Other Guitars

Played a friend’s PRS swamp ash studio - I think!

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An old friend came around a couple of days ago with his amp for me to look at for him. He brought his latest guitar, which I think is a PRS Studio. It's black with a maple neck, has a swamp ash body ( you can actually just make out the grain through the black finish which surprised me with a PRS) and has a 57/08 covered HB in the bridge and two "narrowfield" pickups as well. So I guess they're going for a Fender kinda sorta sound.

My friend plays with rather more dirt than I do and loves the guitar. Thing is, even with a lot of gain it just felt and sounded really hard to me. It has a lot of tonal options, including a split coil or something on the bridge pickup, but I just couldn't find a sound I liked. I'm not generally a PRS basher - I have had a couple of PRS in my time which sounded pretty good and felt good too. I liked the McCarty Soapbar a lot - until I found a Gibson '54 RI which made it sound tame.

I'm used to guitars working with me and letting me work the sound with my fingers. This PRS felt like it didn't matter what I did it was going to sound harsh and brash. Maybe the low action stopped me from digging in... I dunno.

But afterwards it sure felt good to pick up my own guitar again. I can't remember the last time I played a guitar I could connect with less! It was surprising to me just how unpleasant I found playing this PRS. It's not a cheap guitar, but the neck felt cheap. Well made but somehow it felt cheap.

The whole thing was very strange. I guess that's why I play what I do, and not a PRS. Of course I made lots of "MMMmmm" sounds for my friend - it's not my place to make him feel bad about a guitar he loves. I can't remember playing a worse (for me) guitar. Weird.

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...I hope your friend doesn't read this post.....

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Oh no - he's not a Gretsch guy!

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What you experienced tonally has been a constant for me with PRS. I've tried many with most or them loving the physical feel of the instrument. I love the wide/thick neck options. But.....the tone on almost every one I tried just didn't do it.

The only one I liked was a white and used(maybe mid-2000s) that was actually one of the sweeter sounding guitars for the leads I play in a while. That was about 2 years ago and don't even know the PRS model it was.

I played on it for over an hour at Rudy's on Broome St. in lower Manhattan. I remember Keith urban was trying there trying a ton of guitars about 30 feet away from me. Nice guy.....gave me a nod and and said "good playing". That made me feel good.

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I like the wide fat neck - very comfy and makes bending easy. That's a cool story NJ. I like Rudy's downtown much more than the original store.

The strange thing about the PRS my friend brought around was just how hard it felt and sounded. I have been wondering about this and I suspect it was partly the low action. I really struggle with a low action. I like regular, not high like SRV or anything. Too low means I can't dig in. The strings keep hitting frets and it sounds bad. I always have to raise the action on a new guitar.

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I like the wide fat neck - very comfy and makes bending easy. That's a cool story NJ. I like Rudy's downtown much more than the original store.

The strange thing about the PRS my friend brought around was just how hard it felt and sounded. I have been wondering about this and I suspect it was partly the low action. I really struggle with a low action. I like regular, not high like SRV or anything. Too low means I can't dig in. The strings keep hitting frets and it sounds bad. I always have to raise the action on a new guitar.

– JimmyR

I'm right with you 100% on everything and love that Rudy's downtown. 10 years ago I drooled over the lowest action possible but since expanding my collection of guitars, I have really dialed into what action I like depending on what song I am playing and on what guitar I am playing it on.

I also like to "dig in" and my soloing is pretty aggressive so the very low action now really doesn't help. The high SRV is something I never thought I would get used to but I have and actually love it with .12s or .13s tuned down a half step.....especially for songs like "Texas Flood", "The Sky is Crying". It makes playing Voodoo Child tougher though so 90% of the time, it is standard action for me.

My 5126 is currently perfect with .11s, standard tuning, and action that's right in the middle. I can be aggressive but then switch to some complex "jazz" chords w/o the troubles high action provides.


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