PRS Arcana: What Am I Missing Here?

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Too Many Notes
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
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34,847
Location
Michigan
I've been playing PRS since 1991. I've owned an awful lot of PRS guitars in the past 32 years!

Tonight I came across an ad for a PRS with 'Old Birds'. I'd seen these touted before. I still have no idea what they are. Other than a few bird inlays that have been hollow or highly stylized like the Brushstroke or Museum birds, I couldn't tell you the difference between 'old birds' and 'new birds' if my life depended on it. The shape looks exactly the same to me.

That question made me think about my 2015 30th Anniversary PS model. I bought this guitar because it sounds incredible, and plays equally well. The 'old school PRS' feature set wasn't a feature, and it wasn't a bug. But the bird question made me wonder about some of this guitar's supposed 'vintage' features, too.

The 'pre factory' neck heel, OK, I mean there's a teeny difference that doesn't matter to me at all. I looked at the ad I'd saved for the guitar re: other features.

It has a 'pre-factory' headstock. I looked at my guitars, and all the pics of the many other PRSes I've owned, and I have ZERO idea what the difference is. Other than the fancy inlays, does this headstock look any different to you than current PRS headstocks?


J7X1P2x.jpg


It looks the same to me as the current headstocks.

It has a ‘pre factory’ top carve and lower horn scoop. I cannot see any difference between this carve and current models.

Does this top carve and horn scoop look any different? Seems the same to me.


81aB0Cr.jpg


I don’t get it.

Great guitar, though, and it’s served me well since 2015. But I am curious about what’s so danged different about the cosmetics. What am I missing?
 
The body carve is different. The edges, divots for knobs, and scoop are slightly “mellower”, less pronounced, and not as sharp.

When they moved from duplicarver to CNC they re-tooled the top carve and officially started saying that it was like how they originally were meant to be.. and the duplicarver jigs wore down over time (even though the carve was the same in 1985/6.. whatever).

But it is a little different.

Now, I don’t know if this is what they mean, and I’m not looking up, but…

Maybe they’re alluding to the headstock pitch? And that’s why they mean when they said “pre factory”?

Now, I’m a box deep in wine, and I’m not gonna look up the dates and scientific numbers and all that but..

You’ll see that on early 1812 Annapolis (whatever you wanna call em, but not pre factory) guitars the headstock angle wasn’t as steep, and didn’t put as much downward pressure on the nut. It was intentional because it was helpful to keeping the guitar in tune during the wide-travel whammy bar days.

So the headstock angle, cam tuners, synthetic nut (along with the shape of the nut which also changes) and MilCom (now MannMade) “tremolo” were all simultaneously designed to be part of a “system” that let you dive bomb without Allen wrenches.

The Dragon guitar appears, they build a new factory, the McCarty model comes out, music changes, headstock angle changes, top carve changes.. you know the rest.

I think “old birds” just means they’re solid. It’s better than them calling them “OG birds” because then that just sounds like some middle aged-try hard-white man s**t to say.. and then I get all introspective and think about how I sound and..
 
From what I have seen the term "old birds" refers to solid MOP birds.

Interesting on the body carve. I have never owned an old PRS. The oldest ones I have worked on are from the 90's. I really hadn't noticed any difference in the body carve or headstock.
 
The Dragon guitar appears, they build a new factory, the McCarty model comes out, music changes, headstock angle changes, top carve changes.. you know the rest.

...interest rates fluctuate!
 
The body carve is different. The edges, divots for knobs, and scoop are slightly “mellower”, less pronounced, and not as sharp.

When they moved from duplicarver to CNC they re-tooled the top carve and officially started saying that it was like how they originally were meant to be.. and the duplicarver jigs wore down over time (even though the carve was the same in 1985/6.. whatever).

But it is a little different.

Now, I don’t know if this is what they mean, and I’m not looking up, but…

Maybe they’re alluding to the headstock pitch? And that’s why they mean when they said “pre factory”?

Now, I’m a box deep in wine, and I’m not gonna look up the dates and scientific numbers and all that but..

You’ll see that on early 1812 Annapolis (whatever you wanna call em, but not pre factory) guitars the headstock angle wasn’t as steep, and didn’t put as much downward pressure on the nut. It was intentional because it was helpful to keeping the guitar in tune during the wide-travel whammy bar days.

