Chesapeake Severn (Private Stock #1989)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ]-[@n$0Ma☩!©, Aug 21, 2021.

  1. ]-[@n$0Ma☩!©

    ]-[@n$0Ma☩!© Zombie Zero, DFZ

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    In September of 2008, I flew to the east-coast from my home in Honolulu (at the time) to gather with friends from far and wide. This was the event where I met some of the best friends I've ever had. It was also significant for PRS. The 2008 Experience was where they debuted many new products (like the venerable 57/08 pickup and the Starla).

    On the evening of September 18th, amongst the laughter and merry-making, many stories were shared about the inaugural (2007) PRS Experience. One of the things that really got me excited was the prospect of unique guitars that were made exclusively for that event. The next morning, Mike Hanson and I hatched a plan to get to the PRS factory before the crowds. We wanted the inside scoop on any special guitars that might be available. We knew that my friend Kota from BUG Guitars (Tokyo) was also in town and so was the crew from Korg Import Division (KID). Those guys are notorious for walking onto a room and buying every single guitar before anyone has a chance even look (like the entire NAMM booth).

    So, the next morning, Mike and I got to the factory well before the gates opened. As luck would have it, we ran into Shawn in the parking lot. At this point, Shawn and I had spoken many times over the years but had never met, in person.

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    After catching up for a few minutes, Shawn offered to escort Mike I through the factory grounds (it was a short cut) to the other side where we were supposed to sign-in. Shawn was very clear that we couldn't stop along the way to look, touch, or take photos. We agreed and then we were off.

    Half-way across the PRS campus, to my left, I saw a very unique guitar sitting on display under a canopy. I was gobsmacked and pleaded with Shawn to just let me take a photo as we passed by. He politely declined. A deal was a deal. So we continued on our way. But the hook was set.

    When we arrived at the sign-in area on the other side, I immediately called Jack Gretz and told him about the guitar. He started pinging his sales rep and other info-sources for info and got the scoop. He reserved the instrument and we set a time to meet at the display table a few hours later.

    When the gates opened, I ran to the guitar for a closer look. I loved it. I loved everything about it. The figured mahogany top blew my mind. I had to have it. But it wasn't time to meet with Gretz just yet, so I wandered over to see the archive.

    When I returned to the guitar for our meeting, a crowd was already gathering. Jack picked it up, put it in my hands, and explained that this wasn't a PRS. Rather, it was a new brand called Chesapeake that was only going to be made by Private Stock (original press briefing here). As cool as it was, I just couldn't get past the crazy price tag. I'm not really a PS guy and was even less interested in them back in 2008.

    As I stood there, shellshocked, I looked around at all the people who appeared to be waiting for me to make up my mind. Some of the Japanese buyers were standing right beside me, politely waiting. I started to hand the guitar back to Jack and decline. Jack looked at me and said something like "Are you sure, Hans? The moment I set this guitar down, it's gone." I looked around again. He was 100% correct. So I did what any other idiot in my situation would do... I said "My wife is going to kill me. I'll take it".

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    Later that morning, Joe Knaggs explained to me that the guitar was inspired by a pre-CBS slab-board Strat that he had for a long time. His new design featured a glued-in neck and a 'full-float' trem-system that he designed with unplated brass saddles to push the string energy into the body of the instrument. When he told me that it was called the Severn, I asked him to add the name to the back of the headstock. That's why you'll see it in some photos but not all of them.

    Not long after I bought this guitar, Joe left PRS and took the Chesapeake designs with him. Only about 19 Chesapeak guitars were made by the Private Stock team before the brand was terminated. Some Chesapeake-brand guitars were rebranded by Joe. I don't know how many ‘original-condition’ Chesapeakes remain.

    What happened next was... well.. messy. Let's just say some bullsh!t went down, I ended-up with a few Knaggs guitars, and sold them both - along with my Chesapeake. Here is the Severn (just before I sold it) with a Knaggs-brand Choptank that I had built. The first Chesapeake -brand guitar (serial #1) is a Choptank. This is the first production Severn (serial #2).

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    Flash forward to last month - about 10 years after selling the Severn. One of my best friends (Markie, who bought it from me) sent me a text that he was going to part with some guitars. He had plans to ship some to dealers for consignment and the Chesapeake Severn was on the chopping block. I just couldn't bear the idea of this guitar being out there in the wild. I have far too many memories tied to it. Joe and I made apologies to one another years ago. It was time to move on and maybe, just maybe, look back. So, once again, I did what any idiot in my situation would do.

    I present to you one of the most widely hated guitars (based on forum comments 13 years ago) ever made by Private Stock. This is the second Chesapeake-brand guitar and the first production Severn ever made. It is one of very few Chesapeake brand guitars (made by PRS Private Stock) that remain in existence.

    Specs:
    - Construction: Set neck with contoured heel
    - Scale: 25.5"
    - Body: 1-piece Alder
    - Top: Figured South American Mahogany (1-piece) over book-matched Curly Maple top
    - Neck: Curly Rock Maple
    - Neck Carve: Fat as hell (850/.860 1/2 fret to .940/.950 12.5 fret)
    - Fretboard: Brazilian Rosewood
    - Radius: 8.5"
    - Fret wire: .100 / .051
    - Inlay: Red Heart Abalone diamond-shape inlays with 14k gold outlines
    - Side Markers: Rectangular Red Heart Abalone
    - Headstock Veneer: Brazilian Rosewood with Red Heart Abalone inlay
    - Tuners: Gotoh (locking), Blued to match trem system
    - Truss Rod Cover: Brazilian Rosewood with Red Heart Abalone inlay
    - Guard: Macassar Ebony with Red Heart Abalone purfling
    - Back Plate: Macassar Ebony
    - Pickups: Fralin Blues Specials
    - Hardware: Chesapeake Trem, brass saddles, 'blued' metal
    - Finish: Gloss Nitro

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    Some interesting comments from Paul (regarding the Chesapeake brand) in this write-up from the December 2008 issue of Guitarist Magazine.

