McCarty review by Paul Reed Smith

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (40 votes)
Paul Reed Smith: McCarty
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Price paid: $ 2200

Sound — 9
It's a good guitar, but I didn't care for the McCarty pickups that well. I tried the Dragon pickups, but the Neck just was not cutting it for lead, so I tried the Bare Knuckles Stormy Monday which seemed much better. It still has a dark tone, even when I split the coils for a more "Strat" like sound. I have a Modern Eagle (see my other review) and I might not be as ambivalant if I didn't have that to compare it to. It does well in low voiced, but can't seem to reach all the bright notes of "Strat voiced" songs. Maybe I could play with more pickups, but from the factory I was not as pleased with what it came with. Amps are a Blonde Fender Tremolux, Rivera M-60, and a heavily modified Peavey Delta Blues. Effects are a Route 66 Overdrive/Compressor, DigiTech Hardwire Chorus and Delay pedals, and a Jimi Hendrix Wah.

Overall Impression — 9
Blues, Jazz, Classic Rock. It can do all of that. Not quite so much into the southern rock and strat/tele territory. I gave up on guitar after high school and took a 27 year hiatus, but I've been playing 3 years since picking it back up. The amps and effects already mentioned, Fender M-60, Gibson LP Walnut Studio with burstbuckers, National Resolectric, PRS Modern Eagle, and a Peavey Raptor Strat with Tex-Mex pickups. The rosewood neck is the best feature, it makes it a joy to play. If it were lost or stolen, I'd buy another in a heartbeat, but I'd be more careful about testing it first, and would like one with a Tremelo (even to block it) because I don't much like the fixed wraparound bridges. I think it's much better than Gibson standards, customs, or supremes. It could just be me though.

Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar could withstand a 380 city whirlwind world tour. The hardware is more durable than a ginsu knife and will give a cockroaches a run for they're staying power. Strap buttons are extra large, and I would bet a lot on it. I wouldn't gig without a backup if I could help it, but this is one you'd be willing to take that chance. The finish is tough and would take a lot of work to wear off. Probably more than one lifetime if you're counting normal playing wear. As I have said, it's possibly a downside, but I can't fault the durability.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The neck and frets are to die for. I have to take away for the wraparound bridge that doesn't allow you to intonate properly, and makes it difficult to adjust the action on a per string basis. Your only choice is to raise or lower one side of the bridge. This particular guitar has a fret buzz on the low E string, and I think only a new nut is going to fix it. A tune-o-matic style wrap around bridge can resolve the intonation complaint, but still not the ability to raise or lower an individual string action. The body is beautiful. With a 10 top, you should expect this, and it is. After comparing this with the PRS Modern Eagle I have, as well as a Gibson walnut Studio with a satin nitro finish, I think the polyurathane finish definitely takes away from the tone of the guitar (see sound above).

Features — 8
1999 Brazilian Rosewood McCarty Doublecut, Flame 10 top. 22 fret PRS wide fat neck, medium frets, Brazilian Rosewood fretboard. Mahogany body, Flame Maple cap. Poly finish. PRS wraparound bridge. Volume, Tone, Three way selector, Coil tap pickups. Came with McCarty pickups. Replaced with Dragon I pickups. Then replaced the Neck with a Bare Knuckles Stormy Monday pickup. Came with Vintage tulip tuners. Replaced with Vintage tulip locking tuners. Hard shell case, spare strings, adjustment Tool. It has a single volume and tone knob, which on this guitar limits your ability to adjust the tone. I also prefer the "modern" PRS locking tuners to the Vintage non locking. Even after replacing them with locking tuners, I am not as enamored of the Vintage tuners.

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