PRS® Style Guitar Kit Review
Interested in building your own PRS® style guitar? While Fender® and Gibson® are arguably the best known electric guitar manufacturers of the current bunch, PRS® is considered a close third in most guitarists eyes thanks to the classic and instantly recognizable body shape and design, along with some of the artists who choose to play them including:
- Carlo Santana
- John Mayer
- Ted Nugent
- Mike Oldfield
- Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge)
- Alex Lifeson (Rush)
- Dave Navarro (Janes Addiction, Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
- Joe Walsh (Eagles)
- Brad Delson (Linkin Park)
And many others.
There’s also a slew of well-known guitarists that have played PRS® at one time or another without being an endorsed artist including Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Gary Moore and Steve Vai.
What makes the PRS® special?
Considering PRS® guitars have far less history on their side (PRS® guitars began in 1985) compared to more historical brands such as Fender®, Gibson®, Gretsch®, and Rickenbacker® it’s a true endorsement of the popularity and quality of PRS® guitars that they have taken such a prime position in the current electric guitar landscape.
While the company offers a strat style body shape (John Mayer Silver Sky Model) and a single cutaway shape, the controversial Mark Tremonti signature model, which resulted in a trademark infringement being filed by Gibson® (and successfully appealed) the classic double-cutaway shape is what comes to mind for most when considering PRS® guitars.
The best of both worlds
Considered a hybrid between the Stratocaster® and LP body shape, the classic PRS® shape combines the best of both worlds with the double-cutaway body - contoured body shape of the Strat®, combined with the set neck joint, 3 a side headstock design, mahogany body with maple top and mahogany neck (much like a Les Paul®, while weighing considerably less).
Additionally, the 25” scale length, places the PRS® right between Gibson®’s 24.75” and Fender®'s 25.5” scale length.
Tonally, many consider the PRS® a compromise between Fender®'s brighter, glassier tone and Gibson®'s woody, darker, more sustained tone.
While highly subjective, in my opinion, the PRS® is a more mid-range dominant guitar than the classic LP if that’s the tone you are going for. But it has to be said, it’s far less easy to pigeonhole the PRS® and can be tweaked to offer a decent alternative to both the LP and Strat®.
DIY PR kit options
Guitar Kit World currently offers 2 custom option PRS® style guitar kits (The PR and PRR) with the major difference being the additional volume and tone pot (2 X tone, 2 X volume) on the PRR DIY kit.
Guitar Kit World also offers a number of stock models, featuring beautiful maple veneer tops, mahogany bodies, and necks and maple fretboards. These tend to sell out fairly quickly, so if interested I’d recommend taking action quickly.
*Please bear in mind while these guitars are largely based on the PRS® design, there are differences including the neck contour.
DIY PRS® Guitar Build
The best PRS® DIY guitar kit option, if you are looking to match one of PRS®’s more iconic models is the custom model as you can choose from a number of body timbers, neck and fretboard timbers to recreate your dream guitar. There is also the added advantage of being able to order in both left and right-handed orientation.
If looking to build something similar to the PRS® custom 24 (PRS®’s first and most famous model) choose the following specifications:
- Model: PR
- Body Timber: Mahogany
- Veneer: Flamed Maple/ Quilted Maple
- Fretboard Timber: Rosewood
- Neck Joint: Set Neck
Assembling a PRS® guitar kit is a relatively straight-forward process when compared to the majority of our DIY guitar kits.
Wiring diagrams for both can be found below:
The finish is one of the more distinguishing features of the PRS®, and is considered a real feature for many. In fact, it’s been said that if there is even the slightest imperfection detected on a new PRS® finish or imperfection in the grain of the body timber that the entire guitar is discarded.
As a result, these guitars are known for their translucent, mirror-like gloss finishes with beautiful, accentuated grain patterns.
The best way to replicate the finish from the comfort of your own home is to first highlight the grain (giving the top a 3D appearance), stain the top of the guitar using a graduation of color from dark (on the outside) to light (nearest the center) similar to a sunburst and use a solid color or darker stain for the back of the guitar.
Highlighting the Grain
To highlight the grain of your maple veneer, we need to contrast it against the lighter stain that will be the main color of the guitar. This requires darkening the grain pattern of the top of your guitar to make it ‘pop’ and give it that 3-dimensional appearance.
The first step is to sand the guitar to a smooth finish and clean away any residue. If unsure of this process, be sure to read this article on how to effectively sand a guitar prior to finishing.
Next apply a dark stain to the top of the guitar, working the stain into the timber as much as possible. Once this step is complete, sand away any residual stain not absorbed by the grain. Keep in mind the veneer of your guitar is only quite thin, so tread lightly and take great care when sanding to avoid sand throughs by regularly checking your work and avoiding using particularly heavy grade sandpaper.
Once this step is complete you can simply stain the guitar as you would normally. I’d also recommend using a thick glossy clear finish, if unable to source this locally try an automotive shop as PRS® are rumored to also use automotive paints and finishes on many of their guitars.
Check out our how-to resources about guitar finishing:
- Guitar Finishing 101
- Guitar Finishing Safety
- Sanding a Guitar Body Prior to Painting
- Wood Grain Filler for Guitar Bodies
- How to Apply a Sunburst Guitar Finish
Building your own PRS® style DIY guitar kit is a lot of fun and due to the carefully considered shape and contours of the guitar body is one of the more aesthetically pleasing guitars currently on offer.
Bear in mind if looking to order stock models, these typically go very quickly. Your best bet will be to check our range and place an order as soon as they become available.