Early PRS DGT Review

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by tonybologna000, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. tonybologna000

    tonybologna000 Member

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    Okay, I've been playing this guitar since I got it on Wednesday (a couple days after I made this post on BAM), and I just finished an amp-fully-cranked band practice with it. I'd like to go ahead and post my first impressions before they begin to fade in my mind -- just remember I've only had this guitar for two days. I generally like to read forums like this to get details on gear I might be interested in, so in that spirit I intend to cover the DGT very comprehensively as a service to those not fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play one themselves (like I was before two days ago). If you'd rather not read the wall of text that's sure to follow, you can go ahead and skip to the last paragraph where I'll give my general impressions. The particular guitar I'm reviewing is a brand-new, unaltered 2011 model weighing in at 7.8 lbs in sunset burst (V12) finish. I've played it exclusively through a Bogner Shiva with reverb head into a 2x12 cab with Celestion Vintage 30s.

    Firstly, I'm a Les Paul guy, but I've always loved Strat tones too, particularly John Mayer :)aok), and SRV, but it's just not what I primarily go for. I do own a Strat, I just don't ever play it in a band setting because I feel like a "tool" switching guitars around all the time when everybody else just wants to play, especially during gigs. I became interested in the DGT because I thought it could give me a little of both in one flexible package, and I'm very happy to say that it totally delivers! The guitar could very much stand on its own without the coil-tap feature, or being permanently coil-tapped, which is just excellent because you don't feel like you're really making any compromises by owning/playing the guitar.

    I would characterize the tone of the guitar while not coil-tapped as 95% straight Les Paul mixed with 5% Telecaster. I've heard others describe the DGT as having a lot of clarity and I believe it's that little touch of Tele-like snappiness (aside from the great pickups -- we'll get there in a minute) that gives it that distinguishing quality. Personally I think this is why people might be disappointed in the guitar if looking for a 1:1 replacement for a Les Paul. I don't consider myself a full-on LP purist, so it doesn't bother me. I happen to think that it adds to the character of the guitar and distinguishes it as having it's own voice -- and that voice is very balanced to my ears. Man, it's got a LOT of sustain too. The pickups while in humbucker mode are fat but articulate. The bridge pickup comes off to me as fairly bright, but not harsh, and has a muscular quality that I think most look for in a LP bridge pickup. The middle position feels the most balanced and can be easily tweaked by adjusting the two volume knobs to blend each pickups' tone to taste -- something most Les Paul users will be very familiar with. The treble bleed caps really allow the guitar to shine at any volume by not allowing your tone to turn into complete mud when the volume is lowered below 5-6 like many LPs I've played. In most cases while in the middle position, I've been turning my neck pickup down to around 7 to allow the brightness of the bridge pickup to shine through a little more. This brings me to the neck pickup: It's dark. It's certainly not too dark to be useful, but I don't feel like it's suitable for strumming rhythms in many situations. This is something that's also not new to me as a Les Paul player, but I would count it as a slight negative overall. One particular thing the neck pickup is useful for is early-Clapton style woman tones while playing lead. I've definitely been staying mainly between the middle and bridge positions and only dropping into the neck position occasionally when I want to elicit a sort-of smoky, smooth, indistinct lead-guitar sound. Speaking generally about the humbucking tones, there's no congestion, giving it a very hi-fi appeal, which I love. When I put a WCR wiring kit and Godwood Pickups in my Les Paul, I really noticed that "hi-fi" quality, and I was glad to see it present in the DGT without needing modifications. The DGT pickups feel like a nice set of muscular PAFs, the bridge in particular sizzles. The neck and bridge pickups sound dissimilar enough to be really noticeable when switched between, but paired well enough so that it sounds like two different flavors of the same general tone. I just feel like the neck pickup skews slightly dark for my personal taste in the two days I've had with it.

