The world of yowhatsshakin


What certainly sets you back even more than a ’57 Goldtop would be a ’58 or ’59 sunburst Les Paul. Why? Well, for the first time on a solid-body, Gibson used a transparent sunburst finish through which the figure of the maple top was visible, especially for the ’59 models. So is esthetics all there is to it?  No. The other part of the answer is PAFs or Patent Applied For. These much heralded hum-bucking pickups designed by Seth Lover for Gibson first appeared on the 1957 Goldtop models and have become legendary and much sought after. And of course the ‘Burst’ became the axe used by notable guitar slingers like Keith Richards, Peter Green, Eric Clapton, and, most notably, another English guy named Jimmy Page.

In one way or another, Paul Reed Smith has been able to obtain the exclusive license to pickup wire produced by the original machine and with the same material as for these original PAF’s. Beginning in ’08, PRS started winding vintage-themed pickups using this ‘magic’ stuff: the 57/08 then only appearing on some of their high-end models and Limited Editions. The first production model sporting this pickup was the Sunburst 245, released in early ’09 and based on the original SC245, with stoptail, 24½” scale, thick Honduran mahogany back and neck, carved figured maple top with light flame (no ’10’ top but more like the flame on most of the ’59 LP’s) with double Sunburst finish and nitro-cellulose top coat, East Indian rosewood fingerboard with new style bird inlays. The control knobs (see this PDF), with their polygon circumference, have a different feel than those on the Singlecut in my possession, but are beautiful. Vintage style Kluson tuners adorn the headstock and the truss-rod cover has an engraved ‘245’ on it.

And now for irony. The story of the Gibson lawsuit is discussed on my Singlecut page. This guitar, with its looks, pickups, and the lay-out of its controls (although still tilted the ‘other’ way but see this PDF) is even more akin a ’59 Les Paul. One would only miss the pickguard which is usually conspicuously absent on most PRS models. If Gibson really wanted to stand one iota of a chance to win the lawsuit, they should have waited for the Sunburst 245 (or the current SC245) to come along! Would it be appropriate to say ‘alas’ now? In any case, for more information on this wonderful instrument, visit this webpage on


PRS Sunburst 245

The story behind this guitar

Year:                  2009

Serial number:    9 145335

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

In late 2008, there was a lot of press and ink generated on these 57/08 pickups. In the March 2009 issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine an article appeared with Paul (“28 for 50”) about the 28 special guitars he was building to commemorate his 50th birthday. In the same article, it was mentioned that those with less deep pockets would have the opportunity to lay their hands on another special series of guitars, also equipped with 57/08 PUs and a nitro-cellulose coating: the Smokeburst McCarty, Sunburst 22, and finally the Sunburst 245. As they put it in their marketing material: you would get legendary pickups and a free guitar with it!

In mid-February 2009, one of the latter appeared on eBay; brand spanking new. The auction showed a picture of the hang tag which indicated that the guitar had ‘245’ pickups instead of 57/08. However, allegedly PRS had admitted that this was a misprint. I still took the gamble and made an early offer. To my own astonishment, my bid held up for 5 days, and, as the photo below proves, it was all worth it. This is a fabulous guitar that once more shows that in the age of making hotter and hotter pickups, going back to the roots of humbucking provides you with a vast sonic palette. In an installment of ‘Fight Club’ in the May 2008 issue of Guitar Player Magazine between a SC 245 (with ‘245’ pickups’ and still a wrap-around bridge) and a Gibson Historic ’59 Les Paul Vintage Original Spec, it was concluded not only could the SC 245 hold its own, it also gave you considerable more bang for the buck even though we all know a PRS doesn’t particularly come cheap. I wonder what the outcome would have been if this model, which retails for about 40-50% of the ‘59RI, would have been the PRS entry! You owe it to yourself to try a Sunburst 245 or any other 57/08 equipped models. In my honest opinion, the hype about these pups is entirely justified!