Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by axe4me, Feb 17, 2015.
Some PRS veterans say yes.
10 times better.
PRS are making guitars as good today as they've ever made them. With better pickups and tuners.
Define "hand made".
If you mean the dupli-carver (sp?) days...
YES - way better and PRS finally address the most common complaint pickups.
The pickups thing is overblown. The hfs and dragons are pretty good pickups.
A lot of studio and session cats used them.
Stevens St, Annapolis, Md and early PRS made guitars.
The fairest answers will come from people who own both.
Everyone else is potentially biased.
I have owned a 1988 ce24 and a 2002 ce24. The 2002 was Way better imo.
I agree the HFS/VB are very good and often overlooked, I'm not a fan of the Dragon's but I've heard many like the 1st versions. But I liked the B&T pickup back in the old days too, when everyone else was replacing them.
I've not played a 'bad' PRS, including a 90's CE.
Is it possible though, that the comparison of 'quality' of ~25 year old versus 5 year old guitars is subject to false equivalency? The (slightly) different components and setups will probably attribute some big changes.
I played John Mann's 1979 pre-PRS, which was on Reverb awhile back for 100k. I did not prefer it to my 2013 HBII, which is a highly stable and predictable instrument (that I love).
I would say one advantage that the old ones have over newer prs's was the woods used to make them. The older (pre 1992) used brazilian rosewood on their fingerboards. Also the curly maple they used to get was a lot more figured than what is available to them now it seems. None of this necessarily made a better guitar, just a prettier one.
And I'm sorry, but the OP is a fail from the get-go.
For one, to characterize any guitar that came out of the Virginia Ave. facility as "hand-made" compared to guitars that come out of the current facility is misleading. They used all the automated processes they could at Virginia Ave. Only the small number of guitars Paul built prior to 1985 (and btw his shop was on West St, not "Stephens St") really qualify as "hand-made."
For another, how do you define "as good as"? Without clearly-established and agreed-on criteria, it's a fool's errand to discuss things like "are pre-1985 PRS guitars better than current-issue PRS guitars?" For one, those early ones are rare as hen's teeth and cost a fortune, so what difference does it make to the average TGP member how good they are or aren't? You're never gonna own one. Even the 1985s and 1986s such as the ones Jon S and I own are pricey enough and limited enough in their availability that you're probably not gonna own one of those, either.
Finally, Paul Smith (the person) has learned a hell of a lot about building guitars in the last 30 years. And he's hired a lot of extremely talented people. You don't think that shows in the instruments that leave the doors at the Stevensville factory?
So, in the end, as someone who has owned a substantial number of PRS guitars over the years, and who currently owns both the aforementioned '86 and another bunch that range from 2004 to 2013 in terms of build year, all I'm gonna say is they are different. Better is totally in the eyes and ears of the beholder. Every one I have is a really good guitar that gets the job done as well as I could hope and suits my particular tastes and inclinations well.
AFAIC, THAT is all that matters, not this "what era is better" horses**t.
Now, if someone wants to know something more useful, e.g., "how is your 1986 Custom (24) different from a current-production one?" I'm happy to share my thoughts.
Newer ones are more "perfect" and consistent overall for sure.I have two mid 80s CU24s and they are amazing instruments but there are areas that you can tell were done by hand and there are differences between the two that would not occur today. I have at least one example from almost every decade, most from the 90s and 2ks though. Newest USA is a 2009 wood library Cu24.
I'll say this; I've seen alot of 10 tops of late that would not be considered a 10 top a decade ago. Same with the Artists and Private Stocks.
I agree that the newer guitars are incredible and surpass the older ones (and I've had a few). And as mentioned I don't think all of their pickups were bad. As for the tops, yes I have to agree there as well. A few years ago I ordered an Artist package and the top wasn't really 10 top material in my eyes. But still a huge fan and the brand that feels like home to me.
I've owned two PRS guitars and almost bought a semi-hollow. Its been about 10 years since I owned them. The first CU22 was a dog, well made it appeared and played fine but was just lifeless. I sold that and bought a CU22 artist that was beautiful, played like a dream, sounded pretty good, but to my ears was a bit generic tonally. It just didn't stand out. It didn't sound bad, in fact very good, just not unique. No complaints on build quality, it was first rate. I sold that one as well and ordered a second New Orleans Voodoo and never looked back. For my uses and taste, the Voodoos surpassed both PRS guitars I owned in build quality and handmade detail (3 ply flame maple binding, flame maple pickup rings and hand carved knobs) and had a distinct tonal flavor that suited me. I sold my first Voodoo because I didn't like the ebony board as much as the cocobolo on the second one, but it still was a very impressive instrument.
Certainly enjoyed my second PRS and for a factory built instrument it was outstanding, but it may be that the handmade nature of a builder creating just a few guitars at a time lends itself to more attention to detail.
my second PRS on the left and my first Voodoo on the right
I own 12 of them and got disengaged with all of the changes. I have a P-22 I almost never play, pickups do nothing for me. The narrowfields on my Studio are more powerful, more focused, but the neck carve doesn't compare to the mid 1990's models. My favorite is a 1994 CU24, have to supercharge the sound with pedals however, (Chandler Tube Driver/TC Elect chorus/flanger,
and an Eventide or TC Elect. Delay pedal).
They make exquisite guitars, best sounding: mid 90's Swamp Ash Special and late 90's McCarty gold top. My least favorite sounding: late 90's CE22, anyone want to buy it?
I had an 89 Custom 24, Birds, Sweet switch, original MannMade bridge. I will say on my lap it was a great player, but plugged in it was the thinnest guitar I've ever owned. I'll attest that the new ones I've played are much better sounding than that one was.
Funny, as I think I bought it for $1800 in 89, and sold it for 3g in 2008.
Personally, as a builder, I have gotten better and better every year. I would suspect that Paul has gotten better and better as well. Implementing new processes to make tolerances much tighter, etc.