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Strung Out by Zach Fjestad

Strung Out by Zach Fjestad
  Zachary R. Fjestad is a former author of the Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars, Blue Book of Electric Guitars, and Blue Book of Guitar Amplifiers, as well as the author of the revised edition of the Gibson Flying V book. Fjestad has been covering the music industry at Blue Book since 2002 and regularly attends guitar trade shows along with several vintage guitar shows. He also reads and makes notes on music industry trade and vintage guitar magazines and is in contact with several musical industry representatives.
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PRS Twins – Only Fourteen Years Apart! by S.P. Fjestad
9/17/2013

The best thing that ever happened to Paul Reed Smith was starting his career as a journeyman guitar repairman who got to see and repair the good, the bad, and the ugly on a daily basis. His job was to make the good instruments (few and far between) play better, the bad to actually become playable again, and the ugly, which usually ended up at the very least as extreme makeovers and at the worst, becoming instrument donors/cadavers. The owners of these guitars wanted the repair “metamorphosis” to be performed as quickly and cheaply as possible. Paul quickly determined the best way using minimum time to repair these instruments, and more importantly than anything else, he figured out what worked and what didn’t work. It didn’t hurt that he also played guitar in a local band on a regular basis, and was able to transfer his knowledge from repairing instruments to ideas on what could be incorporated to make a new instrument play better.

Paul’s unique blend of skill sets has resulted in the 28-year-old PRS Guitars currently holding down the number three position in electric guitar manufacturing within the U.S., behind only Gibson and Fender. Maybe the biggest thing that has helped Paul so far is his almost fanatical attention to the quality of the tonewoods selected for his instruments. Back in the mid-80s, a special option on selected PRS guitars was getting a “10-top.” This represented the highest quality wood available for the guitar’s top tonewood, and were so marked with a “10” on the back of the headstocks.

OK, so what’s with this pair of PRS instruments with bookmatched tops and finishes? The Doublecut 24, manufactured in 1989, was featured on the cover of the 6th Edition of the Blue Book of Electric Guitars. I bought this in early 1990 while a little hung over at Dave’s Guitar Shop in LaCrosse, WI. He had a $1,200 sticker price on it, and even though I really didn’t know that much about PRS at the time since I was primarily a Gibson collector, the killer quilt maple top with Transparent Burgundy finish was the perfect setup for this instrument. Dave wouldn’t take any less, so I went back to Minneapolis with my first PRS in the trunk.

Over the years, Paul and I have been able to catch up while attending many trade and guitar shows. On one occasion, I had to give him a ride down to Dave’s Guitar Shop for a PRS clinic after he missed his connecting flight from Minneapolis to LaCrosse. For the entire story on this episode, please see the Introduction from the Paul Reed Smith Pocket Guide. What resulted from the trip down is that I found out that Paul liked Fender Super Reverbs, so I sent him one of mine after the clinic. Paul continues to use this amp occasionally at his local gigs.

For years, Paul has been asking me if I’d like anything special from the Custom Shop. For a long time, I couldn’t think of anything, but finally one night a couple of years ago, the light bulb finally went on – what if he could build a Singlecut that matched my Doublecut 24? I submitted this request to both Tina Benson and Beverly Fowler, who represent PRS artist relations. At first, I was told that a Singlecut would not be available as a 24-fret, but that decision was reversed after a customer had placed a custom order for a Private Stock guitar with a similar configuration. Time went on, and I didn’t think much more about it until I contacted the office in late June while on a business trip. I was informed that “a large package, probably a guitar” had just arrived. I couldn’t wait to get home, and upon getting back to my office, the guitar was in the corner. I have to admit, I hadn’t been this excited in a long time opening up a package. The case alone was fabulous, and upon opening it, there was the drop dead gorgeous Singlecut with almost identical quilt maple top and Transparent Burgundy finish as my 1989 Doublecut!

These two instruments have quickly become my favorite guitars, even though I have plenty of Gibsons, Fenders, and Martins. The difference? Having a long and established great relationship with Paul Reed Smith, who obviously can take your guitar fantasies/fetishes and turn them into instruments that also double as objets d’ art.

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Strung Out - by Zachary R. Fjestad
 
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