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