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Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by rugerpc, Jan 31, 2016.
I'm glad you're zeroing in on what you want for a PS, Bill.
I own a 22 fret PRS McCarty. I have also played many guitars over the years of modern and vintage specs, both 22 and 24 fret. I have an open mind. So, I tend to get my hands on more brands of guitars than most. DOUBLE CUT 22 FRET PRS guitars have terrible 22 fret access compared to most. This is NOT true with PRS single cut designs. The cutaway is deeper. The custom 24 is stellar for upper fret access. I can play comfortably up to 24. On my McCarty and every custom 22 I've played, its only comfortable up to 20. A lot of guys don't play that high so its not an issue. I do. So, its something I notice.
Get out of my head. This is so accurate of my situation, I could've written this myself.
So many options, just one build.
Nobody says you can't build more....
It helped me to not think of the PS as the be ALL, end ALL guitar. Mine will be the things I've liked the best so far.
I want something with a trem, maybe a Floyd, but a stoptail was more practical, whereas the others are just fun.
God willing, I'm not done buying after I get my PS.
PS builds will be few and far between for me...
I wondered about the stacked humbucker in the neck on a 24-fretter, a la Satch. I like having the 24 frets, although I can't say I use the last two a ton. But when I don't have them, that's when I usually seem to want them!
That said - I went 22 on my PS. Like Rob, I didn't try to make this the be-all end-all guitar. I got a lot of the options I wanted - most of them, really - but there were a couple things I had to adjust for.
Just try to keep a little flexibility for yourself - the journey is fun, and it would be hard to find more helpful people than the ones who will be in the room with you.
I'd never try to talk anyone into or out of anything on their dream guitar build, of course. I mention the virtues of the 24 fret guitar, because they are real, and they're wonderful guitars - for the player who likes what they offer.
OTOH, 2 of my PS electrics are 22 fret guitars. Each guitar has a special vibe of its own.
One thing you might want to consider on a 22 fret guitar is one of PRS' shorter scale necks, instead of the standard PRS 25" scale length. I've got that on the McCarty Singlecut and on the 20th Anniversary PS, though each is slightly different; both guitars sound truly great. I know a lot of people notice the difference on bends, however, I don't notice a very big difference there, what I like is they have a very fat and sassy tones. Yum!
I guess my best advice would be to play a bunch, then decide what suits you best. Don't rely on the theory, in my experience some guitars are like the bumblebee, that some aerodynamicists in the 1930s claimed shouldn't be able to fly! Yet fly they did. They made the same argument about this aircraft, the Gee Bee R1, that won the Thompson racing trophy in 1932, and set speed records, piloted by Jimmy Doolittle, later of Tokyo Raid fame. Then again, the Gee Bee did have a reputation as a widow maker...
Fortunately, your guitar won't kill you.
Just your wife, when she sees the bill....
I have my pilot's license. And a Gee Bee is way above my competence level!
That's why I made the airplane reference! I figured you could relate.
That Gee Bee even looks like it'd be terrifying to fly!
Over Macho Grande?
Do one that you suits you and there doesn't need to be a second.
If circumstances lead you to another one later, it can be its own set of choices.
It will be fun to watch how it comes together for you. The 22 fret part was easy - that's what you like and that is all that matters.
Ok, Post #2 on the first page is in... scale length, body shape and woods.
This is probably a pretty big boat...
Hey, a few more and we'll have a sculling team!
I'm a pretty big fan of the 24.5 scale. The slightly shorter scale means a little bit less tension in the strings. I feel the guitar ends up with a slightly earthier tone (which I like).
I find the semi-hollow with a single f-hole is much more inline with the character of a solid body. I think that going to a hollowbody is a pretty fundamental choice in what the character of the guitar would be. From what you've said so far, I feel you are on a solid body track which makes it semi-hollow.
