Monday, April 25, 2005

PRS L33t-ness

PRS CE24It's only fitting to talk about my main guitar since I've already spoken of my amp. I bought my PRS CE 24 (their "Classic Electric" series, with 24 frets) in the Spring of 1994 after tiring of my low-end Applause (Ovation's cheap line) Stratocaster knock-off. I think I settled on this guitar because it was a lot cheaper than a good Fender or Gibson guitar, Alex Lifeson (and now Dave Navarro, and just about everyone else on the planet) plays one, and PRS was starting to get a lot of good word spread around regarding their handiwork.

This guitar was a worthy purchase because it had all the main features of their $2,000+ range of instruments for half the price. The key differences in a CE of this era vs. their more expensive guitars were: 1) its bolt-on neck, and 2) a body made of alder instead of mahogany. But it has all the other components that PRS was known for: 5-way rotary pickup selector, locking peg tuners, a bridge with tremolo that does not go out of tune, abalone dot inlays, and a finely crafted body and neck with excellent finish (mine doesn't have a fancy maple top, gold hardware, or bird inlays behind the frets. These mostly cosmetic options can tend to up the price quite a bit on the more expensive models).

In 1995, PRS started making the CE with a mahogany body. This was cost-cutting for them, but upped the price much closer to all their other expensive guitars. To this day PRS does not sell anything in the $900-1200 range, so I feel I ended up with a steal. Even more perplexing, to my knowledge PRS no longer makes any guitar with a body other than mahogany, making the pre-1995 CE a much sought after item. The alder body gives my guitar a brighter tone when played - a unique sound that many PRS lovers love. Ed Roman Guitars are staunch devotees of the alder CE due to their "high end snap", and feel that PRS's change to mahogany in the CE line robbed the instrument of its tone. Furthermore, they say that the change was dishonest, since visually it's almost impossible to tell which CEs are made of alder and which are not.

Regardless, any PRS is a fantastic instrument (except perhaps the sub-$500 ones, like the ugly Billy Martin signature line), and mine sounds particularly awesome plugged into my Twin Reverb. Here's a reminder of what the dynamic duo look like side-by-side.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome instrument, HM. How has the finish worn over the years? It looks as if it might scratch easily.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Hollow Man said...

The black finish does a good job of masking any problems that have occurred over the years. There are quite a few scratches due to using a pick, and the paint has cracked a bit due to age.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous AJB said...

It really bothers me that PRS doesn't use ANY wood other than mahoghany. This guy used to be cutting-edge in terms of guitar construction, and it feels like he jumped on the "I wish I were building Les Pauls" wagon, somehow. The rotary tone control is still one of the best things he ever designed, IMO.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous AJB said...

Spoke too soon - PRS offers _one_ guitar that doesn't have any mahoghany in the body: The Swamp Ash Special.

He also offers a hollow-body model that only has mahoghany sides, while the top and back are maple.

But 95% of his stuff is made with a mahoghany body, which may or may not be capped with various grades of maple.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Hollow Man said...

Considering that Gibson sued PRS regarding the Singlecut, and won, I'd say that the whole "I wish we were building Les Pauls" quote is more or less accurate.

1:09 AM  

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