    Alright, let's talk about this thing while coil-tapped. When you pull up the tone knob to engage the coil-tap, there's very little drop in volume. Before I got the guitar, I expected there to be about a 25% drop-off based on other comments and reviews of the guitar. My DGT seems to drop off by more like 10%. I'm very happy with this because it means I don't have to worry about fiddling with volumes after I switch the tap on of off. As far as tone goes, the single-coil setting is beautiful and has that Fender-y twang we all love. Where it differs from a Tele or Strat is that it is just a lot meatier sounding. I said earlier that the DGT can sound about 95% like a Les Paul, but the coil-tap side of things isn't quite as authentic. If you're not interested in sounding exactly like a Tele or Strat, then you're in good shape because although you're not exactly going to be copping genuine Fender tones from the DGT, you will be getting some great ones that are all their own. I've read in places that the Bridge pickup tapped sounds more like a Tele and the neck more like a Strat. I would agree with that description except that it sounds like a huge Tele and a huge Strat. Especially on the Stratocaster side of things, this guitar just has an immediacy to the attack that isn't present in any Strat I've ever played. I still believe though that your average Joe would identify the coil-tapped DGT as a Strat or Tele in a blindfold test. Another thing I've noticed is that the bridge and middle positions seem to get brighter when tapped (as expected), but the neck pickup gets a bit darker. I feel like the neck pickup is more usable while tapped, but is still the least usable position of the three. While coil-tapped, I tend to stay in the middle position most of the time. I may be tempted to change out the neck pickup in the future to try and make this the absolute perfect guitar, but I'm afraid I'd get a larger volume drop-off which could ruin the usability of the middle position, which I love in both humbucking and single coil modes. I've only had the guitar for a couple days now though, so I may be able to tweak the tone to perfection with amp settings given more time. The neck pickup being dark is just a slight niggle though in a guitar that I think is pretty damn close to perfect -- I've never personally played a Les Paul style guitar that I didn't only use the neck pickup in occasionally. And it has to be said that I've never had a guitar with stock pickups that I've been so satisfied with. The DGT pickups stand right up there with the expensive boutique WCR pickups in my LP.

    Okay, enough about tone. How well does it work? The guitar's knob/switch configuration feels very natural and I don't mind the DGT's switch location as opposed to an LP's. After two days putting it through its paces, it feels just as natural as playing a guitar I've owned for years. I have noticed that the volume knob for the bridge pickup seems to spin a little too easily and I'll have to ensure that it hasn't moved occasionally when I want it turned all the way up. There may be a fix for this, I don't know. Also, pulling up the tone knob in order to tap the coils isn't quite as easy as I'd like, making quick switches a little difficult. I like the tremelo system and I can verify that it stays in tune very well after messing around with dive bombs and the like. I'm not very used to using a whammy bar, so I don't really have much to say about it except that it goes forward quite a bit, but it can barely move backwards. I do like using it for David Grissom-like vibrato on full chords. As a 2011 model, it does feature the new V12 finish. I haven't played many PRS guitars before, so I can't really distinguish it from PRS poly or nitro finishes. It is definitely not sticky or gummy though. I feel like it may be a little bit less brilliantly shiny than how I remember some PRS guitars I've seen in the past, but I can't confirm that. No one would disagree with me that it looks super classy, that's for sure. I've read many statements of loving the DGT neck profile and others saying it's too small at the nut. I was a little worried before it's arrival that the neck would be too slim. It turns out that it feels a whole lot like my Les Paul's neck, which is a huge plus for me. My LP has a 60's profile neck i believe, but I'm not 100% sure on that. Playing the DGT is super comfortable for me, but that's subjective. The frets aren't as drastically large as I expected and don't really contribute much to the feel of the guitar in my opinion coming from my Les Paul. The .011 strings are a little rough on me (I normally use .010s), but I'm going to keep them on at least until this set is ready to be changed to allow myself to adjust. I play with plenty of bends and after an hour or so I definitely start getting hand-fatigue. I believe the large gauge strings may also be somewhat prohibitive for speed/shred playing with my short experience using the guitar, which will influence my choice of strings later on. The Phase III tuners look sexy to me and I don't think the exposed gears will pose a problem. On other guitars when tuning the low E string, I tend to overshoot the correct pitch because of the tuner's low gear ratio. It only really affects the E string, but it seems like even an 10th of a turn will take you too far while tuning. It's not a big problem, but the DGT solves it with the Phase III's 18:1 ratio. When compared my LP's Sperzel tuners' 14:1 ratio, there is a noticeable improvement in accuracy, but only on the low E string, however, it doesn't slow down the tuning process. I haven't had any issues with the balance of the guitar while playing it standing with a strap. The moon inlays look far more distinct and classy in person than they did in pictures. I prefer the understated look of moons to birds -- to each his own. Oh, and before I forget to address the scale length of the guitar, to me it does indeed feel like a hybrid between a LP and a Strat, but as a LP type of guy, this hasn't affected my comfortability with playing the guitar.

