Vela - semi vs solid body?

Dave_W

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Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Messages
33
I've been a long-time strat player and have decided to get the Vela as my first PRS. It seems like the body shape, contours, and bridge profile should translate nicely to being a comfy guitar and an easy switch back and forth. I love the light weight - it's surprisingly light.

I'm torn between the semi-hollow and sold body. Definitely going satin finish. I realize every guitar is different, but I don't have a dealer near me and this will be a mail order (which I've never done before on a guitar). What's the main tonal difference between the two? The added bonus for me with the semi-hollow body is that I am sure it projects much louder which would come in handy late at night on the couch. I don't want to use an amp and annoy the house, so it seems like that helps.

Any opinions are appreciated!

Thanks!
 

Aahzz

Bluebeard Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2012
Messages
6,208
I've been a long-time strat player and have decided to get the Vela as my first PRS. It seems like the body shape, contours, and bridge profile should translate nicely to being a comfy guitar and an easy switch back and forth. I love the light weight - it's surprisingly light.

I'm torn between the semi-hollow and sold body. Definitely going satin finish. I realize every guitar is different, but I don't have a dealer near me and this will be a mail order (which I've never done before on a guitar). What's the main tonal difference between the two? The added bonus for me with the semi-hollow body is that I am sure it projects much louder which would come in handy late at night on the couch. I don't want to use an amp and annoy the house, so it seems like that helps.

Any opinions are appreciated!

Thanks!

Hiya! I'm Aahzz, resident Velavangelist. I own both, and I'll say that they're more similar than they are different. Both are very light weight, coming in at 6 pounds. The semi-hollow is a touch louder unplugged, but not a lot. The solid has just a wee bit more twang and bite, the semi just a touch more warmth and chime. I adore both.

I did a video comparison a while back:

 

Dave_W

New Member
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Aug 3, 2019
Messages
33
I’m a strat/tele guy with a Vela SH inbound right now. I’ll be happy to give first thoughts and impressions when it gets here!
Awesome, thanks. What neck profile do you prefer on your Fenders? I'll be curious how the right arm feels compared to the strats.
 

Mike J.

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Nov 14, 2021
Messages
323
I have the semi hollow body Vela. Prior to buying mine I watched a lot of video's on YouTube and it was the video by Phillip McKnight that convinced me. When plugged in (I use a Pod Go at church) it has the most wonderful resonance and depth to it. A full, rich sound but it can rock out if need be. I use all three posiitons with my favorite being the middle position. The lighter weight of the guitar is a huge benefit with my bad back.

Before the Vela I was playing a Telecaster and then I got an Epiphone SG Pro. After I got the Vela it was game over for the other guitars at church. I've said this too many times before, but after using the Vela for about two months one of the guitar players said "you've always gotten a good sound with your guitars. But there is something that is so special about that PRS." It's like our buddy Aahzz says: "Vela's are magical." Hope you enjoy yours!
 

Broseph

PRS Fren
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Feb 18, 2021
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I say semihollow satin. As others have said the resonance is unreal for a light guitar. A touch of airiness that helps for a slightly more acoustic touch. My reclaimed is my number one…I’ll reach for that bad boy over any core, CE, other S2, or SE. I owned a regular vela prior and didn’t have that connection. The satin semihollow is a winner.
 

Xtcclassic

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Feb 14, 2021
Messages
119
You can’t go wrong with either. I prefer the solid body for the (slightly) more focused tone, but I’m sure I’d love the semi almost as much. Satin is a must for me though, helps the whole guitar just sing. It is an easier finish to ding and scratch though so keep that in mind. But I’ve managed to not scratch mine so far.
 

dankilling

Chaos in a bottle
Joined
Oct 12, 2022
Messages
51
Location
Lehigh Valley, PA
You can’t go wrong with either. I prefer the solid body for the (slightly) more focused tone, but I’m sure I’d love the semi almost as much. Satin is a must for me though, helps the whole guitar just sing. It is an easier finish to ding and scratch though so keep that in mind. But I’ve managed to not scratch mine so far.
What’s the neck pickup in your profile pic? Did it drop right in or did you need to modify anything?
 

Xtcclassic

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Feb 14, 2021
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119
It’s a Firebird pickup that Chris from K-Line guitars wound for me. Dropped right in with no modifications necessary. Sounds killer.
 

dankilling

Chaos in a bottle
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Oct 12, 2022
Messages
51
Location
Lehigh Valley, PA
The guitar came in, and I’ve had a few days with it. Initial thoughts-

Sweetwater packed the heck out of the guitar and it showed up exactly when they said it would. Very happy with their customer service and packing job.

The neck is slightly wider and thicker than my Strat - this isn’t a bad thing, its very comfortable but some of my ‘thumb wrap’ techniques are a bit more challenging if on this neck. It actually plays very similarly to my Martin acoustic from the neck feel standpoint.

The finish is still off-gassing a bit and the neck gets a bit sticky due to this. I’m going to give it a number of months before final thoughts on this, but I’ve generally been a satin neck guy vs a glossy neck guy so it might take some getting used to.

That said, the black gloss finish is stunning. I haven’t been able to find any defects, and that’s hard to pull off with gloss black.

I demo’d a solid body version of the vela at my local shop, through some fender amps they had in stock. My semi-hollow sounds significantly brighter through my 5f11, but is fat and round through my 5e3. It’s also fat and round through my Quilter, but I did need to bring treble down on all of my amps compared to the Strat, and even compared to my Tele. That was a surprise with the humbucker in the bridge. Definitely not a muddy pickup for sure, but I might swap something different in there after the warranty period to try out some thicker sounds.

I haven’t measured out the setup yet, but will soon so I can go back to factory setup if I decide to adjust anything. I might take it over to Matt Artinger for a full setup at some point since he’s just up the hill from my house anyway.

I’ll post more as things come to me, but these are my day 3 impressions.
 
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