Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PRS Pickups

I'm telling you this because I don't know what to think myself.

The final presentation of Gearfest was Nick Catanese of Black Label Society, talking about Ozzy, PRS, guitars and playing. He's a really nice guy and a really good storyteller. (If you see him, have him tell you about being in the movie Rock Star, especially the Brad Pitt story.)

The story that comes to mind was actually told by the PRS Midwest Sales Rep. Paul Reed Smith (the man, not the company) has been working for a long time to recreate the "Holy Grail", the 1959 PAF as created by Seth Lover. He had worked out the metallurgy and this and that and was still not quite there. One day, Paul was on the phone, talking to a wire supplier, who said "Oh, yeah. My dad said something about working with Gibson in the late 50s, back when they were in Kalamazoo."

Hear the rep tell the tale, Paul was at the wire company's office before the phone hit the floor.

They look in back and find the machine. Paul immediately said "I want to buy it." They said no, but they promised him he'd have the exclusive rights to all wire coming off that machine. Thus, the 59/09 pickup.

I'm a Tele guy, and PRS gear, while nice, is a bit salty for me at the moment. I may never be closer to a real 59/09 pickup than the third row of the Sweetwater Performance Theatre. And at least part of me thinks this is really cool.

Part of me, another part, read this. A Lace Sensor built for high output. A Metal Aluminatone Lace Sensor. Which gets to my real niggly point. Yes, the 50s was a golden age for the development of the guitar, with the Gibson Les Paul with the Tune-o-matic bridge and the humbuckers being one of the canonical lasting designs. But I have to believe that the world didn't end in 1957, that the guitar world has ideas on how to make pickups that were not around when Seth Lover was in Eisenhower's America.

So, let's assume that Paul's ears are right, that these are the very model of the modern Patent-Applied-For humbucker. What do you thing of that? Good thing? Bad thing? Great thing?

1 comment:

Sammy said...

I would say it's just "A" thing. Some people will always think yesterday was better than today (even while conveniently forgetting about such things as segregation, government-approved sexual harassment and polio).

But you're right. The world didn't end in 1957, and frankly, there have been hundreds/thousands of artists who have used guitars other than '50s, '60s and '70s Les Pauls, Teles and Strats to make awesome music. And to the ears of 95% of their fans (who aren't guitar tone snobs), it wouldn't matter one lick what guitar was being used.