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PAUL REED SMITH (PRS) GUITARS

1.     1992 PRS Custom 24 - Goldtop, (front), (back), (headstock), (case). Killer CU24 from the Annapolis models. These old-factory models were actually hand made, easily identifiable with the original small logo and short neck heel. A lot of people incorrectly refer to Annapolis models as "pre-factory", the reason for which I haven't a clue. Regardless, these guitars are widely thought to be superior to guitars built at the new Stephenville factory opened in '96, where PRS eliminated most of the hand-crafting in favor of CNC machines. Features of this guitar includes maple cap over one-piece mahogany body, moon inlays, one-piece Mil-Com tremolo, Phase I locking tuners, and "Regular" (aka Standard) neck profile which is 1/16" more narrow than a wide thin/fat, and the same depth as the wide fat (1 21/32" nut, 27/32" depth). Pickups have been changed to a Lindy Fralin 7.5/8.5 pair (link), plus McCarty switching (push/pull tone with 3-way switch). Many players find the standard 3-way much more intuitive and it also gives you 6-tones instead of 5. Original rotary switch and tone pot are in the case should you ever want to change it back. The Custom 24, especially with the tremolo bridge, has a looser feel than a Custom 22, plus a "longer" neck, i.e. with the bridge and bridge pickup are set further forward in the body which means it has the same 25" scale as the Custom 22, but the neck extends slightly further from the body. It's not as much a Les Paul feel, but a PRS feel. At nearly 30 years old this guitar has seen some use and has some cosmetic flaws (shown here) including a few "milky" finish spots on the headstock and back edge of the body, plus a small piece of clear coat missing from short side of the headstock tip. There are no serious issues such as cracks and there's no finish checking; frets need no attention. Whenever you play one of these older PRS's you can almost sense the meticulous human attention to detail as you're holding a guitar that will likely never be hand-crafted again. Prices on Annapolis-era Customs continue to rise but they're still a good value, especially when they're cheaper than a comparable new one. A better guitar, for less money. Playability is excellent and these Fralins have a more traditional 'Burst tone than Dragons or Vintage Bass/HFS. Nicely priced for an Annapolis model at $1999(SOLD-Colin M 9/28/20).

2.     2003 PRS Custom 22 with 10-top and Birds, (front), (back), (headstock), (case). As I mentioned last week, I'm been on the lookout for PRS's and I'm happy to say that this is the first of four PRS's inbound (Custom 24, Custom Soapbar, and Hollowbody II to follow). If this one looks familiar, it's identical to an '01 Whale Blue Custom 22 I sold 2 weeks ago, other than this one being a stoptail. Like the last one, a lovely guitar with a Whale Blue "10" top and colorful (pic) Pau Shell bird inlays. Features of this great CU22 include wide-thin neck profile, PRS Phase II locking tuners; PRS stoptail bridge; Dragon II Treble and Bass pickups with nickel covers; 5-way rotary selector with a combination of humbucker and single coil tones; and a perfectly bookmatched flamed maple top over mahogany body. PRS are perhaps most noted for their superb playability and this one's no exception with low action from the nut to the top fret. Overall nice condition with no buckle scratches and just a few impressions in the clear coat. Worst flaw are two small impressions in the clear coat (shown here) behind the bridge. Nice sustain and a typically great sounding PRS. I mentioned last week the proliferation of PRS in country music - it's wide variety of single and humbucker tones make it well suited for just about anything - so you country pickers might want to give one a try. Recent list on a Custom with these options was $5689, discounted to $3894, which makes a used one an excellent value at $1799(HOLD-Barney 12/10/20).

3.     2001 PRS Santana SE - Royal Blue, (Front), (Back), (Headstock), (Trem), (Gigbag) Looks black in the pics but it's really Royal Blue. This is the first year, all-mahogany Santana SE which was discontinued model but a really nice guitar. Like all of the SE series, they're some of the best Korean imports made, truly in a class by themselves. I've only had a few dozen SE models but have yet to encounter one that failed to set up perfectly and the overall fit/finish was impeccable. The Santana SE is an all mahogany model with a mahogany slab body, finished in transparent blue, with a mahogany set neck with rosewood fretboard, 22 medium frets, wide-fat neck carve, 25" scale, PRS tremolo, PRS tuners, and white pearloid Santana SE inlays. It shows only light players wear but is overall in nice used condition with no major flaws anywhere. It sold new for $499 around 20 years ago and is an excellent value on a first-year Santana SE at just $339. Includes Levy's EM7S gigbag, very thick and sturdy with several storage compartments.

