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Thread: Bernie Versus S2 Mira ~ Worth The Upgrade?

  1. #1
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    Bernie Versus S2 Mira ~ Worth The Upgrade?

    After playing mostly US Fenders and Gibson for years, I stumbled upon my new 2014 Bernie several weeks ago... and it was absolutely love at first sight/play. Now that I have such a favorable impression of PRS guitars, I'm wondering if it's worth my while to upgrade to a Mira. I haven't had the opportunity to play one, but I love the concept on paper (a "true" US built PRS that's in my price range).

    I curious to hear from owners that have taken the "natural" progression from SE to S2, or those that own & play both. I'm still very happy with my Bernie, and I've only invested about $60 in upgrades (TonePros Klusons, Raw Nickel Pup Covers, Tusq Nut). That brings my total investment to just over $500 (I got the Bernie brand new out-of-the box on clearance at GC for $450). I'm wondering if the price jump to over $1000 (double) is going to bring double the guitar from a quality, sound, and playability standpoint. It's hard to imagine, because my Bernie is truly so nice. I put it up against my buddy's Gibby LP with 57 Classics (the pups that I've been considering upgrading to), and I was surprised that the stock Bernie pups quite well held their own. In some respects (via amp/tone settings), the Bernie sounded better.

    Anyway... this is all a result of my GAS for a S2 Mira with Birds in Seafoam Green. Or maybe Sienna. Or McCarty Burst.

  2. #2
    I played a Bernie and it wasn't my cup of tea, granted it was a shitty GC setup with tetanus strings. I love the S2 Mira, it's a great addition too the series.

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    If you're happy with the Bernie then I'd stick with it. For me the S2 Mira is the right guitar for the sounds I'm into, more so than my LP and my Ibbycastor which aren't getting played much lately. Playability is top notch as is the quality. Sound is more subjective.

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    Don't forget, the S2s are hardly "true American".
    The maple might be from America (Canada?) and that's about IT! The mahogany, rosewood, hardware, electronics...NONE of it is true or any other kind of American. The paint MAYBE.

    I own USA PRSs and 2 SEs. I'm not sure that I'd say the USA PRSs are even TWICE the guitar the SEs are.
    Well maybe...suppose it depends how you look at it but the SEs are really THAT good!
    SO...of course I am not for a minute saying the Korean hardware is anything but great...it just isn't American.
    DO NOT buy an S2 if you are looking for TRUE American...or MOSTLY American...FAUX American sure but...

    I'd say play the SE for a while and either save up for a new USA PRS...or...just snag a REAL TRUE American PRS in the used market. You'll have NO trouble finding a TRUE American (used) PRS for a grand. Maybe even a REAL and TRUE American Mira?

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    Nothing against USA wood but aren't most of the woods people make a fuss over non-US anyway: Brazilian, Honduran, East Indian ...

    Surely the point of the S2 series is that you get the craftsmanship, experience and quality control of the US factory but for a reduced price since the woods and hardware are 'cheaper'; range options reduced (eg: one neck size only) and construction processes tweaked to reduce build time.
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    Senior Member sleary's Avatar
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    Actually the electronics , tuners and bridge are Korean . Still specked by Paul.....still are quite good ..
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    Senior Member Bill SAS 513's Avatar
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    ^^^^^^^ What sleary said...remember, the "import" parts are one of the ways they are kept more affordable, but can be replaced/upgraded at any time if the owner thinks it's necessary....I think it's pretty cool they're hitting all the price points so well. (And I know quite a few folks with SEs that love them as they were purchased...stock.)
    BTW...I sell 'em and the SEs really play well and sound pretty damn nice. I'll do an occasional tweak but they come in pretty nice.
    Last edited by Bill SAS 513; 05-26-2014 at 06:44 AM.

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    Senior Member Whitecat's Avatar
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    The prices of clean used Core Miras would make me compare them very carefully against an S2 before I pulled the trigger...
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    Yeh - didn't mean to imply the parts were US made - only that the assembly expertise and QC is equivalent. Obviously there are costs being cut somewhere!

    Used USA Core Mira is a great call : especially if you can find one of those Limited Korina models or maybe the rare (at least over in UK) maple top version.
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    Junior Member Chuckblues's Avatar
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    I have both a Bernie loaded with Bare Knuckle Mules and an S2 Mira . I love both of these guitars ! The are both amazing quality and sound ! I will admit that I do prefer the Bernie . but I'm a Les Paul type of guy ! I like the versatility of the Mira for recording and have used it for both solo's and rhythm tracks ! The Bernie was a lot less expensive even with the cost of the Bare Knuckles !
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by blaren View Post
    Don't forget, the S2s are hardly "true American".
    The maple might be from America (Canada?) and that's about IT! The mahogany, rosewood, hardware, electronics...NONE of it is true or any other kind of American. The paint MAYBE.

    I own USA PRSs and 2 SEs. I'm not sure that I'd say the USA PRSs are even TWICE the guitar the SEs are.
    Well maybe...suppose it depends how you look at it but the SEs are really THAT good!
    SO...of course I am not for a minute saying the Korean hardware is anything but great...it just isn't American.
    DO NOT buy an S2 if you are looking for TRUE American...or MOSTLY American...FAUX American sure but...

    I'd say play the SE for a while and either save up for a new USA PRS...or...just snag a REAL TRUE American PRS in the used market. You'll have NO trouble finding a TRUE American (used) PRS for a grand. Maybe even a REAL and TRUE American Mira?
    Please don't listen to this dude. The S2s are great guitars and worthy of your consideration. Just as someone else said, the non-core parts can be upgraded. The trem on a S2 CU24 is a direct swap with a core line trem or Mann Made trem. Sure, they aren't as pretty as a core line instrument but, damn, the S2s play great.

