It can be an intimidating thing to stand up on stage with one of the greats and be expected to match them lick for lick, night after night. But that’s what Nick Catanese does. As second guitarist in Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society, Catanese has to keep up with Zakk’s killer riffs, hold down the fort when the Wylde one takes a solo, and even handle some pretty high-profile leads of his own when required. Catanese has a reputation as a hard-working, reliable player who gets the job done with efficiency, energy and stage presence. And although his role is mainly a live one, Catanese has put in the hard yards to earn a rather nice Paul Reed Smith SE signature model.
Catanese recently took the opportunity to redesign his SE model. The original version was a more modern-looking, aggressive black and red affair, while the new one has more of a classic look. “It’s basically the same weight, dimensions, frets, everything, but the red flame top, all the chrome, the Chrome EMG pickups… we’re trying to go with the ’57 Chevy look,” Catanese says. “But it has the same neck dimensions. I like thick necks. No fret markers. The thing that’s different with this one is, on my first one I thought I was being cool when I put red fret dots on it, which looked cool in the light, but when the lights went down I couldn’t see anything! I had no fret markers or dots, so I was pretty screwed!”
PRS continues to go from strength to strength with their SE line. The quality of these babies just keeps going up and up, and the variety and creativity of the sig models is pretty impressive too.
Opeth’s Fredrik Åkesson joins bandmade Mikael Akerfelt as an SE artist with this classy little number (Pics below). Single extra-deep cutaway for better upper fret access, maple top with quilted maple veneer and thick mahogany back, 24.5” scale length, 22 fret wide fat mahogany neck with ebony fretboard and PRS bird inlays, and TonePros adjustable stoptail bridge. As per Åkesson’s request the controls are flipped around with the treble pickup controls in front of the bass pickup controls. Makes sense to me, dude.
Cradle of Filth’s Paul Allender has been a PRS user for a long time, and his signature SE model has undergone a few changes over the years, especially in the finish department. This latest model is in a spooky green (called Emerald Green Burst) and is also available in Scarlet Red Burst, whereas the previous iteration was purple. The body is made of mahogany with a flame maple veneer – not thick enough to have a noticeable impact on the tone, but certainly glitzy enough to have a cool effect visually. It’s not the most out-there piece of flamed maple you’ll come across, so if you’re a flamed-maple fence-sitter like me, you’ll like the look.
Scale length is a nicely in-between 25″, and the fretboard is ebony with jumbo frets. The neck shape is wide and thin, and it reminds me more than a little of the necks on John Petrucci’s Ernie Ball Music Man signature models. This neck is definitely built for speed and comfort, and will appeal just as much to players who have no particular affinity for Cradle of Filth as those who are Allender fans. What might not be so appealing to some, though others will love it is the fretboard inlay: a series of bats flying from the headstock towards the body. It’s a sinister twist on the famous PRS bird motif. They’re well executed and as far as I’m concerned they look freaking awesome, but if you’re not into the whole goth thing you might be a little put off by them.
The first incarnation of the Allender SE model had PRS-designed pickups. This time around Paul has chosen an EMG 89 in the bridge position and an 81TW in the neck, each of which can be split into single coils via the push-pull master tone control. There’s also a master volume and a 3-way pickup selector switch. The tremolo is the SE version of PRS’s distinctive 6-screw non-locking unit, which bares some similarities to the classic 6-screw vintage unit but with more stable saddles and a tension-adjustable arm.
The PRS Allender is a loud, powerful guitar with lots of sonic detail. With every note you play, you can hear and feel that you’re using top-shelf pickups. The EMG 89 in the bridge has stunningly articulate pick attack followed by a thick, crunchy body and almost endless headroom. This makes it famously great for heavy metal rhythms and leads but it’s surprisingly adept at low gain tones too, where you really get the most out of the dynamic range. It tracks very well for high-speed licks, and because the response is so even no matter where you’re playing on the neck, it sounds great when you’re performing wide-interval licks such as string skipping and tapping.
The neck pickup is your classic metal neck tone (think Fade To Black) – almost flute-like, with stooped midrange, full bass and a powerfully clear treble. Again, it’s great for string-skipping licks, and it really seems to sing when you apply vibrato or dig into a screaming bend.
In single coil mode, the EMGs are bright and hi-fi, with that great 80s-era David Gilmour hollow twang. It’s here that the subtler beauty of the guitar comes through, as the pickups transfer even more of the string’s detail through to the amp. The addition of the coil splitting ability makes this guitar a great studio guitarists’ tool, no matter what genre you play.
