Santana III arrived - a story, photos and a review....

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by markd21, Aug 1, 2018.

  1. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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    Unboxing the Santana III - A Love Story

    Yesterday - 7/28/2018 - my agonizing wait ended. The UPS man arrived during the climax of the Hallmark Channel Original Film, "A Novel Romance". My friend Dianna and I were deeply engrossed in whether or not Liam and Sophie would work out their issues. Needless to say, MY excitement shifted when the dog began barking as my UPS guy, Charlie, pounded on the door. It was raining, so I signed quickly and dragged the box into the house, leaning it against the foyer wall since the movie was minutes from ending.....

    A commercial break - to leave us hanging in suspense - gave me the opportunity to unbox my newest PRS. I had Dianna hold the box upright as I sliced through the securing tape. I was expecting the uncourteous standard of foam peanuts to come pouring out - but, alas, NO (YAY)….I was greeted by an Ibanez box surrounded by paper. Together D and I pulled the second box out, and I was happy to see there was a case inside.

    Call me crazy, but I was always under the impression that the Santana case was a little on the massive side. This case seemed to be the standard G&G size. Hmmmm, a mystery....

    Right as the commercial break ended, I popped the latches. But....I had invested SO much time Liam and Sophie, so I quickly returned to my Lazy Boy and watched the remaining few minutes of their romantic journey. The suspense of whether or not she would give him another chance was gripping!!! Dianna and I, both, were on the edge of our seats giggling and blurting out how we figured this saga would end.

    I sat, torn between the author and his love, and the guitar that was eagerly calling me from its closed home. Finally, the cheese on the TV ended (spoiler alert) - Liam and Sophie made up, and - as typical of Hallmark movies - kissed their way into eternal love and "Happily Ever After". Dianna, whom had never seen a Hallmark movie, was SCANDALIZED that the kiss was the end. Me, being a Hallmark veteran KNEW that the kiss would roll the end credits.

    I was out of my seat faster than the Flash, and had the lid to that case open. What laid before, in beautiful Black Cherry was THIS:

    [​IMG]

    (the white "flecks" are reflections from the light)
     
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  2. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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    Inspecting the Santana III - the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

    Dianna commented, "Don't you already HAVE a red one??"

    "Yep. THIS one is Carlos Santana's guitar. It's different."

    "Oh."

    Funnily enough, my wife has NO issue with me picking these up. It's kind of funny that Dianna, who is a childhood friend and the keyboardist in my bad, would take on the stereo-typical wife role....

    I looked the guitar over and was pleasantly surprised that the body was in "better-than-expected" shape. The bridge? Tarnish free. Yay! Tuners? Perfect. They even have the ebony buttons. Birds? Gorgeous abalone. Fretboard? Nice and dark, chip and dent free. Headstock? It looks as if an owner in the past kept a Kyser clipped on the top. There is significant scratching/rubbing that I couldn't polish out on the area of the HS where I would store a capo (where I DO store capos when needed, lol).

    Cosmetically, I was fairly pleased. I will admit I am one of those guys that gets SUPER tweaked over a scratch, etc. - which is silly and ironic considering I take these guitars out and gig with them on the regular.

    Dianna could see I was enthralled, wished me a good time with my new guitar and showed herself out. I took the guitar back to the studio to tune her up and rip. Here's where I first noticed an issue....

    The guitar would NOT stay in tune. I noticed the bridge was floating a lot and seemed a bit too sensitive. I opened the back and tightened the claw a little. Still was going out pretty quick, but I was getting the opportunity to listen to it.....

    Listening to this guitar was CRUCIAL because, as a few of you may remember, it came to me with HFS/VB pickups. You may remember - though I'd be honored if you did - that I HATE the HFS/VB pickups.....

    Well.....enjoy a picture while I hold you in suspense!!!!

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Rockmark

    Rockmark New Member

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    Love Santanas, and those rings look real nice on it. Those birds are also extra nice. Congrats.
     
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  4. Glide-bpm

    Glide-bpm We were small but we were slow...

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    Sweetness!!! Love the color and top!
     
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  5. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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    Do I Keep It or Not - a Review of the Santana III


    Well, it turns out that I still LOATHE the HFS/VB pickups. I can finally articulate why. Compared to the 57/08s or #7s that my other guitars have, the attack on the HFS is almost immediate. I don't feel that my notes have anywhere to go - they come out "stiff". I have used ceramic pickups in the past and they have been decent. But, combine that "attack" with the upper midrange of the HFS and things just sound "poopy" to me. I was disappointed, but not surprised. I struggled for an hour running the guitar through its paces. The VB was a little better, but still not what I'd want to hear. One thing I DID find I liked was the control positions. The switch looks like it might be pretty "out of the way", but NOPE - it's GREAT!!

    The neck felt amazing in my hands. I like a big neck. I played a Jackson PC-1 as my main guitar for 10 years or more. I play a Warwick bass with a MASSIVE neck. Big necks are just "home" for me. The Santana neck feels like it has a bit more girth than the Wide-Fat and Pattern necks on my other PRS'. I enjoy the 24.5 scale, and found that I was right where I needed to be on every note. The feel was decent...it just sounded TERRIBLE.

    I only say decent because I needed to give it a set up to my specs. I play with fairly high action and quite a bit of relief in the neck. I HATE hearing ANY fret buzz. I also pull my hands pretty far off the fretboard when I am soloing. It's weird, but I like to almost feel like I am grabbing the string from beneath the string when I am bending. This Santana had low action and a flat fretboard....not cool for me, but EASILY "fixed".

