Sterling by Music Man is one of the most popular guitar brands in the world, and that’s because they make some of the best guitars for every style.
For those looking for a great Stratocaster for country music, the Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar is one of the best choices.
The Cutlass model is one of the most popular models from this brand.
This guitar has a maple fingerboard and maple neck that provide excellent tone and sustain.
It also features single-coil pickups that offer bright twangy tones, perfect for country music.
The oversized headstock and V-shaped neck provide great playability and a comfortable feel.
In this in-depth review, we’re taking a look at their Sterling Stratocaster, which is one of the best country guitars out there for those looking for a Strat-style electric guitar.
Tonewood & sound
Alder is a popular tonewood but many cheaper guitars, including this Sterling are made of a poplar body.
This sounds bright and twangy, so it’s great for country music. Poplar tonewoods are lightweight and provide a balanced sound.
The neck is usually made of maple wood and the fingerboard is made of rosewood, for a bright and articulate sound.
These days, some guitars also have maple fingerboards (fretboards) and this gives the instrument a brighter and more twangy sound.
As far as pickups are concerned, most country guitars feature single-coil pickups either in an SSS configuration or they also have a humbucker (HSS) combo.
The single-coil pickups provide a bright and twangy tone that’s perfect for country music.
The classic Fender Stratocasters have an SSS alnico pickup configuration.
But HSS guitars are great too because they offer more versatility and they can be used for heavier genres of music.
A maple neck is a common feature on Stratocasters, which give it a bright and articulate sound.
Maple is a good tonewood because it’s lightweight and it provides excellent sustain.
The neck of the Sterling Stratocaster is slightly wider than a traditional Fender Strat, making it a bit easier to play.
Most Strats have a modern C-shaped neck but you can expect a V-shaped neck on the Sterling.
This makes playing more comfortable and gives you better access to the higher frets.
Cheaper guitars like this Sterling by Music Man usually have a maple fretboard but maple is a great wood for country music.
It gives you a bright and articulate sound with plenty of sustain.
Rosewood fretboards are also popular for country music and they’re more common on pricier instruments.
Also consider the fretboard radius. Traditional Fender Stratocasters have a 7.25” radius, which makes them easy to play.
But some guitars, including the Sterling Stratocaster, have a 9.5” radius, which is slightly more comfortable to play.
Tremolo and bridge
A whammy bar is a great addition to any Stratocaster. It allows you to add vibrato, dive bombs and other effects to your playing.
The bridge that comes with the Sterling by Music Man Stratocaster is a vintage tremolo system. It has 6 saddles, which provide great intonation and sustain.
It also has locking tuners, which help to keep the strings in tune even after heavy use of the whammy bar.
Hardware & design
An oversized headstock is a common feature for some country guitars, and this makes it easier to reach the higher frets.
It also adds a bit of extra weight, which helps to give the guitar better sustain.
When looking at the hardware, consider the tuning machines. Cheaper guitars can have cheaper tuners, which can make it harder to keep the guitar in tune.
Also look at the pickup selector switch – a 5-way switch is standard on Strats and it allows you to select different pickup combinations.
The knobs and control plate should also have good quality parts, as otherwise they can be prone to breaking.
What does a good country guitar sound like?
A good country guitar sound is like a warm hug from your favorite grandparent. It’s a comforting blend of twangy twinkle and sweet, smooth sustain.
It’s a sound that can make you feel like you’re sitting on the porch of an old farmhouse, sipping sweet tea and watching the sun set.
A good country guitar should have a bright and articulate sound, with plenty of twang that can pierce through the mix.
A good country guitar should have the ability to produce the punchy, twangy, and vintage blues-like sounds that are so iconic of the genre.
To get the sound you want, you’ll need to consider the pickups, playstyle, and effects pedals or amplifiers you use.
Single-coil pickups are the most popular choice for country music, as they provide a bright, snappy sound.
On the other hand, humbucker pickups offer a warmer, more rounded sound.
When it comes to playstyle, you’ll want to look for a guitar with a fast neck and low action, as this will make it easier to play the intricate licks and solos that are so common in country music.
Now traditional country guitars are usually made with alder and maple woods, pickups that provide a bright twangy tone, and a neck with a comfortable shape.
The Stratocaster style guitar is not usually the first choice for a traditional country player, but the Sterling by Music Man is an excellent example of a modern country guitar with all the features you need to get that classic twang.
It has great pickups, a comfortable neck, and an overall design that will inspire your playing.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have the right effects pedals and amplifiers to get the sound you’re looking for.
With the right combination of pickups, playstyle, and gear, you’ll be able to create the perfect country sound.
