Zeroing in on PS

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by rugerpc, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    I'm at least a year or maybe more away from my own private stock. I just gave some other priorities to take care of first. Not the least of which is to get to a playing level and frequency to justify the cash outlay. I'm currently chasing technique, not tone. I think about tone and have strong preferences, but as I get slowly better, my personal tone is changing.

    I can tell you what it is not. It isn't on the high, thin, ice pick in the ear end of the spectrum. I'm definitely on the fuller, more mellow end. I like the full range of the guitar, from the lows of my new 277 to the highest D on a 22 fretter. But I spend more time below fret 12 than above it.

    Yeah, 22 frets. I'm not going to miss that ultra high D# or E. I have some 24 fret guitars if I just have to get there and the bend beyond. The real issue is the location of the neck pup. On a 24 fret guitar, that neck pup is more treble than it would be if it were in the 22 fret position. How much? Enough that even I can tell the difference.

    And 24 fret guitars kill the neck pup response to a 9th fret harmonic. That's not just a change in tone for playing the actual harmonic, but that harmonic is sucked out of the overtones for every other note on every string open and fretted through fret 9. Think about that. Every note played is thinner in that harmonic and its multipkles on a 24 fret guitar. For the multiples, it applies even above fret 9.

    And I am about the complex harmonics. Overtones, baby!

    http://forums.prsguitars.com/threads/22-frets-vs-24.7196/#post-113246

    So, look for my PS to be a 22 fretter.

    And, I'm just getting started...

    EDIT: I'm going to update the specs here as I settle on them.
    22 frets
    Scale -
    Top - figured maple
    Body - African ribbon mahogany
    Back - African ribbon mahogany
    Neck - cocobolo (maybe ziricote, with Peruvian mahogany fallback) gotta love spell check...
    Fretboard - cocobolo (ziricote or Madagascar rosewood backup)
    Body shape/thickness - McCarty (semi-hollow with one f hole)
    Pups - 58/15 (53/10s and archtop so as backups)
    Electronics -
    Inlays -
     
    #1 rugerpc, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
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  2. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    2/1/16

    OK, I'm absolutely settled on 22 frets, though I'll miss having the owl inlay. I suppose I'll just have to have that little owl put somewhere else on the guitar... We'll talk about inlays later.

    Next up is scale length and body shape and woods.

    I like the regular scale length that PRS uses, but I do keep reading things about other lengths. I don't think I need to think about longer as my fingers only stretch so far. The 277 baritone is taxing me on that front. I really like it and the wonderful growl it has, but it is a certified workout, especially down in cowboy land.

    So, I'd like to hear about what people have experienced with slightly shorter scale lengths. I say 'slightly' because I don't want to go so short that the frets above 12 are too close together for my inaccurate fingering. what are the pluses and minuses for a shorter scale?

    ***

    Body shape is pretty fixed in my mind at McCarty thickness and shape. However, I'm wanting it also to be hollow or semi-hollow (at least 1 f hole) and I'm not sure how those two things would get along.

    ***

    Body woods are up in the air as well. I'm pretty settled on either a maple wide flame top or a quilt, but I want the back and neck to be figured too. I'm kinda leaning towards ribbon mahogany for the back wood (though I might sandwich matching maple on the back) and something like cocobolo for the neck.

    I go hot and cold on a figured maple neck, but probably won't go that way.

    Fretboard wood is similarly undecided but I'm leaning towards something figured.

    So, I'm much less settled here. I'd love for you guys to post pics of figured non-maple woods for back, neck and fretboard. The wood decision is possibly the most difficult one I face besides the pups (we'll get to them in good time), so I intend to spend a bit of time on this in this thread.

    Don't forget to let me know about your scale length experiences.
     
  3. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    5/1/16

    Last Tuesday, Pete and Rob brought some PS guitars over to help me with some questions...

    While I waited for them to arrive, I played my 513 BRW and my HBI Spruce with archtop pups. One of the things I'm evaluating is neck wood feel and tone...

    Pete brought his cocobolo necked monster with 53/10s and a semi hollow dirty 100 clone with 59/09s.
    Rob brought his new PS with 58/15s.

    Necks...

    I like both the mahogany neck of my HBI and the BRW neck of the 513, but for different reasons. The BRW neck is unfinished, but completely smooth. Nevertheless, I am aware of the porosities and the mass. Yhat is one weighty neck.