4.     1989 PRS Studio - Electric Red, (Front), (Front 2), (Back), (Headstock), (Trem), (Pickup Settings), (Case) At over 30 years you don't think of most Gibsons as being "vintage" but in the PRS world, where 1989 was just the 5th year of manufacture - and it was built at the old Annapolis factory - it's definitely vintage. Just like the Metallic Blue Studio I have in stock, this one is very well preserved. It's not a museum piece like the blue one, but very clean overall. If you're not familiar with the Studio, it was only offered from '88 to '91 and the main feature is the HSS pickup configuration with a Hot Vintage Treble in the bridge and a pair of PRS single coils (Click Here for Details). These were offered with either a tone control or, like this one, a Sweet Switch. The early Studios (and Standards) from this era are the closest thing to the original 1985 "PRS Guitar", distinguished by its all-mahogany construction - rather than the maple cap model that followed the PRS Guitar, as well as a 24-fret neck and Sweet Switch. This one also has the factory route for up-pull on the tremolo, a feature many players appreciate. To my ears there is a warmth and singing quality to the mahogany bodies that you can't find on a maple top. Like all PRS during this era it's truly a hand-made guitar, built 6 years before they brought CNC machines into the shop. Other features include Brazilian rosewood fretboard with 24 fret mahogany neck, short heel neck joint, 1-piece Mil-Com bridge, small logo, Standard neck profile, and the early version PRS locking tuners. Overall it's in excellent condition with the only finish issues being finish chips on the tip of the headstock, a tiny chip on the bottom edge, and a few minor impressions, not through the finish. Other than that, there's some pitting on the trem bass and a little nickel wear on a few saddles. If you look closely you'll see some normal "finish suck" which is normal on these thin Nitro finishes as they age, but you' won't find an old PRS without this. Players and collectors alike are seeking out old-factory models and these pre-CNC models have risen steadily over the past 15 years. $2399(SOLD-Melissa H 10/20) is a very nice price for an '89 which makes it a very affordable investment piece that's still within the range of working guitarists looking for a stage guitar that's universally accepted to be better than any new one. Includes case and trem arm.

5.     2005 PRS CE 22 Maple - Black Cherry, (Front), (Back), (Headstock), (Pickups), (Case) Lovely CE-22 upgraded with a fine set of Suhr pickups with an SSV neck and SSH+ bridge, complete with 3-way switch and push/pull tone pot for 6 killer tones. If you prefer other PRS pickups I can tell you what I've got but trust me, these Suhr's sound great. My favorite PRS of all time happened to be a CE finished in orange that I foolishly sold around 20 years ago. They're great guitars. Features include carved mahogany body with carved maple top, gloss finish, PRS tremolo, PRS locking tuners, quarter-sawn maple neck with wide-fat carve, moon inlays, and 5-way rotary for a good selection of single coil and humbucker tones. Many players prefer the feel and tone of PRS's bolt-on's and, in fact, the list price on the CE22 Maple was just $50 under the set-neck PRS Standard. Offered in excellent condition in all regards including a perfect low set up. This model sold at discount for $2139 when last produced a few years ago. It's an excellent buy today at just $1150. Includes original PRS case (not as clean as the guitar) and trem arm.

