1985 was the official birth of PRS Guitars and what a wonderful journey it has been – Today, an early and original used PRS Custom 24 from the Virginia Avenue factory, in Annapolis, is somewhat of a rare commodity in the UK – Today’s owners, players and collectors, are currently showing little interest in selling them – We can determine part of today’s shortage of used models, all the way back to over 25 years ago, when they were still indeed a new guitar – At this stage, PRS produced far less new guitars in one year than they do today in one single month – Add to that, the first importers of PRS Guitars into the UK (Chandler Guitars of London) often only acquired 10 new PRS Guitars per month, for the whole of the UK – So in 1993 to find a dealer with 2 or 3 new PRS Guitars on their wall was indeed a rare event – In contrast, at the peak of their sales, Headline Music (PRS UK) were often importing over 100 new guitars per month – So yes original Custom 24 models are now some what of a rare bird – So let me tell you about all the key historic details that you want to hear about regarding my recently acquired PRS Custom 24 with a classic vintage yellow finish, from 1993
- One piece Mil Com steel bridge assembly
- Factory fitted 5 way switch
- Small neck heel
- Small PRS logo
- Original PRS locking tuners with ‘wing collar’
- PRS Vintage Bass neck pick-up, plus HFS bridge pick-up that measure 8.10K and 13.80K respectively Dark chocolate, even grained and very smooth Indian rosewood fingerboard
- Original colourful abalone bird inlays
- Fingerboard has a 1.734″ width at the top nut, plus measures .792″ around the top nut end and .868″ around the 12th fret – all adds up to it having a wide/thin profile
Highly figured maple top that is loaded with character and finished in vintage yellow – It possesses the classic ‘unburst character and sadly a finish that is no longer available in the current PRS colour chart – The figured maple top has no shortage of curl and character, so it is somewhat of a surprise that it is not tagged as a 10 top – Obviously, compared with today, a far smaller production run, ensures a more discerning selection of woods – Yet when I looked inside the bridge pick-up cavity, I discovered it is hand marked with a ’10’ to indicate it was initially selected to be a 10 top model – Yet it doesn’t have this appropriate ’10’ on the rear of the headstock, along side the serial number – It appears to be a simple explanation – When the book matched maple tops are initially hand picked from the wood library, they were either marked as ’10’ or left as a non 10 top, based on the aesthetic appeal as a raw unused piece of wood – Yet later in the production process, once the top has been carved, then finished, it will be deemed, by one of the luthiers, as not quite up to the status required to receive the ’10’ top tag – This is almost a final part of the inspection process, at the same time as the guitar receives it serial number – Hence no number on the headstock – I use to nickname such guitars as 9.9 tops
Condition wise, for a guitar that is now around 25 years old, you may well be surprised at how clean it is – Granted it won’t earn that ’10 out of 10′ clean award, but signs of playing wear are certainly more on the light side of life – Used but not abused is a phrase that is commonly used today but in this instance it is a fair comment – Certainly no grazes, dings or dints of any consequence, but close scrutiny will reveal light grazes to the top surface of the gloss finish – The vintage yellow finish has mellowed a touch, yet this just ensures that it possesses some ‘vintage’ mojo – As such you certainly would not be worried about using it – After all, that is what it was built for – Usual signs of tarnishing on the nickel hardware, but that is par for the course – Re-strung and set up with a new set of 10’s with an easy fluid action – Frets dressed and polished – Includes the original PRS case
Tonal character is pure PRS Custom 24 with so much tonal variation, soul and expression available to you – The Vintage Bass in the neck position is wound to deliver warm and smooth humbucking qualities, with good articulation and crisp clear highs – In contrast, the HFS (Hot Fat and Screams) in the bridge position has a warm modern character that can rip into overdriven amp settings for fat power chords or screaming lead licks, hence a versatile package – Don’t leave the volume pot on 10, as you’ll be seriously limiting the guitars expression, as the taper allows it to function smoothly over the 5-10 range, allowing you to control the amp and overdrive levels as required, directly from the guitar – Hence so much extra soul and emotion at your fingertips – More tonal variation is provided by the 5 way switch – As well as the regular 3 humbucking flavoured tones, you’ll find 2 very useful single coil Fender flavoured tones which are excellent for those funky ‘Chic’ chops – The scale length at 25″ fits in between that of a Fender and a Gibson and maybe the same can be said of the tone – Fatter and warmer than a Strat, yet more clarity and snap then you’ll find on a LP, yet the mahogany neck and body ensures it possesses warmth and sustain in abundance
PRS Guitars from the Virginia Ave factory are now collectible and as the years go by they will certainly become more and more scarce – How about this for a thought – 1993 is around 8 years into the production of the PRS Custom 24 – 8 years into the production of a Strat takes us into 1962, whilst 8 years into the production of a Les Paul is 1960 – Both examples are part of the holy grail – I know modern instruments will never achieve the value of ‘Vintage Guitars’ but nevertheless I still think it is an interesting point, as at this stage, the pending increase in production had not taken over, whilst the appropriate corporate bean counters had not yet applied their ‘cost cutting’ parameters
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