It’s great that each of the pickups has such finely honed detail, because the neck really lets you shred. The big frets make hyperspeed fretting a snap, while the neck shape itself will allow you to reach even the low E as easily as the higher strings.
The PRS SE Paul Allender model is a great choice for hard rock, prog and metal players looking for a fast, high quality guitar with killer pickups and an unstoppably fast neck. Not being particularly into CoF these days (unlike my goth days back in the late 90s – yes I wore eyeliner and black nail polish, no there aren’t photos), I wasn’t prepared to be so taken with this axe, but it really brings everything to the table that you could want in a rock or metal axe – provided you dig the bats.
LINK: Paul Reed Smith
PRS Announces Signature Artist SE Models at Winter NAMM 2010
January 14, 2010
A classic PRS sound with white pearloid birds and red sparkle finish, the Orianthi SE model is the very first signature model instrument bearing the guitar goddess’ name. It comes standard with a Korina back and maple top, 24 fret wide-thin maple neck with 25″ scale length and an ebony fretboard featuring white pearloid birds and an “O” at the 12th fret. The model also features PRS designed Tremolo and PRS designed tuners with nickel hardware and two humbucking pickups to give new and seasoned players alike a shiny new ax to grind.
“When I was approached about doing a signature model with PRS, I knew that in my career I had reached every goal I had wanted to reach. This model is based off of my two favorite PRS guitars, one being the first PRS I ever owned. This SE model holds up to both of those guitars as a players guitar that can take a beating….I have put everything I am into this guitar and can’t wait for you to hear it.” Zach Myers
Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth
As the lead vocalist and guitarist for the acclaimed death metal band Opeth, Mikael traverses the musical terrain with sounds that are “subject to savage punctuations of death metal fury at any given moment.” Akerfeldt once commented on the diversity of Opeth’s music. His new model follows suit with a singlecut mahogany body, maple top and flame maple veneer, maple neck with ebony fretboard, 24 jumbo frets, original PRS bird inlays, PRS designed tremolo bridge, gold hardware, HFS and Vintage Bass pickups, volume, tone, 3-way toggle. A Tortoise Shell finish with a Opeth “O” logo on body give this guitar a unique look to compliment a unique voice.
“I’m a writer, a rhythm, lead and acoustic player. I try to be as versatile as possible, that’s why I needed a guitar that can match those ambitions both live and in the studio. On top of things, it is proper eye candy too.” Mike Akerfeldt
SE Nick Catanese of Black Label Society
Nick Catanese and PRS have created a signature model SE worthy of Nick’s “Evil Twin” moniker. Starting with an extra-thick Singlecut mahogany body, the guitar tops off with a Gloss Black finish with red binding on body, neck and headstock, and and “Evil Twin” logo on body. The model also features a mahogany neck, ebony fretboard, 22 jumbo frets, no inlays, TonePros adjustable stoptail bridge, and EMG 81 and 85 pickups with red pickup rings. Other appointments include volume, tone and 3-way toggle on upper bout.
“I have a home that knows how to make an elegant weapon. PRS is a guitar players home.” Nick Catanese
Paul Allender of Cradle of Filth
Cradle of Filth guitarist’s ever popular model is updated with new pickups and new colors for a filthy new take on Paul Allender’s namesake ax. Now available in available in Emerald Green Burst or Scarlet Red Burst, the double-cutaway mahogany body still has a flame maple veneer and a special arm carve. Additional features include rounded edges on the body, maple neck with ebony fretboard, 24 jumbo frets and the bats in flight inlay. New EMG 89 and 81-TW pickups with coil tapping give the guitar an updated sound, and a tremolo bridge, nickel hardware, push-pull volume, push-pull tone and 3-way toggle switch are also featured.
“More metal than your gran’s left hip.” Paul Allender
2008 looks like a huge year for Paul Reed Smith. I’ve always liked their guitars (although they’re not quite my ‘type’ so I don’t know if I’ll ever own one), but this year they really seem to have knocked it up a notch. Here are the press releases. Hopefully I’ll be at NAMM next year so I can report on this sort of stuff in person.
First up is the Al Di Meola Prism.
The Al Di Meola Prism, world renowned Jazz guitarist Al Di Meola’s first signature model PRS guitar, will appear for the first time at NAMM during the winter trade show in Anaheim. The model, which unofficially debuted during Experience PRS 2008, features a stained top with a full spectrum of colors unlike any finish PRS has ever offered. The Prism prototype was completed just in time for Di Meola to play the new model on stage alongside legendary jazz band mates Chick Corea, Lenny White and Stanley Clark during the Return to Forever world tour in 2008.