6.     2016 PRS CE-24 Standard Satin, (Front), (Back), (Headstock), (Gigbag) The CE-24 Standard Satin combines a 1-piece mahogany body and bolt-on maple neck, both finished in satin nitrocellulose. By PRS standards, it's the ultimate in simplicity. Players love the warmth of a mahogany body and when you combine it with the snap and response that comes from a bolt-on maple neck you've got a formula for great tone. As many players agree, a thin satin finish allows a guitar to "breathe", allowing for increased sustain and articulation. This model is factory outfitted with PRS 85/15 pickups, which were designed for remarkable clarity and an extended high and low end. With an electronics suite of volume and push/pull tone control, combined with a 3-way toggle switch, you get a total of 6 choice tones. Other features include PRS Pattern Thin neck profile, rosewood fretboard with bird inlays, PRS Low Mass locking tuners, PRS tremolo bridge and nickel hardware. PRS's site says this model was only available for order between September 29 and October 31, 2016 only, which would make this a fairly rare model. Some people think PRS created the bolt-on CE to hit a lower price point but the fact is, the original CE's were only around $100 cheaper than the set-neck Standard. My personal favorite PRS of all time was an orange CE24 that I owned around 20 years ago. I found it to be the perfect blend of Fender expressiveness and Gibson fatness. This one is offered in brand new unplayed condition. An incredible value on a virtually new PRS at $1150.

7.     2017 PRS SE Custom 24 - Scarlet Red FMT, (Front), (Headstock), (Back), (Gigbag) Immaculate condition and the best "bang for the buck" PRS made. This is one of the newer models with "bent" top that brings it even closer to the Core model CU24 in appearance and comfort. As I've mentioned before, PRS and perhaps Brian Moore, make the best quality Korean imports on the market in my opinion. Unlike 95% of the other companies, they don't use Cort or Samick factories, and their quality control is top notch with impeccable fit and finish, excellent pickups and electronics, and quality hardware. Most of all, I'm impressed with the fact that they have great necks that set up better than your average USA Fender or Gibson. The Custom 24 is relatively new to the SE line. For under $800/new these guitars are exceptional in terms of looks, tone, and feel. The 24-fret wide-thin neck is a joy to play with low action, easy and smooth string bends, with quality tone and very good sustain. Unlike most imports which use only a maple veneer, PRS chose to use an actual maple slab mounted to the mahogany body, and then put a veneer of flamed maple on top of the maple cap. It is the marriage between mahogany and maple that gives guitars like Les Pauls, and this PRS, their wonderful throaty tone. This classic blend produces yields warmth and resonance with excellent bottom end - and plenty of high end snap. A guitar with only a maple veneer will not have this tone. Other nice touches like the bird fretboard inlays, headstock shape, PRS tremolo, and natural maple binding make this look like it's USA brother but at around 1/4 the cost. These run $759 new. This one is in unplayed condition and offers an exceptional value at $529. Includes PRS gigbag, store COA, polishing cloth and trem arm.

8.     1992 PRS Custom 24 - Scarlet Red, (Front), (Back), (Headstock), (Case) I'm always on the lookout for the old Annapolis-built PRS's. These old-factory models, easily identifiable with the original small logo and short neck heel, were actually hand made, before the move to the new factory and use of CNC machines. This one's finished in Scarlett Red with a pleasing flamed maple top, certainly not a "10" top but nice enough. A lot of people incorrectly refer to Annapolis models as "pre-factory", the reason for which I haven't a clue. Regardless, these guitars are widely thought to be superior to guitars built at the new Stephenville factory which opened in '96. Around the time of the move PRS eliminated most of the hand-crafting in favor of CNC machines. Features of this guitar includes maple cap over one-piece mahogany body, moon inlays, one-piece Mil-Com tremolo, Phase I locking tuners, and "Regular" (aka Standard) neck profile which is 1/16" more narrow than a wide thin/fat, and the same depth as the wide fat (1 21/32" nut, 27/32" depth).Pickups are the stock HFS and Vintage Bass with the standard 5-way rotary selector, volume and tone. The Custom 24, especially with the tremolo bridge, has a looser feel than a Custom 22, plus a "longer" neck, i.e. with the bridge and bridge pickup are set further forward in the body which means it has the same 25" scale as the Custom 22, but the neck extends slightly further from the body. Itís not as much a Les Paul feel, but a PRS feel. Now at nearly 30 years old this guitar is officially vintage and it's noteworthy that this is the 13,372nd guitar PRS had built in the 7 years they had been in business. By contrast, the current ANNUAL production now is higher than that. Cosmetically it has some buckle scratches and minor impressions in the clear coat, but no major issues and frets are in nice shape. There are no serious issues such as cracks and there's no finish checking. Whenever you play one of these older PRS's you can almost sense the meticulous human attention to detail as you're holding a guitar that will likely never be hand-crafted again. Prices on Annapolis-era Customs continue to rise but they're still a good value, especially when they're cheaper than a comparable new one. It plays like all old PRS's with low action and no dead spots. Nicely priced for an Annapolis model at $2100. Includes clean original case and trem arm.

