BEFORE I begin...I want to thank Brent Moss and Ryan Carruthers at The Guitar Shop in Mississauga....and also, Shawn in the PTC and Tim McClaeb at PRS. I know I'll forget someone as I type away....so...THANK YOU Gentlemen!!!
I love Alex Lifeson and I was quite happy when that guitar company out of Nashville released a signature model with a piezo trem. I REALLY thought this would be the "Swiss Army knife" of guitars---electric, acoustic, Floyd Rose....
I purchased one in red, kept it all of a few weeks and sold it off. The piezo was horrible. Given the company's reputation....I figured I got caught in the "You have to play 100 of em, before you find one that's good". That's nice and all, but that's hard to do at 4K a pop!!
I put it out of my mind....and about a year later...I tried again. Same guitar, but in a Burst finish. Sadly....same result. I'm not the best player in the world, but this Nashville-built guitar just felt..."slapped together" and it was a chore to play.
A friend of mine is a studio player in LA, and he played it and confirmed my feelings. I guess nothing has changed since 1959, eh? I felt vindicated, but now....I felt taken. The playability sucked...the piezo sucked. It sat in the closet. I didn't want to be reminded of the money I'd lost.
I had been out of the loop in what was going on in guitar-world. I visited the PRS website and saw the new P22 and thought "that's nice". I really wanted the trem. I was so far behind the times, that I didn't even know that the PTC had opened for business! I took a chance and emailed Shawn about retrofitting my CE24's trem. He said it could be done. So...I weighed my options and while I thought on it.....the good Lord answered my prayers. Well.....actually it was St. Paul of Maryland!
The P22 TREM had been released!
In July.....I contacted Brent and visited the shop. After a bit of discussion....I said goodbye to that horrible Nashville-made guitar....and spec'd out my new P22trem. McCarty burst, flame top, ebony fretboard and headstock face on a flame maple neck. DONE! My very own "Private Stock"!
While I waited....It still bothered me....the waste of money on that Nashville guitar. Simultaneously....I began reading up on the incoming P22trem.
I found two things that were seemingly related. All of the demo videos of the P22 sounded incredible! And this Nashville guitar piezo sounded great too...in the online video. So why did BOTH of mine sound like garbage??
Well.....a little more sleuthing and I found an interview online with Lifeson (or his tech)..I can't recall. Turns out....they sampled his original ACOUSTIC GUITAR, and then midi'ed it in, or something to that effect. So basically...the consumer would NEVER be able to achieve anything close to what he achieves onstage. It's all "under the hood" stuff.....stuff that a casual player like myself wouldn't know about...or how to do it...
I wrote to PRS and asked Tim what were they doing in their videos to make their piezos sound so good. He responded that the guitar was straight into a little AER Alpha acoustic amp. That's it. I found one the next week and bought it, to await it the P22trem
By now...I was SOOOOO infuriated at that Nashville company. I swore I would NEVER own a piece of gear produced by....anyway, you get the point.
I just finished playing my new prize!
It's beautiful! I played the opening chords of "Crazy on You", "Pinball Wizard" and lots of Pink Floyd to get an acoustic tone I liked. Took me all of FIVE MINUTES between the PRS and AER. That Nashville guitar? Worked at it for HOURS and achieved NOTHING usable.
During the summer....I had the great fortune of attending TWO seminars with PRSh. One in Detroit, and the other with Ryan at The Guitar Shop in Mississauga.
I had been a fan of PRS sure....but after seeing him in person...his drive...his passion...his humour...and his genuine care for the guitar that bears his name, and care for the people that BUY the guitars that bear his name....
Well...I'm a total convert now. PRSh said the BEST thing WE can do as players and fans...is to spread the word. And I have!!! Any time I talk guitars with friends or wherever, I fly the flag of PRS and talk em up. It's funny...I've pretty much memorized their entire catalog. When someone says "they're too much"...I shoot right back "Perhaps the new S2 line or the SE would be cool for you?" ..."Yeah, but I play nouveau Norwegian death country-bluegrass?".....And I counter "I bet ya the 513 would cover that!"....
My favourite is "they don't sound like anything" And my answer is..."They sound like YOU!" and explain that PRS' are built that whatever effort you put into it, it will find YOUR voice and give it back to you...easily....effortlessly....YOUR fingers, YOUR work...YOU!" I've even let my beloved CE24 out of my house for a few "can I try it?" sessions.....
I really can't say enough about the PRS' I own. More importantly....I can't say enough great things about where they come from! The folks at PRS really DO care...and really DO make a guitar that is second to none. That enthusiasm continues right down down to the moment when some clerk at a music store says "I see you've noticed that 408? Nice, huh? Let me show you what it can do"
As I get older, that kind of integrity means more and more....
Thanks for reading...I'm going back to my new noise-maker!!!