The Al Di Meola Prism features a highly figured curly maple custom top with mahogany back, 25″ scale length, 22 fret Mexican rosewood fingerboard, custom Al Di Meola neck carve, grommet style locking tuners, standard abalone bird inlays, the new 1957/2008 pickups and a tremolo bridge.
When discussions about this new signature model began, Al and Paul Reed Smith were both adamant that the guitar maintained the highest quality and tonal integrity. Al also suggested a tie-dye like finish for the guitar to give it a truly unique look. Paul Smith and the PRS R&D team combined Al’s favorite guitar appointments and a full spectrum of colors to create a one of a kind PRS Guitar.
Al Di Meola was one of the very first artists featured on a magazine cover playing a PRS guitar and has supported PRS Guitars for more than 20 years. Not only is the Al Di Meola Prism one of the most striking guitars PRS has ever developed, it pays tribute to a legendary musician who helped lay the frame work for PRS Guitars as a company.
PRS has launched its acoustic brand, Angelus.
PRS Guitars is proud to officially announce the first in a series of acoustic guitars manufactured in its Stevensville, Maryland facility. Nearly four years of design and prototyping with acoustic artist Ricky Skaggs and luthier Steve Fischer have culminated in the Angelus Cutaway and the Tonare Grand models, which are appearing officially for the first time at Winter NAMM. Full production will commence in early 2009.
Newly designed with direct input from distinguished artists, PRS acoustic models come standard with features that are typically considered upgrades within the industry — German spruce tops, beautiful dark rosewood or curly mahogany backs and sides, rare Peruvian mahogany necks, red spruce and mahogany bracing, exotic inlays and rosettes, and thin shatter-hard all nitro finishes. Options include Celtic knot rosettes and inlays, Adirondack red spruce tops, and ebony fretboards and bridges. These instruments incorporate a proprietary hybrid bracing pattern designed to maximize volume, provide a musical balance between the bass, mid-range and warm high-end and give an articulate tonal response. Also uniquely PRS is a super high strength, high modulus graphite truss rod that enhances sonic vibration and an optional proprietary pickup system producing a natural acoustic sound that rivals vintage condenser microphones.
“After years of development, we have created a guitar with a truly unique voice. It is an honor to have these guitars so well-received by such gifted musicians,” said Steve Fischer, Senior Acoustic Guitar Luthier.
Endorser Tony McManus, nominated as “Musician of the Year” by the BBC Folk Awards and the Scottish Traditional Music Awards, will be demonstrating these remarkable instruments in a live setting that simulates a studio environment where recorded tones can be experienced. Tony McManus has also been called “the finest guitarist Scotland has ever produced” by the BBC.
The Paul Reed Smith Guitars Mira Maple Top is making its NAMM debut in Anaheim this January. First unveiled during the Experience PRS 2008 event in Maryland last fall, the instrument combines the retro vibe of the PRS Mira with the figured maple tops that PRS customers have come to expect. This new model is an evolutionary instrument stemming from the increasingly popular Mira. The maple top provides the guitar with both a distinctive visual and tonal identity.
New colors and optional gold hardware are also part of this new model’s offerings. The new finishes are all wrap-around and include Tri-Color Sunburst, Dark Cherry Sunburst, Whale Blue/Black Burst, Violin Amber Burst and Vintage Natural.
Like all PRS guitars, the Mira Maple Top is comprised of the finest woods and materials available. In addition to the mahogany and maple top body, the mahogany neck and East Indian rosewood fingerboard come with either moon inlays or optional bird inlays. This instrument is a 24-fret, 10″ radius, 25″ scale length guitar with either regular or wide-thin neck carve. Locking tuning pegs, Mira treble and bass pickups, volume, tone, 3-way blade, and a mini toggle coil tap round out the features.
PRS Guitars’ National Sales and Marketing Manager Larry Urie said, “It is a smoking guitar that appeals to a lot of players.”
PRS continues to expand its guitar concepts with the introduction of the Mira X, the first 22-fret, 24-1/2″ scale-length guitar in the Mira series of PRS guitar models. Appearing for the first time at this year’s Winter NAMM in Anaheim, the Mira X’s retro inspired design and appointments compliment others in the Mira series, but the flatter, streamlined Mira X top and lighter weight body gives new options to players in search of instruments with PRS craftsmanship, but with subtle and understated style.