So the headstock angle, cam tuners, synthetic nut (along with the shape of the nut which also changes) and MilCom (now MannMade) “tremolo” were all simultaneously designed to be part of a “system” that let you dive bomb without Allen wrenches.

The Dragon guitar appears, they build a new factory, the McCarty model comes out, music changes, headstock angle changes, top carve changes.. you know the rest.

I think “old birds” just means they’re solid. It’s better than them calling them “OG birds” because then that just sounds like some middle aged-try hard-white man s**t to say.. and then I get all introspective and think about how I sound and..
What you're saying seems logical. Any difference is honestly more subtle than I've been able to perceive when comparing the guitars I have in person. Maybe it just feels a little more sanded. Hard to tell!

I'll definitely check out the headstock angle and see if I can discover a difference, maybe that's it.

It's interesting that these features are difficult to perceive. Seems like they're that way so people can say, "Well, this one has the blah-de-blah-blah-blah-pre-factory this and that."

I'd have bought the guitar if it was a new carve and headstock angle, etc, given how well it sounds, plays and looks.

This reminds me of when the iPhone came out in 2008. My nephew said, "Wow you have the new iPhone. I bet you love feature x and feature y and feature z and...."

I said, "Gee, I don't use those features, Zack, I just use it as a phone."

He said, "You do not deserve an iPhone!"

Clearly I do not deserve this guitar since I cannot tell you what all the blah-de-blah-blah-blah features are about. ;) I can't even find a real use for the Sweet Switch on the pull-up tone knob. But I love playing it anyway. It works a treat for what I DO use it for!
 
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I've been playing PRS since 1991. I've owned an awful lot of PRS guitars in the past 32 years!

Tonight I came across an ad for a PRS with 'Old Birds'. I'd seen these touted before. I still have no idea what they are. Other than a few bird inlays that have been hollow or highly stylized like the Brushstroke or Museum birds, I couldn't tell you the difference between 'old birds' and 'new birds' if my life depended on it. The shape looks exactly the same to me.

That question made me think about my 2015 30th Anniversary PS model. I bought this guitar because it sounds incredible, and plays equally well. The 'old school PRS' feature set wasn't a feature, and it wasn't a bug. But the bird question made me wonder about some of this guitar's supposed 'vintage' features, too.

The 'pre factory' neck heel, OK, I mean there's a teeny difference that doesn't matter to me at all. I looked at the ad I'd saved for the guitar re: other features.

It has a 'pre-factory' headstock. I looked at my guitars, and all the pics of the many other PRSes I've owned, and I have ZERO idea what the difference is. Other than the fancy inlays, does this headstock look any different to you than current PRS headstocks?


J7X1P2x.jpg


It looks the same to me as the current headstocks.

It has a ‘pre factory’ top carve and lower horn scoop. I cannot see any difference between this carve and current models.

Does this top carve and horn scoop look any different? Seems the same to me.


81aB0Cr.jpg


I don’t get it.

Great guitar, though, and it’s served me well since 2015. But I am curious about what’s so danged different about the cosmetics. What am I missing?
o_O The match on that quilt top is awesome. Looks almost like a one-piece top. Very nice.
 
Still just about my favorite looking guitar in the world Les. I have the same PS in flamed red and it's beautiful but vintage yellow and that quilt top on yours...just wow!
 
What you're saying seems logical. Any difference is honestly more subtle than I've been able to perceive when comparing the guitars I have in person. Maybe it just feels a little more sanded. Hard to tell!

I'll definitely check out the headstock angle and see if I can discover a difference, maybe that's it.

It's interesting that these features are difficult to perceive. Seems like they're that way so people can say, "Well, this one has the blah-de-blah-blah-blah-pre-factory this and that."

I'd have bought the guitar if it was a new carve and headstock angle, etc, given how well it sounds, plays and looks.
People come up with all sorts of things to make themselves feel like they own something exclusive or rare. I get a kick out of the for sale ads on TGP that state RARE or SUPER RARE. Most of the time they are not really all that rare, or, they are rare because nobody liked them and they didn't sell well so they were discontinued. The funny thing about that is people tend to still not like them even though they are old now and it still isn't worth much to anyone.
 
o_O The match on that quilt top is awesome. Looks almost like a one-piece top. Very nice.

Luck of the draw, for sure!

Still just about my favorite looking guitar in the world Les. I have the same PS in flamed red and it's beautiful but vintage yellow and that quilt top on yours...just wow!