    Tha HBI's hog neck feels like an old friend. Smooth and familiar to the point that I forget to pay attention to the neck at all, I just play. With the BRW neck, I'm aware of it, a small distraction. Not a bad distraction, but I'm aware ov the neck feel as I play.

    First up was Pete's cocobolo neck. It's as smooth and glossy as the hog neck even though it is unfinished. It is heavier than the hog, but lighter than the BRW. It doesn't distract me like the BRW. I like this neck!

    My PS would be great with either hog or cocobolo.

    That leaves me with only one wood to look at for necks: ziricote. I want more figuring in the neck wood, but I need to track one down and play it.

    Anyone near Maryland with a ziricote neck??

    Pups...

    I spend a lot of time on the neck pup. I want full, articulate tone across the board. My only no-go is when the treble gets too thin and piercing. Ice pick in the ears is not for me.

    The 53/10s in the cocobolo monster would fill the bill. They are balanced and have no harshness at all.

    The 59/09s in the dirty 100 are noticeably thinner with a bit too much treble for me.

    Then I got to the 58/15s in Rob's PS. They are like 53/10s, but somehow more of the same. A big more output and good note definition. Very nice. They compare very favorably to the archtop pups in my HBI, and that is currently my main player.

    Unexpected bonus...

    Pete's dirty 100 is semi hollow with an f hole. The balance of that body sitting is wonderful. So, without even knowing I was going there, I got a body question answered.

    Many, many thanks to Peter and Rob.

    Playing the options is absolutely necessary to get the specs right.
     
    #3 rugerpc, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
  4. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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  5. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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  6. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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  7. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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  8. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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  9. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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  10. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    One of my PS guitars is a CU24 30th. Based on my experience with its tone and that of other 24 fret guitars I've had, and the tone of the many 22 fret guitars I've had over the years, I'm convinced that guitars are a set of tradeoffs.

    When you give up something in one area with a given configuration, you often pick up something equally desirable in another configuration.

    I can attest to the fact that my CU24 30th is as harmonically complex and rich sounding as any 22 fret guitar I've ever owned, though it sounds different. If the harmonic balance is different, it isn't necessarily worse. Whether in a million years you'd hear the theoretical 9th harmonic difference in the way you think you might is another question entirely (I'd be willing to bet that you would have a very difficult time being able to identify a 22 from a 24 in a blind test)...but yes, there are tone differences.

    And incidentally, I don't play those last two frets, either, though I will also say that the upper frets I do play are often a little easier to work with when playing the 24. It's a more comfortable reach.

    What's great about the 24 fret PRS design is that it has a wonderfully focused midrange because of (among other things) the positioning of the pickups, and the neck pickup isn't as bassy.

    So sure, they sound different, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just a matter of what you're going for. If you're playing all by yourself in your home with your amp, indeed you might really enjoy that 22 fret neck pickup's increased bottom end.

    If, on the other hand, you're recording or playing live with a band with bass, maybe another guitar player, keys, drums and a vocalist, a 24 fret guitar can help your notes cut through the mix so that the audience/listeners can hear what you're doing a little more, on either pickup, without having to turn up your volume as high, or boost your amp.

    Like I said, tradeoffs. Different folks, different strokes. But one isn't superior to the other in any way. Both 22 and 24 are great, pick your poison.

    I like oysters and snails, Antoninus... ;)
     
    #11 LSchefman, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
  12. Mikegarveyblues

    Mikegarveyblues Cream Crackered

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    Yup. I just don't get on with 24 fretters.

    I do want one though. There's some tunes I want to learn that use those high notes. Sure, I can get around it, but....

    I'm a neck pup lover. I haven't been blown away by the neck tones of the 24 frret guitars I've owned for the reasons mentioned.

    I'll find one I can gel with one day but I doubt it'll be my main squeeze.
     
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  13. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    Yeah, I'm reasonably sure I can't identify suppressed 9th fret harmonics and their multiples. Really.

    But I do hear the differences in the overall tones between 22 and 24 fret guitars. I do gravitate towards the 22 fret side.

    I also get that the upper frets on a 24 lead to easier access to the other upper frets, depending on the size of your hands, say from 16 or 18 and up. That's a real and valid benefit for those who weedly deedly really high. I just don't personally spend much time up there...