The unique X wood palette includes a solid African basswood body, a Sipo mahogany neck and a Pau Ferro fretboard that contribute to the light-weight understated look and feel of this guitar, as do the dot inlays, vintage style tuning pegs and nickel hardware. Mira X Treble and Bass pickups, volume and tone controls and a three-way pick up selector on a black pickguard round out the electronics package. Color packages are Vintage Cherry, Black and Sepia Burst.
“It’s simple. It’s light. It’s classic, and it’s powerful. We’re happy that after many years of discussing concepts like this, we are finally able to bring them to market and give people new options,” said Joe Knaggs, Director of Research and Development. “It’s definitely a ‘less is more’ statement, but quality is still the most important feature of this guitar.”
Paul Reed Smith Guitars’ Modern Eagle II officially debuts at Winter NAMM 2008 after making its initial appearance during Experience PRS 2008. The newly updated Modern Eagle II builds on the tradition of the original Modern Eagle with premium grade wood, classic Modern Eagle frets and a Modern Eagle wide fat neck carve and adds to that an all new exclusive pickup system, updated finishing techniques, new colors and a Modern Eagle case.
The 1957/2008 pickups offered standard on the Modern Eagle II allow players to achieve both vintage and modern sounds. PRS obtained exclusive rights to the original pickup wire used in the most revered pickups in the 50′s. PRS obtained an exclusive to the wire in 2008, and 1957 was the year the humbucker was first commercially available, giving rise to the 1957/2008 name. “We’ve found a new kind of black rosewood that we’re using for the necks and fretboards,” said Paul Smith. “We’ve come up with a way of finishing the neck and fingerboard where it goes down into the grain, and you actually buff out the wood.” This buffed out neck finish is achieved using a finishing process developed by PRS and only available currently on the Modern Eagle II.
Curly Modern Eagle grade maple tops with premium mahogany backs and select Dalbergia wide fat necks are standard on all Modern Eagle II guitars. Other features include 22 frets, 25″ scale length, custom Modern Eagle II birds with select green abalone bird outlines and iridescent Paua heart filled centers, tremolo or stoptail bridge and a special paisley case with a maroon crushed velvet interior. The high gloss nitro finish is available in four special high-contrast colors: Faded Blue Jean, Charcoal, Red Tiger and Yellow Tiger.
Featuring mahogany body, maple top and neck, plain maple veneer, three-piece wide-thin neck, rosewood fretboard and moon inlays, the SE Custom 24 provides utility and quality at a reasonable price.
Incorporating PRS designed HFS Treble & Vintage Bass pickups, the SE Custom 24 produces a wide range of tonal possibilities enhanced by a variety of switching options including master volume, master tone, and 3-way toggle pickup selector. The SE Custom 24 is only available with a tremolo bridge.
“The SE line continues to provide players worldwide with an affordable guitar of excellent quality,” said Doug Shive, SE Line Business Manager. “The SE Custom 24 is yet another great value guitar in a wide range of the PRS SE series instruments.”
The SE Custom 24 is available in Black Cherry, Grey Black and Whale Blue.
Incorporating the highly acclaimed 1957/2008 pickups and finished in never before offered PRS proprietary nitro-cellulose burst colors, the Sunburst 22, Sunburst 245 and Smokeburst McCarty make their debut at NAMM 2009. The guitars feature custom grade curly maple tops, wide/fat mahogany necks, mahogany backs, 22-fret East Indian Rosewood fretboards and abalone bird inlays.
The Sunburst 22 is a 25″ scale-length double-cutaway model with PRS Tremolo bridge and phase II low mass locking tuners. The Sunburst 245 features a 24-1/2″ scale length with single-cutaway body, stoptail bridge and vintage style tuners. The Smokeburst™ McCarty incorporates a 25″ scale-length with double-cutaway body, stoptail bridge and vintage style tuners. The Sunburst 22 and Smokeburst™ McCarty each have a 3-way toggle pickup selector, volume knob and push/pull coil splitting tone control; while the Sunburst 245 utilizes a re-configured volume and tone control per pickup and three-way pickup selector. “The PRS team wanted to make a guitar using 1957/2008 pickups but with a totally new PRS style sunburst,” said Paul Smith. “The finish team developed new burst colors that really bring the curly tops to life and the nitro-cellulose gives a new look, sound and feel to PRS.”
For more information, visit www.prsguitars.com.