neckthru mahogany neck. Whereas the Artisans feature a Mahogany neck and african mahogany wings with a maple top. It still features the active preamp that the JP13 introduced, as well as a new single input Jack instead of the dual jack interface that every other loaded/BFR JP is known to have. The Majesty introduced was the first ever neck through JP and after its inception, quickly became one of the fastest selling guitars in EBMM’s history, with some retailers being back logged for months at a time. This model features a number of finishes to choose from.

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This article was written by Jonathan Amaral, follow him on Instagram for too many videos of him playing Periphery on various gorgeous guitars.

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