The Brent Mason arrived today. There is no silly story this time around, just a little background on what I am hoping it will do - along with my initial thoughts based on a couple hours with it in the studio this afternoon.
In all my personal silliness, I am trying to find a PRS to "replace" my trusty Gretsch Duo Jet and home built Equire for recording sessions. I don't really NEED to replace them - they work. Clients like them, I am getting the tones I need....everything is hitting it "right" with those guitars. It's just one of those "guitar player" things - CAN I find a guitar that will give me what those already do....
Most of the sessions I do tend to be singer-songwriters that have songs a little more on the folk/Americana/rootsy side of the spectrum. Not at ALL what I do on my own stuff, which is a bit harder and more driven. For my own music I have reached a place where I have a few PRS guitars that are "go-to" instruments. For all those singer-songwriters I figured,
"Why not grab the most recorded guitarist's signature model????"
I mean, if it's good enough for a REAL session guy, then it should be good enough for a guy on the C-level local circuit working out of small project studios, right?
Upon opening the case, the first thing that caught my attention was how BIG this guitar seemed to be. The 25.25 scale makes the neck look longer to me, and the shape seems longer as well. Continuing to look it over, I was quite taken back at how (typical) attractive of an instrument it is - but I was also stuck on a time machine back to the 90s and all the Super-Strats I had with HSH pickups and mini-toggles. From a visual standpoint you could say I am torn between feeling like I am looking at a "classy" instrument and a Japanese shredder. I am NOT knocked off my feet like when I see a gorgeous carved top, figured maple PRS....
Picking the guitar up for the first time I noticed it has a bit more weight than my usual PRS guitars. In fact, the only other one that feels similar in weight is my Paul's Guitar. The scale said 8.1lbs. It's still comfortable and balanced, of course, but there does seem to be a bit more girth. Could be the different shape....
The neck is SMOOTH. It's satin finished and feels like somebody powdered it, lol. Naturally, the fretwork/fingerboard feels perfect - typical PRS. The profile is beefy though. MUCH more so than I was expecting. I like a thick neck, so no big deal, but I think some people might be shocked. It feels bigger than a wide/fat - could be wrong, but that's how it felt to me.
Going back to the scale length.....I don't like it. Simply put, the added tension makes me feel I am playing a different brand. I have gotten VERY spoiled with the "sponginess" of the PRS 24.5" and 25" scale lengths. I am sure I can get used to it - especially since I have been spending MOST of my playing time on 24.5" scale guitars over the last month or so....
The guitar came with the action WAY higher than I like - which is crazy because I play with pretty high action. No big deal, I just spent a few minutes adjusting the bridge. But, even after getting the action where I like it, and doing a little truss rod adjustment, I still found bending to be a bit of a struggle. I am gonna be curious to see where this goes. Will I adjust or not?
A lot of guys would refer to this section as "tone". I have never been a fan of that word, for whatever reason. With the Mason, I find the word "sound" even MORE appropriate than usual. For a frame of reference, I have experience with the Narrow 408 pickups via my Paul's Guitar:
I understand what I should be getting out of them, and how to adjust them to give me the "best" performance. I really dig my PG. It does EXACTLY what it was advertised to do. I have used it, extensively, live and ALWAYS managed killer tones.
I think you know where I am going....
The BM? After almost an hour of adjust the 408 pickup height, I was not able to get the type of sounds I was expecting to get. Certainly nothing NEAR the PG - though I wasn't expecting it to sound like the PG.....they are TOTALLY different guitars.
It leaves me with these questions:
1) Is Korina really THAT different????
2) Could it be the suspended pickups on the pickguard????
3) Is it the steel saddles on the bridge????
The "sound" differs in that the Narrow 408 pickups sound muffled in the BM compared to the PG. I was also having a difficult time getting the output balanced. If I got the dirt sounding good, but then went to a clean sound, something was lacking. VERY frustrating.
(For reference, I was using a Rivera M100 w an EVM12L speaker - a rig I got in 1990 and used for AGES)
Positives of the electronics???
Well, I LOVE the 305/513 single coil. It sounds amazing alone. It adds character to the 408s. The blade switch works VERY well. Silly, but when you are tracking on somebody else's dime not having "screw ups" because the of the blade switch is a good thing, lol. I'll slightly move the mini-toggles to make them more ergonomic for how I flick them. The volume and tone are VERY responsive and affect the sound in a pleasing way.
As of right now I am NOT digging the guitar. It didn't crunch enough. It didn't twang enough. It was uncomfortable to play. It lacked the clarity I like to have in a recording guitar. I feel like the BM is just an odd instrument. I wasn't sure WHAT to expect - sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad. This time I think it's bad. I am gonna work with it for a while and see what happens. I'll open it up to see if there have been any resistors added that could suck the sound. I'm sure I just need to get used to it, and I am looking forward to spending time "learning" the guitar. It's not like I just got a CE24 with HFS/VB pickups....if I had I'd be on my way to the asylum, lol.....