Hey Tim, I'm a new guitar player myself and also a die hard PRS fan. While my dad bought me my first PRS (SE singlecut) back in 2007-2008ish, I only strummed on it for a month or so before I gave up... Sad, right!? Fast forward to 2022, I mentioned that story to one of my clients and he heckled me so much that I decided to pick the SE up again out of guilt. This was right at the start of June. I immediately fell in love and ended up buying a Wood Library CU 24-08 within 2 weeks haha. Another 2 weeks later, I bought a SE Angelus A60E to bring an acoustic in my arsenal. While I've never played a "regular" core, I can't tell you enough how much of an upgrade the WL is over my SE singlecut. Its got a swamp ash back, satin maple neck, a "downgraded" private stock top, its just perfection. I'm now starting the process of commissioning my first Private Stock build. From a playability standpoint, I don't expect the PS to be substantially better than my WL if any, very diminishing returns compared to the SE to WL upgrade. That said, as a hobbyist woodworker, the ability to use woods like tulip, hormigo, cocabola, spalted maple, ziricote, buckeye burl, ebony, black limba etc is worth it to me to commission a build.
If you aren't into cool & unique wood choices, then I wouldn't think a PS build would be worth it, even if you can easily afford one. You could even argue the same for WL vs core. Ask yourself how much you value you place on looks/uniqueness the WL and/or PS will offer you and you'll have your answer. Hope this helps!
I was just at CME and picked up a number of PS and other than aesthetics didn’t notice a difference between my two cores.
This has always been a fear of mine. I have often thought about selling off a number of my cores to fund a PS. My fear is that I would end up with a very expensive guitar that didn't do anything for me more than the ones I sold. I also fear that I would miss something I sold more than what I ended up with. Then you have the huge loss you would take if you decided to sell the PS. It is an expensive decision all the way around.
I'd like to respond, but I'll start off by saying that one person's 'better' when it comes to musical instruments is the next person's "I don't get it."
My mantra: There's no 'best', there's only what's best for you!
So I'm not asking anyone to agree with me, nor am I saying anyone else is somehow wrong. We all appreciate, hear and want different things out of our instruments. I've now been in the music business 31 years, and spend every day in the studio for hours and hours. Knowing exactly what I want/need to hear isn't much of a mystery any more. This is not a prescription for anyone else. I can only say what's working for me.
Here's my PRS History:
I've had a lot of PRSes since 1991, probably 35 or so. Four of my current set are PS models. Why'd I buy PS? It wasn't for looks. I won't post pics of these guitars, because pics tell you nothing about tone. I special ordered two of them because they had woods and features I wanted. The two others were bought because they sounded better to me than the Core models I compared them with at the dealer.
I don't knock Core models, quite the contrary, I still buy Core Models, too. I don't need a PS version of every guitar that I might use on a track. But for my bread-and-butter work, there's something about these PS guitars that I can't put into words very well that simply works and inspires my playing. Call it mojo or magic or just something that works for me and no one else, but it's there.
I should probably add that 'works for me' is all the justification I need to unlock the bank account, but YMMV on that.
In 2012, I had a Tonare Grand Artist acoustic model with cocobolo sides and back and an Adirondack Spruce top for a while, when PRS was still making Core acoustics. I loved it. But I wanted the same guitar with maple sides and back. The only way to get one was PS. I like the way a maple acoustic blends in on a dense arrangement, it floats over the high frequencies and I get a little more pick attack to mix in. I went ahead with the PS order. I waited a year for it.
When the guitar came I was astounded
at how good it sounded and felt. 9 years later, I've still never played an acoustic that sounds anywhere near as good - for my purposes. And my session friends have some damn fine acoustics by legendary hand-builders. The Tonare sounds better now than it did new.
Worth the extra dough? Sure - plus it's paid for itself many times over, as have all of my guitars.
My next foray into PS was a McCarty Singlecut, a model that was only available in PS. I've owned several other PRS Singlecuts with both the wrap and two piece bridges. After my great experience with the acoustic, I figured, why not try one of these, I was happy with the acoustic. My dealer had one in stock, and shipped it to me. Again, floored. Sounds more like a truly vintage guitar than a newer one, including my 594s. I think the Madagascar Rosewood fretboard it has, and the thicker body than usual, gives the guitar a warmer sound. It's a dream, and is my #1 electric. I've done all kinds of sessions with it.
I've still never played a SC style guitar that had this depth of tone. The longer I've played it, the more I've come to realize how special the guitar is. I'm not alone. Tim Pierce plays one that was part of this run, and it's exactly like mine. Sounds pretty much the same, too, except he's a better player.
A year later I was interested in one of the 2015 30th Anniversary models. There were two available at my dealer in finishes I liked, one was the PS. I didn't want a PS initially, I was looking at the Core. But the PS sounded so
much better to me (warmer, clearer, more responsive to the pick), I couldn't get the tone out of my head. A few days later I bought it. I was in love.
As with any guitar, the more one plays it, the better one understands what it's capable of. It's also only gotten better over time. Notes jump off this guitar like they were on springs. It's super-resonant and punchy.
The most recent PS I bought was a model made to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the PS department. There was no Core version. On this one, the mahogany is a little bit thicker, and the maple a little bit thinner than usual. This was the first PRS to use the 594 scale length, and it has two Paul's Guitar Pickups and a Narrowfield in the middle. As luck would have it, it's the prettiest sounding guitar I own. I use it a ton in my work. This one was a pre-order, the other two electric PS models were from dealer stock, as previously stated.
So here's my conclusion and thinking after all this:
1. If you're concerned that a PS won't sound as good as your Core models, buy from dealer stock so you can play the guitar first. If all you're after is the additional decor on the guitar, as Yosemite Sam used to say, "You pays your money, you takes your chances," and the result may or may not be what you want.
I don't mind taking a risk on an instrument, but I'm glad I know what I like. I felt confident buying the two from dealer stock I got. I played them before closing the deal. I knew what I was getting.
2. If you know exactly
what you want to custom order - by that I mean which wood combinations, pickups, and other things that make sound are going to give you what you can't get in Core sound-wise - then in my experience, a PS is a low-risk investment.
My experiences have been incredible, and I'm still over the moon about these guitars.
3. If you play a core and a PS model back to back (and do it for more than a few seconds using an amp so you really get a feel for the nuance), and there's no difference in the things you're looking for except the paint and trim, or the difference isn't worth the extra money, by all means get the Core and don't give it a second thought! Core models are still fantastic guitars!