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Thread: SAS 25th or 408 Standard ? help !

  1. #1
    Junior Member Mutchy's Avatar
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    SAS 25th or 408 Standard ? help !

    Hello wise ones,

    Usual story, I live far far away in a country with few dealers and very little stock, so could use your kind help deciding between 2 guitars. I travel a lot for work and have played Custom 24's in Singapore, A Studio in New Zealand, and a SAS Studio and 408 MT here in Sydney. I liked the 408MT an ants leg more than the SAS Studio however neither of them were affordable So am resorting to importing one from the US.

    My choices are:

    25th SAS Amber burst, listed as new, apparently it's had 5 hours use. 3 piece body which I confirmed with PRS support was not unusual.
    408 Standard tobacco burst. Nov 2012 build, slight use but looks clean. Wide thin neck.

    Both are 2K USD.

    Love the SAS neck finish but suspect the 408 wide thin would suit my hands better. Wondering how much the Maple Top contributes to the 408's sound and if I'd then prefer the SAS over the 408 standard. Neither guitar really floats my boat appearance wise but beggars can't be choosers...

    I have listened to every youtube video ever made on both, multiple times, through a Fiio Alpen and Beyer 770 pro cans to try and get the best impression possible. I've also read all the glowing reviews on the net and trawled this forum for info. And still no decision, it's doing my head in

    I can only have one guitar so versatility is important, that prize goes to the 408 right ?

    In terms of the tones I'm chasing my priority is 'beautiful' warm clean tones (eg bridge or bridge/middle) ie almost acoustic sounding (I know both guitars do this really well), followed by clean to slightly distorted bluesy woman tones. I play high gain stuff very rarely but appreciate singing solos and amp feedback. I'm not in to country or metal, my taste is mainstream to alternative - think SRV, Pink Floyd, Muse, The Foals. 95% of any live performing would be in church hence the priority on clean. I also own a home studio so the guitar will frequently be recorded.

    The other catch is my amp (for the time being) is a Fender Mustang III v2, I'm not experienced enough to know if the guitar would be wasted through a solid state modelling amp (the Mustang) versus a nice tube amp. Correct me if I'm wrong but there's far more dynamic range in a tube amp and one can be a lot more expressive as a result. My old guitar sounded very flat and ordinary through a tube amp so I also question how much of the dynamic range comes from the guitar itself....If the amp is a hugely limiting factor I might be better off with a new SE Custom with tuner replacement and potentially new pick ups down the track....but will always wonder what could have been....

    That's my dilemna, I know it's very subjective and I should go with the sound I like best however it's very difficult without having access to each model. I love them both. ANY help or views at all would be very much appreciated !!

    Thanks so much
    Dave

  2. #2
    Senior Member Rider1260's Avatar
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    If it was me I would go 408 all in !!!!
    I am really happy with mine finding new tones all the time.
    Good Luck
    PRS Family - SCT, 408, 305, CU22, MEII
    Others LesPaul , Stratocaster , Guild
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  3. #3
    Member Whitecat's Avatar
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    The 408 is definitely more versatile, and probably a little sweeter in general to my ears. I say that as an NF3 owner so the 3 x narrowfield config is a known entity in my world. The narrowfield cleans are just OK but I find they lack sustain (or have too strong an attack and thus are tonally 'imbalanced' - however you want to say it). Mind you, overdriven, they kick all kinds of ***. A bit like mini-buckers that way I guess. I prefer the 408 cleans.

    Personally, the wide/thin would put me off but as you say you like it, then that's probably the road you should go down. Have fun either way!
    HBII (faded gray black 'double' 10-top), HB12 (black gold), NF3 (antique white/birds), 25th ann. Mira 245 (frost blue metallic), KL1812, Starla (vintage cherry, IRW neck, birds), 2 x 2011 'Stripped' 58 (blue crab blue & goldtop)

  4. #4
    Senior Member toothace's Avatar
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    408 all the way!!

  5. #5
    Senior Member yankeebulldog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toothace View Post
    408 all the way!!
    408 is way more versatile and can cover most of the same ground. The in-between S-style tones you can get in the 2 and 4 positions and the maple/ash spanky cleans are about all you're gaining with the SAS NF if that's important. The added versatility of the 408 makes up for what you'd be missing for the clean tones. I don't think either model get's the perfect "woman tone" in the neck position but the 408 is closer than the NF. I also don't didn't find the NF bridge to be near hot enough for good hard rock tones.
    PRS Guitars - PS #4344 SC245, PS #4343 DC245, Ted SC245 Willcutt's WL Limited, Paul's Guitar
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  6. #6
    Senior Member south89's Avatar
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    I myself do not have any experience with the SAS but I do have a Sig Limited and a 408 standard with a rosewood neck. I personally fell the 408pickup system is the most versatile guitar that is out there hence why I own two
    My name is Matt and I'm a guitarholic

    1994 McCarty; 2010 Charcoal Burst Modern Eagle Quatro; 2012 Fire Red Burst Signature Limited;2012 Charcoal Buster Siggy ( PTC Modified ); 2012 Vintage Burst Stripper; 2012 Charcoal 408 Standard w/ Crackwood; 2012 NOS ME1 Tiger Eye

