Just In Case (Historical Reference)

Another very early guitar (5 00XX) in its undoubtedly original case - however this case is physically smaller than the cases above (not by much, but smaller) and the 'Tolex' is different - this case has a very hard feel and the texture is almost gritty. Again I no longer own this guitar - one of the few guitars I've sold that I regret selling.


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My current '88 Signature sat in what I suspect is a late 1985 / early 1986 case - I say that because I used to own a late 1985 Custom 5 04XX that had the same style case. Again the 'Tolex' is rough like the above case in the post above but the handle is a thicker type. I suspect PRS had several case suppliers each making their own versions of the same case in the same way Gibson did in the 1950s. I've owned this guitar twice and it came back to me the second time in this case - it's 100% not the correct case for a 1988 guitar but would be for a late '85 or '86 guitar.



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A final comment about the early guitars and their cases, which has always been an interest (tragic, sorry).

I met Paul at a MusicStreet event in the UK and he was gracious enough to sign the pocket lid underside on a case I took along that housed a very early Custom 5 00XX.

On seeing the case Paul immediately said "I'll tell you a story..."

Paul then explained how the first cases were made incorrectly and that the pocket extended too far meaning the guitars didn't fit as the upper horn caught the pocket. He also explained that he had to personally modify them so the guitars fitted.

Paul never explained how he modified the cases, but having owned a few with the mod, I'd put money on it that it involved cutting away a bit of wood on the pocket side so the strap button fitted.

So a test for a very early guitar and its case is to look for this. Slightly later cases appear to have been put together differently, with the pocket side angled inwards making space.

I've seen this mod on cases up to around serial 200. I've never owned any 300 serial guitars but the few 400 serials I've owned either had a case with a shorter case pocket or the pocket side was angled inwards making space.

I've not got any photos showing the mod in detail, but you get a sense from the picture below of how the upper horn and strap button interfere with the case pocket. I think this also explains why it's fairly common to see the very early guitars with their strap buttons rotated round more than on later guitars.


If you look at the cropped photo below of a slightly later blue case you'll see how the later cases were built with angled pocket sides to make space for the guitar horn. I'd expect to see this mod on later 1985 cases / 1986 cases.


And finally a photo of yet another early blue-lined case that came with a late 1985 Custom I also used to own that shows the fractionally shorter case pocket as mentioned above. It also has a dfferent 'duck foot'.


And for anyone wondering, I've put the above info up as there's not a lot of info about the early guitars (or their cases). There were a lot of small detail changes that happened over a fairly short period time and unless you've seen / examined a few of the guitars you don't really notice them.
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WOW! A discussion worth looking over. I value the guitar more than the case, but I'm not a collector.