Wood quality on Core guitars

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by pauloqs, May 27, 2019.

  1. pauloqs

    pauloqs PRS McCarty

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    Besides the amazing wood drying process on PRS guitars and outstanding craftsmanship, another characteristic that I don’t see advertised as much is the wood grade used in Core guitars. I believe PRS use a lower density mahogany for their core guitars, like you find in the Custom Shop of other manufacturers. There are two reasons I come to this conjecture. One is the weight on the guitars. Even a thicker body 594 usually stay bellow 9 lbs (with a few exceptions). That’s weight relief or solid custom shop territory. The other reason is the gain on the mahogany of core guitars. Mahogany has an almost dashed looking grain. These “dashes” tend to be darker on lower density mahogany than higher density ones. The grain on the mahogany used in PRS core guitars look similar to the grain used in other manufacturers custom shop. So here is what I’m talking about,
    From Left to Right, PRS 594, Custom Shop and Regular Production guitar.
    [​IMG]
    Note how the grain on the 594 and the Custom Shop is more defined than the regular production guitar o the far right. Also the weights are 7 lbs 8oz, 8 lbs 10.5oz, and 9 lbs 3oz for the DC 594, Custom Shop and regular production guitars respectively. I attribute the difference in weight between the 594 and the Custom Shop to the DC 594 having a thinner body than the Custom Shop and being a double cut, which I conjecture have lower mass on the upper bout relative to single cut guitars. Most SC 594s I’ve seen seem to be in the same ballpark as my Custom Shop. Anyway, I think this corroborates with what some people have say that Core PRS guitars competes with other manufacturers Custom Shop guitars. At least in the grade of wood used in the construction of Core guitars, that seems to be the case.

    It is believed that lower density was used on older instruments. The trees were grown slowly over the years, which is believed to be correlated with lower density timbers. With the sustainability issues that we currently face, trees are grown rapidly, which results in higher density and therefore, heavier timbers. This is what led some manufacturers to sometimes resort to chambering the body of guitars. The lighter, less dense timbers became more scares, and therefore more expensive for guitar making. In summary, PRS is using premium woods to make their Core guitars. Combine that with their level of attention to detail, workmanship, perfectionism, and time consuming build and preparation process, you understand why PRS core guitars are so amazing.
     
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  2. shimmilou

    shimmilou Established in 1963

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    A lot more “old growth” trees might have been used for those vintage guitars too.
     
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  3. archey

    archey New Member

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    Center guitar looks like a piece of African mahogany that's fairly quarter sawn.
     
  4. GuitarJammin

    GuitarJammin New Member

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    I have a CU24 Floyd that is a standard core model, and a CU24 that is an artist with Clear finished mahogany backs. There is a clear difference in the grain of the the backs of the the two guitars. The artist has a deeper color and excellent grain pattern. The standard core is lighter color and more even grain, very consistent throughout with no lines. Both guitars are 2014 guitars, if that matters at all.
     
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  5. jvin248

    jvin248 New Member

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    .

    The 'dashes' are grain filled wood pores. More pores = lighter wood.
    Older trees are likely slower growing and higher density than fast growing trees, not the other way around.
    Bottom end of a log has a different density than the top end of a log. In pine trees the bottom of a log is filled with resin and much heavier than the top end. Mahogany could be different where the sap runs out quickly so the bottom end is less dense than the top end.

    .
     
  6. Casi1

    Casi1 New Member

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    Yeah, I think each manufacturer has their different/distinct tiers of wood awesomeness. I have no clue whether PRS core woods equal ‘Somebody else whose name starts with G’ Custom Shop woods because I know a guy whose lower priced Custom Shop gittar rivals most Private Stocks and my non Custom Shop LP weighed less than the gorgeous 594 that I almost bought but sounded ‘bigger/heavier’. Who knows.

    I do believe that PRS has a lot of old premium cuts of wood.... those Custom Shop folks might have been running low a while ago, therefore their secret stash wood went into next tier up. Perhaps.

    I don’t know. All I know is that seeing wood grain is good.
     
  7. Tucson Thump

    Tucson Thump Mint Heavy Relic

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    That would explain why I see PRS goldtops with "wood library" in the description.
     
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  8. pauloqs

    pauloqs PRS McCarty

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    I can see why you’d think the one in the middle is African mahogany, but it isn’t. It’s an incredible guitar, BTW.
     
  9. vchizzle

    vchizzle Birdman.

