Download Example 1
Clean - Neck pickup coil-tapped, Fender Twin reissue
Download Example 2
Dirty - bridge, '73 Marshall Super Bass into a Bogner 4x12, using an Ultimate Attenuator.
Download Example 3
Clean - neck pickup, rhythm and lead. Rhythm on Marshall rig, Lead on Fender.
Among the throngs of genius innovators and experts that have shaped the guitar gear landscape, Ted McCarty is certainly among the most prolific. Players who are unfamiliar with McCarty’s legacy have probably often wondered just why his name graces the headstocks of so many high-end PRS guitars, or why they see his name mentioned in gear magazines. For those who aren’t in the know, Ted McCarty is directly responsible for the tuning stability of your favorite archtop with a tune-o-matic bridge, and (with Seth Lover) for the silent, smooth sound wielded from those humbuckers in your much loved instrument. These innovations are only a handful of achievements by McCarty during his tenure as President of Gibson Guitar during their golden age (1950-1966), during which he also oversaw the development of the Flying V, Explorer, ES-335, SG, Firebird, Moderne, and the iconic Les Paul.

Interestingly, like his contemporary Leo Fender, McCarty wasn’t a guitar player. He gathered as much feedback from guitarists as he could, which he used as a basis for his designs. Decades later, the legend met up with a young Paul Reed Smith, and mentored the budding guitar maker, advising him on design and construction. To honor the collaborative relationship between the two luthiers, PRS has released a limited run of DC (double cut) and SC (single cut) 245 McCarty models, complete with exclusive accoutrements.

Un-Limited Appeal
There are a few slight differences between those and the Limited Run series. The DC and SC 245 Limited Run models sport a 24 ½” scale length, as opposed to the PRS standard 25” one. Normally, a shorter scale length gives a spongier feel to the strings, while providing a softer, bouncier tone. Even a minute difference such as a ½” difference in length can affect feel and tone drastically, as the DC 245 Limited demonstrates. The headstock is also different—the shape borrowed from the Santana line—and it caps off a neck featuring the original PRS bird inlays in Mother of Pearl, another tribute to the days when Paul was working with McCarty years ago.

Possibly the most unique feature of the guitar are its pickups, a combo of 1957/2008 humbuckers, topped with brushed nickel covers. This special set of pickups is currently found on this McCarty line, the Al Di Meola signature, some 25th Anniversary models, and Private Stock models. They’re the result of PRS’ acquisition of original pickup wire from an original machine used to wind some of the best examples of humbuckers from the 1950s, and cannot be purchased separately from the instruments. The designation comes from the year that the humbucker was first introduced (1957), and the year that the new “old-style” pickups came into being (2008). Paul Reed Smith himself is extremely proud of the fruits of this labor, claiming that they’re throwing in a free guitar and case with purchase.

First Impressions
Upon opening the case, an absolutely stunning guitar caught my eyes, finished in Smokeburst. The fit and finish was at a level of quality that I expected from the instrument, perhaps even exceeding it. Personally, I’m not a fan of heavy flame or quilt tops; while I enjoy a nice flame, I prefer it to be a little understated and modest. The flame top, combined with the Smokeburst finish, was a true amalgamation of class and underrated sophistication, especially with the low reflection qualities exhibited by the brush nickel covers on the pickups. The instrument weighed in at a little over 8 lbs., which was right in my comfort zone for ease of play. The resonant qualities of the guitar unplugged were phenomenal, with its projection easily being heard from the other end of the room.