Current vs. Vintage

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by Kdogg788, Dec 30, 2019.

  1. Kdogg788

    Kdogg788 New Member

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    I've been curious, and at the risk of opening up a can of worms, figured I'd ask. In most interviews with Paul and others in the company, much of the narrative is about how PRS is always striving to push forward, to constantly improve, to constantly innovate both in design and manufacturing process. Updating and inventing new pickups, discontinuing models and designs in favor of newer ones, building things in new ways. In your opinion, as we move into a new decade of production, how do the current models compare to the guitars of the past? I'm not talking about aesthetics, exotic woods, etc. but build quality, sound, consistency, pickup quality, etc. Are the S2s and CEs of now better than higher model guitars of 20 or more years ago due to innovation and manufacturing quality upgrades? Are the guitars more or less the same and it doesn't matter. There are three potential answers more or less:

    1. The old (20+ year old) guitars are better as they were more hands on and have "vintage" quality.
    2. The newer guitars within the last 5 years or less are better because we've had so many years of quality innovation and invention moving forward.
    3. A guitar is a guitar and it does not matter. It might just sound a little different to different ears, but the quality and everything else is equivalent.

    -k
     
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  2. Tim S

    Tim S King of the barre chord

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    Technology is always improving and old-growth wood is always dwindling. Guitar-making is caught between these two facts,
     
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  3. Kdogg788

    Kdogg788 New Member

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    The main question I guess is, are the guitars getting noticeably better, or does manufacturing technology just make things more consistent? How would you equate a 2019/2020 PRS S2 vs. a higher model guitar produced 20 or more years ago with what some may say are lesser pickups and lesser manufacturing tech? Are they they same? Is the other still superior? Has PRS improved these things to the point where the new guitars are better overall?

    -k
     
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  4. Frank McNerney

    Frank McNerney New Member

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    True that
     
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  5. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Based on my experience as a 1991-2018 model owner, for my taste, PRSes are getting better, but that’s just a value judgment based on personal preferences.

    Fact is, they’re different. Your proposition #3 is the most accurate.

    The old ones are great. The new ones are great. Pick your poison.
     
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  6. BrianC

    BrianC more toys than talent

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    my first PRS (do not know the year, but it had a small heel) was great. my most recent PRS is great

    to be honest Phase I to II and then to III is the most noticeable improvement.
     
  7. Micky!

    Micky! Dragon trainer

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    I agree with LS. PRS seems to be better year after year.

    I own a 24 years old and a 12 years old PRSies. I like the tuner better on the 2007 one (better ratio, precision and smoothness; but wing tuner looks is killer :D)

    What is certain, is that PRS are build to last! Both of my PRS plays perfectly.

    What I know is also that current PRS and 80s/90s PRS have not been built in the same spirit. I like the modern approach of old PRSi. I guess it depend of what you seek. I really appreciate dragon 1 & 2 pickups.

    But I would not be against trying / owning a brand new Tremonti for example :)
     
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  8. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    Paul just covered some of this in an interview. Basically, he said technology has improved in areas where the CNC and similar processes are better than ever and can do things they couldn't 20 years ago. Paul also continually searches for ways to get those tones that have been exciting to players over the decades. So there have been improvements, and there are breakthroughs. I don't think this makes the guitars of the past less valuable as musical instruments... if they're good, they're good! What it has done is make for a more consistent and reliable product, which is better in its own right. Mesa Boogie uses a tag line that I think sums it up; "The Spirit of Art in Technology" Processes improve, consistency improves, so maybe guitars are more consistently good across production periods, but a good guitar from 1985 is still a keeper. That artistry will never be lessened by improvements that came later.
     
  9. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I’ll bet everyone has a different take on which improvements they like (or don’t like). For me, it’s the pickups that are #1, but I also like the PV neck, the 2 piece bridge, the individual coil taps, and the newer finishes that started with V12, but I’ve gone on to love the PS nitro unreservedly.
     
  10. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Zombie Eight, DFZ

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    It’s subjective.

    ....: but, I can’t deny the new guitars are put together perfectly.



    I wouldn’t.