Why the Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body is the best for country
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar has great tone and sustain thanks to its maple fingerboard and neck.
If you’re into country or rockabilly, this guitar will give you all the twang and bite you need.
The light weight makes it very comfortable to play, while the wider neck gives you great access to the higher frets.
It also has a vintage tremolo system, which adds that classic whammy bar sound.
The tremolo bar is in the style of classic Stratocaster guitars so the guitar has two single-coil pickups and a humbucking pickup.
It also has an oversized headstock and V-shaped neck that make it comfortable to play compared to a classic Fender Stratocaster like the Player.
When you’re chicken pickin’ or flat-picking, the Sterling Stratocaster will be able to keep up with you and provide great sustain.
It also has a 9V battery powered preamp, which is perfect for those who need extra volume and clarity.
The Sterling by Music Man has a special “V” shaped neck profile that makes it easier to play than a standard guitar.
In addition, it deviates slightly from the conventional Fender Stratocaster design thanks to its oversized 4+2 headstock.
A “Bigsby” vibrato tailpiece is already installed in this guitar, allowing you to instantly add a twang to your playing.
To “bend” the strings and make them tremble, you are given a whammy bar and an additional spring.
The Sterling by Music Man is a great instrument for chicken pickin’ thanks to its fast neck and low action.
Since Sterling was a co-founder of the first Music Man with Leo Fender, the two are connected by history.
Because they are produced in the same facility as the more expensive Music Man guitars, the Sterling by Music Man models are of the same high quality.
I should probably warn you that the design isn’t identical to a Fender Stratocaster. However, the pickups, neck, and headstock make it an excellent country instrument.
Poplar was used for the body, while maple was used for the fretboard. The sound produced by the fretboard is rich and full, with a hint of zing.
Steve Lukather of Toto uses a Sterling guitar, and even though he doesn’t play country music, the instrument does an excellent job of conveying his musical vision.
This guitar is typically associated with traditional country music, but it also excels at rock and blues. And it’s easy to get a hold of and doesn’t break the bank.
Overall, this guitar will provide you with a classic country style tones and playability.
It’s also very budget-friendly and is perfect for those looking to get a great Stratocaster-like instrument at an affordable price.
- type: solid body
- body wood: poplar
- neck: maple
- fretboard: maple
- number of frets: 22
- pickups: 2 Single-coil Pickups & 1 humbucker
- neck profile: V-shape
- vintage style tremolo
- 5-way selector switch
- neck radius: 9.5″
- scale length: 25.5″
- strings: nickel
Build & tone
The Sterling by Music Man 6-String Solid-Body Electric Guitar has a solid build and an excellent tone.
Poplar is used for the body, giving the instrument a bright sound with plenty of clarity.
Although this wood is used for cheaper guitars, it still produces a well-rounded sound.
The maple neck and fretboard provide excellent sustain and resonance, perfect for those who are looking for a great vintage Stratocaster sound.
In terms of tone, it has a classic country twang and bite, with plenty of sustain.
The two single-coil pickups and humbucker give the guitar plenty of versatility, allowing you to dial in a variety of tones.
Pickups & switch
This guitar has and HSS pickup configuration, which means it has 1 humbucker and 2 single pickups.
These are coupled with a 5-way switch and tone & volume knobs.
It’s equipped with the classic humbucker and single-coil pickup combination (HSS), which offer bright twangy tones that are perfect for country music.
Country music is all about expression, and the Sterling by Music Man allows you to easily do that with its vibrant tone.
The HSS pickup configuration combined with the 5-way switch lets you dial in different tones, which is perfect for exploring new sounds.
A humbucker at the bridge will give you warm and bold tones, while a single-coil at the bridge can get you crisp and twangy sounds.
The 5-way selector switch allows you to achieve multiple tonal variations, from bright and jangly single-coil sounds to warm and fat humbucker tones.
This guitar has die-cast tuners and a vintage style tremolo.
The tuners offer a secure and stable tuning, while the tremolo offers subtle vibrato effects.
Compared to other brands, the Sterling Man’s tuners are quite good – they actually stay in tune, which is quite impressive at this price point.
The tremolo bridge stays true to the original vintage tone and gives the guitar a classic vibe.
The addition of a whammy bar and an additional spring allow you to perform dive-bombs and other vibrato techniques.
The vintage style bridge gives you a better sustain and resonance, while the 9V battery powered preamp provides extra volume and clarity.
Fretboard & neck
The fretboard is made of maple, which gives it a bright and articulate sound.
Considering this is more of a budget guitar, it has perfectly filed edges, and no rough spots.
