Other Guitars

PRS ??


So, I had my first real PRS experience today. I've ignored these for years, dismissed them as wannabes and furniture, without really considering them as an option. But I've been in the market for a number one guitar that would be versatile, functional for my playing needs, and of good quality for a medium price. So they have swung onto my radar amongst other options. I was curious after viewing the fairly serious marketing of a scientific and prolonged investigation into all things important to the solid body that PRS presents. Because my interest comes more from a Les Paul end of the spectrum, I had decided to concentrate on trying the singlecut varieties. I played a Mark Tremonti Custom, Santana, and the Marty Friedman all signature SE series. The finish and construction was good on all of them for the price point. I was surprised by how chunky the necks were. I found the 25" scale length on two of them a bit like playing my SG, but with the bulk of an LP body. Overall I was a bit surprised by the overall concept of them. They actually made me think 1970s rather than 80s, which shows my stereotype of them was flawed! And while the time spent on them was short and not through my own amp, I was struck by how characterless they seemed, which surprised me.

Now, I'm not suggesting a vs. Gretsch critique here, I just figure members here are a knowledgeable bunch about guitars in general and might offer some useful insights about these. While I was initially predisposed to dismiss these, I was actually surprised at how little they rang my bell. Any thoughts?


I really like my cheap MIK "Student Edition" singlecut korina.

I've been less impressed sonically with the expensive ones. Which is fine - I don't like the over the top way they look either. Coming from a Gretsch guy, LOL.


I think the deal with PRS is that the guys who like them use a lot more dirt than your average Gretsch player does! I know guys who love PRS and they all play with crazy amounts of gain by my standards. I have played a couple of really good PRS guitars, but given the choice between a PRS and its equivalent Gibson I will generally take the Gibson.

For example I once had a very nice PRS McCarty Soapbar guitar. It played ridiculously easily and had some cool sounds. But when I compared it with a Gibson LP Junior and then a '56 Les Paul RI I quickly found that the PRS lacked character. It was probably a better finished guitar, had a "perfect" neck, did everything well, but was kinda flat compared to the Gibsons.

The Gibsons were a bit chunkier in the hand and maybe not finished as perfectly, but when cranked through a tweed Fender or an old Marshall they had character like crazy. Hard to quantify, but my '54 RI Les Paul was so much more fun to play.

I suspect that Gibsons just suit my way of playing better and suit the old style, lower gain sounds more. You don't need a ton of dirt to make a P90 Les Paul sound good. And if you DID use a truckload of Mesa Boogie dirt it might not sound as tight as the PRS.

Horses for courses. I think you might be surprised at how versatile a P90 Gibson can be. I found I could cover a lot of ground with a '54 Les Paul. Right now I am loving my Luther Dickinson 335 which comes stock with some great P90s. For less $$ you can find Gibson SGs with P90s and even some P90 135s.


...or even a P-90 Les Paul Special Doublecut for about eight bills!


I'm down to just one PRS, it's one of the private reserve ones with 3 P90s. They look great but just don't inspire.


Great reviews. I've been tempted by their looks, especially the violin type finishes. That they are mostly Dirt Devils says a lot, and probably are not something I'd want.


In my experience, PRS builds good guitars. But they just strike me as sterile or bland, or as CBell alluded, "uninspiring". The opposite of Gretsch in vibe and concept, and yeah, sound.

I owned a McCarty model for about five minutes. Nice enough guitar, but I couldn't love it.

It seems like when a banker or stockbroker buys an expensive "look what I got" guitar, it's usually a high end PRS......


I have played a few artists and a custom 24, all pre SE serries. I thought they were excellent guitars. They played great, sounded great, and cost a lot. I would still like to add one to my collection some day. But, the wife and wallet are in agreement that I can't have one just now....


I think the OP expected to be unimpressed and was. The comparisons were among their imported budget line. While fit and finish on the Korean-made PRS guitars are real good, it is made to a lower cost point.

That said, I think the US made PRS's (?) are so 'perfect' that they do lose some character. I used to play a '95 McCarty through a first series Blues Deluxe in the late '90's at some blues jams and it was a great-playing and feeling guitar. I sold that one but still have two other McCarty's - they are just too pretty to sell.

One PRS that has some unique-ness is a '93 EG III that I bought cheap - it has Fralin domino pickups that are single coil without the hum in a 3 pickup configuration - it sounds like a great Strat.


My favourite PRS design is so close to a Gibson LP Special that it makes no sense to me owning it.


The David Grissom model is a very good guitar. The pickups have a good PAF-type sound with coil splitting. Apparently, Grissom was very hands-on in the design. My buddy has one and he swears by it. But I just can't get there.

If you've ever seen Paul Reed Smith interviewed, he seems to really get it. He pays attention and he's very involved. From what I can gather, he makes smart choices aimed at pleasing the player. His guitars seem to be of consistently high quality.

But having said all that, a PRS is the electric equivalent of a Taylor.......Good build quality, good sound. Not much personality.

Oops, new thread.....


