Questions about my first PRS - 30th Anniversary or no?


New Member
Dec 24, 2015
I finally decided to buy my first PRS, and I decided that if I'm going to do it, might as well get the 30th Anniversary. I only have one PRS dealer close to me, and they only carry SE stuff, so the best I can glean from a trip there is that I'm sure I'm looking for a Pattern Thin neck profile. I also know that I'm looking for an ebony fretboard. So, thus began my quest online for a 30th Anniversary PRS Custom 24.

At first I was set to get either a Red Tiger or Black Gold 30th Anniversary Wood Library Edition from Musician's Friend. The problem is that I already own an ESP Mystique (their PRS-style body) in a see through black cherry quilt top, so the PRS wouldn't really look that different. I decided instead to look for a blue finish, but I'm not a huge fan of the faded whale blue, and finding a 30th Anniversary with either an Azul or Royal Blue and an ebony board with a Pattern Thin profile has been nearly impossible.

Then I stumbled upon a great deal on a custom configured Wood Library edition with a charcoal blue burst quilt top and an ebony board. I immediately fell in love with the finish and how unique the guitar is - I've never seen one like it with this particular wood configuration and finish. Thing is, though, it's not a 30th Anniversary. Now, on the one hand, I don't particularly care for the 30th Anniversary bird inlays, so I actually see that as a plus. On the other hand, I was pretty sure based on what I'd read and heard that I was going to like the 85/15 pickups, while this guitar has a (admittedly unique) combo of a 57/08 in the bridge and a 59/09 in the neck, both covered. And, let's be honest, there's also the FOMO factor - there's only going to be one 30th Anniversary, after all, so if I don't get one now, they'll never be new ones again.

So this comes down to two questions. First, what are your thoughts on the pickup differences? I play a wide range of music, but it does tend to be heavier more often than not. At the same time, I have plenty of other guitars for high gain stuff - an LTD with JB/59, an LTD with EMGs, and a Les Paul with an 84T/P94 combo - and what I really value for a lot of my music is clarity, particularly because I play a lot of distorted chords. My understanding is that the 57/08 is kind of a warm sounding PAF style pickup, while the 59/09 is brighter and hotter, and the 85/15 is like a 57/08 with more clarity and a scooped mid range. It sounds like the 85/15 is exactly what I want, so I'm a little concerned about going with a 57/08; what are your thoughts on the 57/08 for distorted clarity? I'll mainly be playing through a Mesa Express 5:25, but I also have a Vox AC15 for some of the more vintage tube overdrive stuff. And, I guess related to this, does anybody know what the availability of the 85/15 pickups will be in the future if I wanted to swap? From what I can see, you have very limited options for buying PRS pickups new, and I don't even see where you're able to buy 57/08s. I'm also seeing very few 85/15s or 58/15s for sale used. Also, I noticed that both the 57/08 and 59/09 on this guitar have a "TM" etched onto them - what does that mean?

The next question is, what are your thoughts on skipping over the 30th Anniversary? I'm not really a PRS veteran, so I'm not sure how special the anniversary editions are. Would there really big a big issue of missing out by skipping on the 30th Anniversary for a standard Core (but incredibly unique and custom configured) Custom 24? I'm pretty sure based on looks alone that I'll go with this blue burst model, because it speaks to me more than any Anniversary edition I've looked at so far, but I guess I just wanted a discussion on what you guys would do.
Short answer; go with the non 30th that you found and get a 40th in 2024!

I can't speak to the 85/15 as I don't have anything with them. I do have the 59/09 and 57/08 though. Others are more capable of your specific questions/concerns, but I think they'd fill the bill for your needs. They're both great pick ups
Is this the one? If I had the cash I would buy it out from under you while you stall. ;)

Hearing is believing. Plenty of clarity to my ears. My god what a beautiful looking and sounding guitar.
Is this the one? If I had the cash I would buy it out from under you while you stall. ;)

Hearing is believing. Plenty of clarity to my ears. My god what a beautiful looking and sounding guitar.

That is the exact one I am considering of the 30th anniversary. The Korina is incredibly enticing, just for how rare it is. On the other hand, I'm not the biggest fan of Musician's Friend right now (an issue with some other gear).

I won't even completely describe the other guitar I'm looking at or where it's from because I'm afraid somebody might buy it out from under me. It's just as unique as that one, arguably better looking (in my opinion), and far cheaper. Also, there's only one of them, while MF has a few of those in other neck profiles and colors.
Also, does anybody know what "downgraded private stock" and "downgraded artist stock" are? I've seen these around a few times saying that they're basically unused private stock woods that are released to be used on non-private stock instruments, but I can't find much other info about them. Do they still qualify as 10 top?