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$10K Private Stock... Inspiration or Frustration?

The only difference that Paul himself states is that the woods are aesthetically better - at least the 'woods' that they also make the core models out of. They are all dried in exactly the same way. Of course you can get to choose different woods from the 'standard' woods used in core builds. As far as Paul is concerned, you can't hear any difference between the Wood Library/artist/private stock Maple caps - its just cosmetic.

I am not saying that there isn't differences between a PS and Core if both are made to the same specs and using the same wood combinations but according to Paul himself, these differences are no more different than two core models would be. Picking a Maple neck for example and a Swamp ash body will make a difference and as cores are all Mahogany with a maple cap and rosewood fretboard, then you will tend to hear more of a difference.

I personally believe that PS guitars, if made of the same materials and same specs, would sound very similar to a core with the differences you would expect from any guitars in the same model. Until I can be proven wrong, then I have no reason to believe any different. The woods are cured in the same way, the instruments still go through the same build with the same methods employed. I can't see the 'Eagle' on the headstock making a significant difference to the signature. I think a lot of the differences are related to wood choice (being made of different woods to the core models) and/or the price difference having a placebo effect (if they are finished in the same way - not nitro for example).

The only way I think this can be proven one way or another is by having a selection of core and PS models, all made using the same woods and in a blind test compared for both tonal and playability. If they are built with the same variety of woods, same neck shape, same PU's and Switches, same type of finish, then I really don't think you could literally feel any difference in a blind test and I would be very interested to know if anyone could pick out the PS amongst the cores either. If you had say 5 people in a room all blindfolded, 1 PS with 4 core models, taking it turns to play a guitar (so you start with 1 guitar and pass it round each person before moving to the second), without discussing as a group so can't influence any one, I bet they couldn't pick out the PS. Not only after hearing it played by 4 different people, but also after playing it themselves, I am willing to bet that they wouldn't be able to tell which guitar was the Private Stock. If ALL 5 independently pick out the PS, then I would believe there is a discernable and clear difference. 1 or 2 could be just a lucky guess but all 5 would be proof - especially if they can give a 'clear' reason why - whether its clearly audibly different and/or feel different.

I can't see how, if the woods are all cured the same way, separated off for purely aesthetic reasons, built in the same way albeit by different people but still glued up, CNC'd to the same shapes, using the same hardware/electronics etc that there can be a 'noticeable' difference in tone/feel in a 'blind' test so you can't see the eagle on the headstock for example. Obviously I can see the aesthetic difference, even understand how different wood variety, finish type etc can change the tonality noticeably, even understand how the price, aesthetics etc can influence people like a placebo effect.

If Paul also wants to send me a Private Stock to change my belief and opinion, I am more than happy to receive one... :D:D
 
As far as Paul is concerned, you can't hear any difference between the Wood Library/artist/private stock Maple caps - its just cosmetic.
That’s quite true for the maple caps. I think the real difference is with the necks and backs, where you can get different species with PS. I’m particularly impressed with Chaltecoco, Pernambuco, Honduran Rosewood and Brazilian rosewood as necks. Honduran rosewood rings like an instrument in itself when tapped by hand. That’s why it is used for marimbas.
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It’s amazing isn’t it. I’m quite convinced that when forced to vibrate by the strings, it would vibrate in its own characteristic (which you hear when hand tapping it) and impart some of that onto the string vibration. In short the guitar makes the metal string ‘behave’ like wood. That in turn gets sensed and captured by the pickups. That’s how tonewood works in an electric guitar IMO.
 
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No worries, glad that the owner has rated it as highly as I do mine. Sounds like an epic build.

There’s a story behind the ABW. Paul declared it a magic guitar when mine was done, according to my dealer. That led him to source for another ABW neck and they subsequently found one more. Then Paul wanted a retrieve a guitar from a dealer which an artist fancied. The only thing the dealer would accept was Paul’s ABW neck blank on a swap basis. That led to the second guitar I suppose. Paul mentioned all this in a Facebook video PRS made of the PS vault.