9.     1995 PRS Custom 22 - Royal Blue w/Birds and Gold, (Front), (Back), (Headstock), (Back 2), (Signature), (Case) Beautiful older PRS in the lovely Royal Blue flamed top with gold hardware and original style bird inlays. This one is extra cool in that Paul signed the control cover and simply said "Best Wishes", which is much better than something like, "Rock on Dave" (unless you're name is Dave...). Note: flaws you see in pics of the top are merely reflections. If you think this looks like a nice 10 top, I agree. I've seen lesser tops make the grade, but PRS was pretty strict back 25 years ago and not many made the grade. The flame is consistent and covers the entire top, but I think the flame was just too tight. Regardless, it's a stunner and in beautiful shape as well. Features include wide-thin neck, Dragon pickups, PRS stop tailpiece, volume-tone-rotary 5-way switch and Phase I locking tuners. This one also has the optional gold hardware and bird inlays ($840 list price) which look great on Royal Blue. '95 was a transition year for PRS and this guitar features the earlier mother of pearl Bird inlays, which PRS fans find more desirable than the later abalam Birds. This guitar has a typical superb PRS set up with very low action and no dead spots on the 22-fret neck, with excellent sustain and a great selection on single-coil and humbucker tones via the 5-way selector. PRS had a very small catalog in the mid-90's, with only around 8 models, and these were some of the finest guitars that left the factory. Beautifully cared for and barely played in its 25 years, this one is one is in superb condition. For a generically signed Custom with killer looks, fantastic playability, sweet tone, this one's hard to beat at $1850.

10.  2012 PRS SE Nick Catanese Model, (Front 1), (Front 2), (Back), (Headstock), (Pickups/Bridge), (Gigbag) Nick Catanese of Black Label Society was known as the "Evil Twin" by virtue of his ability to keep up with band leader Zakk Wylde. In order to accomplish this, PRS and Nick renovated his signature SE, retaining a straight-forward, sleek look, but with the chameleon tone of a set of EMG81/85 humbuckers. The Catanese model features an extra thick mahogany body, with a figured maple veneer, Scarlet Red finish, black binding, 22-fret Wide/Fat maple neck, ebony fingerboard with no inlays (side dots only), Tone Pros adjustable stoptail bridge, 25" scale length, PRS tuners, master volume and tone controls with a 3-way selector on the upper bout. Pickups are active EMG 81/85 combination with brushed chrome covers. This new model doesn't have the dark look of his earlier signature model with the black finish and silver Evil Twin logo but it has all the sustain and superb playability you would want in a LP type guitar Nick's previous contract with Washburn ended in '09 and having played both guitars, I think this one is a hands-down winner by comparison. A new Catanese sold for $843 but this one is perfect condition, set up to perfection, and just $599. Includes red PRS gigbag that's one of the best made, unsigned warranty, cable, etc.

PRS NECK CARVE

Neck

Width at Nut

Depth at Nut

Regular

1 21/32"

27/32"

Wide Fat

1 11/16"

27/32"

Wide Thin

1 11/16"

25/32"

Santana

1 21/32"

N/A

Custom

22/12"

1 47/64"

Neck Carve Notes:

  Wide Fat neck only available on 22 fret models

  Wide Thin neck has a thinner profile front to back than Wide Fat, 22 and 24 fret models

  Regular neck is 1/32 narrower and not quite as thick front to back as Wide Fat neck. Only available on the Custom and Standard 24.

PRS Radius: 10" on all guitars and basses except 11 1/2"" on the Santana II and Custom 22/12

5-Way Rotary Settings:

Position

Description

10

Humbucking treble (bridge) pickup alone

9

Outside coils of both pickups in parallel for what PRS calls a "deep and clear"" sound

8

Series single coils - PRS describes this as a "warm version of the classic in-between the bridge and middle pickups"

7

Parallel single coils - Here PRS describes the sound as a "crisp version of the in-between the treble and middle pickups"

6

Humbucking bass (neck) pickup alone