Price paid: € 2300
Purchased from: Thomann
Features — 10
Mine is a 2013 Paul Reed Smith 408, Maple top, Made in USA. Its pattern thin neck has 22 frets (I guess jumbo) on its rosewood fingerboard with bird inlays. Standard PRS double-cutaway body shape solidbody in charcoal black colour. It has two PRS 408 humbuckers; the neck humbucker is a bit narrower than a standard HB, the bridge one is a bit wider.
The controls consist of a master volume and master tone knob, one tree-way switch which selects either the neck or bridge humbucker or both, and two small on/off style switches which select single coil or humbucker mode for one of the humbuckers each. The guitar has a tremolo bridge with easily removable tremolo arm. The tuners are locking PRS Phase 3 tuners which work fantastically. The guitar is very easy to tune and to keep in tune. It came with a nice original PRS flight case.
Sound — 9
I can play nice clean stuff on this guitar, both finger-picked and using a plectrum. Its sustain is incredible. You can get some very well controllable raunchiness out of it as well, for blues and rock. Of course, you can go over the top but I don't so I can't comment on its use for heavy metal etc.
The sound for my style of music is very nice; it has tons of treble, I can control tube-amp overdrive very well from its volume control, and the guitar plays nicely with my pedals (Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive and Joyo Tremolo).
The neck pickup sounds very good but what kills me is the bridge pickup, it has a lot of character. The pickups pick up very little noise, even when in single coil mode.
There are a few small things that I don't like some much about its sound:
- it seems to upset the reverb unit on my Fender Blues Junior amp. This is probably more of an issue of the amp though.
- the differences in sound between the various switching options in the middle position (HH, SH, HS, SS) are not as pronounced as I would have liked.
The tone and volume controls are *very* versatile though!
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Factory setup was great, the guitar came with PRS .010 strings which were absolutely great, comfortable, great sounding and lasted quite long. It did start to rattle a bit after a few weeks, so I loosened the truss rod a bit. No problems after that. The bridge etc, all work flawlessly. The neck is the most comfortable I've ever played; after a few hours I felt like I had owned this guitar for a long time. The top and paint job are beautiful. Aesthetically, this is an unbelievable instrument.
There is but one MAJOR annoying flaw, and that is that the high E string seems to be very close to the edge of the frets. When I apply an aggressive vibrato, the string slips off and the note gets muted. I must admit my vibrato may be a bit over the top, but then again, I have not encountered this problem on any of my other guitars (Mex Strat, Les Paul Studio, Epiphone Sheraton II). I'm not sure if it is a manufacturing defect on my specific instrument or if the 408 is designed this way, but I did not expect an issue like this on such an expensive instrument. Had this issue not existed, I would rate it a 10 here, absolutely.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Everything looks solid an put together well, nothing seems particularly flimsy. The pickup selector switch changes position with a reassuring click. I do have my reservations about the tiny single coil/humbucking switches, but time will have to tell (I've had the guitar for 5 months now). The strap buttons are a bit over-sized for my strap. This baby is *never* going to come off its strap, ever. The instrument stays in tune wonderfully, I would gladly gig with it without a backup instrument.
Overall Impression — 10
I play blues and bluesy rock, mainly. I've been playing since 1993. My go-to guitar was my 1992 Made-in-Mexico Strat but since I bought the PRS I changed my mind about that. An absolutely wonderful instrument (except for the string-close-to-the-edge issue). The guitar is a joy to look at: a beautiful finish, and the most lovely detail is the fake binding, which actually shows the colour of the wood. In some colours it may look over-the-top, in black I think it looks very cool. If it was lost or stolen I would replace it, if I had the money; otherwise, I'm sure I'd buy a cheaper PRS guitar with whatever money I could spare.