Price paid: $ 2125
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Features — 10
The guitar was made in Maryland, USA in 2011. Purchased "new" in 2015. 22 frets on a pattern thin neck (the neck has a fantastic feel!) Very dark colored rosewood finger-board. The body is mahogany as is the neck. This guitar is a "10-top" with a nice flame maple top with excellent booking. Similar in shape to the PRS Custom 24. The finish is something they're calling "V-12." It's very nice and may be adding to an awesome tone. Locking tuners, a bridge with a vibrato or whammy bar. The guitar comes with three pickups. There is a 57-08 HB in the bridge with ability to coil spilt on push/pull tone knob. Middle and neck p'ups are Narrowfield 57-08's.
Sound — 10
I'm mostly into blues, rock, reggae and a bit o' funk. This guitar suits all of these styles really well. I'm sure you could get some metal out of it with the HB, but there are probably better choices if you're into metal. I use the guitar mostly with a Yamaha 10w THR-C amp and the two together sound... amazing! Also used w/ Mustang II and Fender SC XD. This guitar has loads of different tones due to the 3 p'ups. The Narrowfields are HB's but in a narrow package so it's fairly easy to get strat sounds from this guitar. The strat "quack" comes through very well. The 57-08 bridge HB has lots of power and sounds just excellent! Not "tinny" sounding at all. The middle p'up is fairly bright with the neck deliver clear and darker tones. Much of the variation in tone can be found by increasing or rolling off on the volume knob. The very first thing I noticed when I jacked in was the pick attack and just how articulate this guitar is. PRS likes to claim the Narrowfields can produce single-coil, mini-HB and full HB tones. I would agree to a certain extent so all around this a very versatile guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar arrived almost perfect and was pretty much ready to go right out of the PRS case that it came with. I did notice some very light scratches right under the middle & neck p'ups. I'm pretty sure these came from a tool from the factory and not a pick as the start right on the bottom edge of the pickup. They can only be seen in a certain light and PRS says they should be able to be buffed out with a white wheel. I did adjust all three pickups for height based on personal preference of sound. Other than that, she's about perfect which seems to be a trademark of PRS.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Yes, this guitar is built to last! I hope to hand it down to my son when it's time to "put my guns in the ground." Tuners are solid and rarely need adjustment even with light use on the whammy bar. Strap buttons are very solid. I'm supposing this finish is built to last, it sure looks great, but my knowledge of different guitar finishes is limited. Yes I would depend on this guitar, but a backup for gigging would always be a better idea. I would be hard pressed to take this guitar to a bar due to it's price. I think as it's name suggests, "studio" is a better application in my mind.
Overall Impression — 9
Blues, rock and reggae are my favorite genres. I've only been playing about 1.5 years. From that respect, I don't deserve this guitar it's way more than my skill level, but then again the years are flying by and one never knows when the "ultimate gig" is up. I work hard, so it was an easy justification. I also own a MIM strat' and few Squiers (Jagmaster & Jazzmaster) that I enjoy modding and playing around with. If it were lost or stolen, I'd be heartbroken because I doubt I could afford to replace it. I got onto the PRS line as I once owned a PRS Bernie Marsden. That guitar just oozed quality and it was from the SE line. I decided to part with it though as it was just too "butt-heavy." I knew this one would be even better quality and I'm not disappointed in tone or quality. My only negative on this guitar is the price. Advertised prices for new seem to range from $2,400 - $3,700 (which can purchase a pretty decent used road bike with way more moving parts!... And I thought about it!) It is after all... just a few pieces of wood, wire, magnets, simple gears, etc.
However, the tones from this guitar are so rich, so deep and so... much more than anything I've ever played before that I truly am inspired by it. Since I've had it, I've been able to create some pretty cool and original pieces of music. So in that sense, I'm pretty happy with the purchase and look forward to growing my skills to catch up to the guitar's abilities! I chose this particular guitar due to the fact I like 3 p'ups on guitars, that I knew it would be PRS quality and for this righteous sapphire blue color! I first contemplated the PRS NF3, but the 57-08 HB won me over in the end. A good choice for me!
Bottom line, if you've been looking at one of these and have expendable cash, you'll be happy with it. If you're more "financially challenged" a good sale, clearance or used one would probably make just about anyone happy. I may be wrong here, but as far as I can tell in 2015, the only "new" Studios are the "artist package." Those go for north of the $3700.