PRS 2003 SAS (Swamp Ash Special) Modification Thread

neil godbole

New Member
Mar 9, 2021
So long story, short, I did a modification of my PRS SSH and it went so well I decided to apply some of the same principles (and also different ones) to my SAS.

Check further in the thread for the exact mods.

It turned out to be super excellent, and a joy to use. After several months of using the guitar, I was ready to apply this mod to my other PRS which I thought could use some of this work, and something a little different - my old 2003 Swamp Ash Special. I got this guitar when it was new, and is quite dear to me.

So there are two areas of this guitar I wanted to apply modifications to -

Onboard Pre-Amp similar to the Super Eagle I and II. This pre-amp contains a bright switch and an off/on switch. It really seems to bring a full range, 'hi-fi' sound to the pickups, and sounds especially good with clean/cleanish tones.

The 2nd area was with the split system. This guitar allows for coil splitting of the neck and bridge along with activating the middle Seymour Duncan pickup by pulling the tone knob. However, the splits felt especially weak to me - most noticeably on the neck. While the tone was good, the sound needed too much adjustment to be usable while playing in my rig.

Here's what was done:
- Added Psuedo Eagle Unity Gain Pre-Amp by surface mounting two mini toggles (off/on, bright off/on). This is a global modification, and affects all the electronics, including the splits when engaged.

- Added a Becos Non-Unity Gain Pre-Amp. I wanted this to be volume matched with the humbuckers when non-split, so this pre-amp was adjusted to compensate for the volume drop. In addition, I removed the Push/Pull pot on the tone knob, and instead installed a 4-pole mini toggle which simultaneously allows for coil splitting AND pre-amp activation. By flipping just one mini toggle, the coil split mode is activated just as stock, but the preamp is also engaged at the same time and matches the non-split volume.

- Install a TRS guitar input jack so that when a guitar cable is unplugged, all preamps are shorted so no battery wastage occurs if the mini toggles are left on.

In Use:
Very happily, the mods turned out almost better than I could have imagined. The work done by Geoff at SFGuitarworks was stellar as usual. In use, switching between the splits and regular non splits is a joy, makes no noise, and feels very matched. Just amazing to me. It doesn't feel unnatural at all. I can choose to add the Pseudo Eagle Pre-amp on top of this or not, and it mainly affects the tone, it doesn't add any further gain.

All in all, it made a great sounding and unique guitar even more versatile, and has breathed new life into a workhorse I've had in my stable since I was 23.

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Yah doing that is more of the route I went with the SSH - individual taps for each pickup, and then the preamp and also a push pull on tone to isolate the middle narrowfield. With the SAS, this would also be awesome. I've never heard the middle pickup by itself on this guitar. I suppose I could have left my push pull in and had it activate/isolate the middle... hmmm....