Hey, I recently picked up the faded blue smoke burst after seeing a shop that had one with a nicer top. See photos below if you're curious. I will say that the variance in color for the blue in particular seems extreme. There are older versions that appear more "cornflower" blue which I don't like at all. There are newer versions that are a bit more teal (see examples at Peach guitars, for instance). This one seemed to have the right coloring as far as I'm concerned (right in the middle), let alone had a nice top, which is why I chose to snag this one rather than waiting for a "blind" order.
IMO, I would not order one of these without seeing it first. There was an example on Sweetwater a few weeks back that was the blue smoke burst, but the top had like zero figuring and was really washed out meaning the center was almost white and most of the color was right at the edges. It looked absolutely terrible in my opinion and I would have returned that right away if it had been delivered to me for what the guitar costs.
The other thing to note is that there are versions floating around that don't match the PRS website. I was comparing two different faded blue smoke bursts and only one of them had the natural binding as shown on the website. Peach actually had a black one without the natural back as well, so there are at least two different versions around that don't seem to be what PRS is advertising. Could be retailers choosing what to order or PRS having made small errors with that here and there, but as I really wanted to the natural binding, I would have been disappointed if the one I ordered didn't have it.
FWIW, I plan to order a jade smoke burst later on and scrape the binding to get the same look. Not sure why they didn't go with the natural binding on that color....Not sure that I've seen an actual photo of one outside of the "Tones Guitars" page on FaceBook. Eager to see more of them in the wild.
Great guitar either way though. I've owned probably 10 PRS guitars over the years and the CEs always seem to speak to me more than the CU24s. Not 100% sure about the pickups (or the positions Dustie requested), but to my ear, they sound better than some of the other PRS pickups I've tried, at least for heavier stuff. Neck carve isn't incredibly noticeable to me as being radically different than a regular carve, but I'm not too fussy about necks in the first place.