Another New Bernie

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by Chartle, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Chartle

    Chartle VIPro Member

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    So a bit of a backstory here, you can skip the first paragraph if you're looking for my opinions on the actual guitar. I made a post awhile back about different color tops for the Bernie model as I was very particular about the top and wasn't so sure about the vintage sunburst as I prefer a more "yellow/honey" color than the more "orange" color (they're not orange but you get the point). I saw there was such a thing as a Santana Yellow version but it was a UK only exclusive. To add to this problem they were phasing out the Bernie and even if I found the thing it would cost hundreds more, not even counting international shipping. Additionally I required something under 9 lbs with a decent flame top. You can see I'm picky here haha. I expect to keep these instruments for years and years and if I'm going to spend the big bucks on it, I want it to look good. So that aside I contacted many, many dealers and found 1 (yes, only one) who had ONE left. They were kind enough to actual weigh and take a great picture of the guitar while it was in their separate shipping shop. I actually was hesitant as it was 8.5 lbs and I really prefer 8 lbs or less. That being said after a multitude of emails (maybe a bit of haggling ;)) I decided to bite the bullet. Shipping took around 2 weeks of in the dark DHL shipping but it did arrive fine - actually it was almost in fully in tune which made me laugh. Everything was there you would expect from any SE model - tools, case, etc. So that worked out great and I'll continue on with my quick opinions on the guy below. It may be similar to what I've said about the Chris Robertson model in a separate thread as they are fairly identical.

    Feels top notch. The wide fat neck shape is pretty much exactly what you would want for a singlecut. A bit thick in a good way for people who like chords but still thin enough to explore the majority of the fretboard with comfort and ease. Personally I like the shape of the Patterns on my core models a bit more as it contours to my hands better. I should also mention I spoke with a PRS rep who said the Bernie Marsden neck is the same as any other PRS Wide Fat neck and it is not custom. I've heard Bernie in an interview say it is a smidge thicker and I think it may be ever so slightly but it could be a mental thing. I've thought about measuring it but take any of that with a grain of salt. High fret access is as good as can be for a singlecut and there is a slight cutout under the high frets that debatably help. I found no issue with the frets or the nut. Korea has done a great job on these guys with the additional binding. No problems with tuners. They simply have the classic vibe and aren't locking. The actual weight of the guitar has been more or less fine for me at around 8.5 lbs, but I know many players prefer heft. The stock bridge is fine but they really, really need to have adjustable stoptails standard imo. I play different tunings and I knew this bridge would pretty much be tossed instantly which also adds another $100+ to the base price. I'll get back to this point. Contrary to my us core models, the pots are much stiffer and harder to turn. It's almost like I have to grab the knobs instead of rolling with my pinky. Not a big issue and they can be replaced but something to note. Speaking of this the 3 knob control is a bit weird but workable. Bernie had an explorer with this 3 knob setup which he liked so that's where that comes from. My biggest gripe with this is that the knob closest to the bridge isn't directly under the bridge. This is something I really like about other PRS 4 knob controls over say our friends at Gibson's setup where they are way out of the way. I swapped the bridge and neck pot wiring as I use the bridge knob more.

    Sound out of the box acoustically is fantastic. Resonates like any high end model and sustains long enough to catch a couple episodes of game of thrones. Once you plug it in and fire up the neck pickup you get a nice smooth tone from the SE245 pickup. PRS has done great on this and Bernie himself revolves around this pickup even with the multitude of options he has. Throwing the 3 way switch to the bridge is where work can be done. The bridge pickup is hollow sounding. Opposite of a chimey treble tone I look for. Maybe also heavy mids. I understand PRS typically tries different sounds with pickups but I could not get any tone I cared for with multiple amps and loads of pedals. Of course this is all subjective but I did go ahead and swap both with a classic 57 plus and classic 57 pair. I think these are excellent for going from classic rock to blues to even metal. I actually decided to just find a nickel cover for the original neck pickup and installed that in a different PRS. Now it screams whatever I want and looks much better with the covered pickups over the zebras.

