The world of yowhatsshakin

 
 

This is #374 in a series of less than 500 guitars built between 1993 and 1996. In those days, the main model produced by Paul Reed Smith was the venerable Custom, where the ‘24’ (frets) was implied. However, through feedback by many artists and players, they learned that for some of them the sound was a bit mid heavy. Hence, Paul set out to build a guitar with less pronounced mid-range frequencies. The way he achieved that was by reducing the number of frets to 22 and create a slightly longer neck heel. But as an interesting side note, like the 24, the 22 still has a 25” scale length and the physical dimensions of the guitar are no different (see Dave Burrluck’s ‘The PRS Guitar Book, A Complete History of Paul Reed Smith Guitars’, currently in its 3rd edition). The first 22-fret models produced were issued as the very limited Dragon I model in 1991, followed by the Dragon II in 1993. In the same year, the ‘slightly’ more affordable Artist II model was made available; a series limited to at most 500 models. For more information on all these limited PRS models visit: http://prsguitars.com/csc/models.html.


This guitar has a wide thin neck, Artist pickups, East Indian rosewood fingerboard, Artist grade figured maple top, Honduran mahogany back and neck. There is maple purfling around the truss-rod cover and fretboard. The headstock has a rosewood veneer with abalone signature inlay and the old-style PRS locking machines. The electronics consist of a volume and tone control, with a 5-position pickup selector (see item 13 on this FAQ page).

 

PRS Artist II

The story behind this guitar

Year:                  1995

Serial number:    5 23305 (#374 of less than 500)

Strings:               D’Addario EXL110 Nickel Wound Regular Light (10-46)

As a kid, I always dreamt of owning a Gibson Les Paul. And in 1998, I was finally able to get one: a burgundy 1982 Les Paul Standard. I bought a Mesa/Boogie DC-3 along with it. So you would say I was set, right? Dream realized, end of story. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the case. The workmanship on the guitar was not too great. The pickup ring of the neck pickup was severely warped because the contour of the ring did not match that of the body. The sound was OK, but the neck felt not entirely right. In 1996, on one of my visits to American Music, where I later purchased my Ovation Elite, I had also picked up some promotional materials from different instrument makers; Gibson and PRS amongst them. The folder from PRS turned out to be their 1996 ‘catalog’ and I distinctly remember reading through it while on the bus: ”Artist II series being finished. Look out for the Artist III in 1997!”. That’s how I learned of the existence of PRS’ limited edition runs and a mental note had been made.


One day in 1999, I stepped into the local Guitar Center store and saw this PRS Artist II. While recalling that blurb from the ’96 PRS catalog, I played it and everything felt right. After that first run-in with a PRS guitar, I finally realized what one of my friends, who is very much into David Grissom, had been telling me already since the late ‘80s, early ‘90s: they are a blast, both visually as well as sonically. Shyly I asked the sales person whether a trade-in for my Les Paul was acceptable. And although the document of authenticity that originally came with the guitar was not present in the case, that did not deter me handing in my Gibson, which they happily took, and take this beauty home instead. Every other PRS model I have ever played and/or own has the same traits: great sound, perfectly carved neck especially for my rather big hands, and beauty to boost.


And I still have that original catalog which has become like a birth announcement ...