The PRS Collection Series was introduced in the Fall of 2011, and began with our dream of building the best guitar model we could. After sorting out the very best materials and woods, in 2011 the Collection Series I McCarty was released in a limited quantity alongside the Collection Series 1 Tonare Grand Acoustic. These prized instruments and our subsequent Collection instruments incorporate a balance of PRS traditions and innovations and are built with care to our exacting methods.
The materials for the Collection guitars, specifically the woods, are the best of the best of what PRS has to offer. The woods chosen for Collection instruments come from a special Private Stock vault upstairs next to Paul Reed Smith’s office.
However, Paul’s involvement isn’t just limited to wood selection, Paul is heavily involved in each individual specification for Collection Series guitars, often tweaking pickups and small details to take each collection instrument to the next level.
Collection guitars are built in extremely limited quantities and for that reason each one receives special attention. Our hope through the Collection Series is that the player opening the case is first blown away by how the instrument looks, and after plugging it in, blown away by how it sounds. We believe this feeling will also remain for generations to come.
Paul Reed Smith and our Private Stock team have designed and built a total of nine Collection Models since 2011, all in exclusive limited quantities.
Our ninth and latest series, Collection Series IX, is comprised of fifteen pairs of McCarty Trem models, with each pair consisting of one curly and one quilted maple top guitar. Collection Series IX celebrates our company’s 30th Anniversary and is featured in a beautiful Aqua Violet Smoked Burst.
The McCarty model holds significance to our company and is rooted in Paul Reed Smith and Ted McCarty’s friendship and passion for guitar innovation. The original PRS McCarty model dates back to 1994 when Ted McCarty became a mentor to Paul. Ted McCarty served as the President of Gibson during their Golden Era and is responsible for a number of guitar patents and innovations that have shaped our industry.
The latest Collection Series IX McCarty model features an abalone “30th Anniversary” inlay on the heel, 58/15 treble and bass pickups, and the Private Stock Gen III tremolo bridge with locking saddles. Our most recent innovation, this Gen III tremolo, functions in all the same ways as the PRS patented tremolo system always has.
Please take a moment to watch the following videos in which Paul and Paul explain the Private Stock Collection Series. The second video details the Collection IX solid body electrics.
David's Notes: Ok, any fan of Paul Reed Smith knows and understands the importance of the Ted McCarty influence and why the McCarty model is so significant. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the best sounding models in the PRS catalog, especially for those that like the more vintage vibe. It has many features reminiscent of the golden era of Ted's stewardship at Gibson, yet with all the refinements of Paul's OCD and modern manufacturing processes. Add to that the coil tapping and what we have here is a bona fide tone monster.
This 30th Anniversary Collection IX is the most exquisite embodiment of the McCarty model that we may ever see. Hand crafted only from the finest of the rare, exclusive tone woods, hand selected by Paul himself from the "wood vault" of exotic woods he has squirreled away over the last 30 years, and finished in an amazing new color called Aqua Violet Smoked Burst (Say that ten times fast!), it is every bit a work of art as it is a musical instrument. While the stunning quilted maple top is the first thing that catches the eye, one would be remiss for passing over the many other artistic touches, such as the "hollow Celtic knot" fret markers inlayed in 14 karat gold and mother of pearl, which offer a stark contrast to the dark depths of the African Blackwood fingerboard. Running the length of the neck and encircling the African Blackwood headstock veneer is a green select abalone purfling. This same purfling also encircles the top of the African Blackwood truss rod cover. A similar, yet broader green select abalone purfling runs the circumference of the body in parallel with the natural maple binding. Lastly, the tasteful, hybrid gold and nickel plated hardware rounds out the luxurious look.
Turning the guitar over to study the backside, one is not disappointed for the back is as beautiful as the front. The first feature that catches the eye are the highly figured, quilted maple covers for the electronics and bridge cavities. They match the stunning quilted maple top on the instrument and were indeed cut from the same piece of wood. As with the front, they are triple stained to achieve the same Aqua Violet Smoked color but without the bursting around the edges. I love the cutout in the bridge cavity plate which allows the solid brass tremolo bridge weight to show through. The second feature, and one of the stars of the entire ensemble, is the crazy-good, quarter sawn, flamed maple neck, also triple stained in the same Aqua Violet Smoked Burst as the maple top. This is the most stunning guitar neck I've ever seen on any instrument. It truly has to be seen to be wholly appreciated. Yet that's not all, for sitting squarely on the heel cap, inlayed again in green select abalone, is a 30th Anniversary emblem. Absolutely striking! Lastly is the backside of the African Ribbon Mahogany body. Protected by thin nitrocellulose without the use of grain filler, the grain of the mahogany can be felt under one's fingers while the "ribbon" figuring shows through clearly.
As good as it looks, how it sounds is primarily why guitars are made (and purchased), so let's address that. In general PRS instruments offer a more modern than vintage sound; however, as a MaCarty this guitar is a partial exception. The thicker body and coil tapping features of the McCarty model go a long way to adding authentic vintage vibe to this instrument. The 58/15 pickups, while un-attenuated in volume and tone, are quite hot with a noticeable sizzle in the treble. Their mids are slightly scooped while the bass notes are tight and expressive. With the use of the volume and tone knobs, their modern voice rolls off nicely into a creamy vintage sound that is quite authentic, and when coil tapped they offer much of the harmonic undertones and clarity of a good single coil, while lacking a bit of the singe coil's sparkly nature (and hum!). Overall the 58/15s are very, very good PAF style pickups.
There are those who argue from a pseudo-physics standpoint that the wood a guitar is made of has no affect on tone; however, this guitar definitely flies in the face of such theories. Made from the absolute best stock currently available, by what is arguably the most skilled group of luthiers currently handcrafting instruments, there can be almost no debate that this guitar sounds a head and shoulders above more average creations. The tone is, at once, sweet and clear, coherent and expressive, even at moderately high amp gain levels. Roll the volume and tone controls down some and the instrument's voice really shines. It is the sound electric guitar players have yearned for since the first electromagnetic transducers were stuffed into an archtop. If your musical inclinations are a bit more modern that the imaginations of those early pioneers at the Ro-Pat-In Corporation, this may be the guitar-tone-nirvana machine you've been looking for.
I still pinch myself when I consider that I own one of only fifteen of these guitars in existence with the quilted maple tops. Even better, it's (again, in my opinion) the nicest looking quilted top among them! I don't know that I'll ever part with this guitar. That said, there IS one very similar, equally exclusive guitar, that IS currently for sale - it's the curly maple topped twin to this instrument. For details, please click here.
This guitar has found a new home with Richard G. Congratulations Sir!
For the story behind the most exclusive of all PRS limited series, let us turn to the following article from Inside PRS:
With this guitar, serial #15 221612, we present to you the single most exclusive and beautiful guitar in David's collection. The crown jewel, if you will. This is one of only fifteen Collection IX Quilted Maple McCarty models made and one of only seven distributed in North America! Collection Series are the most exclusive PRS you can find. They cannot be ordered or duplicated because they are crafted from the most rare materials Paul has. Every aspect of the design comes from the mind of Paul Reed Smith himself, based on his years of expertise.
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As always, the bridge is machined brass, a metal that rings beautifully. The block, intonation screws, height-adjustment screws, and the string slots on the saddles are all left un-plated for increased sustain and fidelity of tone.
The Gen III trem also has a few notable updates that further support the fidelity of the guitar’s tone and maximize sustain.