    So my impression of the DGT is that it is a vintage-style instrument capable of more varied tones than any vintage-style instrument made in the past while giving you everything you need and nothing you don't in a beautiful PRS package. Want a tone-slinging Les Paul that comes stock with locking tuners that actually work, boutique quality pickups, excellent tremolo system, and good fret access, that weighs less than 8 lbs and plays like melted butter? Well...you can't have it, but as long as you're not an absolute purist, the DGT will fill that gap and more. The thing offers gorgeous single-coil tones and meaty humbucking goodness while providing its own brand of authenticity. It's a guitar that just makes sense in every single design element, and with only a few minor issues. It's not a perfect guitar, but it's the closest thing I've ever played. I think it will satisfy humbucker-guitar fans more in general, but its single-coil tones sound great enough in such a versatile configuration that it should really be considered by any guitarist with fingers and ears. I'm pretty happy with the guitar.
     
  2. 02Singlecut

    02Singlecut Member

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    Great review.....I agree they are outstanding guitars!!! I just bought my 2nd one last night!
     
  3. luv2playm

    luv2playm Supporting Member

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    That is a great review; full and detailed. Thank you.
     
  4. THebert

    THebert Member

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    Thanks so much for this review and I would agree on the DGT. I think in general PRS is putting out guitars that will appeal to a wider audience than ever before.
     
  5. clint

    clint Member

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    I was shocked at how clear the pickups sounded for a humbucker guitar when I first plugged one in. That was what I always hated about most of the newer Les Pauls I've owned over the years, too much mud/mush for my amps/style. Adding a nice (and functional) trem puts it over the top.
     
  6. jetydosa

    jetydosa Silver Supporting Member

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    Ive said it before, and Ill say it again. The DGT is the best solid body electric guitar to come out in the past 20+ years. No joke.
     
  7. joesnewmatch

    joesnewmatch \m/. .\m/ Silver Supporting Member

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    They started making white ones?! :sarcasm

    +100 to the OP

    I dunno, the thing about the DGT is that it killed my GAS for more PRS. I still love LPs, and a LP it's not, but it does get pretty darn close to LP tone, particularly considering it's a thinner, double cut, very light-weight, trem equipped humbucking guitar.
     
  8. Boomdoggy

    Boomdoggy Supporting Member

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    I just traded mine for a fantastic guitar,but the DGT's are incredible.I would recommend them to any guitar player.
    Excellent review.I don't think they get as close to a Paul as the OP but it's no problem,because they sound incredible.
     
  9. bonchie123

    bonchie123 Member

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    They are great guitars. I currently have one for sale in the emporium :)

    BUT, the fact that I've kept the DGT longer then any other guitar I've owned speaks to it's quality.
     
  10. Hugh DaMann

    Hugh DaMann Silver Supporting Member

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    Great review. I love mine and am largely in agreement with your assessment. Before the DGT, I primarily played single coils. However, this is the most satisfying guitar I've ever played. I don't really care how close it sounds like a Les Paul because it just sounds so good!