Go to 11:25 of this video:
EDIT in th video, Tina mentions highly figured Koa and solid pieces of Koa as being rare - how about both? One piece curly Koa body? :D
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The back (one piece slab o Koa awesomeness)

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That’s quite true for the maple caps. I think the real difference is with the necks and backs, where you can get different species with PS. I’m particularly impressed with Chaltecoco, Pernambuco, Honduran Rosewood and Brazilian rosewood as necks. Honduran rosewood rings like an instrument in itself when tapped by hand. That’s why it is used for marimbas. It’s amazing isn’t it. I’m quite convinced that when forced to vibrate by the strings, it would vibrate in its own characteristic (which you hear when hand tapping it) and impart some of that onto the string vibration.
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Hmmm. Haven’t tried Honduran RW neck yet...
 
EDIT in th video, Tina mentions highly figured Koa and solid pieces of Koa as being rare - how about both? One piece curly Koa body? :D
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The back (one piece slab o Koa awesomeness)

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The fact that that is a one piece, yet so figured, really adds an exponential factor to its rarity.
 
Hmmm. Haven’t tried Honduran RW neck yet...
Highly, highly recommended. There must be a reason why they use Honduran Rosewood and not say, maple, for marimbas. There is nothing more “tone tapping-esque” than a marimba.

The only guitar I have which has the honor of being pronounced the best guitar my dealer ever encountered, as someone who has dealt with thousands of guitars notwithstanding, has a Honduran neck.
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Honduran is also elected for the standard FB of the new core TCI Paul’s guitar, so apparently he approves!
 
The only difference that Paul himself states is that the woods are aesthetically better - at least the 'woods' that they also make the core models out of. They are all dried in exactly the same way. Of course you can get to choose different woods from the 'standard' woods used in core builds. As far as Paul is concerned, you can't hear any difference between the Wood Library/artist/private stock Maple caps - its just cosmetic.

Paul talks about “magic” instruments. Why do some have it while others, made from the same materials, don’t? Beats me, and might even beat him.

Making a “magic” instrument is part art. Art is intuitive. If art was logic, we’d all get out the instruction manual and make great art. Unfortunately, talent is also involved.

The problem is you can talk about this stuff for eons, and none of the talk matters, because talking about sound and playability don’t explain anything. Only playing one and hearing what you can do with it tells the story.

Blind tests? No two wooden instruments sound identical. You don’t blind test instruments at a guitar store to pick the one you like, you play them to pick the one you like. Do that instead.

Between any two instruments the only question that matters is, “Which do you prefer?” Not, “Can you identify which one’s a PS?”

I still buy Core models, and no doubt will buy another PS at some point (my wife is now shouting, “Dream on, buster!”). The intent here isn’t to somehow prove anything, instead, it’s to say, go play a few and see, feel, and hear for yourself. It’s the only way to know.

Don’t take anyone else’s word for it.
 
Paul talks about “magic” instruments. Why do some have it while others, made from the same materials, don’t? Beats me, and might even beat him.

Making a “magic” instrument is part art. Art is intuitive. If art was logic, we’d all get out the instruction manual and make great art. Unfortunately, talent is also involved.

The problem is you can talk about this stuff for eons, and none of the talk matters, because talking about sound and playability don’t explain anything. Only playing one and hearing what you can do with it tells the story.

Blind tests? No two wooden instruments sound identical. You don’t blind test instruments at a guitar store to pick the one you like, you play them to pick the one you like. Do that instead.

Between any two instruments the only question that matters is, “Which do you prefer?” Not, “Can you identify which one’s a PS?”

I still buy Core models, and no doubt will buy another PS at some point (my wife is now shouting, “Dream on, buster!”). The intent here isn’t to somehow prove anything, instead, it’s to say, go play a few and see, feel, and hear for yourself. It’s the only way to know.

Don’t take anyone else’s word for it.

I think you are missing the point I was trying to make. Of course the best way to find a new instrument for you is to play test them and find the one that resonates the best for you - regardless of whether its a Private Stock or a Core. If your budget doesn't stretch to a Private Stock then you perhaps shouldn't play test it.

