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.
|Body Dimension:||19 1/4" long x 14" wide at lower bout|
|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"|
|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"|
|Truss rod type/access:||Dual-action / peghead end|
|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 Woods||Quarter-sawn maple|
|Fingerboard:||Rosewood with bird inlays|
|Strings:||D’Addario stainless steel roundwound (specifically chosen by Gary)|
|Gauge:||.107, .085, .063, .043|
|Nut:||Brass powder infused hard-bearing plastic|
|Knobs/color:||Metal dome, black|
|Control cavity cover:||Black plastic|
|Company:||Paul Reed Smith Guitars
380 Log Canoe Circle
Stevensville, MD 21666
|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|
|Test gear:||Gallien-Krueger Neo112-II, Gallien-Krueger MB Fusion 800, Aviom|
1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)
|Ease of Use:||4|
|Fit and Finish of adornments||5|
|Quality of finish work||5|
|Ease of repair||5|
|Potential range of setup||5|
|Balance on knee||3|
|Balance on strap||3|
|Overall electronic quality||4|
|Solder joints, wire runs||5|
|Quality for Price Range||4|
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