To many new guitarists, PRS is the guitar brand that John Mayer puts his name on. Although, PRS has been disrupting the guitar industry for many years, creating high quality and sought after guitars. So is PRS a good guitar brand?
PRS is a good guitar brand that manufacturers high quality production guitars with a custom shop feel. Each guitar goes through a rigorous quality inspection before being sent out, ensuring every PRS guitar is the best on the market.
Continue reading to learn more about what makes PRS a good guitar brand and the best guitars in their lineup.
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Is PRS a Good Guitar Brand?
PRS manufactures the highest quality production guitars on the market. The PRS production floor is simply a custom shop, except their guitars are not “custom shop prices”. Giving customers the ability to own a top of the line guitar that is guaranteed to perform to the highest ability.
The quality of a guitar is notably one of the most important pieces when evaluating whether a guitar brand is good. At PRS, the craftmanship is second to none.
In an interview with John Mayer and Paul Reed Smith, John asks Paul what he believes guitar manufacturers need to ‘cool it with’. Paul’s response shows his companies attention to quality:
“Cool it with the bad guitars. I hurt over this one. The frets being in the wrong place, the nuts being in the wrong place, guitar won’t stay in tune, buy a guitar it doesn’t do its job. I hate bad guitars. The people that made them didn’t care.”Paul Reed Smith when asked about other guitar manufacturers, Call with John Mayer
PRS Quality Control Procedure
At PRS, they have a rigorous quality control inspection before putting a guitar in its case to be shipped out. This inspection starts with ensuring serial numbers match on tag and guitar. Second is checking the electronics in the back to ensure it is neat and clean and everything is hooked up correctly. Third, they lay the guitar down and ensure there is proper approval angle on the frets, running their fingers on the front end to make sure none are too sharp. Fourth step, they pull each string out of the nut slot. They do this because when strings get stuck in the nut, it does not come back in tune properly when you trem up or down. Fifth step is ensuring the trem bar fits snug and checking the fit and function of the knobs and switch.
The guitar is then tuned up to pitch and all the pickup positions are ran through. Next step is checking the relief on the neck and measuring the fret and pickup heights. After is checking the intonation on all six strings. Finally, a play test is performed.
As you can see from the extensive write-up, every single guitar that PRS produces goes through a rigorous inspection process to ensure it is up to their standards. All of this results in a quality and consistent guitar that we will dive into now.
Consistent Guitars Every time
With the majority of guitar brands, consistency with production models is hard to come across. Even with big names like Fender and Gibson. Not every Fender American Professional Stratocaster sounds the same as the one you have. For better or for worse. There can be duds in the lineup that are poorly setup.
This is not the case with PRS. Every PRS that you pull from a store will sound as good as its best version. PRS is the most consistent guitar manufacturer. When you go to any guitar store, and you take a PRS off the wall, they are always set up well, play well, and feel great.
“I could land in any city that has a Guitar Center, walk in, and take it (PRS Silver Sky) to wherever I need to be and it’s like the guitar that came out of my living room.”John Mayer, Guitar Center Interview
Paul describes this as “a window”. A window can be described as followed: On one end you have the worst guitar ever made and on the other end is the best guitar ever made. A window is where the guitar is, in-between those two ends. At PRS, their window is very narrow while at other companies their window is much wider. Meaning the tolerance for bad guitars is extremely low, basically non-existent for PRS. Their goal is to continuously move that narrow window up, moving farther and farther away from the low-end of the window. Because of this method, the consistency has always been very good for PRS.
Are PRS Guitars Worth it?
PRS is the best value in a guitar for the money. With multiple price points ranging from $400 to higher than $5000, every guitar produced by PRS is ensured to be a quality guitar. Thus, PRS guitars are worth it as even a $850 SE model is guaranteed to beat any guitar on the market within a similar price point.
PRS customers always mention how they have never picked up or tried a bad model. Buying a PRS guitar, especially the Silver Sky, is a guaranteed way to own a top of the line guitar without the chances of getting a ‘dud’. If you have the funds, PRS guitars are worth every penny.
Let’s discuss the SE models. At a lower price point ranging from $400 to $850, PRS offers a line of guitars to suit those who do not want to spend thousands of dollars. And let me say this, at this price point, no guitar on the market is better. I should also note that I am and have been a Fender guy my whole life, except PRS has been blowing me out of the water as of late.
No other guitar on the market beats the PRS SE guitars that are in a similar price range. The quality control on the PRS SE models is the same as the standard which cannot be said for other guitar manufacturers. An example is Fender’s Dua-Sonics and Mustangs, both within the same price range. These Fender guitars had multiple quality control issues and many duds manufactured and sold.
What is The Best PRS Electric Guitar?
