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PRS 305 Electric Guitar Review

PRS 305 Electric Guitar Review

The triple single-coil, alder-bodied, new model from PRS

Download Example 1
Middle Pickup
Download Example 2
Neck Pickup

Download Example 3
Bridge Pickup

Download Example 4
Bridge and Middle Pickups
Download Example 5
Neck and Middle Pickups
Download Example 6
Togging through each of the 5 pickup settings, starting with the Neck Pickup
Clips recorded with Paul Reed Smith 305, Paul Reed Smith 30 amp, Paul Reed Smith 1 X 12 cabinet, Shure SM57 Microphone, Avid Pro Tools

For many players, PRS has always represented

an ideal convergence of the

design concepts that made the Les Paul

and Stratocaster great. And the new PRS

305—with its three single-coils, alder body,

5-way switch, 25.5" scale, and tremolo—flirts more overtly with the Stratocaster

design than most of the 6-strings currently

coming out of the company’s Stevensville,

Maryland, factory. But it’s a guitar that

remains unmistakably PRS in terms of

aesthetics, quality, and execution. And

combining so many distinctly Fender-esque

design elements with a set neck gives it

a resonance and tonal signature all its own.

Familiar Curves

You can spot a PRS at a

hundred paces, and the

305 is no exception. The

carved alder body makes a

beautiful canvas for the elegant

tri-color sunburst, which

fades from a deep chocolate

brown to orange-ish hues and

then to amber. The rock-maple

neck and fretboard

(a rosewood fretboard is

optional) runs a standard

Fender 25.5"

scale length and features

22 frets of DGT

fret wire, and signature

PRS bird inlays.

The guitar’s top-quality


which is available

in nickel and gold,

includes PRS 14:1

Phase II low-mass locking

tuners and a tremolo

bridge. The electronics,

meanwhile, are configured in a manner

that would be familiar to any Strat user:

three 305 single-coils and a 5-way blade

switch toggle between bridge, bridge-middle,

middle, middle-neck, and neck

selections. The only other controls are a

Volume and a Tone knob.

Immediately Apparent Quality

When I initially picked up and played the

305, the guitar felt very solid and comfortable—

no surprise there. Before I even

plugged in the 305, its impressive, ringing

resonance was plain to the ear, and single

notes happily sustained without the assistance

of an amp.

The neck’s slick satin finish felt great and

played fast, and the large frets were perfectly

shaped at the edges. Getting up

to the highest frets unimpeded was no

problem, thanks to the rounded heel and

substantial cutaway. Intonation and action

were also perfect right out of the case.

Strings run through the back of the guitar

and then through the bridge—which isn’t

too chunky and is set up perfectly for deep

tremolo bends or mellow vibrato textures.

There’s also the usual thoughtful PRS

touches, like the ridged no-slip nut and

tuners that are designed for easy string

installation and exceptional tuning stability.

Spectral Sound

In a fitting start to my evaluation of the

305, I plugged it into a PRS 30 amp set

to a clean tone. Toggling through the five

pickup configurations quickly revealed

the 305’s potential stylistic versatility. The

305 neck pickup has smooth warmth that

is good for jazz, and combining the neck

pickup with the middle pickup results in a

clear, bold sound perfect for funk, while

switching on the middle pickup alone adds

more midrange edginess. The 305 bridge

pickup is rich, bright, and sparkly, and

whether combined with the middle pickup

or on its own, it has a kick, snap, and

twang that’s perfect for playing your favorite

country licks or snarling rock.

When I threw a little amp overdrive into

the mix, the 305 became even more fiery

and alive—and it sustained with superb

clarity. Using the different pickup positions,

I was able to get a fat, throaty blues

tone, a biting Hendrix-like overdrive, or

a bright, singing lead tone with the flick

of a switch. The 305 pickups have a wider

dynamic range than your average singlecoils,

so you have the punch and detail of

single-coils but with a fatter, warmer tone.

Chugging power chords were muscular

without being muddy, and even the notes

in a more complex chord like an A13 rang

out distinctly.

The super-effective Tone knob gives the

305 a wealth of tones to the mix, too.

Whether I set the amp for clean or dirty

settings, I felt any pickup setting had several

distinct voices that I could access by

moving the tone knob through its range.

And it was easy to transform aggressive

fuzz to more subdued distortion, or move

from biting lead work to warm jazzy

moves, with a quick adjustment.

I used the 305 for a number of recording

sessions, including some music for television

commercials and some music cues

for reality television, which demanded

fast moves between completely different

musical styles. In every case, the 305 had a

voice to fit the bill—whether it was blues,

rock, spy/surf music, R&B, or country it

performed flawlessly. Producers and engineers

never have patience for a guitar that

always goes out of tune, so thankfully tuning

and intonation were never a problem.

Nor did the 305 have any problem moving

between various amplification or processor

configurations—it sounded bold, clear,

and cutting through tube amps and simulator

plug-ins such as Digidesign Eleven

Rack, Native Instruments Guitar Rig, and

Line 6 Pod Farm. Indeed, the 305 was the

very model of versatility, consistency, and

reliability—enabling my work in the sessions

to go smoothly, quickly, and without

performance issues.

The Verdict

With the 305’s alder body, single-coil pickups,

and 5-way pickup selector, comparisons

to a Strat are inevitable. Nevertheless,

there are some substantial differences. The

305 has a wider frequency response, and

although the 305 single coils aren’t completely

noiseless, they are quieter than your

average single-coil. The 305 also resonates

with more sustain that a Strat, thanks to

the set neck design. And components like

the Phase II locking tuners and solid, stable

bridge ensure that the guitar stays in tune

better than the average vintage instrument.

The 305 is an exquisite instrument of

superb workmanship and playability. It may

or may not replace your vintage single-coil

guitar, but it’s a nice option if you want a

guitar that takes the single-coil concept to

the next level.

Buy if...
you want a versatile, reliable single-coil guitar with modern enhancements.
Skip if...
you’re after classic single-coil tones.

Street $2300 - PRS Guitars -