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    I will subscribe to the theory or idea that PRS looks for specific things when buying wood. Density and weight is likely one of them. It doesn’t necessarily correlate to better or higher quality or even more resonant. I have 2 identical spec McCarty’s - one is a featherweight around 7 lb, the other is a dense heavyweight at 10 lb. Both are very resonant and sustain for days. Both excellent guitars.
    I think PRS has done enough research(rules of tone) to determine what will increase the chances of producing a resonant guitar that will be easier to sell. Pretty sure they aim to get in the 7.5-8.5 lb range depending on model. That’s a weight that likely won’t rule out most customers. You hit the heavyweights and your buying circle gets smaller. Not everyone wants to sling a boat anchor around their neck.
    You could potentially use dense wood on a custom 24 and not add as much weight as the slab is thinner, use lighter weight on SC with a thick back? Maybe it’s not that preplanned?
     
  10. Tonart

    Tonart Tone of the Art......or is that backwards?

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    I used to be befuddled by the practice of tone tapping.

    After observing and then thinking deeper / longer about how electric guitars work, I appreciate why so many luthiers practice it.

    They can’t be all trying to sell us propaganda. These people have serious jobs to do.
     
  11. shallbe

    shallbe New Member

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    I think PRS knows how to source good wood. And they know good wood makes a difference.

    Hardwoods are coming from all over the place now, due to scarcity. I wouldn't care if a guitar's mahogany was Honduran, African or whatever if it sounded good. And I trust PRS to buy good sounding wood, regardless of type.

    The real secret is the wood recipe. An all mahogany guitar sounds different than one with a maple cap. A thinner bodied guitar sounds different than a thicker one---hence the DGT vs the Custom 22. Stiffer mahogany for the neck vs the body can be important as well, in terms of tone and response.

    Look at these 2 backs. Both are PRS Artist guitars. One has flamed mahogany, the other does not. Same type? I have no idea---but the necks (ebony/rosewood) are very stiff and really vibrate whatever mahogany is there.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Alan Manning

    Alan Manning Well Love a Duck Mary Poppins.!!!

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    I have a W/L 594 exactly the same spec as Bernie Marsden's And I can honestly say It's the heaviest guitar I own as In
    Bloody heavy.!!! ;)
     
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  13. Tremontinator

    Tremontinator New Member

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    Came here fearing blasphemy

    Leaving with an education



    You win the forums
     
  14. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    Its no secret that PRS takes the raw ingredients of their guitars incredibly seriously. That starts from the sourcing of wood right through to everything that is also added to the wood to form a musical instrument - and by Everything, I refer to the materials used for frets, for tuner/bridge construction, to nut material, to PU construction, to electronics and to the stains and finish - everything!

    Looking around at many other manufacturers of Guitars, some so called AAAAA flame tops are not as figured as the standard of the non-10 top Core series models. I know figuring is subjective and that it makes minimal difference to the guitar - no more so than the variation you get between guitars due to differences of natural materials. The 'biggest' difference is cosmetic in my opinion. To me that says PRS must be one of the first to get to pick their stock and therefore get the more figured woods and maybe more options to buy more rare woods (for PS and WL guitars) that other manufacturers don't. I don't know what process is in place for acquiring woods and the costs - maybe they are willing to spend a bit more to get the best where as others are looking to buy the cheapest to keep their costs lower to maximise profits, I really have no knowledge of wood acquisition and how PRS may differ from other manufacturers.

    What I do know though, thanks to numerous video's of guided Factory tours that have spoken about the journey of 'wood' through the process of turning the raw wood into a high quality instrument. You can say the wood is 'dried' but I think its more 'cured' as its not a simple case of letting it 'dry' or drying it as quickly as possible - its 'cured' to maximise the turning of Resin into Crystal in a controlled manner. Its the same process for all the woods whether its for an S2 or PS - although some PS woods may take longer to cure as they are different from the Mahogany and Maple that all but WL and up guitars are made from.

    I think that the difference between a Mahogany on PRS guitars are that PRS have taken the time to ensure that the woods are cured properly before they use it for Guitar construction. I also think that the differences in the grain between the two 'higher' end gloss finished guitars is that they have also had Mahogany Grain Filler rubbed into them which will also make the grain stand out a lot more under the finish. I don't know if the 'regular' model wouldn't look more like the Custom in the middle (the closest in colour) if it had been finished like the Custom, had Grain Filler rubbed in before its been spray coated but I would be willing to bet it would look a lot closer to the Custom!!

    Necks too take weeks to make as cutting away material can cause the woods to move, to twist so PRS take their time to ensure they have settled and why they are so stable. Another example of PRS knowledge and experience with the woods and how to ensure that the final product is remarkably consistent and incredibly resonant too.