  7. #7
    Dislocated Boy Tosca's Avatar
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    408 will give you more of, and better versions of all the tones you mention. I owned a SAS 25th, sold it for the same lack of a great rock tone from the bridge pickup...only to miss the neck middle (and N/M combo) sounds...so I recently got a Studio to fill that void. Nothing, but nothing beats a set of 408's however in my opinion for overall versatility. NF neck middle may give slightly better "in between" strat tones, or a slightly better jangly Rick/Gretsch impersonation...every other scenario...408 wins. I have three guitars with them now.
    Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel.
    Jimi Hendrix

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Mutchy View Post
    In terms of the tones I'm chasing my priority is 'beautiful' warm clean tones (eg bridge or bridge/middle) ie almost acoustic sounding (I know both guitars do this really well), followed by clean to slightly distorted bluesy woman tones.
    In audio circles, "warm" usually means the same thing as "not bright," i.e., high end rolled off a little. As for acoustic tones, of course there are bright acoustics and dark acoustics, and everything in-between.

    As you've noted, either guitar can do all of these things. The SAS probably comes closer to your description, that is, if your description of what you want is accurate, because it's a warm sounding guitar to start with.

    The 408 pickups can be pretty bright. However - this is the important part - if you roll them back a little on the volume and tone controls, and use the controls the way god and Paul Smith intended, then the 408 pickups are the most versatile. They can do anything. Just be prepared to use the actual controls on the guitar, right?

    My conclusion is that both are very fine choices. Get the one that speaks to you more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutchy View Post
    The other catch is my amp (for the time being) is a Fender Mustang III v2, I'm not experienced enough to know if the guitar would be wasted through a solid state modelling amp (the Mustang) versus a nice tube amp. Correct me if I'm wrong but there's far more dynamic range in a tube amp and one can be a lot more expressive as a result. My old guitar sounded very flat and ordinary through a tube amp so I also question how much of the dynamic range comes from the guitar itself....If the amp is a hugely limiting factor I might be better off with a new SE Custom with tuner replacement and potentially new pick ups down the track....but will always wonder what could have been....
    It's hard to say that a good guitar is ever wasted through any amp, solid state, modeling, or tube. Since that's where the sound begins, it seems to me that a great guitar is a better starting point than a lesser guitar through a more expensive amp. However, the SEs are also great guitars, so there's that.

    As to your old guitar through a tube amp, who knows if it's the guitar, the amp, or the combination? Who knows if the tube amp was set up properly for the guitar? Who knows if the amp was good, bad or indifferent? We have nothing to go on.

    Fact is, the best sound comes from tube amps, and the sound of tube amps is for the most part what modelers model. So you can't go wrong with a great tube amp.

    It's a matter of setting priorities. You can always start with a great guitar, and get a great amp later. Save up for it.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  9. #9
    Plank Spanker justmund's Avatar
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    Welcome Dave! First of all, there's actually a few.of us Australians on here, one guy has a bunch of amazing Private Stocks and there's even a couple of Taswegians! We've got it worse down here, no one stocks US models and I had to tell the local shop that the S2 range were in Australia already (they're now going to get one of each in).

    Well it looks like your questions have been well and truly answered, I do however think the NFs can get a very respectable "woman tone", if you check out the Davy Knowles vid of the NF3 he comments on this at about the 0:58 mark



    Having said that, I'd still recommend the 408, echoing what the guys said above, if you're not chasing those position 2 and 4, Strat quack in between sounds, then the 408 is the way to go. Personally I can't live without those tones, but also really dig the 408s, so that's why I did what I did and put 3 x 408s in a DC3 (amongst other reasons)

    However if you do want those tones, I'd highly recommend a Brent Mason. Those things are tone monsters! In your price range too.

    The other thing is don't forget duties and GST, the correct import charges is 10% GST PLUS 5% duties calculated on the guitar and shipping value added together. Sometimes it's only GST, and sometimes they forget to add 15% to the freight cost, but just prepare yourself for that. Say if a guitar is $2000, shipping is $200, you could be up for $330 GST and duties, plus a customs entrance fee if you use a broker. Food for thought!

    Also, I checked out a Mustang III V2 the other day, I was actually very impressed by it and it will definitely tie you over until you can pony up for a tube amp that you dig. I was equally impressed by how it responds to the volume control on the guitar, it actually cleans up kinda well!

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  10. #10
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    Let me put it this way--- tell me where that 408 is if you pick the SAS Studio....
    Thbbbbbt...
    Check it out: Phillybri used to have a band: Resonance But he's soooo over them now!

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  11. #11
    Junior Member Mutchy's Avatar
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    Everyone, thank you all so much for taking the time to reply, really appreciate the input !

    Re the 'in between' strat tones a few people mentioned - I had a strat once and never used those sounds – but loved them on the SAS (go figure), 2k gets me close to top of the range strat here and they just don't do it for me. Except an EJ - amazing - but couldn't bond with the neck.

