Phil Maneri’s

This Article Was Originally Published On: December 15, 2015 #Issue 17.

The original ’80s PRS bass was an overlooked gem. Revered by reggae players, everyone else largely ignored it. It had a great, deep tone, with its neck pickup sitting further north of an original P-bass. It was the right bass at the wrong time. Now, PRS is stepping up to the bass plate once again and has proceeded to knock the cover off the ball, this time with the Gary Grainger signature model bass. Let’s hope people pay attention to this one.

They start with the now-classic PRS silhouette, in bass dimensions. The body features a carved flame maple top on a mahogany body. The set neck is cut from maple, with a rosewood fingerboard. It features a friendly weight and balance, with an excellent poly finish in their signature burst. True to PRS legacy, the bird inlays are flying down the neck.

The electronics have an unusual arrangement, with two huge humbuckers and five knobs. Three knobs control active bass, mid and treble. The first two knobs are volume/volume, like a Jazz Bass. When you pull up on one knob or the other, it solos the associated pickup in passive mode. Pull up on both, and it’s a passive J-bass with humbuckers and no tone knobs. This bass sounds great. It has lots of versatile options without being over complicated. I could maybe wish for the ability to split up those big coils in other ways, but it’s not really missing anything. That being said, I’m not crazy about the pickup placement. Like many modern instruments, I think they are too close to the bridge. But that is just my personal preference.

My biggest concern with this bass is an unusual lack of any kind of shielding. This seems like an odd choice at this price point. In passive mode, it won’t matter much, but get this bass under some neon bar signs in active mode, and it’s going to make some noise. In our shop it was fine, but we go to great lengths to condition the power. Typical of PRS, the joinery is perfect everywhere. Frets are groomed and dressed, leaving nothing to complain about. The balance is heavy toward the body side, which is preferable to neck diving, but I wouldn’t mind it being a bit more even.  

The bridge looks a little funny to me. I really like the Fender-style saddles; I’ve always been a fan of stock Fender bridges, with their minimal footprint and overall lightness. This version of that kind of bridge is unusually long, with ball-anchor points in its base that require the instrument to be routed below it. If you peer into those holes, you see the screws from the battery compartments that live on the other side of it. Not a structural issue, just kinda not thinking all the way through the construction, in my opinion.

This is a great bass, and very much worthy of considering at this price point. 

bass test
PRS Gary Grainger 4
PRS Gary
Grainger 4-string


Style:Double cutaway
Overall Length:45"
Body Dimension:19 1/4" long x 14" wide at lower bout
Body Contouring: Moderate
Weight:9.1 lbs


Scale length:34”
Neck width at nut:1.619"
Neck width at 12th fret:2.239"
Neck width at joint:2.249"
Neck thickness at nut:.862"
Neck thickness at 1st fret:854"
Neck thickness at 12th fret: .930"
Neck thickness at joint:1.171"
String spacing at nut:.415"
String spacing at saddle:.745"
Fingerboard radius:9"
Descriptor for neck shape:C shape
Peghead break angle:8 deg
Bridge break angle:22 deg
Afterlength at nut:4.75"
Afterlength at saddle:1.5"
Pocket gap:NA
Truss rod type/access:Dual-action / peghead end
Fret count:24
Fretwire:102 x38


Pickups:GG4 Bass, GG4 Treble
Pickup location(s):12 1/4", 14 14/16" from the 12th fret
Electronics:Proprietary PRS/Grainger 3-band
Controls:Volume (push/pull for passive), Volume (push/pull for passive), Bass, Mid, Treble
Preamp circuit voltage:18v


Body Woods:Carved flamed maple top on mahogany
Neck WoodsQuarter-sawn maple
Fingerboard:Rosewood with bird inlays
Body Finish:Gloss
Neck Finish:Satin


Strings:D’Addario stainless steel roundwound (specifically chosen by Gary)
Gauge:.107, .085, .063, .043
Attachment:At bridge
Bridge/color:PRS, chrome
Nut:Brass powder infused hard-bearing plastic
Tuners/color:PRS, nickel
Knobs/color:Metal dome, black
Control cavity cover:Black plastic


Company:Paul Reed Smith Guitars
380 Log Canoe Circle
Stevensville, MD 21666
Phone: 410-643-9970
County of origin:USA
Warranty:Non-transferrable, limited lifetime
Price:$2999 ($2699 average street)
Options:Maple fretboard, pickguard, ramp, and “10 top”
Accessories:Hard case, tools.
Available colors:Natural and various paint finishes
Acquired from:PRS
Dates:Spring 2015
Locals:Illinois, Ohio
Test gear:Gallien-Krueger Neo112-II, Gallien-Krueger MB Fusion 800, Aviom


1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)


Features: 4
Tonal Flexibility:4
Ease of Use: 4
Ergonomics: 4
Tone: 4

In-hand Score

On-bench Score


Overall construction4
Wood choice5
Materials choice4
Fit and Finish of adornments5
Quality of finish work5
Ease of repair 5
Potential range of setup5
Balance on knee3
Balance on strap3
Overall electronic quality4
Solder joints, wire runs5
Quality for Price Range4