    Agreed! They keep getting worse. ;)
     
  11. Rider1260

    Rider1260 New Member

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    In my opinion PRS keeps pushing forward, I have played an 86 CU24 and a 88 Standard 24 Multifoil both killer guitars in every way.
    I own PRS from 2007 thru 2019 and there is no Better , just different. lucky for us there is no best years for PRS , also no dog years either.
     
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  12. shimmilou

    shimmilou Established in 1963

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    ..... so long as Paul doesn't sell to CBS. :eek:
     
  13. elvis

    elvis Hamfisted String Banger

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    I think their core stuff is getting better and the SE models are getting more unpredictable.
     
  14. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    Well I got one of the predictable ones! So thanks PRS and you guys for giving me a gateway drug!
     
  15. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    Mine go from 91 to 2018. They’re all good, and different. There have been changes, many of them improvements..I don’t think age, model or or price level matter. What happens when you pick it up and strum it, or plug it in? These are tools intended to use. They’re just damn beautiful tools that can make amazing sounds.
     
  16. bodia

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

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    Ditto!
     
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  17. ADD

    ADD New Member

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    With the caveat that there is no wrong answer, for me, the major “improvement” is the pickups in the late 2000’s. I had given up on PRS circa 2005 with the purchase of a ME and one of the 20th Anniv. models (can’t recall which one). Came back in the ring with a shootout McCarty and re-started the journey.

    I now own two Private Stocks; 2015 Angelus Cutaway and a 2018 SH 594. They are mighty fine instruments and the SH 594 is in the top 5 guitars I have owned and has that special magic fairy dust.....stellar instrument on all accounts. I recently purchased a 2019 PG SE and was blown away as well. In short, for me, the tweaks that were made over the last 10-12 years have simply made the instruments “better” in a small marginal way.

    I must confess that I am not a vintage fan per see as older guitars don’t sound better to my ears but old wood does feel great (I think sometimes we tend to listen with our hands....!)
     
  18. SupremeDalek

    SupremeDalek Exterminate!

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    I played a 2001 Cu22 first, and I wasn't a fan. The body and neck were great, but I find the rotary dial terrible and the pickup merely "meh."

    Fast forward to the Special Semi... Everything is great. The neck and body still both amazing, but this time it sounds right in every way.

    There were plenty of good instruments produced before now, but I'm inclined to believe that they can be reproduced more accurately today. Innovations continue to make their way to the marketplace, and now we have amazing options instead of rotary knobs. Can you tell I had an issue with the rotary knob? ;)
     
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  19. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    A bit unfair as its comparing a vintage 'Standard' (all Mahogany) vs a modern 'Custom'.

    A lot of the points though are valid. The bridge, tuners, Pick-ups and electronics/switching has been 'improved' and it looks like PRS are continuing to innovate and improve too with the TCI process coming to numerous models for 2020 - as well as PRS's Nitro Finish.

    At the end of the day though, its personal preference. It doesn't matter if the tweaks are 'improvements' if you actually prefer the sound and feel of older instruments. Even if some of that is unfounded, that you just 'feel' older instruments have some kind of Mojo built up with a history of use, its still a personal choice.

    Personally, I would be very surprised if Paul would make changes just for the sake of it, just to save a few $'s here or there or worse, detrimental to the instrument. You may not agree that some changes are 'better' (like reverting to Vintage tuners on their McCarty range or maybe even switching to Nitro) but I bet Paul believes they are better for the vision he has for the instrument.

    Throughout the 35yrs that PRS have been making guitars as a Company, they have consistently been high quality instruments and in general, very well reviewed. They are often the 'best' guitars you could buy from that year/era too. Unless its been abused, an older PRS is still going to be a quality instrument. You may want to mod things, bring the PU's up to date, replace the Rotary switch for ease of use etc but the instrument itself is still a quality instrument - its just that PRS have never stood still, never rested on its laurels and constantly strive to improve and therefore, the modern day instruments should be better. Again though, that doesn't mean that you have to like it better...
     
  20. Tim S

    Tim S King of the barre chord

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    Now there's an advertising slogan I'd like to see on a tee shirt. ;)
     
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