The golden question, what is the best. There are many factors that go into deciding what the best guitar is for a brand. Although, the most important one in my book is feel. For that reason, this question can be extremely bias. For the purposes of this research, I am basing the best guitar off of many many reviews, innovation, and the impact the guitar had.
PRS Silver Sky – Best PRS Electric Guitar
The PRS Silver Sky is the best PRS electric guitar in their lineup. The Silver Sky is the chameleon of guitars. It becomes a guitar that fits perfectly for any affair whether it be blues, Jazz, R&B, etc.
A common review is the playability of the neck. The neck is slightly thicker than production American Stratocasters yet is extremely fast. Slighting up and down is notably effortless making solos that much more fun. The custom pickups are the real game changer. John Mayer wanted the guitar to have a vintage sound without having to wait 40 years for the pickups to mellow out. Instead, they instantly made the pickups sound like ’59 Stratocaster vintage pickups. A warm, less bright sound. They are called the 635JM pickups and are specifically designed to sound warmed in.
The PRS Silver Sky offers a versatile sound and blues guitarists dream. If the standard model is too expensive, PRS recently released the SE model for $850. If you are a Fender head like myself and want that coveted mid 60’s Strat sound. The PRS Silver Sky is going to deliver.
What is The Best PRS Acoustic Guitar?
Many novice guitarists don’t realize that PRS makes acoustic guitars as well. Maybe because their electrics get all the buzz with names like John Mayer and Santana sporting them. Although, PRS makes some of the best budget friendly acoustic guitars. Their sound rivals that of a Martin and the quality is just as good. Let’s dive into what the best PRS acoustic guitar is.
PRS SE Angelus A60E – Best PRS Acoustic Guitar
The PRS SE Angelus A60E is the best acoustic guitar in the PRS lineup. This electric acoustic is extremely well-balanced and warm sounding guitar. The guitar has a solid spruce top with a gorgeous back and sides made up of ziricote. The bridge and fingerboard are ebony and the scale length is 25.35″. What I really noticed was that it simply always stayed in tune. Straight out of the box, it obviously required a slight tuning, but I have not tuned it since and it has been a month.
The bass is substantial but not overpowering. Although subjective, the tone is impeccable and stable. Fret buzzing is rare, which is also rare for acoustics. Straight out of the box, the guitar is perfectly set up with an action height that is lower than most electric acoustics leading to great feel and playability. It is simply a comfortable, great sounding, electric acoustic guitar.
Brief History of PRS
After a decade as a custom guitar builder, even building guitars for Santana and Ted Nugent, Paul Reed Smith moved into a factory in Annapolis, Maryland. He did this after generating many orders from a recent sales trip and success at the winter NAAM show. Paul started PRS guitars in 1985 with eighteen employees shortly after.
The turning point for PRS was shortly after raising half a million dollars. Then Paul ordered all the parts, machines, etc. That $500k then slowly started to diminish to 400. Then they started shipping guitars with $300k left. Distributors started paying their bills around $250k left followed by more expenses. When the account got to $185k is when the turning point happened. At $185k, the account stopped losing money for the first time and slowly went up indefinitely. People started re-ordering PRS guitars basically saving the company and not allowing PRS to fall below the 185 mark.
The first guitar was the PRS Custom, introduced in 1985. It had a mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard, 25″ scale, cherry stained mahogany body, and a vintage yellow maple top. There was a PRS patented tremolo system and a 5 position rotary switch that mixes humbucker and single-coil sounds. What did this unique guitar cost? A mere $1,490. Why do I say ‘mere’ you ask. Well it is because this guitar is now valued at over $7,000.
The company continued to grow and in 1996 PRS moved to a larger factory in Stevensville, Maryland. This would become the companies headquarters and is still currently the headquarters for PRS. In 2000, the SE series was introduced. These were less expensive guitars that still held the PRS name and style. They were cheaper because they were manufactured in Korea with cheaper labor and cheaper materials.
Today, PRS sends out over 1,000 guitars every month and is continuously revolutionizing the guitar industry. Most recently, the release of the PRS Silver Sky SE. A highly anticipated and sought after guitar.
PRS vs. Fender vs. Gibson Historically
When PRS first started, they were going head to head with the two head honchos of the guitar world. Fender and Gibson. As well as the entire guitar business, but truly those two brands. Needless to say, PRS did not back down. PRS would advertise full page as if they were the same size as everybody else.
After 10 years of creating high quality guitars, the PRS name was still being left out of the “big 3” conversations. It was always some form of Fender, Gibson, (enter interchangeable brand here). After 20 years, Paul started noticing PRS in those big 3 conversations. A coveted moment for the brand and when it starts to shift.
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