A well-thought instrument designed to show how the classic Strat should look like in the future, the PRS Silver Sky took more than two years to finish. This is a close collaboration between PRS Guitars founder Paul Reed Smith and the Grammy Award-winning musician John Mayer.
At first glance, the Silver Sky already exudes beauty and irresistibly interesting, not just another Strat clone. From the construction to the performance and sound — everything is flawless.
It incorporates every element of the instruments from the 1963s and 1964s that these two like. Discover more through my hands-on review of this remarkable guitar.
All images from prsguitars.com.
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- Impressive attention to details of the guitar design
- Great build and playability
- Capable guitar with varied sound capacity
- Eye-catching finish and design
- Not all players may like the headstock style and the fretboard radius
- The small frets may worry players who used to jumbo frets
- Bridge needs further adjustment for those who want a floating bridge
Design & Construction
From the thousands of Strat I’ve seen the market, I never thought that there’s any guitar out there that can tickle my interest until my eyes landed on a PRS Silver Sky. It’s oozing with greatness and flawless construction. It comes with a solidbody double-cutaway alder body with bolt-on maple neck.
Silver Sky is available in different color options including Dodgem Blue, Frost, Golden Mesa, Horizon, Moc Sand, Onyx, Orion Green, and Tungsten. This review revolves around the Tungsten variant that I have. And, since they only differ in color finish, most facts in this review are applicable for all the Silver Sky variants.
You wouldn’t believe how flawless this instrument is. With typical PRS finish, it has a polyester base, acrylic urethane topcoat, and clear nitrocellulose finish on the neck.
Its aesthetics are coupled with lightweight build of only around 455mm body length and 44.6mm body thickness. It weighs around 7.4lbs to give you more ease while playing the instrument.
Aside from the aspects that please the eyes, I like the 635JM neck with rounded C-shape. It has 7.5-inch fretboard radius, 25.5-inch scale length, and 22 narrow/taller frets. This combination provides more comfort and playability as you move up and down the fretboard. Made of rosewood, the fingerboard has small Pearloid bird inlays (of different kinds) giving you another PRS trademark design.
Another feature that tells you Silver Sky is a PRS guitar is its headstock shape. It isn’t the traditional Strat headstock, rather a pointy 3-and-3 headstock that doesn’t only accommodate Mayer’s playing style, but also to keep the strings in tune. Also, it features the vintage-style tuners with PRS’s modern locking mechanism, making it very smooth and reliable.
Just like how I’m awed with the hardware and electronics onboard, you too will be amazed at how well everything is integrated to give you one hell of an amazing electric guitar. It comes with a steel tremolo featuring Gen III knife-edge screws and vintage-style bent steel saddles.
The bridge on this guitar should be in the neutral position so that the tremolo could go down in pitch. This will make the instrument louder, which greatly enhance the signal-to-noise ratio of the single-coil pickups. Speaking of the pickups, it uses 635JM single-coil to achieve fuller and rounder sound output.
Finally, to give you a glimpse of how John Mayer plays his guitar, Silver Sky includes some very useful controls onboard. On top of the three single-coil pickups, you got one volume and two tone controls (in the middle/neck tone and the bridge) and five-way blade pickup selector switch.
Playability & Performance
From the moment I get my hands on the Silver Sky, everything feels right. If you have played a Stratocaster from the 1963 or 1964, the neck profile of this guitar will be very familiar to you. The rounded C-shaped neck profile feels “just right” to most players.
For some players who used to flatter fretboard, the 7.5-inch fretboard radius could be a turn-off. However, for players with smaller hands, a thicker neck could be more comfortable. Since it fits in your palm, your hands can rest naturally to play in lower neck positions or barre chords easily.
Out of the box, it has the perfect action. The combination of the low, yet buzz-free action and big strings made the guitarists worry about issues when bending. However, with PRS’s fret leveling technique, huge bends are done flawlessly. Additionally, playing blues with complex string bending can be achieved without any problem.
The low action, rounder fretboard radius, and the smaller acoustic frets are just perfect to provide you with a very effortless performance. I can play this guitar for hours without any issues and discomfort. In fact, the Silver Sky is way comfortable that the old Strat that I played before.
Thanks to the classic closed-back tuner and PRS headstock style, the strings achieve a consistent length behind the bone nut. This makes the strings more reliable and stay in tune even for longer hours of jamming. Tuners are solid and smooth, which are very easy to adjust and keep the guitar in tune easily.
Though the Silver Sky departs from the classic Strat design, it is still very efficient in producing early ’60s Stratocaster sound. It’s capable of producing rich and bold sound, without thinning on the high frequencies.
After plugging it into my favorite amp, the first thing I noticed is the exceptional sound quality this guitar produces. This can be credited to Mayer’s single-coil pickups. If you’re familiar with this, you’ll not be surprised that the PRS Silver Sky is among the best-sounding electric guitars to-date. Though single-coil pickups are still susceptible to hums and buzzes, it isn’t dominating unlike other Strat models with the same pickup system.
The position-blade pickup selector switch allows you to access to more sound variety. I tried the neck, neck + middle, bridge +middle, middle only and bridge only positions, and they offer just the sound I want to hear.
The neck offers a fuller lower end, while the bridge has a warm and nice sound. This is pretty much what Mayer was meaning when he said, “the lows have high end, and the highs have low end.” The middle surprises me because it seems to have the best of the neck and bridge pickups. Once you play the guitar often, you’ll be able to appreciate its varied tonality in different positions.
Value for Money
Seeing the guitar for the first time, I thought it’s a very expensive one, even pricier than high-end Fender. And, oh, boy, I was very wrong. From the stunning design and finish, you can’t help it, but pick it up and try it out.
Strumming the guitar for the first time, it’s pretty much in tune out of the box. The craftsmanship is applaudable and every single part of the guitar is well-thought. With PRS’s expertise and John Mayer’s musical prowess, you’ll get an ax that is jampacked with all the features you need in an electric guitar.
At its price tag, I don’t think other Strat models can beat it. How much more with its tonal versatility?
Not everyone can own a Fender Strat, but everyone is now able to access the classic Strat tone from the 1960s with the PRS Silver Sky electric guitar. Designed and crafted for more than two years, you are assured of a top-quality electric guitar. The overall aesthetics convey elegance and an epitome of astounding tonal quality.
The neck, headstock, tuner, and the bridge are well-crafted to give you a highly playable guitar. With three single-coil pickups, volume and tone controls onboard, the guitar offers vast sound capacity. It stays well in tune, so, you can play until your fingers bleed.
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