Tremolo differences - Silver Sky USA and SE versions

silverface

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Nov 23, 2022
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Can someone explain the reasoning between the implementation of a traditional-style, multi screw "knife edge" trem on US-made Silver Sky models and the so-called "modern" 2-point trem on the SE models?

There doesn't seem to be any logical difference, as it would have cost more in design and tooling to make 2 different designs. Other differences between the domestic and import versions seem to be minimal (other than the wood, and there I can see the cost difference being significant). But the differences in the transference of string vibration to the saddles/body/nut and what the pickups "see" have not proven to be radically different between the two trem styles over the years.

So why the different mechanics/tooling? It just seems odd, and popped into my head after watching/listening to a podcast with Paul last night (thank God he included wood as a significant part of the symbiotic relationship between parts that make up a guitar's "tone"!).

It caused me to look up the Silver Sky models. I have to admit to having owned a P-90 SE and 2 different humbucker 24-fret model SE's; both looked nice, played great, "felt" good - but the tone(s) of each seemed to be "Gibson-ish"...but with nothing distinctive about them.

After listening to Paul I wonder if I've been looking for he wrong sounds out of PRS guitars. I've been looking for a "distinctive, identifiable PRS tone." - but then I heard him say the Silver Sky was essentially modernized, consistent construction/parts that make up the sound of a '63 Strat - and a fretboard radius of one that's been played/worn down a bit over the years.

I can't afford a '63 Strat - for that matter a USA-built Silver Sky. And I don't gig/record to the point of even saying "hi" to artist relations. Now an ancient home player due to disabling GI and pain issues. But I might be able to hunt for a good used SE Silver Sky if I sell some gear (a fixed income near Christmas is not good for buying gear).

I guess there are two points to this post (my second one on the forum!):

1) The differences between the USA and SE Silver Sky trem

1a) (I guess a sub-section - are the US and SE versions both VERY close to the '63 Strat tone...and are the neck profiles similar? I don't trust any Youtube videos - so is there a deficiency sound...or "feel"-wise with the SE?)

2) Have I been expecting the wrong thing from PRS guitar generally, looking for "a distinctive PRS tone"? Should I instead be simply listening for a tone I already like - with a more consistent build quality - AND a "feel" that works for me?

(caveat - I own about 60 guitars, from Airlines and Tokais to a '65 factory-original maple-board Tele with wide frets, '61 Epi Zephyr, '52 ES-175, 7 b-benders and so on - and ALL get played But I've never found quite the right "Strat"...)
 

show_a_little_faith

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Feb 10, 2022
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I guess there are two points to this post (my second one on the forum!):

1) The differences between the USA and SE Silver Sky trem

1a) (I guess a sub-section - are the US and SE versions both VERY close to the '63 Strat tone...and are the neck profiles similar?
I don't own an SS myself, but IIRC:
1 - The USA version was designed to specifically replicate everything JM loved about a particular '63 Strat he had, which had a 6 screw trem. I can only imagine that the 2 screw version is cheaper to produce/intsall/set-up, hence it's inclusion on the SE model.
1a - the neck profiles are different. USA Core model is a very round 7.25", SE is a slightly flatter 8.5". Again, the 7.25 matches Mayer's original. Changing the SE to 8.5 could be an expectation that more players would prefer the feel ,or it might be logistics of the overseas factory's equipment - perhaps they can't shape and fret that round of a radius, without investing in new machinery that would obviously drive the cost up?
For comparison, it seems Strats originally were 7.25", but since the 80's almost all of them are 9.5", so currently flatter than both version of the SS.

Sorry that I'm only offering theories rather than definite answers to your questions, but I hope this helps anyhow!
 

silverface

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Nov 23, 2022
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,or it might be logistics of the overseas factory's equipment - perhaps they can't shape and fret that round of a radius, without investing in new machinery that would obviously drive the cost up?
It's a simple setting change on the neck/fretboard mills and fretting equipment. I can't recall any of the overseas manufacturers who produce guitars for/with major brands lacking those capabilities. The 8.5" radius is an example - it's a unique setting not standard to PRS (as far as I know) or Fender.

I don't know if any SE's currently come with either trem; if not, why engineer two different ones? It's not a criticism - just something to ponder.
 

Lewguitar

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Dec 30, 2012
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465
I've always felt that a 2 point vibrato returned in tune better than the vintage 6 screw version.

The USA made Silver Sky has the old style six screw vintage style vibrato but it also has locking tuners so that helps with tuning stability.

The SE does not have locking tuners so the 2 point vibrato may have been chosen so it returns in tune when using the vibrato.

I prefer the two point vibrato on my Silver Sky SE to the six screw version on the USA model Silver Sky.
 
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