Sound Body, Sound Mind
When I reviewed PRS’ limited-run DC 245 McCarty in PG’s April 2010 issue, one of the guitar’s most sonically arresting features was its 57/08 humbuckers. In the Studio, the 57/08 rings just as beautifully and richly as it did in the DC 245. (The latter earned a Premier Gear award, which tells you a lot about these pickups.)
Playing through a Fender Twin Reverb, I was able to coax plenty of bite from the bridge pickup without it getting shrill. Pulling up the Tone knob to tap the bridge pickup’s coils, I was struck by how this didn’t cut the tone’s punch. The sound stayed solid with smooth highs, an attenuated midrange, and tight, percussive lows.
The 57/08 was designed with vintage tones in mind, but it’s capable of handling modern rock tones too. Back in full-humbucker mode running through a 1982 Marshall JCM800 combo, I was in total early-’90s heaven. The pickup’s thick midrange had me completely enthralled.
The Studio would be an excellent guitar with just the bridge pickup, but PRS’ much-touted Narrowfield pickups really solidify the instrument’s versatility across all genres. Through the Twin Reverb, both the neck and middle pickups exhibited an astonishingly immediate attack with plenty of cut, and a juicy, solid midrange. It was really quite remarkable. The Narrowfields’ midrange response isn’t as sensitive to picking dynamics as the 57/08 humbucker, in which the mids sound more or less aggressive depending on how hard you dig into the strings. That said, I could control the Narrowfields’ highs with my attack.
Because the Narrowfields are closer in size to a mini-humbucker than a single-coil, the middle pickup takes up more physical space than I’m accustomed to in a triple-pickup configuration. As such, I had to alter my picking technique a little to keep myself from banging the pick against the middle pickup. This is an issue that’s quite common among guitarists who first pick up, say, a Gibson Les Paul Custom Black Beauty, but before too long I was able to adapt my picking technique to suit the Studio’s pickup spacing.
PRS made their name by not only offering guitars with impeccable craftsmanship to the everyday player, but also by introducing newer ideas to an industry that so desperately needed them at the time. The Studio continues that tradition with a handful of improvements to a design that PRS established with the McCarty and Custom, and these tweaks really give the Studio a voice of its own.
The Narrowfield pickups offer a distinctive response and tone that some players might take time to get used to. Those accustomed to traditional single-coils might be taken aback by the Narrowfields’ power and timbre, while diehard P-90 lovers might be surprised at the amount of attack and robust tone these pickups kick out. Regardless, the Studio is another fantastic guitar from PRS, and one that’s a joy to play.
Watch the video review:
you’re looking for a solid workhorse guitar with single-coil snap and humbucker power.
you require neck-position humbucker tones.