The point I was trying to make though is that if ALL materials used are the 'same' (at least in the variety of woods), then, apart from the differences inherent between ALL guitars, you couldn't necessarily pick out the Private Stock on tonal quality or on Playability in a Blind Test. The point is that a Core can sound, feel and play exactly the same as a PS, that there isn't some kind of magic mojo or some substantial quality difference in the build of a PS. Some of the 'magic' and feel in a Private Stock comes from the variety of woods that they can use. Its not just Mahogany body and neck with a prettier Maple cap and more figured Rosewood fingerboard - although it can be.

Private Stock may get the prettiest Maple and some of the more unique colour stains. Private Stock may allow you to purchase some 'instruments' before they become 'core' models. Some Private Stocks may have the 'rarest' wood varieties too that have an effect on the sound and 'feel' - especially if its used as a 'neck'.

All I was saying though is that if you remove the element of sight, assuming a PS was the same model using the same wood varieties, hardware and finish type - you wouldn't be able to hear or feel the difference between a Core and a Private Stock. You can hear and feel the difference between an SE, S2 or even a CE and a core PRS - not saying one is better or worse here by the way, but you can feel whether it has a carve or less of one, feel whether it has a bolt on neck or not, hear the difference the S pick-ups and moulded steel bridge makes etc. In a blind test, you could probably determine exactly which was the core. It would be much more difficult to do so with a Guitar built by the Private Stock team and a regular Core version. That is NOT a criticism - its just that the Cores are extremely high quality and excellent too and what you are paying more for could well be aesthetics and uniqueness, more rare varieties of woods, the prestige of a PS guitar, the opportunity to have one built exactly as you want it to be - even deviating from the 'standard' of the core model - hence you get a 5 evenly space 509 pick-up fan fret model or a hollowbody 594 in 'natural woods' and 24 frets. These things you just don't see or could get buying a 'core'.

I am not belittling the PS at all, not saying that people should go out and 'blind test'. All I was inferring is that if you had 5 guitars, all the same model and wood varieties, you wouldn't be able to feel or 'hear' which was the Private Stock in a blind test. They would no doubt all have their own characteristics in the sound - as do all guitars - but one won't necessarily jump out and be significantly better to identify it as a PS, one wouldn't necessarily jump out and feel significantly higher quality to identify itself as Private Stock - made by the 'finest' luthiers at PRS. They maybe the best of the best, but the rest are extremely good at their job too. The hardware is the same, the woods are all dried the same (obviously not all the wood variety you can select in PS), all made to the same specs and therefore will all sound and fell within the same parameters you would expect from guitars. Maybe someone will resonate more with the PS model and someone else may find one of the core resonates better with them.

Rather than say there isn't a big jump up in quality, tone etc from a core to PS, Maybe I should say that there isn't a big drop down in quality to a core from a PS. The main reason the PS will sound or feel different is often more down to the variety of woods and potentially finishes. Aesthetically they may look better because of the better figuring of the woods, the different variety of woods, the different colours or natural finishes, the craftsmanship of inlays for example - and who doesn't like seeing the Private Stock Friday posts.
 
I’m just glad I have zero GAS for vintage guitars and original 59 LPs. :D

I don't have a desire for a 59 LP but I do have a thing for 50's Fenders. They seem like a great value compared to the Les Pauls.

The good news for me was that having GAS for guitars that seemed to be out of reach motivated me to figure out a way to make it happen. It has been a long process but still quite enjoyable. I've bought more vintage Fenders than PS guitars but the thrill of getting each of them was pretty similar.

I understand this isn't always realistic for everyone but you can feel great that there are incredible guitars at almost every price point.
 
I think you are missing the point I was trying to make. Of course the best way to find a new instrument for you is to play test them and find the one that resonates the best for you - regardless of whether its a Private Stock or a Core. If your budget doesn't stretch to a Private Stock then you perhaps shouldn't play test it.

The point I was trying to make though is that if ALL materials used are the 'same' (at least in the variety of woods), then, apart from the differences inherent between ALL guitars, you couldn't necessarily pick out the Private Stock on tonal quality or on Playability in a Blind Test. The point is that a Core can sound, feel and play exactly the same as a PS, that there isn't some kind of magic mojo or some substantial quality difference in the build of a PS. Some of the 'magic' and feel in a Private Stock comes from the variety of woods that they can use. Its not just Mahogany body and neck with a prettier Maple cap and more figured Rosewood fingerboard - although it can be.

