Review: Music Man Mariposa Deluxe

Music Man teams up with Omar Rodríguez-López for a new, high-performance offset electric.

Music Man Mariposa
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Founded in 1974 and acquired by Ernie Ball 10 years later, California’s Music Man has made it its business to work closely with leading players to offer a series of collaborative designs. The new Mariposa model was created in tandem with Omar Rodríguez-López, the diminutive southpaw whirlwind powering At The Drive-In, The Mars Volta and latterly an eponymous solo project.

The Mariposa features the same geometric design language as instruments made for Music Man stablemates Annie Clark and Albert Lee with its isosceles horns and reverse body, rather like a cubist Jazzmaster. It features a roasted maple neck and a lightweight Okoume body which is chamfered on the back and neck heel for comfort. Both seated and on the strap the guitar feels extremely comfortable and perfectly balanced.

Music Man Mariposa (Pickguard)
The pickguard features an ornate design of the tulip-like Mariposa flower

Rodríguez-López is known for pulling a huge variety of tones and textures out of his instruments and whereas his previous signature model with Ibanez featured a single-coil-sized bridge humbucker, the Music Man Mariposa comes loaded with a pair of full-sized PAF-style ’buckers set directly into the body, with individual volume controls but no tone pot.

Whammy bar duties are taken care of by a smooth and reliable Music Man Modern vibrato with chevron cover and vintage bent-steel saddles. The smooth gunstock oil and hand-rubbed wax finish on the back of the neck feels as fast and luxurious as expected, while the 10-inch radius ebony fretboard allows for unencumbered bends of several semitones even above the body join. Time to plug in…

Music Man Mariposa (Bridge)
The Mariposa has a smooth-working Music Man Modern vibrato bridge with bent-steel saddles and chevron cover

In use

We start off with the neck humbucker selected into a clean tweed amp. Barres up and down the neck are rich and articulate with open string chords sounding beautiful and evocative. Even without effects, this is an exceptional clean sound, but add a little modulation and delay and things get very tasty, very quickly.

The in-between position is where the Mariposa offers the most versatility. With no tone control, tonal changes come from blending both pickups, rather than attenuating the treble response. Experimentation is rewarded as there are some very musical in-between sounds on offer here, while the twin volume controls also make tremolo and selector-switch stutter effects a joy.

Moving to the bridge position gives us an airy and open take on the quintessential PAF sound. It walks a fine line, offering aggression and sophistication in equal measure and frankly begs to be shown some dirt. Who could resist?

Music Man Mariposa (Headstock)

Winding up the amp summons a throaty, joyful roar with exceptional sustain. Extended chord work and intricate solo playing come through loud and clear (literally) and the guitar has the immediacy of response and punch needed to articulate the often extreme tempo changes characteristic of Omar Rodríguez-López’s playing.

Over the years, Music Man’s relationships with players who demand more than most from their guitars has led to a deep understanding of what goes into an exceptional professional instrument – the Mariposa is exactly that.

Key Features

  • PRICE £3,349 (inc. hard case)
  • DESCRIPTION 6-string electric guitar, made in USA
  • BUILD Okoume body, C-profile roasted maple neck with gunstock oil and hand-rubbed wax blend, ebony fingerboard with Atlante block inlays, 22x high-profile, medium-width frets, 10” fingerboard radius, Ernie Ball Compensated Nut,
  • HARDWARE Music Man Modern vibrato bridge with bent-steel saddles and chevron cover. Schaller locking machineheads
  • ELECTRONICS 2x Music Man custom-wound humbucking pickups, 2x individual volume controls, 3-way pickup selector switch
  • SCALE LENGTH 25.5”/648mm
  • NECK WIDTH 41mm at nut, 50mm at 12th fret
  • NECK DEPTH 20mm at first fret, 24mm at 12th fret
  • STRING SPACING 34mm at nut, 54mm at bridge
  • WEIGHT 3.1kg/6.8lb
  • FINISH Imperial White (as reviewed), Imperial Black high-gloss polyester
  • OPTIONS Mariposa Standard (£3,XXX) with chrome hardware in Pueblo Pink and Dorado Green
  • CONTACT Strings & Things, music-man.com

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