Lately, John Mayer has been generating some hype on the “PRS Stratocaster” he wore on-stage in Boston, MA. Though it seems like PRS just went ahead and made a body style for Mayer that he’s comfortable with, many are feeding the rumor-mill (including Mayer himself) claiming a new PRS signature is on the way. So this got me in the PRS mood, I headed into the live room and picked up a stunning McCarty 594, let’s hear it.
I’ll be the first to admit, I never really “got” the whole appeal of PRS-looking or “California-topped” guitars. I’ll agree that it does showcase the exotic tone woods used in production of the guitar, but I always was more accustomed to a simpler design.
That does not take away from the fact that this guitar is unbelievably gorgeous. The flamed maple 10-top looks immaculate and powerful. The traditional PRS bird inlays are neat, and add a class to this guitar that is really only prevalent in instruments like this (ones that cost nearly as much as a down payment on a house.)
The back and neck are a mahogany, simple but effective at emulating warm tone of Les Paul of yesteryear.
Playing this guitar was a distinctive experience. I was getting the feel of a Les Paul in some ways, but there was another nagging feeling of something different. It plays like its own instrument, it’s not a 100 percent emulation of any one guitar or brand, this is a PRS of the highest level and it uniquely shows in its play. The neck is wide and body is thick for an electric, it feels powerful in the hand. Nothing was difficult to reach or fret, I can see Gibson player as well as the PRS faithful regarding this guitar in the highest degree.
The McCarty features PRS 58/15 LT pickups with “push/pull” coil taps on the tone controls. The pickups are setup for a vintage tone, and in the humbucker mode they crunch right along with the best of the 50s and 60s Gibson pickups. Pushing this guitar through the Fender Vibrolux Reverb left me with tons of tonal options and kicking on the coil tap to “single” let a “jangly” Stratocaster tone ring out through the speakers.
I kept the pickups on single-coil for the rest of the session. I was amazed with the tone this guitar got; almost a “wet” already mixed/compressed stratocaster tone that would be perfect for jazz or R&B.
This guitar is for the PRS purist, someone who is with the company until the end. With its price tag, features and playability it is firmly in the “elite/performance” category of instruments. Such a high-end instrument can’t really be limited to a singular use (studio, tour, etc.) This guitar is a “forever guitar” something that will be a workhorse, and always sound great doing whatever is asked of it.