- 3 PRS 635JM single-coil pickups
- Bolt-on Neck
- 25.5” scale length
- 7.25” neck radius
Paul Reed Smith has been hard at work again. Collaborating with Grammy-winning artist John Mayer, the company known for their stellar craftsmanship and fantastic finishes has offered up the Silver Sky as an idealized realization of the modern electric guitar.
The first thing you notice with the Silver Sky is how familiar this body shape is, and that has sparked a ton of online conversation and controversy. That notwithstanding, what you have here is a great guitar from start to finish.
The Silver Sky is equipped with 3 PRS 635JM single-coil pickups and nails great classic tones in all 5 positions, leaving you with more options and actual choices beyond bridge or neck only. Even the middle position and the two hum-canceling slots are not only usable but excellent, and I’ve never played a single-coil guitar where the selections were more balanced. It was unreal how switching from one position to another yielded no leaps in volume, and even between the extreme ends of neck and bridge positions, the sonic character of each position stayed intact, without feeling like I had to compensate for volume or tone. Not only that, the quality of tone in each position makes you feel like somehow Mr. Smith designed a pickup specifically for that selection!
The Silver Sky delivers in the feel department, too. The bolt-on maple neck was comfortable and familiar, the neck carve is based off of a combination of Mayer’s and Smith’s favorite vintage instruments. And for me, the 7.25″ radius wasn’t radically unfamiliar territory either; chording and single-note lead lines were all easy to play.
I had the opportunity to use the guitar in both studio and live situations and was extremely happy with the results.
Studio tracks were recorded using live amps (PRS Sweet 16) and plugins (Waves CLA Guitars, Waves GTR, and Positive Grid BIAS FX) and the guitar responded well to each scenario. Playing clean, the sustain is excellent, and individual notes seemed to almost have a studio-compressor-like feel, as even softly played notes still rang out clearly. Overdriven tones and solo leads felt strong and gritty, without ever feeling brittle or thin. In fact, my experience with the cleaner side of the Silver Sky made me initially wonder if it would work as well for overdrive tones because the cleans were so good. But overall, this is a big-sounding guitar.
Live, I played the guitar through my normal pedalboard and my PRS Sweet 16 amp (a 16-watt 6v6-powered amp). The guitar cut through the mix on lead lines without sounding harsh or overly-bright and blended well in background moments. The natural sustain of the guitar lent itself well to pads and ambient textures too. It was also comfortable to play in each worship set over three services and feels very balanced in weight distribution.
Pros and Cons
For me, there is a lot to love about this guitar! From the feel of the neck and the little details like fret wire that’s perfectly finished, to the subtle color accent in the PRS trademark scoop in the lower horn and the flawless finish. The one “con” for me was a simple one; it’s a single-coil guitar, and since I primarily play humbucker-equipped guitars, I had to remember that any buzz or hum wasn’t necessarily something wrong with my gear, but just the normal thing that single-coil pickups do. It was never annoying or got in the way, but I did have to remind myself why it was happening.
You know there is something unique and inspiring about a guitar when you look up from playing it and wonder where the last hour went, and that was my experience more than once! And while this is not what PRS fans might be used to, this guitar is an excellent offering into the market, and if you are looking for a single-coil guitar, the Silver Sky is definitely worth checking out.
To show versatility of the instrument, all the examples were recorded with a mixture of live amps and/or software plugins, as noted above. Live amps were mic’d with a Shure SM57. No extra EQ was applied in order to preserve the sonic characteristics of the guitar as much as possible.
Example 1: Silver Sky – Mellow
The Silver Sky shines on clean tones, and inspired this example. Showing chording and sustained tones in the rhythm guitars and clean-bending notes in the lead.
Example 2: Silver Sky – Rock
Turning up the heat on the Silver Sky! Showcasing the gritty side of the guitar.
Example 3: Silver Sky – Everlasting God Solo
As a tribute to the artist who graces our cover this month, we thought we’d include one of his well-known solos as an example of the Silver Sky in action. Enjoy!