Steve Lukather

I'll never forget falling in love with music. I had no clue that was what was happening at the time. I thought music affected everyone the same way it did me. When I first got my very own FM radio and cassette player, boy howdy, did that thing make me happy. At that time the music of Toto's fourth album was all over the radio. It would stay that way for a while, and these days when 'Rosanna,' or 'Africa' gets played on the radio, I get a huge nostalgia rush. It's quite pleasant.

Steve Lukather, of course, is one of the founding members of Toto. He does backing vocals, writes songs, and most especially, he plays the guitar. It is quite wrong, however, to think of Mr. Lukather in terms of being Toto's guitarist. He is that, but he's quite a lot more. I'm willing to bet persons who've never heard of Toto, or know of any of their songs have still heard much of Mr. Lukather's guitar playing.

Steve is one of the most prolific sessions musician's on the planet. What is a session's musician? Well, when you've got a band and you want to record something which maybe your guitarist isn't up to doing, you call in an expert, a consummate professional, someone who is so adept at playing he can play just about anything from any style. Such a man is Steve Lukather. While Steve certainly blazed up the tunes with guitar playing wizardry in the music of Toto, the band wasn't the sort of band where the guitar was dominant.

As a top dog sessions guitarist, Steve Lukather has appeared on more than fifteen hundred albums. He's also worked as a songwriter, singer, arranger, and producer. Then, Steve is an active solo musician. He also is called on to play for many stars in live performances. He's a monster of a musician. He's a man who's dedicated his life to music, and music has paid him back handsomely. He can read music at a master's level, and follow extremely complex chord charts, while navigating multiple time signature changes with relative ease.

He has twelve Grammy awards. His melodic and intense playing during years when different trends in guitar were more popular shows he's always had a vision, and his head above the chasing of fame. When you're as talented as Steve Lukather, your phone is always ringing. No need to chase the latest craze. Asking what he can do musically is preposterous. What can't he do?

Steve Lukather and his Ernie Ball Music Man Guitar

My early memories of Lukather and Toto are that Steve played a Gibson Les Paul. Well, he claims Jimmy Page, and Al Di Meola as two of his major influences, and who doesn't want to own and play a Gibson Les Paul? A person's taste often evolves over time. It's perfectly natural. Steve has gone on to endorse Yamaha, Ovation, and Ernie Ball Music Man.

Another change in taste with Steve concerns the use of effects pedals. Steve used to use a lot of them. He no longer does. Nowadays Lukather likes to do a more novel approach, he just plugs his guitar into an amplifier, and goes at it the old fashioned way.

For many years now Steve Lukather has endorsed Ernie Ball Music Man guitars. There have been many 'Luke' guitars produced and sold. The most current one is known as the LIII.


Ernie Ball Music Man LIII

The Ernie Ball Music Man guitars built to the specifications demanded by master guitarist Steve Lukather have changed in specifications over the years. This is because new techniques in guitar building have improved the products. And again, a fella's tastes in the way a guitar feels or sounds could change over time. One could grow tired of anything.

All Ernie Ball Music Man guitars are fine instruments, and especially good are the ones called 'Luke' after Steve Lukather; but for our purposes here we will be discussing only the LIII, which is the newest edition.

Essentially these guitars are all superstrats. What is a superstrat? It's a guitar based on the Fender Stratocaster, but with specifications which are not those of the traditional Strat. It used to be a guitarist would take a Strat, and modify it with things such as humbuckers, or Floyd Rose devices. Well, manufacturers, including Fender, got wise and started offering guitars with such specs right off the shelf; and these are another of such.

You take even a very brief look at the LIII, and you can see the double cutaway body isn't in exact Strat proportions. Well, Ernie Ball Music Man was created in part by the great master of electric guitar design, Leo Fender; so in essence these guitars are Fender guitars. The bodies are of alder, one of Leo Fender's favorite woods to use, and alder is noted for the bright and twangy tonal character it can offer.

Steve Lukather, as many others of his stature, has his own design of pickups. While he's endorsed EMG pickups in the past, the LIII features another great brand of pickups, and in this case we are talking DiMarzio. On the subject of pickup configurations, one may purchase an LIII with either an HH or HSS pickup configuration. All the pickups will still be Lukather designs of DiMarzio make.  These are passive pickups; but the on-board active pre-amp provides an additional 12db of boost. So you can play hot or hotter with your tone. The circuit is protected with shielding.

The neck of the LIII is of roasted maple with a rosewood fingerboard. There are twenty two frets. Maple necks are another of Leo Fender's innovations. Maple has proven to be extremely stable, and roasted maple, a relatively new technique, provides for an even sturdier neck. Lukather travels the globe playing guitar on stage, and he became convinced of the added value one gets with the roasted maple neck, and so, here it is. I expect roasted maple necks and fingerboard, when maple is used, will become standard features on upscale guitars as time goes on.

There is a double action whammy bar on the guitar. This is a floating tremolo in the vein of a Floyd Rose, and there are locking tuning machines to protect the stability of the tuning when used. The hardware is all chrome plated hardened steel.

How much will a LIII set you back? It's an eighteen hundred dollar guitar, and of course it comes with a hard shell case. For what you get here, that's a great value. These are all made in the USA, and only the finest materials are used. It's a fabulous guitar for a fabulous artists. There are a lot of outstanding Signature or Artist Series guitars made by great manufacturers, but to find out if this is the one for you, head on over to your local guitar store and try one out yourself!