The neck has a V-shape profile, which is comfortable and fast to play on. Players like V-shaped necks because they offer a wide range of playing styles.
22 frets provide plenty of room for bending, while the 9.5-inch radius offers a comfortable playing feel.
The scale length is 25.5” and the neck radius is 9.5”.
Both of these specs are similar to a standard Fender Stratocaster, so it should feel familiar to players coming from a Strat.
When it comes to country music, a shorter scale length is often preferred.
Design & playability
What sets this guitar apart is the oversized headstock and V-shaped neck.
This makes it more comfortable to play compared to a classic Fender Stratocaster like the Player.
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body is a high-quality instrument designed for serious musicians.
The neck and body of the Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body are then hand-sanded to create a flawless finish, ensuring maximum playability.
Each fret is individually hand-leveled and crowned for ultimate comfort and playability.
The body is then coated with three layers of high-gloss polyurethane for a luxurious, state-of-the-art finish.
And the set-up technicians make sure each guitar is intonated and set up perfectly before it’s shipped to your local store.
This guitar is made by Sterling, a subsidiary of Music Man, one of the most respected names in the music industry.
The guitar boasts a sleek and stylish design that is attractive and ergonomic, making it a pleasure to play.
Although the action is a bit low, it is perfectly set up for chicken pickin’, flat-picking, and general strumming.
What others say
Reviews of the Sterling by Music Man 6 string guitar are overwhelmingly positive.
People love the sound and feel of the instrument, praising its bright, crisp tone and smooth neck.
Many have commented on its great value for money, noting that it’s a great guitar for beginners and experienced players alike.
It’s also been praised for its durability and robust construction, with many users saying that it’s held up well over time. In short, this is a guitar that’s sure to please any musician.
Ok, I’ve told you why I think this is a great guitar for country but let’s look at what Amazon customers as well as professional players have to say about this instrument.
Some Amazon customers note that the action is too low when the instrument arrives. So, they have to raise the action themselves.
Others are very pleased with the overall functionality and one player said:
“The guitar arrived in perfect conditions, everything in the image is there, along with its whammy bar and an extra spring, all pickups work perfectly and so do the knobs, the quality is much better than what you pay for.”
According to the reviewers at guitar.com, the guitar is derived from the Stratocaster but it has some noticeable design differences:
“We love the slightly offset body shape, and the rounded top of the guard that suggests a Strat sneakily morphing into a Tele. The asymmetrical headstock might be more divisive, especially for those of us who can never get used to having the G and B tuners on opposite sides, but you can’t deny its space-saving logic.”
When it comes to sound, they say:
“Through a clean amp, the guitar with three single coils sounds well-balanced, sweet… and rather loud. There’s an impressive amount of natural sustain, but on the neck pickup at least, it’s a bit of a blunt instrument.”
Who is the Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body best for?
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a high-quality instrument that can do country, jazz, rock, and more.
It’s considered to be a budget-friendly option that still offers great playability and sound.
Its comfortable neck-shape and solid construction make this the perfect guitar for beginners who are just starting to learn how to play.
And its versatility makes it a great choice for experienced players who are looking for something different than the typical Fender Stratocaster.
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar is an excellent choice for all levels of players who play country.
When playing country, the guitar’s slightly offset body shape, round guard and asymmetrical headstock makes it a great choice.
The HSS pickup configuration makes it similar to the Fender Player Stratocaster HSH but the pickup arrangement is slightly different.
The two humbuckers are voiced differently, providing more tonal options for the player.
Who is the Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body not for?
If you’re a professional country music player looking for an instrument with the highest quality sound, then this isn’t the best choice.
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Electric Guitar is also not a good choice for someone who is looking for a guitar with a lot of sustain or the ability to do shredding.
If you’re into rock and heavy metal, you’re better off with some of the Fender or Gibson models.
This guitar is excellent for country and a great Stratocaster-style instrument but it won’t be able to give you the same tones as some of the more expensive models.
Some of the hardware feels a bit cheap and the build quality isn’t as good as other models, which can be a bit of a turn-off for some players.
Overall, the Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar is a great choice for beginners or intermediate players who want to play country.
But for professionals, it might be a bit underwhelming, unless you’re really into Strat style guitars.
Overall final impression
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body is a great choice for those looking to get into country music.
It has all the features you need to get started, from the classic look to the bright, twangy tone.
Plus, it’s comfortable to play and won’t break the bank.
The oversized headstock gives it a distinctive look, while the construction and setup ensure it will last for many years to come.
My only notable criticism is that the action is a bit low, but that can be easily remedied.
