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PRS McCarty (Les Paul-ish)

metropolis

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Sep 14, 2018
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277
Hi all,

I just picked up my first PRS - it's a 2002 McCarty so a fairly early one with the McCarty pickups as opposed to the later 57/08s. Wrap-around hardtail and nice chunky neck (feels very familiar to my 50s neck LP Standard). First impressions are I'm really impressed by the build quality and playability. It's incredibly light and comfortable to play too, especially sitting down.

Acoustically it sounds brighter than my nearest LP to hand (a 1972 Custom) but plugged in I think the pickups are slightly lacking. There's more articulation (helped by lower output) from the T-Tops, and there's a particular mid-frequency coming through on the PRS I'd like to try and remove. I'll adjust the heights of the PRS pickups as I think they're a little high, but if not I'll look at swapping them for something else. I have a good selection in my Les Pauls: Montys PAFs (my favourite), Lollar Imperials, Bareknuckle Crawlers and the T-Tops.

NFu1Umul.jpg
 

jrgtr42

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Mar 24, 2005
Messages
2,177
I think that the PRSs do have a weird mid range resonance that Gibson doesn't. I think that's part of why they sound like they do, and they were really popular among guitar players, especially lead players around that time - think of all the magazines, almost every one had someone holding a PRS.
I do think that in a band mix, PRS really work well with GIbsons - especially if the PRS is through a Boogie amp and the Gibson is a Marshall. Each will it's own sonic signature and don't muddy each other up.
Really well built guitars, but my personal complaint is that when I'm playing chords, my hand always hits the volume knob and it turns down over time.
 

glenngross

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Nov 13, 2012
Messages
137
I went to 57/08s in mine and haven’t looked back. On the other hand, there’s a guy on the PRS forum who’s gone full circle and put the originals back in his.
 

J.D.

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May 24, 2006
Messages
9,783
These are great guitars but don't quite get an exact Les Paul sound due to the small scale length difference. But they are closer than the trem guitars. They have their own sound.
 

Sol

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Oct 26, 2001
Messages
775
Its sometimes worth looking at the value of your volume and tone pots before you go changing pickups.
Its just an idea, but usually a change in value will shift midrange frequencies, and the price of a few CTS pots is worth it to confirm or alley your concerns, and maybe save you a lot of money.
 
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jrgtr42

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Mar 24, 2005
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2,177
These are great guitars but don't quite get an exact Les Paul sound due to the small scale length difference. But they are closer than the trem guitars. They have their own sound.
I'm more than fine with them not having an exact Les Paul sound - let them have their own thing going on, and leave the Les Paul to Les Pauls.
 

metropolis

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Sep 14, 2018
Messages
277
I think that the PRSs do have a weird mid range resonance that Gibson doesn't. I think that's part of why they sound like they do

Oh thanks that's really interesting. I've heard a lot about the PRS tone but not really been able to put my finger on it.

I do think that in a band mix, PRS really work well with GIbsons - especially if the PRS is through a Boogie amp and the Gibson is a Marshall. Each will it's own sonic signature and don't muddy each other up.

That's good to know - I'm likely going to use it live this year playing in a band with another guitarist on a Les Paul (hence why I won't use my own LPs). I'll likely use my Kemper and various Fender profiles as that's what I recorded the material with.

I went to 57/08s in mine and haven’t looked back. On the other hand, there’s a guy on the PRS forum who’s gone full circle and put the originals back in his.

Yes, I understand those are quite popular. I think they're slightly hotter than I tend to favour, and I already find the existing pickups hotter than I like!

Its sometimes worth looking at the value of your volume and tone pots before you go changing pickups.
Its just an idea, but usually a change in value will shift midrange frequencies, and the price of a few CTS pots is worth it to confirm or alley your concerns, and maybe save you a lot of money.
Thanks, already been there! One of the first things I did was establish what is in there. The cap looks pretty pathetic so while I change pickups I may well switch the whole loom out (and keep it safe for later). I have a box of original looms from my guitars that I've swapped out!