There are lots of woods that will come out figured for the neck. I highly recommend considering the tonal qualities you are after first, and then going to the specifics of the wood from there. Birdseye maple can be quite striking, but you have to be comfortable with what that is going to sound like. Mahogany can be highly figured as well and will go very well with a figured mahogany back. I'll look for a photo. Cocobolo looks amazing and will sound much like a rosewood neck - which can also look quite nice. I'll check for photos on that too.
but...start with what you would want sound wise. If you are at the heart a mahogany neck type person, look for a figured neck and get a beautiful board for it that will keep you in your tonal comfort zone.
Honestly, this is a good thing to decide in the vault. You're close enough that I assume you will go in person rather than select via photos/video. Best decided after you settle on what you want the neck to be.
My main guitar for playing for myself is a spruce top hollowbody I goldtop. Being able to switch back and forth between HB neck and piezo is where I spend a lot of time playing. I guess I'm fickle in that way.
I'm leaning towards semi-hollow. As I said before, David Gilmour is an inspiration for me. His tone, yes, but more his playing stuyle and phrasing. The solos are melodic and soul-squeezing. They aren't fast and technical, they are slow and technical. I want individual notes from open through about 13-15 to be able to stand on their own with rich harmonics and overtones and not be shrill of piercing.
I also want the openness that semi-hollow brings. That chambering adds a quality I'm not able to describe at this point and, it shouldn't be much of a surprise, I'm pretty settled on a piezo bridge. I don't want to examine that choice yet, we'll get there, but I understand that that choice will affect the woods.
So, though my personal tone isn't settled, I lean towards full, mellow tones in the midrange and lower end..
I'm guessing that all of that also means I don't want the brightness of a maple neck.
OK, mellow midrange and lower end neck photos.
Mahogany: the figure isn't as dramatic as some of the rosewood family, but I like it. I have another photo of a different figure on mahogany, but will have to search it out.
rosewood (this is Indian) can have a really nice figure.
Cocobolo is amazing, but they may not have much on the shelf
On the scale length, you really should just try something like an SC245 to see how the shorter scale length works for you. It's all about your body mechanics at that point. I think the difference is more about tone and string tension than anything else, but YMMV.
Wood choices...here's my view....
I've played some PS guitars that were eyeball-popping and seemed like they should be great ideas - "hey what if we tried this wood with that wood??!!?" - but they didn't quite have the tonal "it" factor (for me). Sure, they played great, and sounded very good indeed, but there's something special about certain guitars that might go missing with some of the more unusual wood combinations.
I mean, cayenne pepper on cornflakes might look really cool, and be a very interesting idea, but it might not taste really great, right?
One of the things Paul R. Smith has said in interviews struck me: they've been building guitars for hundreds of years. And there are certain combinations that just get it right. Guitar makers have pretty much tried the thousands of species of woods, and there are some wood formulas that they've learned work really well, and others that work less well. Paul said that he has done this with a great many wood combinations and has kept learning, even though he started with the traditional formulas. So his experience is vast.
If you buy a PS, you have the most wonderful and amazing opportunity to be helped in your choices by The Master of them all, Paul Smith himself. It's like being able to sit down with Antonio Stradivari and discuss your build, and I mean that quite literally.
You can talk with him and the other members of the PS team about what you're interested in. You can get his views on what will work best for you in every possible way.
So while it's a crapload of fun to speculate about what you want, and to be making these kinds of choices in advance - I've certainly done it - you're really missing the very best part of the experience, which is to have one of the world's foremost guitar designers chime in and make suggestions that really will matter!
This, incidentally, is why I've concentrated on the models they've run as limited runs, instead of ordering up my own custom ideas (with the exception of my PS Tonare, which is a very traditional wood combination anyway, and Paul picked the woods with Jack Gretz, besides).
I believe that Paul Smith knows more than I do about what makes up a fantastic sounding instrument. And I think he knows more than anyone on this board in that regard too. The proof is in the pudding, and I have some amazing instruments!
So the input I'd want is Paul Smith's, and not so much the members here, as dearly as I love them all.