Private Stock may get the prettiest Maple and some of the more unique colour stains. Private Stock may allow you to purchase some 'instruments' before they become 'core' models. Some Private Stocks may have the 'rarest' wood varieties too that have an effect on the sound and 'feel' - especially if its used as a 'neck'.

All I was saying though is that if you remove the element of sight, assuming a PS was the same model using the same wood varieties, hardware and finish type - you wouldn't be able to hear or feel the difference between a Core and a Private Stock. You can hear and feel the difference between an SE, S2 or even a CE and a core PRS - not saying one is better or worse here by the way, but you can feel whether it has a carve or less of one, feel whether it has a bolt on neck or not, hear the difference the S pick-ups and moulded steel bridge makes etc. In a blind test, you could probably determine exactly which was the core. It would be much more difficult to do so with a Guitar built by the Private Stock team and a regular Core version. That is NOT a criticism - its just that the Cores are extremely high quality and excellent too and what you are paying more for could well be aesthetics and uniqueness, more rare varieties of woods, the prestige of a PS guitar, the opportunity to have one built exactly as you want it to be - even deviating from the 'standard' of the core model - hence you get a 5 evenly space 509 pick-up fan fret model or a hollowbody 594 in 'natural woods' and 24 frets. These things you just don't see or could get buying a 'core'.

I am not belittling the PS at all, not saying that people should go out and 'blind test'. All I was inferring is that if you had 5 guitars, all the same model and wood varieties, you wouldn't be able to feel or 'hear' which was the Private Stock in a blind test. They would no doubt all have their own characteristics in the sound - as do all guitars - but one won't necessarily jump out and be significantly better to identify it as a PS, one wouldn't necessarily jump out and feel significantly higher quality to identify itself as Private Stock - made by the 'finest' luthiers at PRS. They maybe the best of the best, but the rest are extremely good at their job too. The hardware is the same, the woods are all dried the same (obviously not all the wood variety you can select in PS), all made to the same specs and therefore will all sound and fell within the same parameters you would expect from guitars. Maybe someone will resonate more with the PS model and someone else may find one of the core resonates better with them.

Rather than say there isn't a big jump up in quality, tone etc from a core to PS, Maybe I should say that there isn't a big drop down in quality to a core from a PS. The main reason the PS will sound or feel different is often more down to the variety of woods and potentially finishes. Aesthetically they may look better because of the better figuring of the woods, the different variety of woods, the different colours or natural finishes, the craftsmanship of inlays for example - and who doesn't like seeing the Private Stock Friday posts.

Yes, there isn’t much of a drop-down from PS to Core, we’re talking about subtle stuff at that level. No disagreement there.

One comparison problem is that the materials in most PS aren’t exactly the same as Core, though, because (a) the nitro finishes on most PS seem to affect the tone, and (b) you’d be hard-pressed to find a PS with standard woods! At one time I refused to believe the nitro thing, but over many years of having both types, I’ve come to believe it’s true. This is going to seem trite, but the finish seems to give a guitar a little more of a vintage tone vibe.

But it’s subtle. In fact, when I ordered my PS acoustic, and I asked about putting V12 on it (worried tone at the time about having to baby nitro like I used to on Gibsons), I was told Paul wouldn’t allow it on the acoustics for tone reasons. Whether that still applies, I don’t know. Turns out it’s been a pretty tough, non-sticky finish that’s caused no grief.

My PS electrics have Peruvian mahogany necks, African ribbon mahogany backs, and Madagascar RW fretboards, so there we’re also not comparing apples to apples, through I also had Peruvian and African on my Artist V, so there’s a frame of reference, but that guitar had an ebony fretboard. I should mention that my Artist V was a very special sounding guitar!

I think the person building their guitars matters, too, and PS has some talented people.

And at least as to my PS production models, those woods are what they came with, there wasn’t even the option of going with Core woods.

