The guitars would be the same model. Functionally, the same. One is a stock model, the other would be an artist package that I have spec'd out. There's actually a couple in stock guitars that are beautiful instruments. I can't play any of the specific ones I'm looking at. I can get each at a very good price. They are 90% of everything I'd want looks wise. The tops are stellar. The artist I'd have built, would have brazzy and fancy inlays that I like much better. Also in a color not offered stock(though I can get close). Nothing that will drastically change the tone though. No idea what the top would look like til I got it.
I'm sure I could buy these stock models and be VERY HAPPY. I've bought several "budget" minded PRS and fallen in love with them. I've always gone the smart, safe and budget minded approach. I've thought lately I want something special, as meaningful(whatever that means). It'll obviously cost me a good amount more. But is it time I should quit being safe and just go for it??? Of course I have no idea how it will come out in the end exactly. I'd hate to be disappointed with looks, or more important, the tone...and feel I spent a bunch of extra money for nothing.