    BTW, my feeling has always been that PRS guitars sound thinner than Les Pauls due to the scale length.

    Enjoy it! I know I do!
     
  11. djdrdave

    djdrdave Member

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    Cant wait to try one out. Hope they make these for a few years. My next big purchase will be a new amp, so i will probably be waiting until at least 2013 for a new PRS.
     
  12. gag halfrunt

    gag halfrunt Ni! Gold Supporting Member

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    DGTs are really incredible guitars. And a big part of that is the pickups.

    David Grissom really worked hard getting them to sound like his 'holy grail 1959 PAFs". They deliver that huge, clear tone in spades.

    As far as the "LP tone" question goes, it's kinda moot since there are so many models of an LP. But I can tell you my DGT sounds like the very best 50s Gibson PAF pickups, whether in an LP or an ES.
     
  13. itstooloudMike

    itstooloudMike Member

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    Great review. I love my DGT, and it's been my #1 since I got it (18 months ago). If a player isn't looking for versatility from a guitar, they might not "get" what the DGT has to offer. I appreciated the OP's perspective from being a Les Paul guy. I am a Strat guy, and I think the benefits of the DGT are easier to see from that perspective. Most Strat guys appreciate versatility in a guitar, and generally don't care for the "beneath the blanket" muddy tones of most humbuckers. The DGT gives you the playability and trem of a great Strat, with a set of humbuckers that sound clear enough and expressive enough to satisfy the ears of a typical Strat guy. The split coil sounds are the icing on the cake. The DGT is the guitar I always wanted, but actually considered an impossibility from a design standpoint. I really appreciate the work that David Grissom put into development of this guitar, and specifically the pickups. I agree that the DGT is the best new guitar design to come out in many years, and will become a classic. It's not a Les Paul, and I say that as a compliment. Until you play one, you just can't understand how good the DGT really is.
     
  14. brettk7

    brettk7 Gold Supporting Member

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    Awesome review. Not that I don't like Paul's guitars by any means, I certainly think the over-all vibe I get from a lot of PRS guitars is pretty modern. But, the DGT is just so right... I especially agree with your take on the pick-ups, although I like the neck-pickup (in a clean setting) quite a bit. Coming from somebody that really likes Les Pauls, Teles and Jazzmasters, a lot of things just feel right at home about the Grissom. Full of soul and tone.

    By a long-shot my favorite guitar from the line, and definitely the only one I could ever see getting for myself.
     
  15. Mark

    Mark Member

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    I'm not gonna lie... After all the love I've seen for the DGTs in my short time here, Im really GASing for one! I just bought my beloved Starplayer TV (the most expensive guitar I've ever owned), but I already want to start scheming how to get one of these now!
     
  16. papersoul

    papersoul Member

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    I think I would prefer an old McCarty HT or Trem. I like the wide fat neck and the McCarty pickups
     
  17. jetydosa

    jetydosa Silver Supporting Member

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    I made this video yesterday of a variety of DGT tones.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XovIuTFbhj8

    With the exception of the "high gain" part of clip, all the tones were just changes on the guitar/playing, not even touching the amp.

    Awesome guitar.
     
  18. papersoul

    papersoul Member

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    Sounds great! :) Really good! I heard the bridge pickup is supposed to be really bright. It seems smooth and thick!?
    I would have to lock down the bridge since I don't use a trem but love the tone it imparts.
    The neck is a little slim from what I remember though. :(

     
  19. Madison

    Madison Supporting Member

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    Nice demo, jetydosa! That tapped bridge is big & twangy,..my favorite, second being the single coil neck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  20. patentcad

    patentcad Supporting Member

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    I played a DGT @ a local store, I like my MEQ more, but that was an initial impression, and that's meaningless really. I'd need a week or two with the guitar to really figure out how it hits me. And there are so many players here and on B&M who I respect that I would love to try that. I'd love to A-B the MEQ and the DGT some day.
     

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