S2 Standard: 58/15 or 85/15 or #7 Pickups?


New Member
Dec 21, 2019
Denver, Colorado, USA
Looks like the 2021 S2 Standards have 58/15 pickups, but earlier years, at least 2019, had 85/15. I'm looking hard at getting an S2 Standard Satin. Anybody here played both 58/15 and 85/15 pickups? (Ideally both on S2 Standards, but that's probably asking too much.) What's your impression of the difference?

I have an SE semi-hollowbody with 85/15's. It sounds great, but the neck is a little thin to me, so I'm interested in going to a PRS with a little thicker neck. The "pattern regular" sounds like something I would like.
Hi folks,
I haven't gotten any replies to this. Surely somebody here has played both 58/15 and 85/15 pickups?
I did a search of the forum and somebody said they're the same pickups, the only difference is that the 58/15 pickups are covered. Is that true?
I have 85/15 in a Core Cu 22, and the 85/15 S in a SE Cu24 and a S2 Cu24, the two pup types are noticeably different, the Core sound more refined, modern and musical, while the SE are more edgy and raw sounding, although they both have a similar underlying sound, the S2 are in between the sound of the Core and SE, kind of the best of both worlds. I also have the 58/15 S in two S2 594s, and they are quite different from both versions of the 85/15, the S2 both sound more PAF-like, very vintage sound, very responsive to pick attack. My favorite of those three types are the 58/15 S, although each guitar is different, and contributes to tone in a different way. I prefer the S2 594 Thinline sound the most. I thought the same, that the 58/15 were just covered 85/15, but someone here told me they are different pups, not just the cover.

I almost forgot, I have the 58/15 in a SE Hollowbody, and they sound very much like the S2 594 with the same pups, but the hollowbody has a bit more of a lighter airy sound.
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Either way you go, you’ll be able to pick up a set of the other pickups if you don’t like what comes in your guitar, people swap the “S” pickups out of their SE/S2’s all the time. Haven’t tried both, but personally I would go with the 58/15, as I think they would jive with the guitar best. But that could be different in your case if you like modern tones more than vintage.
I prefer the core variants but between the two S pickups I prefer the 58/15. Lots of soft debate on this but the the 85/15 and 58/15 are the same or very similar pickups with the main difference being the cover.
I wrote PRS customer service and asked about the difference between the the 85/15 and 58/15 pickups, and if the only difference is covered or uncovered. I also asked why they changed from 85/15 to 58/15 in 2020. The response was:

"The 58/15 pickups are a bit warmer and more vintage sounding than the 85/15 pickups."

I wrote back and reiterated my question about whether they are the same except for covers, and reiterated my question about why they changed in 2020. The response was:

"The pickups have more differences than just the covers.
We switched to the 58/15’s at the end of 2020."
I see that some of the older S2 Standards for sale on Reverb have #7 pickups. So let me add that to comparision. Now my question is 85/15 - 58/15 - #7.
I see that some of the older S2 Standards for sale on Reverb have #7 pickups. So let me add that to comparision. Now my question is 85/15 - 58/15 - #7.

Having owned two S2 guitars with the #7's - Satin 22 and Custom 22 Semi - I would probably still be looking at the 58/15 or 85/15's. The #7's aren't inherently bad pickups, but they have a fairly strong characteristic to them that may or may not work in certain guitars, and to add to that, the neck and bridge pickups aren't a great match for each other, so there are situations where one pickup really fits well but its partner doesn't.

Here's what I mean by that - the #7 bridge has a prominent upper mid honk to it, meanwhile the neck pickup is rounder and more balanced. So, in my Custom 22 Semi, which has a deep, full, and more mellow acoustic tone, the bridge pickup adds a nice mid emphasis right where it's needed, meanwhile the neck pickup was just too warm and muddy. Reverse problem on the Satin 22, which has a tighter and much more mid focused tone - the bridge pickup was kind of twangy and could be shrill with gain, the neck pickup is bluesy and balanced. So I switched out the neck on the Semi for a Starla pickup, and the bridge on the Satin for a 59/09, and both are superb matches for the respective #7 pickups left in those guitars.

Don't have the "S" version of the 58/15's, but I do have the USA version in my 594, and like them a lot. Great balance, and they emphasize all the right things.
Andy474x: thank you, that's great information, above and beyond what I was looking for. The differences between the custom and the satin are a bonus. Fascinating. I would also love to have one of each. Trying to justify it, since I already have a dozen electric guitars. Sounds like the 58/15's sit in between the #7 and the 85/15; as you say, "great balance." Maybe that's why PRS switched back to them in 2020 for the S2 Standard.
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If it helps, to my ears this is how I'd compare the 3 pickups in question. (And to be clear, I'm talking about original/regular "core" versions when it comes to the " / " pickups, and not any "S" versions [which I have not tried] nor any "TCI" or "LT" versions--just the original/regular core ones.)

#7: In the vintage-PAF realm, but fairly powerful & punchy in the mids; IMO, pretty much the closest thing PRS made to the 59/09 before they got really good at making pickups ten years later with the phenomenal " / " series pickups. Beastly singlecut/LP type of vibe here.

85/15: Very much more modern-sounding; faster attack, a little more "hi-fi" with nice output that is powerful yet clear. Very nice for either fully clean or high-gain. Makes me want to cop that Petrucci/Mesa vibe.

58/15: Very similar to the 85/15 (in its clarity & output) yet somehow in a more "vintage" direction. I detected a little bit more jangle & looseness (if that makes sense?) as compared to the 85/15. It's almost like a cross between the 85/15 and a 57/08. Of the 3 here, this would be your classic Gibson/LP all-around-capable pickup.
littlebadboy: Thank you so much for the music sample. The music is beautiful! And, needless to say, lays to rest any hesitations I might have for the #7 pickups. Although I'm very intrigued by the 58/15 pickups, based on Going Modal's post.