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PRS: The power of change.

March 29, 2017

If your like me, you may have bought some guitars over the 1980s. PRS guitars took over the mantle of "premier American guitars" then: The PRS was THE guitar to buy those days. And deservedly so. In 1984, when I bought my first electric, the quality of Fender guitars was underwhelming, and the price of Gibsons was stratospheric. Everyone mooned over vintage Les Pauls and Strats and Teles, but 90% of those guitars had already found happy homes. The newer non-vintage Fenders and Gibsons I found for sale in my local music stores were pricey and mediocre-sounding. The best deal then was Japanese guitars like Ibanez and Aria: they sounded at least as good as the new Fenders and Gibsons for far less money.

 

Into this sad state affairs came PRS. Well made, good sounding guitars that, though not cheap, justified their cost. Only PRS and Leo Fender's G + L guitars came even close to being good-sounding new American electric guitars then. And the acoustic scene? Ugh! Even worse. The '80s were a terrible time for guitar players. PRS was the one the companies that changed that. For that, they have my respect.

 

I really became interested in Prs Guitars at a presentation that was given for one of his top dealers here in the UK. Part of the presentation was a series of gear shootouts for electric single coil, humbucker, acoustic guitars, and PRS amps. The instruments were related variously to a Fender Custom Shop '63 Strat, a Gibson Les Paul '59 Custom Shop and a Taylor acoustic.
To my ears - sat in the front row - the acoustic Tonare Grand has a great presence with clear bass and mids and with sparkling high notes; the soundboard was very responsive and the sustain was long and clear throughout. The electrics sounded perfectly intonated across the board and had no choked notes, buzzing from frets or loss of bass or middle anywhere on the boards. These were a Custom 22, an S2 Starla and a Paul's Guitar (which is Paul's wife's guitar!). 

 


Its interesting how PRS instruments have been looked down upon over the past few years. Theirs no doubt that PRS make very good guitars. It seems that people want them but may hesitate with the prices and investment potential given their brand recognition when compared to Fender and Gibson. 

 

For many many years I have looked at and played many PRS guitars but never bought one. Last November I got an unreal deal on a near mint 2007 Custom 24 online and so I bought it to flip and make some ££. After I had restrung it and cleaned it up to list it on Ebay I took it to band practice and played it out in a full band situation and it floored me.


You see a lot of talk on these forums about the looks and detail on a PRS but you almost never hear folks talk about the tone and how they respond and if you do see it's normally someone who doesn't own one, talking about how cold and soulless they are. However nothing could be farther from the truth in my own experience with owning one.


I was so blown away by how the guitar responded all over the neck and also at how much tonal ground it could cover. With the stock HFS/VB and the 5 way. I am getting clean clear strat like tones, smoking hot thick lead tones, punishing heavy rhythm tones, and a nice smooth buttery bluesy neck bucker all from the same guitar on the fly with just a flick of the wrist on the 5 way. 

 


I have Played just about every brand that you can name over the 40 or so years I have been playing and what this PRS does in the way it simply responds blows me away.


I really did not care much at first for the way it actually played because of the different neck profile (wide Thin) and the 10 radius from what I was used to but the tones were just too impressive to ignore. The action has always been very fast and low it was just that it felt so "different" from what i normally played. However now after playing it almost exclusively for a few months it feels completely natural 


Heck now I even love the 5 way rotary switch!

 

 I would be interested in the opinions of owners and former owners.

 

For me Strats have that "strat" sound, and Paul's have sustain. Lots of people wanted something different back in the day - the "best of both worlds".

 

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