    For whatever reason I was expecting this guitar to be bigger. It's actually quite small. It REALLY does remind me of the USA Hamer Studio I had in the 90s. The body felt good and comfortable. The carve is gorgeous, and the flame looks killer even though it's not a 10-top. Overall, the guitar has a classy look. I wanted to keep it. It just sound terrible and wouldn't stay in tune.

    Hmmm....what to do??????

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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    Making it Right - the Same Day Mods to "Polish the Turd"


    The look and feel of this guitar made it an immediate keeper. But, how do I make it have sonic soul?

    Easy. Change the pickups, restring it, and set it up!!!

    I hit the parts box and discovered I still had two old Seymour Duncan pickups - a Custom and a '59. I felt a tinge of excitement....

    I collected the necessary tools and parts I needed to make the swap. I opened the back cavity and was instantly distressed. It was SOOOOOOO tiny in there!!!! How would I get my giant sausage fingers in there???? GAK!!!!

    Removing the HFS/VB pickups were easy. YAY! Sometimes it seems like PRS welds their pickups to the pot, lol. The solder joints melted quickly this time.

    Here is where I also decided to keep the flame maple rings. I had some ivory PRS rings, but - despite my original thoughts - the flamed rings look killer and help give the guitar something a little more "earthy" that really speaks to me. They stayed...

    AN interesting issue popped up when I was trying to install the SD '59 in the neck. The polepiece screws were WAY too long. The pickup wouldn't go into the cavity!!!! My reaction was:

    @$#%! #%!$# #$$&!^%%

    What to do.....what to do? Initially I thought I'd grab the Dremel with a cutting wheel and trim the screws down. Before taking that plunge, I decide to check the overall depth of the '59 compared to the VB. Aside from those screws everything looked reasonably equivalent. That's when it hit me - just swap the screws!!!!! So that's what I did. One-by-one I traded the screws from the VB to the '59. Once that was done, the '59 dropped right in. I wired it up, did a quick "tap test" and moved on to the bridge pickup.

    A side comment about installing the pickup...…

    PRS did an amazing designing the wire channel in the Santana III. It's a rectangular slot opposed to a circular hole. It was incredibly easy running the wire from the pickup cavity to the electronics cavity.

    The bridge pickup installed WAY simple - no modifications needed. I also took this time to condition the fretboard and wax the body and neck with Carnauba car wax.

    Whilst poking around the electronics cavity I decided to change the angle of the switch a little bit to make it 100% ergonomic with my "wrist flick". Once that was worked out, I sealed up the cavity and moved on to stringing the guitar up.....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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    Finishing the Day and Having an AWESOME NGD


    So, unlike Sergio, I am NOT a fan of the wing-lock tuners. They look cool, but I HATE stringing them up....especially when I can't get the wings lined-up right, lol. I managed to get EAD and G "right", but B and E just weren't letting it happen!!!! After a bit of reworking them, I said "@$#! it" and moved on to the set-up phase.

    I spent a little bit of time tweaking the neck and the pickup height and got it where I like it.

    I proceeded to fire up my rig and began letting it rip.

    WOWZERS!!!!!

    The Santana III was giving me some SERIOUS soul now. Notes just blossomed on the neck pickup. With the switch in the middle, I was greeted with balanced, warm tones. VERY pleasing. BUT, when I flipped to the bridge pickup the tone became EXACTLY what I like to hear - my notes felt alive with sustain bordering on feedback during single note runs....and my chords were thick but retained note clarity.

    I jammed until about midnight - just lost in the gloriousness of this AMAZINGLY crafted instrument. The guitar stayed in tune (once the strings stretched, lol) and took me to the "zone" where I was pulling off cool things that I hadn't played in a while....

    That's how I KNEW it was an awesome NGD.

    THE END
     
  8. veinbuster

    veinbuster Zombie Three, DFZ

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    Very nice.
    Play it some more.
     
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  9. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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    Oh yeah, forgot to mention....

    I didn't notice this until I was shooting the pictures tonight. It seems that the paint (clear, maybe?) is hazing in a few spots around the guitar. What's the deal with that? I am guessing it's something that could happen, but none of my other PRS' are experiencing this....
     
  10. Boogie

    Boogie Zombie Two, DFZ

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    3 thumbs up!
     
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  11. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Too Funky

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    Bangin’!
     
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  12. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Too Funky

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    Moisture got trapped or the poly is sheeting or something... my BC CE has a bit of it too. The good thing about BC is that it doesn’t show too bad.
     
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  13. Eddie kim

    Eddie kim New Member

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  14. pac90

    pac90 Helix user

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    Nice guitar chick flick mark, nice guitar.
     
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  15. Bill SAS 513

    Bill SAS 513 Just another old guy in a T-shirt

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    Great axe...Congrats!!!



    (and I watch Hallmarks a lot with my wife...ssshhh)
     
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  16. WD 3D

    WD 3D Green is the new blue...

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    Congratulations... glad it worked out well!
     
  17. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    Santanas rule! Just sayin'! Great story, worthy of a Hallmark movie of its own. However, I was expecting you to kiss the guitar at the end! I'll settle for the loving embrace that it got.

    Btw, you and @sergiodeblanc should get together for some afternoon viewing. He loves Bravo.
     
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  18. Victek

    Victek New Member

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    That's a really nice looking guitar - terrific pictures! I'm glad you got it to stay in tune and sound the way you want. :)

    By the way, Hallmark movies drive me freaking crazy. Is this a concession to keep peace in the band? ;)
     
  19. Elliot

    Elliot Gandalf the Vintage Yellow

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    Santanas are so in right now. Great for me because I love seeing pictures of them!

    Mark, your Santana is dope! Love seeing your gear, as always
     
  20. ibanezfan1

    ibanezfan1 New Member

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    Beautiful guitar!!!!!
     

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