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Acoustic tone is DI on the Piezo setting, electric tone is bridge pickup through iGTR.
|Recorded with Waves iGTR
The SCHS I reviewed looked nearly identical to the one on PRS’s website. It came in a gorgeous Vintage Cherry satin finish with accompanying black and chrome accents and cream pickup rings. The neck is the standard 25” PRS scale length with a wide/fat neck carve and 22 jumbo frets. Tuners are PRS’s own 14:1 low mass locking tuners and the bridge is their fantastic adjustable stoptail, which also included an optional LR Baggs/PRS Piezo pickup system. The pickups are SC 245 treble and bass humbuckers. Across the board, everything was beautifully designed and implemented and the guitar was a nice departure from the normal solidbody design that I typically play.
After reviewing the Modern Eagle II, I was much more familiar with PRS’s high caliber workmanship and design, and the SCHS didn’t disappoint. The guitar is incredibly light, yet still feels substantial and expensive in your hands. By the way it looked in the case I expected a much heavier guitar, probably because of the mahogany top. The neck harkens back to the feel of the good old days when necks were substantial and you could really wrap your hands around them and squeeze out big tone. Too many times I’ve checked out a potentially great guitar only to find that it had a scrawny neck and lacked the tone we all know and love—tone that only comes from a neck with some heft to it. And even though the body is very light due to its construction, it isn’t a neck-heavy instrument at all. The balance is spot on and you could sit or stand for hours of playing without ever experiencing weight fatigue.
The SCH In Action
Playing the SCHS felt both familiar and new at once. You can easily dig into tones ranging from Gypsy Jazz territory to old school amplified blues to modern, lush chordal expanses and articulate melodic runs. I particularly liked the fact that this guitar came with the optional LR Baggs/PRS Piezo pickup system because it added another layer of versatility that would be well suited for both live and studio work. Because of the piezo pickup, you end up with two output jacks on the guitar: one that feeds the direct output of the piezo, the other (called “Mix/Mag”) that lets you blend all of the pickups out of a single jack. This is definitely a handy feature if you prefer a simple, single chord setup. However, since piezo pickups tend to sound best when using an acoustic guitar amplifier, I’d imagine those with an ear for traditional acoustic tones would prefer to use both outputs and make the most out of the system by routing each output to the appropriate amp. Using the Mix/Mag mode you have the following controls to work with:
Blend Control: a knob that balances the output between magnetic and the piezo
System Selector Switch: Selects between magnetic, piezo, or both
Guitar Tone Control: Master tone control for magnetic pickups only
Guitar Volume Control: Master volume for whole guitar
Pickup Selector: Switches between neck, bridge or both magnetic pickups as in a traditional setup.
The piezo system sounds good, yet is fairly typical of piezo pickup sounds. As I mentioned, it’s difficult to jack straight into the board and expect to get a shimmery and full acoustic sound, but with some manipulating I was able to get a convincing acoustic tone that would work in a pinch if there was no acoustic amp on hand. Mixing the signals together opened up a larger tonal palate, and over time I found myself blending a little piezo in to get some additional definition and clarity when using the neck pickup.
Tones out of the magnetic pickups ranged quite widely from deep and clear to jabby and woody. There were times when the SCHS required more fiddling with the tone controls on my amps due to the fact that my typical settings were not meant for this type of guitar. It was pretty cool to stray from the regular vibe of a solidbody guitar and play a fully hollowbody instrument, though. By nature, it’s so different that it can’t be compared to the typical or familiar. It’s not a jazz box per se, nor is it a semi-hollowbody or an acoustic guitar, yet it would work well in just about any situation outside of the heaviest of styles. This is not a guitar that loves super high gain amps, but it does have its way with small tube combos. Playing through an early-fifties Supro Comet (similar to Page’s amp on the first two Zeppelin records) with just an 8” speaker and volume control, I was able to generate a really wide variety of usable and inspiring sounds. It’s hard to put a finger on the sound unless you hear it, but that’s what makes it a nice departure from the familiar. I’d say it sits nicely in the somewhat mellower side of the tonal spectrum but it still has plenty of clarity. I spent a lot of time revisiting acoustic songs I’d written as well as new songs inspired by the sound of a wound G-string, which the SHCS comes setup with (11-52).
The Final Mojo
The SCHS is an adventurous instrument created for adventurous guitarists looking for new sounds. During the time I had it there were many new places that I found good use for it. From subtle additions to completed songs that needed a new texture, to entirely new music created simply by the inspiration of a sound that didn’t borrow from anything, I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a special guitar that has a voice that should be heard; in the melting pot of modern music, the SCHS is a welcome addition to our tonal palate and one I hope to hear a lot more of.
you’re looking for a high quality and unique sound that doesn’t come from a solidbody or semihollowbody guitar.
rockin’ is your only business… and business is good.
MSRP $4770 - PRS - prsguitars.com