WALK THE MOON guitarist Eli Maiman is no stranger to Ernie Ball Music Man guitars. If you’ve seen the alt-rock group on tour recently, you’ve likely seen Maiman shredding on his custom black Cutlass or Charcoal Spark St. Vincent HH guitar. When the Hunter Hayes Artist Series Cutlass released in May, Maiman was immediately drawn to the country artist’s new machine. We had the opportunity to speak with Maiman on the road and hear why the new Artist Series Cutlass guitar is his go-to instrument on tour.
Q & A with Eli Maiman of WALK THE MOON
EB: What drew you to the Hunter Hayes Artist Series Cutlass?
EM: I first started playing the Cutlass three or four years ago, and it’s been my main go-to guitar ever since. So when I saw the Hunter Hayes model, I was of course intrigued by the possibility of having a hardtail version with all the unique electronics — the piezo, the neck pickup blend, and the boost. But I was actually surprised by how different it is. The thinner, roasted maple neck makes it feel really different, so it holds its own particular place in the stable. Oh yeah, and I always like blue guitars.
EB: What are some features on the Cutlass that you think make it stand out amongst the crowd?
EM: I love that the Cutlass comes standard with a lot of the features I was having to do custom or after market on my guitars. The locking tuners, the compensated nut, the satin neck… It all adds up to a really solid guitar right out of the box. And they just hold up so well on the road. They rarely need adjusting. The Cutlass is super reliable.
EB: Let’s talk about your music style. Can you describe your sound and how this Cutlass helps you achieve it?
EM: In WALK THE MOON, my guitar tone is generally living on the bright end of the spectrum. Because we have a tendency to hop genres, I end up playing a lot of different roles. Often, I’m playing funky percussive rhythm parts, but there are also sections of washy ambience and others of heavy riffing. No matter what role I’m filling at the time, the Cutlass kind of effortlessly fits into a mix, which is something I love about it.
EB: When it comes to WALK THE MOON’s evolving style, how does your instrument contribute to your expanding sound?
EM: Part of our approach to songwriting is trying to not limit ourselves to one particular sound or style. We don’t box ourselves in. We don’t ask, “Is this WALK THE MOON?” If it’s coming from us, then it is WALK THE MOON. So, naturally, I need an instrument that can shift genres easily. The Cutlass is always there from me. I play it both on our snappiest, funkiest songs, and our heaviest grindy-est songs.
EB: How does playing music make you feel? How do you want people to feel when listening to your music?
EM: Playing music is the thing that slows my brain down. I have a tendency to worry about a million things at once. But when I’m playing music, all that washes away. I can focus on a single feeling, or the vast complexity of emotions that often present as a single feeling. And I want people to get that from listening, too. I want the weight of life to dissolve away. I want people to feel connected. To feel empowered.
EB: Tell us one thing that always draws you to play Ernie Ball Music Man instruments.
EM: Great finishes. Reliability. Sound. I couldn’t choose just one!
EB: What’s next for you/your projects?
EM: We’re playing festivals all summer while writing our fourth record. Hopefully we’ll put out some stand alone new music in the meantime, as well.
2019 Hunter Hayes Cutlass Guitar
The Hunter Hayes Artist Series Cutlass model is a very diverse instrument with wide-ranging sonic capabilities. This guitar is made from lightweight alder with a premium roasted figured maple neck, custom Ernie Ball Music Man pickups made to Hunter’s exact specifications, and a brass saddle piezo bridge system. The electronics package is highly diverse with 3 volume knobs offering a variety of tonal combinations. The 5-way switch operates magnetic single coil pickups in the traditional Bridge, Bridge + Middle, Middle, Middle + Neck, and Neck configurations, but also has the option of blending in piezo acoustic textures from the middle volume knob. A third volume knob will allow the Neck single coil to be added to the Bridge, Bridge + Middle, and Middle positions bringing instant warmth to the desired tone. In addition, a two-way toggle switch adds up to a 20db boost to any magnetic pickup selection for increased volume when needed. The slender neck carve is very comfortable especially for lead work but feels buttery smooth when comping chords or playing rhythm. Other specifications include Ernie Ball Music Man hardtail bridge and custom metallic blue finish. The neckplate is laser etched with a Hunter Hayes signature logo to signify its artist series destination. Find yours here.
Listen to WALK THE MOON
**Header image courtesy of Shiona Walker.