Point is, the guitars are different. I’d guess very few people opt for the bog-standard wood combination, and very few opt for poly over nitro. Ain’t the same in any case.
 
Yes, there isn’t much of a drop-down from PS to Core, we’re talking about subtle stuff at that level. No disagreement there.

One comparison problem is that the materials in most PS aren’t exactly the same as Core, though, because (a) the nitro finishes on most PS seem to affect the tone, and (b) you’d be hard-pressed to find a PS with standard woods! At one time I refused to believe the nitro thing, but over many years of having both types, I’ve come to believe it’s true. This is going to seem trite, but the finish seems to give a guitar a little more of a vintage tone vibe.

But it’s subtle. In fact, when I ordered my PS acoustic, and I asked about putting V12 on it (worried tone at the time about having to baby nitro like I used to on Gibsons), I was told Paul wouldn’t allow it on the acoustics for tone reasons. Whether that still applies, I don’t know. Turns out it’s been a pretty tough, non-sticky finish that’s caused no grief.

My PS electrics have Peruvian mahogany necks, African ribbon mahogany backs, and Madagascar RW fretboards, so there we’re also not comparing apples to apples, through I also had Peruvian and African on my Artist V, so there’s a frame of reference, but that guitar had an ebony fretboard. I should mention that my Artist V was a very special sounding guitar!

I think the person building their guitars matters, too, and PS has some talented people.

And at least as to my PS production models, those woods are what they came with, there wasn’t even the option of going with Core woods.

Point is, the guitars are different. I’d guess very few people opt for the bog-standard wood combination, and very few opt for poly over nitro. Ain’t the same in any case.

I think in essence we are saying the same thing. The difference that PS offers is the wood variety and the finishes (nitro not Poly). I think we are in agreement that IF PRS were to make a PS version of their Core models, using the same wood variety and finish, then it would still sound, feel and play like a Core would - the only variation being the variation you would expect to find amongst any guitars of the same model and specs - the fact that one is a PS and another is a core would not manifest a vast difference.

The attraction of PS is the wood variety, the different finishes, any unique inlays or design elements, unique colours, custom build and limited editions leading to a more unique, more individual model that few if any will have. There must be 'hundreds' of people that own a Double Cut 594 that, like mine, look, sound and play similarly. There is just 60 worldwide that will own the Graveyard 2 with its unique design. If you commission your own Private Stock, you could be the ONLY one in the world with that PRS, those specs and wood variety - even colour choice or natural wood look. It will be more unique, more exclusive, and/or more individual. That's what you are buying with a Private Stock. You are buying that unique or very limited instrument that few others will have.
 
I think in essence we are saying the same thing. The difference that PS offers is the wood variety and the finishes (nitro not Poly). I think we are in agreement that IF PRS were to make a PS version of their Core models, using the same wood variety and finish, then it would still sound, feel and play like a Core would - the only variation being the variation you would expect to find amongst any guitars of the same model and specs - the fact that one is a PS and another is a core would not manifest a vast difference.

The attraction of PS is the wood variety, the different finishes, any unique inlays or design elements, unique colours, custom build and limited editions leading to a more unique, more individual model that few if any will have. There must be 'hundreds' of people that own a Double Cut 594 that, like mine, look, sound and play similarly. There is just 60 worldwide that will own the Graveyard 2 with its unique design. If you commission your own Private Stock, you could be the ONLY one in the world with that PRS, those specs and wood variety - even colour choice or natural wood look. It will be more unique, more exclusive, and/or more individual. That's what you are buying with a Private Stock. You are buying that unique or very limited instrument that few others will have.

Actually, there’s one other difference preventing agreement: the feel is not the same. PS definitely has a more polished, upscale, hand-worked feel. Lots more time is lavished on a PS, and it shows up. As for whether that expertise and time translates to tone, it’s hard to say, because I’ve never played a PS made from stock woods.
 