Wow, thanks! I'd have truly preferred a flame top! But it sounds so good, I couldn't pass it up. I do like the color, though.

People come up with all sorts of things to make themselves feel like they own something exclusive or rare.

Right?

I get that real-deal, museum-grade rarity raises the financial stakes, and perhaps ought to, but if it's mainly rarity you're chasing to sink your money into, go find yourself a 2,000 year old Roman helmet. I think they've found around 50 surviving examples. Or a Vermeer painting. Or a Strad. etc. Or one of the tiny handful of 4,000 year old lyres they dug up from ancient Babylon.

Those are rare.

A special run guitar? I mean, cool, but there's no real historical value to 99% of them at this stage. They're just a guitar. Including the three limited run models I own. Nice guitars, sound great, play great, look great, but....rare? Uhhhmmm...there are an awful lot of PRS' out there. There are even more Fenders and Gibsons out there.

For example, there really isn't anything all that special about a 1965 SG; sorry. I've had one since 1967. It's a decent, old guitar but basically it doesn't hold a candle to my PRS' and it's on more or less permanent loan to my son, for whom its existence is ancient family history (it started out as my brother's guitar when new).

But why anyone would pay more than a few hundred dollars for one I do not understand, and I've seen them go for a lot of money. Any PRS is a better guitar in every way.

"But they don't make them like that any more, pal."

"That's actually a good thing."

So...I dunno. Wake me in 500 years and let me know what is, or isn't, 'rare' over the long haul of history.
 
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I’ve always been quite taken by that guitar, Les, it’s stunning.

Yeah, I don’t know if they just sanded those tops a little more or what, but it’s different or more “correct” than the older “Throwback” run that was available for a period.

So it is kinda cool… I mean, clearly it’s already cool, but this is like a lil’ extra dollop of cool on top of cool.
 
I’ve always been quite taken by that guitar, Les, it’s stunning.

Yeah, I don’t know if they just sanded those tops a little more or what, but it’s different or more “correct” than the older “Throwback” run that was available for a period.

So it is kinda cool… I mean, clearly it’s already cool, but this is like a lil’ extra dollop of cool on top of cool.
I s'pose there are those that appreciate that dollop. I'd be happy either way. I mean, I love the way the guitar plays and sounds, and it's a looker. So what's not to like?
 
I was thinking about rarity, and as is usual for me, my mind went somewhere else entirely.

Do you ever look at a guitar and think "Yeah, I remember who I was dating/etc. when I got that guitar" or "That's the guitar I learned this song or that song on" or "that was my first really good guitar...."

That's what makes these instruments so cool...not how rare they are.

I'll shut up and go back to bed now. :)
 
Do you ever look at a guitar and think "Yeah, I remember who I was dating/etc. when I got that guitar" or "That's the guitar I learned this song or that song on" or "that was my first really good guitar...."

That's what makes these instruments so cool...not how rare they are.
Very true!
 
I was thinking about rarity, and as is usual for me, my mind went somewhere else entirely.

Do you ever look at a guitar and think "Yeah, I remember who I was dating/etc. when I got that guitar" or "That's the guitar I learned this song or that song on" or "that was my first really good guitar...."

That's what makes these instruments so cool...not how rare they are.

I'll shut up and go back to bed now. :)
I don't necessarily remember specific life things when I look at my guitars but I do have a very good memory for where each of them came from. It is kind of a strange thing. I can remember where I got them and roughly when I bought them. Where it gets a little more interesting, I remember guitars I used to have but I can hardly ever remember where they went. I don't remember if I sold them to an individual or if I traded them in at a shop somewhere or roughly when I got rid of them. To me this just shows how much more excited I am to get them than I am when I get rid of them.
 
I don't necessarily remember specific life things when I look at my guitars but I do have a very good memory for where each of them came from. It is kind of a strange thing. I can remember where I got them and roughly when I bought them. Where it gets a little more interesting, I remember guitars I used to have but I can hardly ever remember where they went. I don't remember if I sold them to an individual or if I traded them in at a shop somewhere or roughly when I got rid of them. To me this just shows how much more excited I am to get them than I am when I get rid of them.
Ha!

I’m always finding TRCs of guitars I don’t own anymore. The last one was for an SG, and for the life of me I cannot remember what guitar it came off of.

I don’t think I’ve owned an SG since like, 1991?
 
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