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    Agree Drew. There still seem to be folks out there who don't understand the S2 line. The SE line has some perfectly fine guitars but they are not up the S2 line in my opinion. The difference is where they're made and what they're made from.

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    I dont care for the S2 Mira. I would stick with the Bernie. I honestly just believe its a better guitar.
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  14. #14
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    I see that you have opinions from both sides of the S2 camp. And this is to be expected and how it should be.

    I think I'll approach it a bit differently.

    If one of your yardsticks is that the S2 must be twice as nice (playable, materials, fig and finish) you'll probably be disappointed. It just doesn't work that way. When a player pays $10K for a private stock, he isn't (shouldn't be) expecting that it will have five times the fit and finish of a core model or ten times the playability of an S2 or even 20 times the tone of an SE.

    Upgrades in the properties of guitars are incremental, but certainly not linear. Price IS a consideration, it just isn't linear.

    I think it still boils down to you getting one in your hands for a personal evaluation. Then the question is quite easy. Do YOU like it more than money?
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    I don't want to influence you in any way but...

    KEEP THE BERNIE!!!

    I wouldn't mind a Mira myself (And a number of other PRS's) but I'd rather sell my left bollock than sell / trade my Bernie. That guitar is just too good and I honestly think you'd miss it even if you liked the Mira.

    Save and get the Mira as well. May or may not take forever...

    I'm still a few years away from the big 'four oh' but I accept I'll hit that before I get a US PRS. I could sell my Bernie before to help fund it but I'd still miss it even if I got my hands on the new McCarty protos or even the US Bernie Marsden which may or may not still be in the works.

    "Love at first play/sight". That's how it was for me. You can't get rid of those kind of guitars! Play it with good health and it'll keep you happy while you put the cash away for the next one!

    And... If you read you OP back you'll see you've already answered your question!
    Last edited by Mikegarveyblues; 05-26-2014 at 12:22 PM.
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  16. #16
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    Do YOU like it more than money?
    Very good point. In my search over the last few years I couldn't find something that I liked for the money I was willing to pay. And I wasn't looking to pay $500 for $4000 worth of guitar, I was looking for a fair valued US built new guitar.

    Also I find trying to compare Core to S2 to SE pretty useless as they are all different. I'm not into flame, or quilted tops or exotic woods, or birds or fancy colors, I just want a good quality player that sounds really good, so I'm not really a Core kind of guy. Along with some old Made in the US models, I also already own several excellent MIJ guitars that I've had for decades and gigged with on both sides of the US and both sides of the Atlantic, so while SEs are nice guitars I'm not looking for another Asian model. When the S2 Mira was dropped in my lap I was pleasantly surprised that it was what I was looking for and close to the guitar I would have designed myself. So the PRS gang won a new customer.

  17. #17
    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    For me it's not about whether the S2 Mira is better quality or worth more, it's about sound. The Bernie and the Mira are not going to sound alike. They were made for different musical styles and tones. You want LP, keep the Bernie. You want SG/Junior, get the Mira. The necks are different, the pups are different, the bodies are different thicknesses. They are just going to be very different guitars. One could say get both and have a more complete tonal pallet. If you have the money, go for it, but don't expect the Mira to be a Bernie. Won't happen.
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    Thanks for all the comments. For what it's worth, I think I'll be most happy with a few more US PRS upgrades on the Bernie. It is a fantastic guitar. When I first stumbled upon the Bernie, I was looking for a guitar in the $1,200 price range. When I played it, I was like, "I don't care what the headstock or price tag says, this is a damn nice guitar!"

    Like I said, I can see an PRS American Stoptail, Phase 3 Tuners, New Pups and a full rewire for the Bernie in the future. I can do that for another $500 and have the guitar that I really want. Until now, I didn't realize that the S2 line was a essentially a bunch of PRS spec'ed Korean parts, assembled in Maryland. I already have a good Korean PRS... why trade up for another? Especially when I'd want the same upgrades on the Mira.

  19. #19
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    I have both, and while I love the Bernie, I do think that the S2 is a nice upgrade. The Mira has the updated Phase 2 locking tuners, USA model stop tail bridge with brass studs (it is definitely nicer), USA nut (WAY nicer), USA jack and knobs. And don't forget the split coil pups. These are all things that I wanted the Bernie to have, and would have cost quite a bit to upgrade for me as I would have someone do the work for me. The Mira is very musical unplugged, much more so than the B. I also think I like the neck shape better as well, although that is personal preference. If you go the upgrade route, you will be very happy, but I hope you get a chance to play an s2, I think they are way more than a Korean model made in the US.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GS1 View Post
    I have both, and while I love the Bernie, I do think that the S2 is a nice upgrade. The Mira has the updated Phase 2 locking tuners, USA model stop tail bridge with brass studs (it is definitely nicer), USA nut (WAY nicer), USA jack and knobs. And don't forget the split coil pups. These are all things that I wanted the Bernie to have, and would have cost quite a bit to upgrade for me as I would have someone do the work for me. The Mira is very musical unplugged, much more so than the B. I also think I like the neck shape better as well, although that is personal preference. If you go the upgrade route, you will be very happy, but I hope you get a chance to play an s2, I think they are way more than a Korean model made in the US.
    Here's the thing: Are you sure that the Mira is using USA parts. I was under the assumption that probably ALL of the hardware & electronics were Korean made. The knobs, output jack and nut are by far the least expensive US upgrades. It's the bridge & tuners that I'm more concerned about. If it was made with ALL US parts, I'd be more inclined to buy one. But like I said, I can have the Bernie with ALL US upgrades for around $1000. And let's face it, other than the sig on the headstock, the Bernie looks a lot sweeter than a Mira with a pickguard.

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