    I do thank you for talking about midrange focus though. That's my primary comfort zone at the moment. I need it to be articulate and not only not overly bassy, but not ice pick in the ear either. If I'm going to err or compromise, I'll lean towards bassy instead of courting the ice pick.

    ****

    And Les is doing exactly what I want from readers of this thread, questioning my perceptions and offering alternatives.
     
    #13 rugerpc, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
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  14. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    Mike, you and I are both huge fans of David Gilmour. I still haven't reconciled his tones from his Strat and single coils vs my preference for neck humbuckers. Have you?
     
  15. Drew

    Drew New Member

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    The problem with PRS guitars and 22 frets is the upper fret access on the double cuts is the worst of anything out there, aside from a les paul. They may as well be 20 fret guitars.

    What I would do is have a PS built with 24 frets and do what Joe Satriani did. He has a stacked single sized bucker pushed right up to the end of the fretboard.
     
  16. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    That still puts the neck pup exactly where I don't want it.

    In my build, a small heel or even a different heel shape should satisfy my personal needs for upper fret access.

    As for PRS having "upper fret access on the double cuts is the worst of anything out there, aside from a les paul," I'll just chalk that up your usual demonstrably false hyperbole when you are criticizing PRS guitars.
     
  17. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Actually, I don't question your perceptions - I just wouldn't want folks to be turned off to the idea of a 24 without knowing what the tradeoffs might be, or that there are equally desirable things to know about 24 fritters.

    EDIT:

    I'll put it another way. There are times an artist needs the broad paintbrush, and times the artist needs a little pointy paintbrush. Everything depends on context.

    There's a reason that in classical orchestration, you'll often find the Cello section doubling the French Horns an octave down; both reinforce each other and help cut through the mix, similar to the way a bass and a heavy guitar doubling the same part have added over the years to so many rock songs.

    But then you have a pretty big sound, so what's carrying the melody? You'll never hear the flutes or woodwinds to much of an extent over the big tones of the cellos and French Horns, same as you won't hear a big fat guitar tone with much clarity over the doubled bass and rhythm guitar in some tunes, unless you turn it up too loud for the audience. So in the classical world, they'll use violins, perhaps working in concert with the woodwinds, to add a countermelody, or rhythmic accompaniment. In rock, then, maybe you'd choose a guitar with a little more "cut." That is, a little more focus.

    Last year I did a very dense track, with rock band, piano, synth, and orchestral instruments, at the request of the client. Oh, they wanted guitar solos all right, but "Don't bang us over the head with screaming guitars!"

    Of course they DID want to be banged over the head with cymbal rolls and kettle drums...

    The solution was some tasty CU24 with its scalpel-like midrange. Cut perfectly without being too loud.

    Maybe in a 3 piece band, I'd go with something a little less focused, because I'd have more sonic room to play.

    There's a reason Carlos Santana plays a 24 fret PRS. He's got a densely mixed band, keys, drums, percussionists, you name it. He likes a tight, focused midrange without ear-splitting treble.
     
    #17 LSchefman, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
  18. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    Yup. There will be lots of trade offs along the way. I'm going to try to identify them and voice my reasoning concerning how I'm leaning one way of the other.

    I'm counting on you and other knowledgable members to play devil's advocate and challenge me.
     
  19. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Where do you come up with this nonsense?

    That's just not true at all.

    We've all played other 22 fret guitars, and we're not stupid. PRS are just fine in the upper fret access department, and are better than most, whether they're 22 or 24 frets. Though 24 is certainly a little easier up there.
     
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  20. Maertl513

    Maertl513 Sherlock 513

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    Apart from tonal and access issues in the decision between 22 or 24 frets, optical reasons could come into focus. By constant scale the distance between or among pickups shorten on a 24 frets guitar.
    As Joe Satriani has been named, his signature guitars have an ordinary origin Strat style neck joint and block heel. There is no ergonomic feature likewise easy access Wizard necks or "hydroformed" shaping of a Parker Fly Deluxe or EBMM Majesty.
    But this is no obstacle for Mr. Satriani chasing or shredding the whole neck.
    It's all about your personal skills and technique.
    The comfy zone has already been stated.
    The access on PRS double and single cut is way more better than on the prominent models of the big competetors from the USA.
     

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