    Lshefman - great feedback, thanks - it's very hard to describe tones but basically the prettier the better. Agree re using the controls, and found some lovely sounds on the 408 rolling back the vol with H/S combo's. Regarding the Amp, sorry, should have added some detail. I played the 408 and SAS studio through a Fender Hot Rod - sounded sweet - I played my Maton MS500 through the same amp at the same time and it sounded flat and one dimensional. I'm very impressed with the Mustang for what it is but agree a tube amp is in my future.

    Justmund, thanks for the welcome ! I hadn't seen that video, very cool, thanks. I'm now about to research the Brent Mason, speaking of making my life harder a friend told me about Charles Cilia guitars last night, this is one sweet sounding guitar....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgr0kCW3LTg

    On the customs duties and GST, let's just say I have (legal) means of avoiding those charges (not saying they are not paid, just not by me).

    Looks like 408 is winning so far.

    Thanks again guys, cheers
    Dave

  12. #12
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    I'm a 408 fan for sure.
    Plank Owner

  13. #13
    Senior Member yankeebulldog's Avatar
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    Brent Mason is probably be the best fit of the 3 if you can deal with the pattern neck. For stratty cleans and dirty blues tones, it's got a slight edge over my Korina 408 STD. For heavy rock tones, I prefer the 408.
    PRS Guitars - PS #4344 SC245, PS #4343 DC245, Ted SC245 Willcutt's WL Limited, Paul's Guitar
    PRS Amps - Archon

  14. #14
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    For me, the SAS is THE perfect guitar. It sounds like a warm strat, or an articulate gibby. I used to take both a Strat and an LP to my gigs. All I use now is my SAS w/ Narrowfields. I was originally sold the 408. It's a great guitar, for sure, but lacks the character of the SAS IMHO, and I returned it for the SAS and never looked back. YMMV, of course!

  15. #15
    Junior Member Mutchy's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, My options are now a new Brent Mason, A Santana Yellow 408 MT or the SAS 25th.

    I had a lot of trouble finding a non-country Brent Mason review - it's coloring my opinion of them unfortunately. I think the 408 MT is winning, especially for the price and condition.

    One guitar to rule them all !

  16. #16
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    The Brent Mason model will do a lot more than just country, although it does that well (and with Brent's name on it, it darn well should!). I play all kinds of stuff, classic rock, blues, funk, and jazz, as well as country, and I can cover it all with my Brent Mason. About the only thing it might not work for is modern heavy metal, at least through my rig--but with the right pedal for extreme gain, it would probably do that too; I just don't play much of that stuff. In my opinion, the Brent Mason is the most versatile guitar PRS makes, and it's the one that changed my mindset from "they're nice guitars, just not for me" to "gotta have one!"

  17. #17
    Junior Member Mutchy's Avatar
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    Thanks jfine, that's very helpful, do you think the 408's in the BM differ dramatically from those in the actual 408 guitar ? May sound like a stupid question but I did notice they are wound differently and Paul mentioned in one of the videos a piece was missing (capacitor perhaps ?). With only Youtube to go off this is a profoundly difficult decision !

    Cheers

  18. #18
    Plank Spanker justmund's Avatar
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    I believe they're the same except for the special "Sozo Mustard Cap" http://www.musicradar.com/reviews/gu...ple-top-568145
    Last edited by justmund; 10-17-2013 at 01:12 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member yankeebulldog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfine View Post
    The Brent Mason model will do a lot more than just country, although it does that well (and with Brent's name on it, it darn well should!). I play all kinds of stuff, classic rock, blues, funk, and jazz, as well as country, and I can cover it all with my Brent Mason. About the only thing it might not work for is modern heavy metal, at least through my rig--but with the right pedal for extreme gain, it would probably do that too; I just don't play much of that stuff. In my opinion, the Brent Mason is the most versatile guitar PRS makes, and it's the one that changed my mindset from "they're nice guitars, just not for me" to "gotta have one!"
    I agree with this. I've been using my BM for a 70s Hard Rock ensemble and with a higher gain amp it can do Sabbath, Priest, etc. without issues. Very versatile guitar. The pickups aren't that different if at all from what's in Paul's Guitar. That middle 305 gives you the 2 and 4 strat tones as an added bonus.
    PRS Guitars - PS #4344 SC245, PS #4343 DC245, Ted SC245 Willcutt's WL Limited, Paul's Guitar
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  20. #20
    Junior Member Mutchy's Avatar
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    Hi everyone,

    So I just bought a 2012 Santana Yellow 408 MT for 2k even. This is a guitar that retails for $5500 where I live so am very happy with the deal. In the end it came down to value for money and re-sale value. On the BM, I trust it's a great guitar but I've not played one. I've played a 408 and it was the one I loved the most of the PRS I've actually played - therefor the risk of disappointment was lower. I also went off how many people voted for 408's on this forum and your advice on the SAS, thanks again, it really helped.

    Now I just need to learn how to play and I'll be good.

    Will post pics on NGD

    Thanks again guys !

    Cheers

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