Korina - McCarty vs Santana - differences in tone?


New Member
Apr 24, 2018
I've never been a PRS guy. I always thought that they were over-priced, esp. 10-tops (as compared to other manufacturers). But you know, a decade or two, and needs can change opinions. Used prices are absolutely reasonable, in fact *surprisingly* so.

So, working on a cover band situation. Lots of 90s grunge/post-grunge stuff. Have the strat stuff covered. I even have a Line6 JTV-59P to cover a lot of other sonic territory. This would cover stuff like Filter, Soundgarden, Stabbing Westward, early Foos, Hum, any Smashing Pumpkin songs where the strats sound too thin and loose, etc. (no Creed/Tremonti stuff)

However I find some of the more humbucker-oriented stuff needs, well, humbuckers. To that end, I'm not using my Ibanez. Not the same. I have an all mahog LP Custom copy. It sounds GREAT, but it is heavy as hell. I have a korina 58 V copy, but it's a rather expensive handmade custom jobby that would cost in the $5k range to replace should something happen to it at a gig. Therefore, it's not going to all gigs. Lots pf PRS usage back in the grunge/post age, so initially I was looking at a PRS to sub in for the Korina V and the super heavy LP Custom Copy. The bonus is that the PRS is probably more versatile and comfortable than the LP.

Initially I was looking at trying the CE-24 vs CE-22 vs the Custom 24 vs Custom 22 and figure out which neck profiles I preferred, 22 or 24 frets, etc. There are some gorgeous examples of both out there for really good prices. Didn't even give the Korina models a 2nd thought because I figured w/ only 100 made of each (McCarty, McCarty P-90, Santana) back in the 07-09 run, and the fantastic tonal qualities of korina, those things would be fetching a ton. Well, people are asking about half of what I expected. I guess not having a flame top is why the newer Korina bodied-flamed top models are getting what I expected the original Korinas to get and the plain tops are getting so much less. Someone else's aesthetic aversion is my gain, potentially.

So, I'm really drawn to the KL-33 (Korina Santana) over the Korina McCarty because it has a trem (not going the 3xP-90 route, though if it were not for the cover band thing, I might go for that one above the others). However, in the end, the feel and tone are what matters. I can go to a guitar store and try the different McCarty and Santana necks out and get an idea of the comfort differences between the two. But the tonal differences I can't figure out so easily. In the end, no stores have both a McCarty korina and a Santana Korina in their used stock for me to compare directly.

So can you guys give me some sort of an idea what to expect tonally between the two? I'm not so interested in custom switching options - which splits coils the best (though that's always good to know) - but more the 3 main position sounds. Clean and through dirt.

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OK! :) What are the tonal differences between the KL-33 and the KL-1812s They have the same wood and the same pickups. Both are 24 fret. But one (KL-33) is Gibson scale, and the McCarty is 25" scale. Also it seems to me that the KL-33 Santana one actually has more body mass?
The Santana might have a bit more body mass, but I don’t think that has a significant impact on the sound.
I think the biggest impact is the placement of the neck pickup. On the Santana it is closer to the bridge for two reasons: 2 more frets and shorter scale. I find the McCarty has a deeper (more prominent lows) sound. I’m basing this on my guitars with 59/09 and similar woods (not korina).