So this is the big one. A full-fat, US Custom 22. This is my most expensive guitar by some distance (almost £1000) and I can’t play anywhere near well enough to justify such a high-end guitar. How did that come about?
If you’ve read my page about my Gibson Les Paul Classic, you’ll know some of the background. Briefly, I went to Guitar Guitar in Birmingham in April 2014, looking at their last remaining 2013 Gibson Les Pauls which they had on special offer. I didn’t especially like the Les Pauls, but I did like the look of their PRSs and so while I was there my focus shifted to trying those. I’d looked at some PRSs in another Guitar Guitar store, in Epsom, some months before and been tempted, particularly by a lovely violet one that was actually signed by Paul Reed Smith himself (I still regret not buying that guitar when I had it in my hands).
At that stage, I wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about the different PRS models, but I tried a number of Custom 22 and Custom 24 guitars. I found that I preferred the Custom 22 because the sound of the neck pickup is slightly warmer (being a 22-fret guitar means that pickup lies under the 2nd harmonic of the string, whereas on a 24-fret guitar it’s farther back and so you get a different mix of harmonics). I also found that I liked the Pattern Thin necks better than the Pattern Regulars. They had a variety of colours, including some 10-tops which were about £500 dearer, but the one that felt and sounded the best to me was a regular priced Custom 22 in Orange Tiger.
I don’t know what it is about these guitars, but Paul Reed Smith has absolutely nailed the playability. The neck is wonderful, it just disappears in my hand and lets me play almost as though I knew what I was doing. You can see the attention to every detail, with the excellent locking tuners, the superb floating bridge that is comfortable to play and easy to adjust, and the vibrato arm that works perfectly and goes wherever you want. Not to mention the perfectly weighted and recessed control knobs (I’ll forgive them for being plastic) and, of course, the birds, which elevate these guitars above most others. I had to get a PRS birds leather strap to go with the guitar as well, of course!
This guitar is the reason for my obsession with PRS as, in my view, the best major guitar brand of all. Paul has been designing and continuously improving these guitars for over 30 years, and it shows. He doesn’t focus on making copies of old guitars, or variations on them so much (although there are different models); for the core US Custom guitars, he just focuses, year after year, on improving it in small ways all of the time, and so they just get better and better.
At this point in time (July 2016), I have around a dozen guitars. I’ve filled the available wall space in my music room, and I have more than enough guitars for everything I could want. My next venture is to build my own custom guitar, and I don’t see myself buying too many more guitars in the future (famous last words!), but the one production guitar that I do want is at least one more PRS. My opinion on which model I will buy wavers, with the front runners including a Custom 24, a P245 Semi-Hollow, a Hollowbody II or even the new 594 which looks wonderful, but one thing’s for sure: another PRS will grace my walls at some point in the future.
The PRS Custom 22 page on PRS’ website gives the current specifications for the model. The main difference is that mine is a 2013 model and it has the 57/08 pickups.