Price paid: £ 5700
Purchased from: Guitar village
Sound — 10
Okay so the sound - the Narrowfields are a cross between humbuckers and single coil - and so is the sound. It samples a smaller area of the string than a humbucker so is cleaner, but still has a bit more bass than a single coil. Totally noiseless and incredibly versatile. The thing that sets this guitar apart is the tone from the woods. The solid maple body adds more mid range than any other guitar I've tried, and it sustains forever. The solid rosewood neck (the first I've ever tried) seems to add a mellow bass to the sound and you can feel the vibrations through your thumb as you play in a way I've not experienced before. If I use the middle position with the volume on 7-8 it sounds spookily like my Hummingbird - so the tone is unlike other electrics I've owned or tried, it has a different starting place. So while I can emulate other guitars with this it is really best when I just find a sound I like. It is amazing to play - with the sustain and the tone palate that is unlike my other guitars I can really lose myself with this. Using a Mesa Boogie for rock, a Fender Tweed for blues or an AER for a natural tone this guitar works. There is a lot of scope for different sounds on this guitar, but I cannot stress enough tweaking it to sound like a Strat would be to waste what it can do. If you want that sound buy a strat. This is not something to copy other on.
Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing off and on for 25 years, and I own Fenders, Gibsons and some top quality Spanish guitars as well as a few PRS SE. I play blues most, but rock and jazz too. And I've saved up to buy the best amps I can. So what about this guitar - well at almost 6k it's the most expensive guitar I own, and also the most unique in sound and looks. If I lost it - I couldn't get another one the same but I would carry on looking at private stock and other similar guitars until I found something new to fall in love with. If I could add anything - it would probably be a second tone control to give a bit more versatility. And if I could criticise anything it would be that it does sound different. I instantly fell for the sound but it did take some work to understand just how to get the best from it.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Okay so I understand if people who buy these guitars don't want to risk them on the road. But the build quality will withstand it. They are made like all PRS - with attention to the finest detail and to withstand the player and knocks it's bound to get. Don't get me wrong I'm still a bit more careful with this guitar than my others, put a pricer strap on and all that but it's solid. And to be fair if I wanted a back-up (which I don't) I don't know what I'd use. I've had it for over a month now and I can't find anything about the reliability and durability I can fault. In a few years I might have more to say, but I seriously doubt it. It is heavy though, with a solid maple body it's thinner than a Les Paul but just a meaty. So it will probably be me who wears out first.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Okay so you'd expect it to be perfect, and it is. The action is smooth and easy - the neck wide and thin - just as I like it - very similar to the Custom 24 neck. But the rosewood feels different against he thumb. Although it's close grained there is a more tactile sense than playing on maple and I can understand if this puts people off. I'd say it's not so good for shredding as a good maple neck, but better for blues because you literally feel every note as you play it as the neck resonates to the sound. The pickups were adjusted perfectly for me. They stay clean all the way up, and at 10 they are just on the edge of breakup - so the amp can them provide that push into overdrive. The pups are also very sensitive to picking style, so good for Jazz and swapping from rhythm into lead but unforgiving of sloppy technique
Features — 10
Private Stock are all individual. So this review isn't about all private stock - more about what you get if you try one and buy one. Mine is based on the NF3 - it has two Narrowfield and one humbucker (57/08). Controlled by a five way switch with one volume and tone control - the same internal electronics as the PRS Studio. The body is reminiscent of the Strat in solid burl maple (yes heavy) with a solid rosewood neck, fingerboard and pickguard. A PRS tremolo and gold hardware, with the inlays in burl maple outlined in gold. The finish is "smokeburst" in PRS new V12 finish and the neck is treated but feels naked to the touch. It was built in 2012. It comes with a top quality leather flightcase, with the interior made to match the guitar. Case candy is the COA, tools for adjustment. So pretty minimal.