Rush has been my favorite band ever since I first heard "Chain Lightning" on a friend's walkman when I was in high school around 1992-3. The entire reason I first became interested in PRS guitars was because Alex Lifeson was playing them at that time. The first Rush album that came out after I became a fan was Counterparts, on which Lifeson used his black CE 24 almost exclusively. I have always loved that tone and I want to know more about that guitar. Help me do some sleuthing!
You can see the guitar in this video tour of his rig from a few years ago, right at the 3 minute mark, and if you look closely as the back of the guitar is shown, you'll see the serial number is 174136. Alex has stated in interviews that he got the guitar in 1991, and the serial number confirms that.
I am not entirely certain, but I think I have read that the guitar is entirely stock. That should make it easier to find the answer to my questions:
- What pickups are in this thing? According to the PRS Guitar Book, the switch from Standard Treble & Bass to HFS/VB was made in 1991. On the PRS model history webpage, it says this switch was made "by November 1991." Does that mean the HFS/VB were being used before November (but not exclusively), or was November the first instance? Is there a way to figure out which pickups are in Lifeson's guitar? If I had to guess I would says HFS/VB, as he clearly likes high-output pickups, but I'd like to be sure.
- Does this CE 24 have a maple top? We know it's an alder body, since PRS was using alder on the CE line until they switched to mahogany in 1994. The question is whether the whole thing is alder or if the top is maple. The video shows faux binding along the edge; doesn't that indicate a maple top? Or is it possible that was done on a solid alder guitar?
- You can see in the video that the guitar has the three-way toggle instead of the five-way rotary. It appears to have the original all-metal toggle switch, in fact. My question is, does it have a push-pull coil split, or not? The PRS Guitar Book refers to the Volume/Tone/3-way option as "McCarty Electronics," but the McCarty wasn't introduced until 1994, and didn't have a push-pull coil split until 1995. Did the CE 24 with 3-way toggle have a push-pull coil split in 1991?
Thanks for any help you guys can provide in figuring these things out. I've mentioned before that I'm looking to eventually pick up a vintage CE 24, hopefully on the cheap so that I can send it to the PTC for some customization. Lifeson's black CE 24 is the inspiration behind that. So any info you guys can provide is much appreciated.