There are two types of people who hate PRS. The first are Gibsonites that hate the fact that a PRS just isn’t a Les Paul. And another side that thinks PRS guitars are just too damn expensive.
The first camp is a lost cause – If you’re trying to get the sound of an LP with a PRS, you should really take a moment to reevaluate the decisions that you’ve made in your life. The other side just might have a point.
Quality is not a question with PRS: They are by far some of the most carefully crafted and awesome looking guitars on the market. Feel is always subjective. Some people bitch about the neck heel, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone to complain about the rest of the neck profile.
Sound, to some degree, is also subjective. Whether it’s the McCarty pickups, or the 5708’s, PRS pickups are dynamic and responsive. They also have a mid-range punch that most guitar pickups lack. And, don’t get me started on their finishes. Their V12 finish makes every guitar shimmer like it’s just emerged alongside Excalibur from the magical lake of Avalon while not feeling gunky or sticky.
The least expensive PRS is the NF3, and that rings in at a street price of $1,986 bucks. Again, it’s a nice freaking guitar. Korina body with a bolt-on rock maple neck combined with PRS Narrowfield pickups give the guitar bite. But, again, the damn thing is almost two grand!
Now some might say, well PRS has the SE series, which is a more affordable guitar. And to those people, I would bow my head and gently say, “You are correct sir. But it’s a damn import!” Yes, the SE series are good Korean guitars. But, are you telling me that in order for me to get into a US made PRS, I’ve got to sell one of my kidneys?
That brings me to the topic of this article: Why doesn’t PRS build guitars for players? It’s an important question. Some used to say that the PRS was a CEO’s guitar, meaning that you needed to be head of a Fortune 500 company to own one. There are definitely about 1% of guys out there who take home a Blue Crab Blue SC58, play the only two chords that they know on it, and then hang the guitar on the wall to collect dust next twenty other PRS guitars.
But what about the players?
You know who I’m talking about. The guys who sweat all over their guitars night after night just so they can live out of the back of a van. Or even the weekend dudes who, after they’re done with their day jobs, play a few gigs a month just to get out in front of a crowd. There are a few slinging PRS guitars, but if you threw a rock into a crowd of guitar players, I’d be surprised if you hit one of them.
PRS just doesn’t seem interested in building a workingman’s guitar.
That doesn’t make PRS a bad company. Again, they make great guitars. And, I’m not sure it’s wise for PRS to cut their high standards of quality to build a cheaper US model. Quality should cost money. There are costs in building a high-quality guitar that can’t be avoided. Everything from the wood to the in-house pickups are going to cost some coin. But is it a good idea to keep your guitars at such a high quality that they are always out of the reach of your average player?
PRS’s marketing strategy even caters to guys that read Guitar Aficionado, not the guys who read Guitar Player (Yes, I realize that both magazines are published by the same company. But, you’re missing my point.) Glory shots of PRS guitars with Maple 10 tops and trans finishes against a dark backround remind me of ads for 25 year-old scotch instead of guitars.
Personally, I love my PRS guitar. It took me a long time to save up for it, and it plays and sounds great. But, I’m one of the few that spent the time and effort to save up for the thing. It’s almost bitter sweet. I love playing the thing, but I know that it’s the only PRS I will ever own.
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