So, if you’re looking for a great guitar to get you started in country music, the Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body is the perfect choice.
Sterling By Music Man 6 String Solid-Body Vs Fender Player Stratocaster
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body and the Fender Player Stratocaster are two very different guitars.
The Sterling has a solid poplar body with a maple neck, while the Fender has an alder body with a maple neck.
The Sterling has a humbucker pickup configuration, while the Fender has three single-coil pickups.
The Sterling is great for those who want a more country and blues sound, while the Fender is perfect for those who want a more modern, versatile sound.
The humbucker on the Sterling gives it a thicker, more aggressive tone, while the three single-coil pickups on the Fender give it a brighter, more articulate sound.
Now, the Fender Player Stratocaster is more expensive, but it’s also a higher quality guitar.
It has better build quality and hardware than the Sterling, so it’s a better choice for professional musicians.
Sterling By Music Man 6 String Solid-Body vs Fender American Ultra Stratocaster
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body and the Fender American Ultra Stratocaster are two very different guitars.
I wouldn’t really consider the American Ultra as a country guitar because it’s not as twangy as the Sterling.
It’s got a thicker, more modern sound which is better suited to rock and metal.
The American Ultra has an alder body with a maple neck, while the Sterling has a solid poplar body and a maple neck.
The American Ultra has three single-coil pickups, while the Sterling has a humbucker pickup.
The American Ultra is more expensive and has higher quality hardware than the Sterling.
It’s the preferred choice by many professional guitarists, including those looking for a guitar that can handle heavier genres like rock and metal.
Sterling By Music Man 6 String Solid-Body vs Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body and the Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster are two kind of similar guitars because they cost about the same amount.
The Sterling has a solid poplar body with a maple neck and a humbucker pickup, while the Squier has an alder body with a maple neck and three single-coil pickups.
The Sterling is better for those who are looking for a twangier, country sound and the V-shaped headstock gives it a classic look.
In comparison, the Squier is great for those who want a more versatile, modern sound and its contoured neck makes it more comfortable to play.
Overall, both guitars are great choices, offering different sounds, looks, and feel at a similar price point.
Are Sterling by Music Man guitars good?
Sterling Music Man guitars are the perfect choice for those who want the quality and craftsmanship of a Music Man instrument, but don’t have the budget for a US-made one.
These guitars are professional grade and made with the same attention to detail as their more expensive counterparts.
Plus, they come with the same unbeatable warranty and customer service.
Generally, they get very positive reviews and feedback from users.
So, if you’re looking for a guitar that won’t break the bank but still has the quality and sound you want, then a Sterling Music Man is the way to go.
You won’t be disappointed!
Is Music Man Stratocaster better than Fender Stratocaster?
When it comes to electric guitars, it’s hard to beat the classic Fender Stratocaster.
It’s been a staple of rock and roll for decades, and countless other guitar makers have replicated its iconic design and sound.
But a new kid on the block is giving the Strat a run for its money: the Music Man Cutlass.
The Cutlass has a lot of the same features as the Strat, including three single-coil pickups and a tremolo bridge or the HSS combo (like the model in this review).
But the Cutlass also has a few unique features that make it stand out.
Its slightly thicker neck gives it a beefier sound, and its pickups are slightly hotter, giving it a more aggressive tone.
It also has a more modern look, with a sleek body shape and a glossy finish.
So if you’re looking for a guitar with the classic Strat sound but a modern twist, the Music Man Cutlass is definitely worth considering.
But in terms of quality, the Music Man is a cheaper budget-friendly guitar, so it may not feel as well crafted or sound as good as the Fender.
However, it’s still a great guitar that plays and sounds fantastic.
Learn about Fender as a brand here (it has an amazing story)
Which country musician uses Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar?
Many famous country musicians have been known to use the Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body.
Keith Urban famously uses the Cutlass model onstage when he performs.
Brad Paisley is also a fan of the Sterling by Music Man guitars, as is Randy Travis and Charlie Daniels.
These are just a few of the many country music stars who have chosen to play this iconic instrument.
The Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar is a great choice for country musicians looking for an instrument that can handle the style’s twangy sound.
If you’re looking for a Strat-style guitar that can take you from country to funk, the Sterling by Music Man 6 String Solid-Body is the way to go.
Not only does it have some of the classic Strat features, but it also has some modern touches that make it a great choice for any style of music, not just country.
Plus, it’s made with quality materials and craftsmanship, so you know you’re getting a reliable instrument.
So, if you’re ready to take your country playing to the next level, grab your Sterling and get pickin’!
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:Subscribe