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    #1 ]-[@n$0Ma☩!©, Aug 21, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2021
  2. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    Wow, what a story! That's a great guitar, a real history piece for a PRS fan. I'm glad to see you have it back. I sure have a few the "got away" that I would love to have the chance to recover. Congratulations :)
     
  3. Davey

    Davey Just Jammin'

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    Love it! What a visual beauty. Diggin the top as it appears to be 2 guitars, one on top of the other.
    So killer Hans
    Thanks for sharing.
     
    LSchefman and ]-[@n$0Ma☩!© like this.
  4. WEDGE

    WEDGE Zombie five, DFZ

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    Great story and killer guitar. Love the coming home stories. A Knaggs Severn is my number one, Joe can make a guitar!
     
    dogrocketp, LSchefman, bodia and 3 others like this.
  5. Glenn Gross

    Glenn Gross New Member

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    [​IMG] Thanks for the history lesson! Coincidentally, I just did a trade and got a similar looking purfed Knaggs Severn in a HSS configuration. No braz, though, but it has gold hardware.
     
    #5 Glenn Gross, Aug 22, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2021
  6. Moondog Wily

    Moondog Wily Howlin' At The Moon!

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    Fantastic story and knowledge dive! Thanks for sharing!! Love that guitar (except the headstock, just not as jaw dropping and original as the rest of that unit)!!! Hopefully she will be yours for life now! Congrats!
     
    LSchefman and ]-[@n$0Ma☩!© like this.
  7. JMintzer

    JMintzer Bobble Head Moderator
    Moderator

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    Wonderful story...

    Maybe next time it'll remind me not to sell a certain guitar to a certain someone...


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  8. markie

    markie Zombie 27 - DFZ

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    Thanks for selling me your Artist Ltd James. For the record, I still have it
     
  9. veinbuster

    veinbuster Zombie Three, DFZ

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    Very cool Hans.
    That was an interesting time at PRS.
     
  10. Going Modal

    Going Modal I should be practicing right now.

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    I knew that Joe left and created his own Knaggs brand, but this blows my mind to realize that those guitars started under the PRS (private-stock) umbrella. Thanks for sharing, Hans!
     
    LSchefman and ]-[@n$0Ma☩!© like this.
  11. WA Paul

    WA Paul All dogs go to heaven

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    Wow, great story - I’m a sucker for an origin story. :) 2008 was such a difficult time to launch a new guitar company!

    I have Severn #720. It is a great guitar with wonderful tone and tremendous sustain. But I really struggle with the fat neck on a vintage 8.5” radius. Which surprises me because I love fatter necks (Pattern Vintage) the older I get. Build quality is terrific. I keep dragging my feet on selling this and my ME I SCT.

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    Dealer ordered the smaller Choptank headstock on this one. Neck pocket and trem are the same design as that first Chesapeake.
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  12. jak3af3r

    jak3af3r Jake

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    Cool guitar! What's going on with the plate and all the screws down by the bridge?
     
    dogrocketp and LSchefman like this.
  13. bodia

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

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    Hans, I love your guitar tales. Always some cool stuff, that makes me smile. I can see why you’d want this one back.
     
    Alnus Rubra likes this.
  14. DougUSMC

    DougUSMC Perpetual Practicer

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    Such a great story! Every time I start thinking (or telling) one of my stories I think "no one but me cares about this", then I hear another awesome one and thing "These weirdos get me!" :D
     
  15. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    Cool story! It is a same that PRS has relegated two of Joe's best designs to SE status. Core Miras and Starlas were/are underrated guitars. I will never part with my Mira Korina. Now, my McCarty 58 is another story. It is easily the most beautiful guitar I have ever owned. It is also light and resonant for a McCarty, but I cannot bond with Pattern (wide-fat) neck, which is weird because I have big hands. I bet that the guitar has less than twenty hours of total playing time. However, every time I think about putting it up on the chopping block, I get cold feet. Although, my feet are getting less cold as resale value for McCarty 58s continues to climb. :)
     
    #15 Em7, Aug 22, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2021
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  16. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    That has to be one of the coolest, most beautiful guitars I've ever seen. Wow.
     
  17. HANGAR18

    HANGAR18 Not buying any more guitars. Again.

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    Today, is there any bad blood between the two companies? (PRS vs Knaggs) I couldn't help but wonder since the web site says that who whole company consists of former PRS employees.
     
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  18. DreamTheaterRules

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    Agree! Plus the story that goes with it almost as great as the guitar!!!
     
  19. NazgulUK

    NazgulUK Oops I did it again

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    Wow, what a story, what a piece, and what a wonderful conclusion to have it back.

    Only question is, did the wife kill you twice?
     
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  20. Bill SAS 513

    Bill SAS 513 Just another old guy in a T-shirt

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    Dang, Hans...Beautiful...IIRC, they also had a similar one in different shades of Green at one of the early experiences. I think I actually drooled on it. (Actually mine might have been a 305 PS model at a later Experience...sorry)

    That's a beaut, Hans!!!!
     
    #20 Bill SAS 513, Aug 23, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2021
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