Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
The sound on this baby is like a dream. I have been playing guitar for almost fifteen years and I've owned many, many guitars but this is without a doubt the best of them. I have a simple setup with my McCarty feeding a Rivera Chubster 40 amp via a tube screamer and an old Vox wah pedal. This guitar will go from Tom Petty clean to SRV dirty to screaming leads and overdriven tones. I currently play in a gigging cover band and I've found that while I will always have my Telecaster with me as a backup if I break a string during the set I rarely play anything but my PRS. While it's true the coil-tapped single coil doesn't sound exactly like a Tele/Strat if I wanted that sound, I would play one of those guitars! With this guitar I can go from clean and jangling single coil sounds to a screaming lead tone with the push or pull of the tone dial. It's true the pickups are as hot as perhaps a Les Paul and you don't necessarily get as much crunch as the LP the midrange response and lead tone on this guitar is out of this world. Most people compare this to a Les Paul Standard because it's an easy comparison with price and materials used but I don't think this sounds anything like the LP. That's knocking the Les Paul which is a fantastic instrument but I think this guitar sounds like a PRS! If you can only have one guitar on stage with you I can't think of any other guitar that gives me the richness of tone and versatility of sounds the McCarty allows. This guitar also stays in tune forever!
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this is definitely a desert island guitar. I play everything from Beatle-style jangle rock to screaming hot rock. With the combination of these great pickups and the coil-tap option I can't imagine needing anything else. I now the price is steep but it is so worth it. With this guitar I truly feel you get what you pay for. I don't always feel that way about other guitars that are similarly priced. I compared this guitar primarily against the Gibson Les Paul Standard and for me there simply wasn't any comparison. Nothing against the fine Les Paul but this guitar felt so much more natural hanging from my shoulder and in my hands. The price is comparable and the features are awfully similar but the LP lacked the wow factor I still get from this guitar years later. If something happened to this guitar, after I stopped crying, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one.
Reliability & Durability — 10
As I stated before, I bought this guitar new over six years ago and it still plays like it's Brand New. I play Live 2-3 times per month and I've never had any problems. I wouldn't hesitate to gig with no backup. In fact, my Telecaster rarely sees the (spot)light of day on stage anymore.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
This guitar was the best guitar I've ever played out of the box. Like all my guitars I took the McCarty to my guitar tech for a professional setup. He told me that he adjusted the intonation to match the.10 gauge strings I play but other than that I was told this was the best factory setup he had seen in twenty years of tweaking guitars. There was almost no break-in period with this guitar. I felt almost instantly familiar. The neck is wider than the Tele that had been my primary guitar but it was an easy adjustment to this one. This is a PRS guitar so the worksmanship is without comparison. My guitar is now almost seven years old and the honeyburst finish looks as rich today as it did the day I brought her home. Strap on this guitar on a dark stage and it really jumps out!
Features — 9
I bought this guitar new in early 2001 and the little birth certificate that came with the guitar gave me a born on final assembly date of October 31st, 2000. Scary, huh? The McCarty has 22 frets on a wide fat neck that, for me at least, felt instantly comfortable in my hands. The guitar is has a mahogany body and neck with a solid maple top and rosewood fingerboard. I went with the honeyburst finish but I'm not sure they still offer that color. It has two humbucking pickups with a coil-tap options which splits the coils and essentially gives you two single-coil pickups. There is a single volume and tone control with the tone being the coil tap pot and a three-way selector. The volume knob is in a great position to access for quick volume adjustments and to roll the edge off your overdrive. You can crank the overdrive on your amp and roll off the volume on your guitar and you will clean up your sound with remarkably little tone loss. This lets you cheat a little with the Santana/Buddy Guy method of rolling off the volume and gradually increasing the volume to draw out sustain. The guitar came with a hardshell case made specifically for this model of guitar. If I have to find a fault it would be that the strap buttons are larger than most other guitars so no all straps will fit around the buttons, but really, that's a minor problem that has no effect on the sound or playability of this beast.