I didn't know there was no PS with the "regular" woods. As a new member I'm amazed by the wealth of knowledge in this forum. Also I do agree that nitro makes a difference in sound. I've recently seen someone identify nitro vs poly just by listening to a number of otherwise identical MIM Fender strats, half poly half nitro. And I'd just like to point out that the MIM nitro were nitro lite, where nitro is applied to a thin layer of poly. The listener noticed that because poly was harder, the guitars with pure poly sounded a bit brighter than the nitro over poly guitars. I'm not claiming it was a scientific test, but I was impressed by it nonetheless.
 
IF PRS were to make a PS version of their Core models, using the same wood variety and finish, then it would still sound, feel and play like a Core would
Where there might be a difference, is when a skilled and experienced person personally picks the woods at the PS vault. It could be a luthier or a dealer, many of whom are themselves luthiers. It could also be PRS staff like Paul Smith or Paul Miles.

I have two PRS that were made for Paul Reed Smith. Paul personally picked out the woods as stated in the certificate. Somehow they just resonate stronger and more “woodily” than normal, outstanding tone.
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That said, wood library guitars also allow dealers to pick out individual pieces of wood. I guess the difference is that the wood variety open for selection is different, and your luthier friend will not be invited, if you’re lucky enough to know one. :p
 
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Actually, there’s one other difference preventing agreement: the feel is not the same. PS definitely has a more polished, upscale, hand-worked feel. Lots more time is lavished on a PS, and it shows up. As for whether that expertise and time translates to tone, it’s hard to say, because I’ve never played a PS made from stock woods.
Very tangible difference regarding the feel of the instruments to me having owned both several core and now several PS models. Totally agree on the nitro versus V12 finish as well. V12 is a great finish, but PS Nitro is addicting! Not sure why! :)

EDIT - also echo the comments on Dark Peruvian Mahogany neck with Madagascar RW boards. Serious voodoo going on with this on!

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Highly, highly recommended. There must be a reason why they use Honduran Rosewood and not say, maple, for marimbas. There is nothing more “tone tapping-esque” than a marimba.

The only guitar I have which has the honor of being pronounced the best guitar my dealer ever encountered, as someone who has dealt with thousands of guitars notwithstanding, has a Honduran neck.
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Honduran is also elected for the standard FB of the new core TCI Paul’s guitar, so apparently he approves!
EPIC!!!! Ok, who is your dealer? PRSH?
 
All I can speak for is me. I didn't know 10 years ago that I'd have 3. In a way, I was driven to it. I have always been driven by functional requirements rather aesthetic ones, and I simply couldn't find the guitar with the functionally that I required at at least the same quality as the PRS core either inside PRS or outside for first one. I honestly thought that the 513 optimized for music theater was going to be only one until I was offered a chance to own one the GOTM 509. In that case, there was certain thrill about being in on the ground floor of new design, and like the first one it was also something couldn't be found within the core models and still can't, a 509 with a maple neck and a kingwood fret board. The same thing happened with the PS Gary Grainger Bass. I found that the specs of the production version that I owned were different enough to make me wonder how much different the PS version was. Turns out, it was quite different in tone. If they'd offered a GG-5 with the same specs as the PS, I'd probably own that one, but a GG-5 with heavy brass hardware, a maple capped swamp ash body, and a maple neck with an ebony fret board is not available in the core.

That being said, if they offered core models with similar wood combinations, I am pretty sure they'd have a high probability of sounding similar.

However, I did briefly consider getting on the list for a Graveyard, because I really liked how they looked. But, I couldn't see the point of a 594 with a maple neck and a maple capped swamp ash body.
 
I should have mentioned the Gen III locking PS trem; not only does it enhance the tone and sustain, but the guitar never goes out of tune during multi-hour sessions. It’s perfect. The PS20 has one, and the guitar sounds otherworldly. It might be my favorite PRS model, ever. That bridge is PS-only. The ratio of maple to mahogany is also different than any Core model; the mahogany is thicker, and the maple is thinner. It’s more or less it’s own thing.

But I love my Core models, both my previous ones and my newer ones. They’re wonderful. The PS models are different, and I can’t imagine ever parting with one. Then again, I’m kinda over the guitar selling/buying merry go round now. So the Cores will likely stay with me until the end of my existence, or until I become incapacitated, whichever comes first. :eek:
 
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