Guitar Lesson 16d: Dan’s modified PRS and talk about volume pedals and buffers
TITU’s mini-series on dialling in better tone using your guitar controls
Externally published supporting article: IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT GUITAR TONE
In this lesson Dan demonstrates the range of tone available just using the tone and volume controls on his PRS. This guitar is the latest to Dan’s collection and I’m sure that you agree, it sounds phenomenal. Part of the reason for this, other than the superb workmanship that goes into Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 guitars, is the fact that Dan changed his 85/15 humbuckers for Suhr Thornbuckers – so named because they were inspired by Pete Thorn, a truly incredible player, a lovely guy and a real guitar geek:
From the outset, tone was our primary concern. We were inspired by Pete Thorn’s frustration with existing boutique pickups to create a pickup set that delivered clarity, versatility and soul. Pete came to us and said, “I have played many two-humbucker instruments that have failed to inspire. Many work great into a dirty amp, but try and play clean, or semi-dirty, especially in the neck or middle positions, and it is mud city! And if I switched mid-gig to a guitar with single coils, it was often like a different tonal universe, requiring adjustments to my amp and effects. It started to seem almost like the norm. And yet, my experience with great examples of vintage guitars taught me that it was indeed possible to get versatility, clarity, and inspiring clean and semi-dirty tones out of humbuckers.”
Taken from Suhr’s website: https://www.suhr.com/pickups/humbucker-pickups/suhr-thornbucker-signature-pickups/
I have to agree, listening to this podcast that these pickups create a different flavour of tone on Dan’s PRS. I’m tempted, but can’t really justify the expense, so I am sticking with the 85/15s which are lovely pickups, but possibly a little too boomy in the lower tone settings.
You can hear and see Dan using this guitar on our YouTube Channel where we have uploaded our first video – this complements a lesson on Jazzy and Funky improvisation which should come out at the start of August. Don’t forget to subscribe to this channel as we are anticipating much more content to come out like this in the future.
This is the room where all of our podcast episodes are recorded: Notice the cot on which a PRS case is resting, the other cases to the right and the size of the room. This is Dan’s daughters’ bedroom, which we acquire the use of for our lessons; you may have heard some of the background noise of children playing and making sounds? We hope that this, rather than detract from our podcast, adds to the authenticity and rawness of our content. We often laugh at the setup which we use and wonder who would guess it was like this.
The amp we are going through for all of episode 16 (a) through to (d) is my own Hughes and Kettner 18W Tubemeister Combo with 12″ speakers:
The podcast is recorded using an H2 recorder:
Once Dan has demonstrated the range of tones he can dial in, again only using the controls and pickup switching on the guitar, we finish this episode with some discussion about clean boosts, volume pedals and EQ pedals (the Boss GE7 is the only pedal we use here for some more oomph)
In these lessons, Dan demonstrates to Gary how you can use these controls on different guitars with the setting on the amplifier left untouched. It really is incredible how with a little understanding you can dial in such a range of tone from the controls which are always under your fingers. For example, knowing that the ‘treble bleed circuit’ will decrease the bass from your signal as you lower the volume means that you will realise that with a low volume you will get a thinner twangier sound and diminish the boom of the bass. Likewise, adding volume will increase the thickness, distortion and crunch which you have already dialled into your amplifier.
While we are talking about Pete Thorn, it is worth mentioning his work either the late great Chris Cornell RIP May 2017. This video which Pete uploaded was a good watch and helped me to feel closer to the man behind the music. Many thanks Pete:
Covered in this mini-series:
16a) Dan demonstrates the versatility of Gary’s PRS without touching the amp
16b) Dan shows us that it is possible to get a thick, humbucker-type tone on a Stratocaster
16c) Dan gets a twangy, single coil-type tone with his Les Paul
16d) Dan puts his own PRS through its paces
See this extra detail from other players via our question on Quora: Question on Quora