Welcome to Part 2 of the Ernie Ball Factory Tour! Scroll below to continue!
Here are some fully sanded bodies, ready to go on to finish. Every guitar in the Ernie Ball Music Man factory is made to order, based on what dealers have requested. It takes a lot of organization to build guitars this way, it requires flexibility and vision, and Music Man does a great job in that regard.
Once the fret ends have been rounded, the next step is to level the frets from end to end to prevent any buzzing or dead notes. After that, the frets will be crowned, which gives the gentle curve to each fret, making it comfortable and effortless to play.
A lot of Music Man models have some high-tech features and tone controls, which requires some high-tech solutions. The factory builds their own electronics in house. These PC boards are clamped up and ready for wiring.
Here are some pc boards after the components are wiring have been soldered on. Music Man’s prowess with electronics allows them to produce features like the Game Changer, which allows for superior pickup switching options within the guitar.
Music Man also has a machine shop where they are able to create custom metal parts for the guitars. Notice all the machine oil required for this work; the metal can overheat easily when being machine and requires constant lubrication.
Meet Ursula. She is a 6-axis automatic buffing robot that was built in 2000 in conjuction with Cal Poly (who are just down the road). Ursula can pick up a body, know which side she’s looking at, buff one side, put it down, buff the other side, and even buff some of the edges. Ursula runs 24/7, and performs 90% of all the buffing work at Music Man.
Workers load up bodies for buffing by Ursual in this queue, and then go home for the night. Ursula will tirelessly buff them all night long. If there is a problem, she sends a message to someone. in 13 years, she’s only asked for help five times. A real workhorse.
A close-up of the builder getting the edge of the buffing wheel right into a hard-to-access spot in the neck joint area. Buffing is delicate work; it requires the right touch and pressure or else it’s possible to burn the paint and then it’s game over.
After the guitars are completely painted and buffed, they go to hang out for three days in the hot box. This super dry room is kept at 97 degrees and helps cure the poly, accelerating any potential shrinkage and helping to guarantee a flawless finish.
After the bodies come out of the hot box, it’s time to clean up the holes for the pots and the other hardware. Any gunk that could be in the inserts or areas where hardware needs to be attached is carfeully cleaned and drilled out.
On the other side of the guitar, this builder is working on final setup. He’s filing the slots in the nut at the headstock end of the neck, and will then tune the guitar, do the intonation, and make sure the action is perfect.
After all that effort from so many talented builders, it was all worth it. This John Petrucci prototype is sporting a new red sparkle finish, and it’s stunning, especially out in the sunlight of San Luis Obispo. Music Man makes some terrific guitars and basses, and The Zoo is proud to be a leading dealer. Thanks for joining us on this tour of their lovely facility, and get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to get started with ordering your Music Man today!