I've just gotten smitten with PRS guitars and have been lurking here for a few weeks and this is my first post. I'm really impressed but also overwhelmed with all the options PRS has developed over the years. I'm a full time pro bassist (upright and electric about equally) and picky about gear, and sound and always notice how much I like (or don't) the sounds of the many fine guitarists I get to perform with. I've played guitar casually on the side for 10 years and use it to teach bass students (we jam!) and to write and understand harmony better.
I've become a little dissatisfied with my current solid body electric, a brand I won't mention but it shares many design similarities with a custom 24; hum buckers with a coil tap, hog body and neck, carved flame maple top, ebony board. Gibson scale length. It's done a respectable job getting me some single coil tones and is pretty clear sounding and ergonomic as well. I won't get into why it's time to move on from it, but I think it was a pretty good in betweener (strat and LP) for me as guy who only wants one guitar for any pop/rock tones I want. (I also have a nice Semi Hollow for jazz that I just got and absolutely love.)
The PRS aesthetics and ergonomics definitely speak to me, so Im trying to find my dream axe within the brand and could use help.
I picked up a PRS Signature Limited that's a few years old and has 408's in it; got it for a great price and love the charcoal burst finish and wood figuring. It's got a very nice and dark RW board as well.
Problem is, I've really been chasing after the fabled "all in one" guitar, and am missing the "quack" strat type sounds of the pos 2 and 4 on a 3 pup guitar. I tried out a Studio after listening to it online and thinking it was going to be perfect. In a local shop (Wildwood guitars) I was more impressed with the 408s then the studio that day and so I went and found this Sig Limited used. (I just recently tried out being a straight ahead strat guy with a very nice James Tyler guitar, but not my style, either).
I also have come to realize that I would prefer a 3 pup guitar and want to go back and try the Studio, and check out the 513 as well, which I did not know about when I bought the Sig Lim. Maybe my ears will hear it different after having gotten comfortable with the 408.
The other thing is that I find the Sig Limited a little to mid rangy or something to my ear, even unplugged, and was starting to suspect I would prefer a maple neck. I by chance stumbled on a used CE 22 (maple Bolt on neck with RW board on hog/Maple top body) at Guitar Center and playing it without even plugging it in I realized that was about right for me as far as wood combos go; it definitely gave me more Fender like clean tones and I like both the extra attack and clarity from the neck, without it being as bright a Strat. I'm aware the bolt on neck might have had a lot to do with it, though, and I've not yet had a chance to play a PRS with a set maple neck on the hog bandy with quilt top. I also got to play a DC3 with Korina body (sounds like hog as far as i know) and maple neck/RW board and again about right for me unplugged. One of the best pop/rock guitarists I worked with both in terms of playing and tone used a Strat with a maple neck, RW board, hog body and maple top with SSH config and it sounded great to my ears, so I wonder if there's something to that combo.
I also chatted with some dealer and one pointed out that as a bassist I might be used to the sound and feel of maple necks with RW boards since thats such as classic combo in bass land, whereas hog necks are rare, perhaps due to less stiffness; which was true, and what i prefer. I actually have two such necks on my main electrics, both with Brazilian RW which is even better for me as it seems to have less stuffiness and more clarity then the usual East Indian Stuff.
Anyways, I've not had any luck finding a sound example on line of a Studio with a maple neck, Brazilian RW board (which Im sure will add some clarity I've found lacking on the East Indian RW/hog neck). Closest I got was a 513 AP:
Not a great demo ( he doesn't seem to realize the tone select switch does nothing in pos 3 with only middle single coil selected(!), also brief and not really a great player IMHO, but I think that's the right direction. Theres a nearly identical demo of hog neck stock 513 and you can easily here its got more midrange and is darker then the maple neck AP version.
Anyway, anyone here actually have experience with the Studio with a Maple neck and BRW board and if so, do you have any clips? What do you think of my theories in terms of tonal goals?
The other question I have is if anyone knows if the AP allows for a HSH configuration instead of the SSH (or actually NF NF H, I guess) . I suspect a tappable 5708 Humbucker in the the neck might be more style for some overdriven rock tones and I could still get a nice single coil tones. I haven't seen this combo much on any PRS guitars except this odd instrument that Wildwood has, which I will also try to play in person.
Nice video here.
BTW, the CE22 I played was kind of beat up and I would prefer a better top, birds, and a a 3 pickup configuration, so those are probably out.
As you can tell, it seems possible that all of this might be possible to find, but probably only on AP order. It would be a lot more cash then my Sig Limited 408 (which I could return still), so I'm trying to decide if these tweaks would be worth it. I know I'm probably taking about subtleties here but i think that makes a huge difference as an artist trying to dial in the sound just right. Also I wouldn't mind being able to pick the finish and hardware color; I don't like the hybrid I got on the Sig Limited and would swap it out if I keep it.
One other question on the Studio is if I were to get the AP if changing the bridge 5708 for something else might be wise since I've heard they can be a little weak compared to the NFs. I also thought it would look good to at least get i uncovered so it matches the NFs; I don't love the look of the metal covers. Im not sure what if anything this would do to the sound, so comments welcome here. Another nice things about getting a HSH setup is I could play around more with pickups aftermarket if necessary.
Finally, could anyone comment on the impact of the bridges on these guitars? I've wondered if the fact that I tried a stop tail 408 against the studio w/ trem could have been a factor. The 408 just sound much clearer then the studio that day, so thats why I went that direction. I got the the wrap stop tail on the Sig limited as well.
Thanks and any comments welcome! I will post back when I get to play some of these in person soon! Looks like i want to try the CE22 again, a Stock studio, a SAS studio, and a 513 before I make any decisions.