2016 was a big year for us; not only in terms of so many new instruments released, but also for all the many appearances our instruments made throughout the year. In case you missed any of them, we’ve put together this list of the top ten Ernie Ball Music Man sightings of 2016.

1. St. Vincent performs the National Anthem for the NFL

St. Vincent, along with her Ernie Ball Music Man signature guitar, showed her patriotism by performing a searing rendition of The Star Spangled Banner for an NFL ad spot that aired during the Summer Olympics. In addition to playing, she goes on to profess her love for the Dallas Cowboys, even revealing that at one point she dreamed of playing for the team as a child.

2. James Valentine and Adam Levine on tour with Maroon 5

If you’re one of the tens of millions of people who follow Maroon 5, you may have noticed that singer Adam Levine has joined his long-time bandmate and Ernie Ball Music Man signature artist, James Valentine, in playing Ernie Ball Music Man guitars on stage during their #M5ONTHEROAD tour. Adam has been playing custom colored Axis guitars, and James is of course sporting his signature Valentine model.

3. Ian Grushka of New Found Glory on the Warped Tour and recording the new NFG record

Ian has been playing an Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay bass since the early days of New Found Glory, when he made a deal with his father to cash out his college fund in order to purchase his first one. Since then, he’s also picked up several Cutlass passive basses, for those times when he feels like he needs a bit “more bass and less twang on certain songs. Now I’ve been using the Cutlass, and I’m in love!”

Ian also recently picked up a gorgeous custom pink 40th Anniversary Old Smoothie StingRay.

4. Jason Richardson’s video for “Retrograde”

Ernie Ball Music Man artist Jason Richardson premiered a new music video in October for the track “Retrograde,” from his solo album I. The song features vocals by Spencer Sotelo of the band Periphery, and drums by Luke Holland of The Word Alive.

The video clocks in at 4:15, giving you ample opportunity to check out Jason’s gorgeous custom Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci JP15 signature model guitar. He certainly puts all seven strings through their paces!

5. Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes and Hunter Hayes performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live

After the CMA Awards in November, Ernie Ball Music Man artist Hunter Hayes performed “Yesterday’s Song” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, with the help of  his custom Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass guitar and a backing band comprised of four #HunterHolograms.

6. Jaime Preciado of Pierce The Veil

Ernie Ball Music Man artist Jaime Preciado of metalcore band Pierce The Veil, the man responsible for creating the tight, booming low end that perfectly balances the band’s blazing guitar tones, sat down with All Things Loud to talk about PTV’s recent album Misadventures, his influences, and his gear. We recently created two very special custom Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay basses for Jaime, which he described in detail during the interview.

“I just custom made some (basses) with Ernie Ball! They took a good amount of time to make, but they’re such a good company and I’ve been playing their instruments ever since I took up playing the bass.”

7. Josh Carter of Phantogram

Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel of Phantogram hit the outdoor stage at the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show in December to perform a trio of songs from their latest record, Three. As usual, the band sounds excellent, thanks in part to Josh’s pair of unique, custom Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass guitars. Additionally, their backup multi-instrumentalist can be seen at several points playing a Valentine guitar as well.

8. Omar Rodriguez-López of At The Drive In

Excluding two reunion performances at Coachella and Lollapalooza in 2012, influential El Paso post-hardcore band At The Drive has been effectively defunct since their breakup in 2001. In December the band, including Ernie Ball Music Man artist Omar Rodriguez-López on guitar, released the song “Governed by Contagions,” their first new music in 16 years. The song is available as a free download from ATDI’s website, and they released a companion lyric video as well. The guitar sounds on the track were created with Omar’s custom left-handed Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent and Albert Lee HH guitars.

9. Tim Commerford on tour with Prophets of Rage

Ernie Ball Music Man artist Tim Commerford, best known for his bass playing for Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage, and his side project Wakrat, spoke with Premier Guitar magazine in October for their “Rig Rundown” feature. He spends more than the entire first third of the interview talking about the ten Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay basses that he took with him on the recent Prophets of Rage / Wakrat tour.

10. Steve Vai and the “Divya Dora”

In a video released back in June, Steve Vai gives a behind the scenes look at the making of his Modern Primitive album. You don’t have to be eagle-eyed to notice the interesting instrument Steve shows off beginning at the 1:59 mark in the video. The one-of-a-kind instrument was built by Ernie Ball Music Man master luthier, Dudley Gimpel. Dudley explains the design process behind the instrument:

“It is the Sitar / Guitar we made for Steve Vai. Sterling Ball requested it for Steve, and there were several phases of R&D on it before we arrived at the final design. Steve named it “Divya Dora”, but we mostly think of it as the “Vaitar” around here.

It has a Floyd Rose tremolo with Music Man designed and built sitar saddles. There are 13 sympathetic strings, which also have sitar saddles made from Camel bone. Pickups are DiMarzio Steve Vai signature models. The body is African Mahogany with vintage Italian celluloid binding, and the neck is Honduras Mahogany. The fretboard and bridge plates are Ebony.”

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