A Brief Comparison of Maple Fretboard PRSi

shinksma

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I lined up all of my maple-fretboard PRSi for a somewhat spur-of-the moment mini-shootout as to which was most "strat-like":

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L-R: WL 509, DC3, 305, CE24 (nitro neck), and SAS (5-way with push-pull)

For the record, body woods are:
WL 509: maple cap over swamp ash
DC3, 305, CE24: alder
SAS: Swamp Ash (duh)

(Heh, I might have just convinced myself I need a maple-neck+FB guitar that has the traditional maple+hog body combo.)

Yeah, we've all dealt with the endless questions of "which PRS guitar is most like a strat" or "like a Les Paul" or "like a virg...", um, I mean, whatever, most like some other model of guitar.

But I realized, as I looked around at a few of the guitars I had been recently doing some back-to-back comparisons with, that I had a reasonably good sample size of what I would consider candidates for camparison, all with maple fretboards.

The neck finish has certainly evolved over the years - the CE24 is that slightly sticky nitro feel that slicks up once you get some sweat going. The SAS has a glossy finish that doesn't seem so "thick", and it doesn't feel like nitro - I assume some poly variant.

The DC3, 305 and 509 all have the current "naked maple" finish feel. (I assume it is the same across all three - the 509 is from 2018, the other two from 2012 IIRC.)

Anyway, the test method:

I played the intro to Pink Floyd's Coming Back to Life over and over. It has a relatively clean tone (can't hide behind the distortion), and switches obviously between positions 4 and 1 on Gilmour's strat.

I used positions 7 and 10 (?) on the CE.
I pulled the tone knob on the SAS, and used positions 4 and 1 on the blade switch.
I used both micro-switch taps on the 509 to get the pups into SC mode (or whatever that is officially called on a 509), and positions 4 and 1 on the blade.
Positions 4 and 1 on the blade for both DC3 and 305.

Low drive and low reverb on the Sweet 16 amp. Pedal board had a reverb-delay pedal engaged with mild bits of both - length of delay similar enough to the recording, though not as strong to avoid falling for the "lots of delay makes it sound awesome" trap.

Volume and tone at 10 for all guitars, just for a baseline comparison. By tweaking, I suspect some guitars could sound a bit closer to the "target".

Results:

The CE24 was the least stratty, due to not having a true SC-like mode via the 5-way rotary and no push-pull.

The DC3 was the most strat-like: it had that quack, that bell-like tone to it that the others didn't quite have. Maybe the body cutouts for the pups under the cover contribute to the tone somehow?

The 509, 305, and SAS all sounded more-or-less strat-like, but lacked a certain "je ne sais quoi" that the DC3 seems to have.

The 305 was perhaps slightly closer to the DC3, but the signal is a much stronger signal from the 305 (it gets dirty faster when using overdrive etc) - I checked, and the pups seem to be higher (closer to the strings) compared to the DC3. So I assume that is a primary factor, since they use the same pickups, right? The 305 sounds like a pumped-up strat, if you will?

They are all versatile guitars, and in a pinch I would use any of them for something that called for a strat-like tone. The 509 is probably the best all-round rock-machine (followed by the SAS), due to the humbucker configs possible with the pups, but each have their own "thing".

Oh, and I would have included my actual Fender mexi-strat in the comparison, but it is just not as easy to play as the PRSi (despite the Fender being good enough to be my main guitar for well over a decade and a half, along with a Les Paul Deluxe that came into the picture later on).
 
Cool comparison. Thanks for posting this! Of course, you know you need to add a Silver Sky (I know, as soon as they have a Maple board! :D)
Exactly my plan.

I know @Shawn@PRS has made as couple of remarks about us folks who like maple boards, but I have a strat-like guitar with a rosewood neck (Godin Freeway Classic), and somehow it just isn't the same (going beyond the obvious HSH pickup configuration as well). Great guitar, just, I don't know...
 
(sigh) Great thread! And damn, you’ve got a nice pile of maple fretboard PRSi.

I need to grab my buddy’s rosewood fretboard DC3 and do a comparison with my SE EG to see if I need to buy another DC3.... I think I’m grabbing the EG for band practice tonight now that you got me thinkin’ all stratty.
 
Nice comparison and write up!

My most straty PRS is....my DC594 on Coil tap! (Ducks):D Versatile guitars! But wouldn’t last in your comparison room 5 seconds I bet ;)

My Knaggs Severn (full maple neck and board, maple top over alder) in the middle, SC only pickup is definitely more straty though :)

Did someone say SS with full maple neck and board? :p
 
Thanks everyone!

I hadn't started out with the intent to do any kind of review - even just quick or informal, or anything, I was just playing my DC3 against my 305 trying to figure out if I played one out, which would it be? I usually take a piezo-equipped guitar like my P245SH to do pseudo-acoustic, but recently we've been playing at an open mike where I can "relax" that requirement.

I hope it has been illuminating or inspiring in some fashion; looks like I got @sergiodeblanc 's juices flowing.
 
(sigh) Great thread! And damn, you’ve got a nice pile of maple fretboard PRSi.

I need to grab my buddy’s rosewood fretboard DC3 and do a comparison with my SE EG to see if I need to buy another DC3.... I think I’m grabbing the EG for band practice tonight now that you got me thinkin’ all stratty.

Don’t forget you need a DGT! ;)












As well!
 
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