I think the quote, "The perfect is the enemy of the good," is a good description of the problem I have with PRS. I've owned three at their three different price points (SE, S2, Pro). I would agree with most that they are impeccably built, can't find anything wrong with physical guitar, beautiful to look at and handle. But just left me cold. So perfect, they're not good guitars. I think PRS himself gets it. I've often wondered why he tries so hard. They are revamping their guitars continuously. Endless new styles of neck profiles, pickups, controls, bridges. While that might suggest a restless mind, changing business and the modern need for novelty, it suggests to me a fundamental dissatisfaction with the guitars themselves. While a company does need to update things, for the most part you stay with what works. The Strat, Tele, LP, SG, 335 haven't changed in their essentials. The problem is exemplified in the 25 inch scale, neither Fender nor Gibson, ostensibly to capture the best of both, but really not settling on anything.

Now PRS is mining Gretsch territory with the Starla and new model whose name escapes me. The Starla is an expensive Corvette with Filter-style pickups. The new Vela has a Dyna style (even called the D pickup) single coil pickup in the neck with the Starla in the bridge. (Also aping the Deusenberg layout.) The body is a Jazzmaster style offset. Mashup, like the Fender Pawn Shop series.


I've not tried a PRS but I am a big fan of the 25" scale. Danelectro, Dobro and Gretsch reso's are also 25".


My buddy has a top of the line PRS that I occasionally play, The action is phenomenal, the neck feels very natural in my hand and the finish is amazing, The notes come flying off the neck and the sustain is unbelievable. The guitar actually makes me sound better than I really am, that in itself is a very good reason to go out and buy one.

But for whatever reason I just cant even think of owning one, I dont know what it is.


Lots of players (including me) feel exactly the same way. They don't have a distinctive personality or character.


I saw Paul Reed Smith on a one off TV show on the history of electric guitars. He seemed like a personable guy, explained the basics of guitar pickups. I don't get the Starla or LP copy idea. If you're going to copy a guitar, you ought to either improve it somehow, or make it at a better price point. I'd rather have the original in both cases.


I never understood them but not because of a preconceived expectation but rather just the opposite. I do like the way they feel and might actually get one with the thickest neck profile they have to offer and swap out the pups. I'd love to put the same pups in one that Johnny Winter used in the Erlewine Lazer. I'm tempted to experiment with that for sure.


Great reviews. I've been tempted by their looks, especially the violin type finishes. That they are mostly Dirt Devils says a lot, and probably are not something I'd want.

– NJBob

However, that is simply stating that lots of players who like distortion also like PRS - it's not to say that those guitars would not sound good with lower levels of gain.


However, that is simply stating that lots of players who like distortion also like PRS - it's not to say that those guitars would not sound good with lower levels of gain.

– stratman

True but my experiences with them at low/no levels of gain is a tone that lacks "personality". I chalk it up to the pickups. I know that many think Les Pauls sound "muddy". I've played a few that do but some have knocked me off my feet. It just seems that many PRS guitars lack an individuality and just seem to get lost in the mix. My opinion only but that's how I feel.


Thanks for the feedback. It seems what I'm responding to us similar to many comments here. And contrary to expecting to be unimpressed, I had actually moved to an attitude of wanting to, and expecting to be more impressed after taking the time to approach these with an open mind. I started looking at them as an option because I had thought about what I wanted a new guitar to do, and because I wanted something that was not a clone of something I already had. I had found a guitar from another brand (not one of F,G, or G) that I had an immediate connection with. I wanted to consider other guitars of similar finish quality and appointments. The SE PRS range matched that level and happened to be 2/3rds the price, so I was excited to check them out as an option. I don't want to spend what a top of the range Gibson or Fender or boutique brand like a Fano or Kauer costs. I'm realistic about the balance between affordability and overpricing. Perhaps I just learnt a lot about what actually suits me as opposed to what I think I should like. Necks, for instance. I'm coming to realise that I've grown up with medium C necks on most of my guitars, but have been seduced by the supposed qualities of chunkier 50s style necks.

Anyhow, I'm back to my original choice and looking for a way to raise the extra cash it requires!


Not to derail but Fanos are pretty good guitars and worth checking out. Deals can be found if you take time.


Fanos are very cool. He's a very creative dude. Smart approach to design and build.

Apparently, they hold their value well. The used ones aren't cheap.


Have owned, then ultimately sold, these five excellent PRS instruments (and, yes, even the one MIK import down at the bottom was of high quality).

Don't miss them at all. Case closed (pun intended).


Is that last one the SE Korina Singlecut?


Sascha which model is that? It looks cool!

I find USA Hamers much the same as PRS. Well built but uninspiring. Who'd be a guitar builder?? What a difficult lot to please we are! Where I live PRS are not very popular right now. They're not selling at the stores, that's for sure.

I think Gibson are onto something with their VOS finish. It seems popular and I absolutely love it. About as far away from the "dipped in glass" finish of PRS as you can get. I actually wouldn't mind if Gretsch started a similar finish. My Luther Dickinson 335 is hard to put down - I have been playing it a lot lately and the VOS finish helps it to just look like it's been around for ever even though it's not more than a year or two old. Mind you, my Gretsches are slowly getting there! The metal parts are all dulling nicely...

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