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Thread: Why so many 10 tops?

  1. #1
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    Why so many 10 tops?

    If 10 tops are only the top 10% of tops, why is it that 90% of the PRSi I see in stores are either 10 tpos or Artist tops, with a rare non-10 and solid color sprinkled in on the wall?

    Just wondering. Came to mind when I picked up a McCarty 58 and found out they are ONLY available as Artist grade (although I think there was a standard at some point?)

  2. #2
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    Hmmm... this presupposes that PRS isn't actively selecting for higher grades of trees in the first place....

    EDIT: As garrett points out below, "10 Top" doesn't mean top 10%, it means a "10" in quality (on a presumed scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best).

    From the PRS FAQ:

    "A very small percent of the maple trees cut in North America are actually figured. To make "10-Top" status, a PRS top must have clearly defined figure across its entire top with no "dead" spots. A guitar designated as a 10-Top will usually have a small "10" written on the back of the headstock in the upper right corner. Some of our earlier guitars have the "10" stamped into the finish in the same position. "

    But, PRS is just that good at wood selection. Their buyers have years of experience sourcing wood. The fact that a disproportionately high percentage of PRS guitars end up as 10 tops or better means that the buyers are simply passing up the lesser woods.

    So, as a whole, there are few well-figured trees on the market, but PRS predominately selects only those trees.

    This also means that "Artist Grade", "Signature Grade" and "Private Stock Grade" tops are better than "10" on the scale.
    Last edited by rugerpc; 10-29-2013 at 09:15 AM.
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    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    The 10 is just a grade, similar to how a lot of other companies rate figure by A, AA, AAA, etc. With PRS it tends to go standard figure, 10, Artist, Private Stock.

    There are so many 10 tops out there because that's what most people want and they're willing to pay the premium for it.
    --Garrett--

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    Defender of the Universe HANGAR18's Avatar
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    Now that you mention it, I seem to recall that same question entering my mind at some point too. But upon further reflection, I think the answer is a mixture of the previously stated PRS grading system for quality tops, PRS wood buyers going a really good job cherry picking the better figured wood from what is available on the market as well as a little bit of a marketing gimmick to put a little gold "10" on the back corner of the headstock. As much as they charge for their higher end guitars, I would fully expect the top to look REALLY nice, regardless of whether its graded as a 10 Top or not. I don't think that 90% of the guitars they make have plain, unfigured maple tops.
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    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    Your assumtion that 10 top means in the top 10% is not accurate. A 10 top means that at least 90% of the surface of the top is covered in flame. It means less than 10% dead spots. The result is a very uniform flame. Some find that less attractive then a non-10 top with more character. I like them all.
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    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AP515 View Post
    A 10 top means that at least 90% of the surface of the top is covered in flame. It means less than 10% dead spots.
    It actually means NO dead spots per the PRS FAQ answer I quoted above.
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  7. #7
    Name Manglin' Putz alantig's Avatar
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    I'm hardly a PRS expert, so I'm surprised no one chimed in with this before me.

    Why so many 10 tops? Because there's only one 11top.
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    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alantig View Post
    I'm hardly a PRS expert, so I'm surprised no one chimed in with this before me.

    Why so many 10 tops? Because there's only one 11top.
    He actually has a number of 11 tops...frighteningly good stuff.
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  9. #9
    DEEPER STRIATIONS markie's Avatar
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    Cause PhennRock bought all the "11Tops"........
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    Just a member JustRob's Avatar
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    Best explanation yet!

  11. #11
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markie View Post
    Cause PhennRock bought all the "11Tops"........
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    Cool! I was misinformed as to the meaning of 10 top - by a PRS retailer of course, (actually more than one) who told me that theory of the top10% selection of available tops. Makes a lot more sense in light of the above quoted FAQ.

    Also true that the non-10 tops are still gorgeous, for example:




    Not a ten top, but if there is a dead spot in there, I couldn't find it.

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    What do you mean by "Dead spot"?

  14. #14
    Junior Member WSchaferJR's Avatar
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    10 tops seem to be what people want for the most part. I like the more subtle flame on my 408, but the ten top quilt on my p22 is just insane to look at. Can't really go wrong!

  15. #15
    Bobble Head Moderator JMintzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwgatti View Post
    What do you mean by "Dead spot"?
    A spot with little or no visible figure in the wood...
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AP515 View Post
    Your assumtion that 10 top means in the top 10% is not accurate. A 10 top means that at least 90% of the surface of the top is covered in flame. It means less than 10% dead spots. The result is a very uniform flame. Some find that less attractive then a non-10 top with more character. I like them all.
    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    It actually means NO dead spots per the PRS FAQ answer I quoted above.
    Interesting change. For years the FAQ stated the "no more than 10% dead spots" explanation and I heard PRSH and other PRS employees give the same explanantion in response to questions at the first few Experiences. People did seem to have trouble understanding what that meant and how it was measured, they wanted a hard and fast rule rather than a subjective evaluation. There were many discussions on Birds and Moons about "How is this a 10-top and that one not?" Perhaps the recent change in the explanation reflects both an improvement in available woods and a move to quell controversy.

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  18. #18
    I wonder if it costs PRS anymore money to buy wood with more flame than ones without?

    But personally I don't care, it looks great !


  19. #19
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    I demand my 10 tops have opaque finishes!
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  20. #20
    Member Whitecat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond View Post
    I wonder if it costs PRS anymore money to buy wood with more flame than ones without?
    Yes, it absolutely does!
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