PRS this week announced its new 2017 line-up for the US-built ‘Core’ range of guitars. It includes some nice new features and finishes. Should you be looking for a good quality American-made guitar, then you may well want to check out some of these new models.
The Core models are all built in America. These are what you might consider the company’s main range, equivalent to, say, a Gibson USA Standard or a Fender USA Standard. Many players, myself included, appreciate PRS for their consistency and high-end build quality. How can they improve on them for 2017?
PRS McCarty Singlecut 594
Truly a classic design, albeit one that caused a lawsuit not so long ago with Gibson. This PRS Singlecut is named after its scale length and the legendary guitar designer Ted McCarty. It’s a modern take on a Les Paul-style guitar and one that already has many fans across the globe.
In terms of specifications, you get a 24.594″ scale length and a very traditional twin pickup, four control layout. The 2017 model has 58/15 LT pickups. The LT stands for Low Turn and aims to get you closer to an under-wound vintage humbucker tone.
PRS birds are set into a 22 fret rosewood fretboard and the new two-piece PRS bridge anchors the strings to that flame maple cap. The Pattern Vintage neck and nice thick body are, of course, made using mahogany.
You know what to expect from this guitar. To my eye it looks classy, being not too bling.
Next up is the PRS 509, a more modern-looking guitar named after its five pickups and nine sounds. These started off life a few years back as Private Stock instruments and have now filtered down into the Core line-up.
They have five single-coil pickups, controlled by a 5-way switch and two mini toggle switches. That gives you a lot of tonal options, and in some ways, it’s what Fender was doing originally with the Strat design. But this model has even more choices!
The new PRS Gen III Patented Tremolo looks great and looks like it works a treat. I have a Custom 24 at home and that trem never fails to amaze me. Could this new version could be even better? Either way, it looks good.
The guitar is longer, at 25.25″ scale length. PRS state that it should help add some nice top-end ‘harmonic sparkle’. So I would expect it to punch through nicely in a band mix.
With a carved flame maple cap affixed to a mahogany body and neck, I would expect the 509 to sustain well. The neck is fitted with 22 jumbo frets, and should play beautifully.
The PRS 509 has the eponymous 509 Humbuckers as well as a 509 Single-coil. You pretty much have five single coils on this guitar, just two are arranged as humbuckers. As mentioned earlier, you should be able to coax a lot of tones from this guitar!
PRS Santana Retro
Santana has been a PRS endorser pretty much from the start. This year, the company made his guitar a standard model. The Santana Retro is based upon his actual ‘pre-factory’ guitar, with all the deeper carves of the original, the standard heel size and the original headstock shape as well.
The Santana Retro comes loaded with a set of 58/15 humbucking pickups, the new PRS Gen III Patented Tremolo and also PRS Phase III Locking. The control layout is simple, with one volume knob, a tone knob and a three-way switch. The sounds will be simple to dial in.
This guitar is the more traditional 24.5″ scale length. As above, the guitar has a mahogany body and neck, although this time the rosewood fretboard has 24 frets. Of course, you also get a lovely flame maple cap and so the instrument looks very classic, and very PRS!
The S2 Series have also been given a few tweaks for 2017. These include the S2 Custom and Standard models now featuring the new 85/15 “S” pickups.
This new upgrade is a welcome one. It means that these guitars now have nicer pickups for the money! Also, the piezo-equipped P22 and P24 models have now both been re-branded as the Custom 22 Piezo and Custom 24 Piezo.
Full specifications on the new PRS 2017 line-up can be found here.