These are great guitars but don't quite get an exact Les Paul sound due to the small scale length difference. But they are closer than the trem guitars. They have their own sound.
Yes thats what I was actually looking for. I have 4x LPs and wanted something a bit brighter and with more flexibility with coil taps (which I don't have or want on any LPs).
 
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Sol

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Oct 26, 2001
Messages
775
Good to know you were way ahead of me regarding switching the pots in your PRS.
If you dont mind my asking, what value pots did you remove, and what did you replace them with ?

Many thanks,
Sol
 

metropolis

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Sep 14, 2018
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277
Good to know you were way ahead of me regarding switching the pots in your PRS.
If you dont mind my asking, what value pots did you remove, and what did you replace them with ?

Many thanks,
Sol

The PRS has 500k pots now so I haven't touched them yet. I can't get an exact reading until I take them out of the circuit but will be curious. Previously on my Les Pauls I've taken out several 300k pots and replaced for 500k which obviously made a significant difference. On my first Les Paul I did a lot of experimentation to find what tapers I prefer so pretty much go with 500k vintage taper ones and put the highest value pot as the neck volume, then usually the lowest value in the bridge as I prefer a darker bridge sound.
 
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Sol

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775
Guitars are individuals ,and that requires us to find the optimum value of the vol and tone pots by listening closely and with a little work we can find the ideal value of pots that will compliment the true voice of our guitars the best.
 

Dave P

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Oct 13, 2001
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783
It'll never sound just like a Les Paul no matter what you do to it, as the scale is different, the mahogany body is thinner, thicker maple top, etc. But they are great guitars, they have their own voice.
 

Sol

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Oct 26, 2001
Messages
775
It'll never sound just like a Les Paul no matter what you do to it, as the scale is different, the mahogany body is thinner, thicker maple top, etc. But they are great guitars, they have their own voice.
My very fist guitar build was a Tele (naturally). I accidentally cut the fret slots to the Martin long scale, confused by unfamiliar imperial measurements.

While the Martin long scale is actually shorter than the given "25.4 inch scale, the long travel of Tele bridge saddles allowed for accurate intonation, equal to that of a regular " 25.5 inch scale Tele.

What has been very interesting is that this small difference has a big effect on both string tension, and especially the tone both amplified and unplugged giving my Tele its own very subtly different and unique sound.
Change the scale length, and you change the guitar.
 

metropolis

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Sep 14, 2018
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277
As an update here I've just swapped the bridge pickup out for a Dimarzio 36th Anniversary PAF and it's removed that mid-frequency I talked about in the first post. The Dimarzio is a bit brighter but sounds much more pleasing due to removing the mid frequency that was prominent so I'm very happy. The coil split sound is also much closer in output to the full HB in series (even though I'm going to experiment with a partial coil split over time).

Next up is to try a different neck humbucker because this one is much too dark, even compared to my LPs.
 

MattD1960

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Mar 17, 2009
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578
Those early McCarty models are KILLER guitars, if your digging the PRS thing check out the new and even more LES PAULish McCarty 594
 

metropolis

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Sep 14, 2018
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Thanks, I always had half an eye on the 594s as being the ideal PRS for me, but because this McCarty is 20+ years old its second hand price was a relative steal. Maybe one day there will be a 594 or even a semi-hollow in my future!
 

metropolis

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Sep 14, 2018
Messages
277
SD Jazz in then neck is a hit too, the pickups together have totally fixed the dark sound I was getting when plugged in.

I rehearsed with it back to back to my Les Paul Custom (with T-Tops) and overall the guitar has a little more output still, so push the amp a bit more and lack a little top end, but it's not a huge difference. I'm pleased for now but may investigate alternative pickups in the future.

Still going to modify the wiring further and instead of having standard coil splits do a partial split, potentially with a trim pot so I can adjust it until I find the sweet spot.
 
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