    I mentioned my dislike for the original bridge. I spent some time researching and actually did follow suit of most people on this forum for a John Mann 2300 bridge. I was not going to spend multiple hundreds for the PRS one and the cheaper bridges had mixed reviews. I also think the Schroeder would probably work just as fine but I went the safest route - plus you get the cool looking brass studs with the Mann! I was originally going to get a matte finish to be different but since I got the shiny covered pickups I went with the typical polished aluminum. Very easy install. I would only say to be careful when taking out the studs and hammering in the new ones. Comes with tools you'll need short of maybe a hammer for the studs. I actually got an incorrect size allen but I have extra tools so it wasn't too big a deal. So that fixed the ugly issues with the original bridge. Intonates to my requirements to whatever tuning I want to run with. Doesn't feel intrusive under your palm and looks bad to the bone with the top.

    All in all this is an excellent, excellent guitar that I will hold onto for many years. I do have a Les Paul that still has its place but even with the additional expenses of a rare top, international shipping, new pickups, and a new bridge the Bernie Marsden is still loads more affordable than the Gibson (I will say my Gibby has been great out of the box and nothing has needed changed). If you want a singlecut with binding this is a beauty of a six string. I will mention there is a very new international "ruling" for rosewood equipped guitars (this one) and you probably won't be able to buy this outside your own country so good luck to you if you decide to hunt for these. Thanks for reading the wall of text. I hope everyone's holidays were awesome out there!

    A couple pix are before I got everything changed out so just fyi.
    This first pic you can see the top difference against a Les Paul Standard in Honeyburst with good proper lighting. Excellent top - insanely satisfied. Birds are pretty and the Mann bridge looks loads more professional. May need to get prs lampshade knobs. Shame how expensive they are - plus they are sold in 2s. I'm sure you can see the issue here.
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    With most of my other guitars - need a bigger couch haha
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    Next to it's darker Chris Robertson brother. Made a separate thread for this.
    [​IMG]
    Pre any upgrades obviously but still looks solid.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    Nice one! Good write up too! Love everything about the Bernie (pre & post upgrades)!
     
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  3. charliefrench

    charliefrench New Member

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    Lovely guitar and your upgrades are tastefully done. If I lived next door you can be sure I would want to borrow it, for a few years. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you.
     
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  4. grausch

    grausch New Member

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    Cool story and a beautiful guitar. I have one Bernie with lampshade knobs and one without. While lampshade knobs are good, these knobs are much better - https://www.allparts.com/PK-0132-022-Speed-Knob-Set-0-11-Amber_p_2820.html - they go to 11!

    Love your choice of pickups - '57 Classics are my favorite for classic rock and quite a lot of hard rock too.

    For those looking for Bernies, BM himself has said that there will be a 2017 SE Limited Edition and has hinted at a 594 version as well. Hopefully they will be on both sides of the Atlantic.
     
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  5. Chartle

    Chartle VIPro Member

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    I think your Bernie combo is killer. I may have to follow suit and get another one in the future ;)

    To 11! I thought you were joking then looked at it again. Yep, 11!

    I always thought pickups were very difficult to figure out. There are so many of them, reviews don't really help since your gear and ears can sound different, and you need solder skills or pay loads of money for techs. I took a chance on these and yes, I have no real incentive to try others. Loaded a handful of my guitars with them actually :) metal, classic, hard rock, blues, church, electronic hehe everything

    I also saw the anderton vid regarding that 2017 model. I'm very curious about this and have the same wishes as well especially with this rosewood "epidemic".
     
  6. veinbuster

    veinbuster In the cards

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    Very cool.
    Nice changes to make it your own.
    Great job filling the couch.
     
  7. toothace

    toothace At least I'm good at dentistry

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    Great write up! Congrats on the new beast!!
     
  8. g.wizz

    g.wizz New Member

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    excellent write up, Congrats
    Enjoy this tonal beast
     
  9. Alan Manning

    Alan Manning 25 or 6 to 4 !!!

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    There's a lot of love for a Bernie. They are that good Enjoy.
     
  10. grausch

    grausch New Member

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    Not sure if you're old enough to get the Spinal Tap reference, so in case you aren't, here is a quick clip explaining why you want a set of knobs that go to 11 -
     
  11. Stoptail22

    Stoptail22 Infected with PRS

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    I grabbed my first Bernie in May 2016, when the final edition was announced, and it was 8.4 lbs. A little bit too much in weight. But late September I found a second one which has wonderful 7.8 lbs.

    Now i am :):):):):):) !
     
  12. Barquentine

    Barquentine New Member

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    Great guitar. Love my Bernie- wish I'd grabbed another one when I could.
     

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