What is the difference in the plating on gold hardware and chrome hardware? I bought my 20th SC about 4 months ago (as new). It had not seen many hours of play, and was as clean as the day it left the factory when I got it. I usually try to wipe it down when I'm done playing but evidently didn't wipe it off good once and now the gold on the stop tail is starting to "peel" or "bubble" like it's fixing to flake off. I've NEVER had this problem with chrome hardware on even the cheapest guitars. Pretty bummed out about it :(
Any plating can react to the salts and oils in your skin, and each of us has different body chemistry to a degree. Gold plating usually has a barrier plated layer like nickel underneath (not sure what PRS uses) because other metals can migrate into the gold causing it to change color and tarnish. It's possible that the nickel or other barrier layer is doing the bubbling, as you're less likely to see gold do that. In any event, gold is pretty soft for a metal, and easily worn away.
Most PRSes have nickel plated hardware, not chrome. Chrome has a bluish cast to it, and looks different from nickel, which has a warmer color cast to it. Chrome is also more likely to bubble/peel than nickel, often less visibly; though it doesn't tarnish easily, it sometimes lets rust develop, which you see on old Fenders with chrome plating, while old Gibsons with nickel usually just show tarnish.
Gold plating shows wear, to a greater or lesser degree depending on your chemistry. That's just the way it is, and has always been. I've probably had more PRSes with gold than nickel over the years, simply because it doesn't tarnish as easily, and my body chemistry doesn't seem to wear it off much. But other folks who've experienced a lot of wear with gold generally don't care for it.
In any event, the good news is that something like a bridge can be easily replaced or re-plated.
Remember, too, that a 20th anniversary guitar - even one that has only been in your hands a few months - has had several years of whatever oxidation occurs during that period. I wouldn't really be upset about it. Pretty simple to deal with.
Thanks so much for the reply! I've been considering replacing the bridge with an adjustable bridge anyway, so not a huge deal, I just wont be able to do it until after the holidays. I guess my chemistry is better suited for chrome or nickel, as I've never had this happen before and this is my first gold hardware guitar. I'll just have to be more agressive with my cleaning habits i guess LOL...thanks again, for the great explanation
All PRS parts are NICKEL plated.... NOT chrome plated. (Nickel has a gold-ish hue to it where as chrome as a blue-ish hue to it).
Paul always preferred the nickle look over chrome, which is more "vintage" looking. I agree...
The steps involved in plating are :
acid dip (which "roughens up" the surface a little)
copper plate (insures good bonding. Kind of like a primer paint does) to a thickness of approx .00005"
nickle plate to thickness of approx .0005"
If you are gold plating, you would do the same process as above and then add the 24k gold which is only .000005" to .000030" thick. Fender, Gibson, etc use the lower value. PRS and MannMade use the higher value which is six times more gold.
That value is in millionths of an inch !!! Which is why gold wears off so quickly. As you may be aware... gold is also a very soft metal.
If you were going to chrome plate something... you wold do the nickle process and then add a chrome step after the nickle. This is where the term "triple chrome plated" comes from. (copper / nickle / chrome)