    To summarise, the big difference in the 'look' of the 3 guitars is more a result in the type of finish - the 2 'gloss' finish have had a dark Mahogany grain filler rubbed in that makes the grain much more defined. PRS take the time to 'cure' the woods properly to ensure they are as resonant as possible and also ensure that everything else too (Frets, tuners, nuts, bridge etc) is also of the highest quality to make that 'wood' into a superb and high end instrument.

    The treatment of the Wood is the big difference between an SE and an S2. Even if they share all the same 'ingredients' and hardware, an S2 is more resonant (imo). They may not look as 'pretty' (as they don't have a veneer) but resonate better which I think is a big reason that people who actually try one prefer it to the SE's - not just because the S2's are made in the US.
     
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  15. archey

    archey New Member

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    What makes you think that it isn't? Just curious. Nothing wrong with African mahogany.
     
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  16. pauloqs

    pauloqs PRS McCarty

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    I contacted the guitar maker with my SN who assured me it wasn't African Mahogany. I also had a luthier confirm it wasn't African mahogany. The luthier said that although the grain pattern resembles African mahogany, it was not unheard of for SA and Honduran to have the grain like in my guitar. He then mentioned that the control cavity was extremely clean and very difficult to achieve that level of cleanliness with African mahogany. He said that some of the pattern on the sides also give it away.

    Edit: I also have an 18 series Martin with similar pattern and those are listed a genuine Mahogany, which to my understanding usually refer to Honduran Mahogany.
     
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  17. pauloqs

    pauloqs PRS McCarty

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    Just like to add that the one on the far right has a gloss finish as well. I know the lighting didn’t help and there was a skylight that I was trying to avoid the glare affecting the 594 and center guitar. Both center and far right guitars have the same nitro gloss finish.
     
  18. 88prs

    88prs New Member

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    The body woods by PRS are the best by far, all of mine top and back I like better than my R8 from the other guys... now to be anal... I wish they would some how match the wood grain on the neck wings, ya, they other guys use wings too but it drives me nuts when the stick out bad. one piece necks? yes a lot of wasted wood. Ok, have my hard hat on, let me have it! haha
     
  19. shallbe

    shallbe New Member

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    I've seen this in other PRS, but never on one of mine. I have 2 rosewood and 2 mahogany and you cannot really tell where the wings are. Lucky, I guess.
     
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  20. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    To be honest, I have to look close to see those two little wing tips. I can totally understand why they do this and if they didn't, how much beautiful mahogany (or maple, rosewood etc if you have WL or PS) would go to waste - you would have to start from a block of wood that is at least 2" wider. Instead of getting 3 blocks for a neck, they perhaps would only get 2 necks from the same quantity of wood. I wouldn't be surprised if the Wing Tips came from the same block as the neck - maybe from the chunk of wood they cut out from the back. In doing this, PRS can charge a bit less - I know they are expensive now but imagine how expensive they would be if they had to buy even more wood to make the same quantity of guitars they are now.

    Its relatively exuberant to have 1 piece of mahogany through the whole neck, heel and headstock - the part of the headstock that hold the tuners. The wing tips are more for cosmetic styling as they do nothing other than add a bit of width. On the top side, you even have a veneer (rosewood on Core) that covers up any sign of the glue line of those tips so you need to look quite close to see them on the back of the headstock. If the Tuners were actually in the wing tips, then I would be concerned from a structural PoV but as the tuners are fixed to the 1 piece of wood, the tips are nothing more than a Cosmetic addition.

    If you were to buy a 'cheaper' PRS - one with the 3-piece neck, the Headstock (I believe) doesn't have the added wing tips because the headstock is scarf jointed on to the neck and a 'heel' is added at the other end too.

    It really doesn't bother me at all that the wing tips are glued on. I love to see natural wood through the finish and I have to look closely to see the tips on all 4 of my PRS - some I have to really look closely to see because the 'join' is almost invisible amongst the grain from both sides. The fact that I can't see the difference from a 12/18" away on the majority of my guitars - the 2 or 3 tips I can see at this distance I think are the 'once seen, cannot be unseen' situation and would probably need pointing out to someone if they were to look - maybe not a PRS enthusiast who may know where exactly to look.

    To reiterate, I can't really see my tips unless I look very close and even then they aren't 'obviously' different or easily seen. I am at an advantage over most because I know where to look which I bet most of the people on this forum do as well but I doubt many others would notice. The tips are only cosmetic and not structural - by structural I mean they are not added to fix the tuners to the headstock. Also, from the front, they are covered by a veneer. On all 4 of mine, they are all well matched sharing the same colour, grain and grain direction....
     
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