The guitar that will last
PRS brand guitars are well known for being the strongest and most durable guitars coupled with those gorgeous sounds and electrical capabilities. While it’s still great to love the classic Strat, Les Paul, and Tele, these instruments do have blatant inconsistencies in build quality – no matter the model – and so they don’t even compare to PRS guitars which focus so specifically on tuning fidelity and attention to detail.
Take for instance Les Paul guitars, because often when you go into a guitar shop you’ve got to try out at least 9 lower quality designs before you find a decent guitar to take home on your 10th try. Usually, Les Paul guitars (in store at least) have major tuning issues with woods that dent or warp easily in the cold (or when hot during the summer). Though some may not prefer the very metal sound of Paul Reed Smith Guitars, at least musicians are guaranteed that the manufactory will maintain the best quality standards for every guitar they produce.
These guitars are of high quality for a great price, and they also typically come with a dependable tremolo bridge, hardy tuning keys, a great headstock shape, and overall functionality well over those other vintage appointments.
PRS guitars are eye-catching gems
PRS guitars are guaranteed to use premium high-quality materials, and just by looking at the different guitars listed above there is no questioning this. With PRS guitars you will only ever see full-wood designs with rosewood or ebony fingerboards (typical rosewood as this wood is better).
Next, you’ll only ever see tuners which are either lockable or made from thick wood or heavy metal components; PRS guitars do not easily go out of tune. The pickups may not be the best and may have more of a metallic grating sound (common with this brand), but PRS guitars often feature more than one pickup and have obvious designated places to connect these electromagnetic sound transferring devices.
Most importantly, with PRS guitars you’ll get that classic warm shape (rather than the weird modern designs) – you can expect to have tuners on both sides of the neck, an obvious wooden bridge, the typical rounded guitar body which is either full or hollow, and all volume dials within the closest reach of your fingers while playing.
Features of a perfect PRS Guitar
You may have noticed many of the following features listed in the detailed reviews of each PRS guitar above, here we examine each feature and explain how it effects the overall design and playability of your guitar.
The debate over whether a guitars body wood type effects the sound and playability of the instrument is widely argued between musicians. Most experts, however, insist that even though it’s the pickups that take the sound and transmit it to an amp, the vibrations from your strings still have to travel through the bridge and nut into the wood neck and body before the pickups can… well, pick them up.
For choosing the right body, understand that for electric guitars it’s more the weight and density of the wood that matter – the heavier the wood the brighter and more articulate an instrument will sound. For instance, Alder wouldn’t be a very good body wood because it’s so light (although it does create more of a southern tone). Rosewood is very similar to alder, but it’s only used on the fingerboard so that the tone is lighter while the body of the guitar – let’s say mahogany – can create a deeper and darker tone. The PRS S2 Mira is like this, bold but also capable of those delicate notes.
You should be able to see the little birds inscribed into the handle with each of these PRS guitars. This is called their ‘Reach for the Sky’ design, and it signifies the reboot and remodeling of all PRS guitars in collaboration with John Mayer. As well, if you see this guitar design it’s a good bet the guitar features Mayer’s idealized single-coil guitar design.
Other elements to consider are of course the neck wood type and how that affects the guitars overall sound, now there are far too many wood types used in neck design for us to go over each one, but a great example of guitar with good neck-wood is the PRS SE Angelus A20E which uses standard mahogany to emphasis the mid-range notes with a non-abrasive tone.
As you’ll see, most PRS guitars feature a rosewood fretboard design, and typically this wood type defines a sound that’s warmer with a high end (you’ll often see Rosewood paired with a Stratocaster body). One guitar on our list which breaks this trend is the PRS SE Angelus A20E which uses ebony for a bright sound with lots of sustainability.
Now, if you’ve never encountered a fretboard (or guitar) before, this part feature is a very important component in stringed instruments. It’s a long strip of wood typically laminated or bolted to the frame of the guitar and strings run along it; pressing your strings down to the fingerboard (while they’re vibrating) is what allows a musician to change the vibrating length and thereby the pitch.
Tuners and tuning heads (the cogs at the top of the guitar) are very important components for achieving a pure and correct note on your guitar – assuming you use the tuning heads to accurately tune your guitar. The important things to remember about tuners in relation to an electric guitar (and PRS guitars) is that the different woods of a guitar can actually dramatically affect the starting tune of your guitar after you’ve taken it out of the case. Warmer woods like Maple can cause your guitar to quickly go out of tune during the time during the day(s) you aren’t playing before a gig. A guitar like the PRS CE 24 with a maple neck will need a little extra love in the tuning department.
The bridge is the point where there’s a fixing point for the strings, and generally there are two types of bridge systems: fixed bridges and moving bridges. Often moving bridges are called ‘tremolo bridges’ and you’ll most commonly see these with electric guitars like these PRS guitars. Typically tremolo bridges have a bar which you push or pull to increase or decrease the tension on the strings which will control the intensity of volume while you are playing.
Tremolo relates to volume control, whereas vibrato bridge systems relate to pitch control. The PRS SE Kingfisher Bass Guitar is a good guitar to look at because it has a unique bridge system (the Hipshot TransTone bridge system) which mainly controls the tone while you’re playing and allows for a punchier sound.
Pickups relay a signal to a connected guitar amplifier which they pick up from being attached to your instrument (usually next to or under the bridge) and this signal, in turn, is transmitted through the amp as sound. Differences between guitar pickups can be major, for instance, a single coil pickup has a single magnet for each string and create more of a humming sound. Humbuckers with double coils, on the other hand, have different magnetic polarities to cancel out the humming sound and ring out with clearer and louder notes. It’s our opinion that humbuckers are the best pickups for PRS guitars; the PRS SE 245 is a great example of this.
Only purchase guitars with volume and tone controls, you’ll want the extra control over that often-unbridled electrical sound. The best of these controls are ones which are directly on the body of the guitar so that you can flip the toggle switch and adjust settings while you’re playing. Most PRS guitars feature this direct control.
As stated before, the wood type will somewhat affect the sound of your instrument – though of course there is some debate. One thing which will definitely alter the sound of your guitar is the pickup(s)and whether they are a single coil or not. Other concerns – such as the type of music you naturally play – are best approached by looking at each individual guitar we’ve listed; nearly all of them list the best type of music they can play, or the tones and sounds they’re best at making. For an improved sounding you might need to pick an amplifier but worry not, there are many budget-friendly options for under 200 and 300 dollars.
This is largely a feature of preference, one main thing being that full body guitars will sound much deeper and metallic than guitars with hollow designs. The color and wood are also a design factor, and so is the neck length and shape. For more specifics and the history of PRS guitar designs – of which there are many – you can visit their website and look at the different models.