PRS 1957/2008 Limited SC 245
This limited SC 245 is part of a small ‘no options’ run announced at PRS’s September 2008 Experience event. Only 250 of these guitars will be made (each has a signed and numbered rear control cavity cover) and it’s joined by the same spec, old-style (passive) McCarty and Custom 24 of which 150 and 350 are being made respectively.
Just another loftily priced, posh PRS then? Well, yes, but that’s not our specific interest here. Early in 2008 we heard rumours that Paul Reed Smith was working on yet another new pickup, designed to emulate the Holy Grail: Gibson’s late fifties ‘PAF’ humbucker.
Of course, if we had a penny for everyone who’s claimed they’ve nailed this exclusive recipe we’d probably be able to buy some originals (which currently fetch $2,000 plus apiece).
PRS is very guarded about its pickup specs – magnet type, wire gauge, etc – and while the new pickups’ name, 1957/2008, tells us exactly what they’re aiming for, Paul Reed Smith will not be drawn on specifics other than stating that the new pickups differ from, say, the 245 humbuckers.
This is because they use, “the same [coil] wire from the same machine with the same coating: the machine that made the wire for Gibson and Fender in the fifties is the machine that’s making our wire.” This resource is also, apparently, exclusive to PRS.
“But it ain’t just wire, it’s the magnets too,” continues Smith. “I’m hanging the entire marketing hat on the wire but I’m hiding in the wide open, you know?” What Smith will allow us to say is that the material composition of the magnet used back then (Gibson reputedly used either Alnico II, III or IV) is not the same as is commonly used today.
“We have the old stuff being made again and it sounds exactly like the old stuff. It’s the wire and the magnet and everything else. There is a magic to those old PAFs – that’s why they cost a couple of thousand dollars each. So, basically, you’re getting two pickups and a free guitar and case!” And will the pickups be available as retrofits? “No!”
Of course, you also get one very fine electric guitar, these more vintage-y pickups suiting the smaller-scaled SC 245 platform (as opposed to the full 25-inch scale, more modern rock SC 250).
Changes to the standard SC 245 include a 1957/2008 truss rod cover, the standard case has a white sprayed-on 1957/2008 stencil, clear ‘lampshade’ control knobs, a 10-grade quilt maple top, the back wood is spec’d for light weight (as well as being weight relived), a wide-fat Peruvian mahogany neck (a wood Joe Knaggs refers to as a dark, stable mahogany) is standard while the fingerboard is called Dalbergia rosewood.
Which is? “A really rare form of Asian rosewood that we get,” says Smith. “Extraordinary material out of India that was blown down in monsoons, not plantation grown rosewood. It’s almost black, yes? It’s a very specific, rare kind of east Indian rosewood.”
Although there’s no nitro finish here, just the standard ultra thin polyester base coat with the new ‘hard clear’ acrylic top coats, a raft of changes that have permeated the line in the past 18 months include unplated brass post tuners, a harder (but still friction reducing) nut and an unplated aluminium Stop-Tail bridge, which has nickel-plated brass posts.