First Impressions: 2022-spec PRS Silver Sky

I recently picked up a PRS Silver Sky guitar: the full-fat USA version, not the Silver Sky SE version.

What convinced me to buy one? How does it sound? Read on for all of that and more.

Table of Contents

What Did You Buy?

I bought a PRS Silver Sky guitar. I got one with the Moc Sand satin finish and a maple fingerboard.

I got mine from a PRS promotional event at GuitarGuitar’s Glasgow store. Although bought brand new, it’s actually a 2022 serial number. I ended up paying a lot less than the current asking price for a Silver Sky.

Why Did You Buy It?

First and foremost, because it both played well and sounded good.

In a really noisy guitar store (think of all the classic Guitar Center memes … that’s what it was like on the day 😕), the guitar still sounded really good. I was playing into a Marshall JVM 410 on the clean channel. The guitar sounded full with lots of clarity at the same.

It also played really well. I barely noticed the vintage-style 7.25” fretboard radius. I think that’s a testament to how well this guitar has been setup. I just sat there and ran through several pieces that I like to play … and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I’ll be honest: the price helped too.

Back in 2018 (when these cost a lot less), I tried a Silver Sky at GuitarGuitar’s Edinburgh store. My memory is that I found the guitar difficult to play and uninspiring to listen to. Kristi really liked the sound, though, which did keep the curiosity alive. Just not enough to do anything about it until now!

Let’s Talk More About Price

Today, the asking price for a brand new Silver Sky has risen to £2,799. I can’t get a definite answer out of Google (what is going on with Google’s search results these days?!?), but I believe that the Silver Sky launched in the UK at around £2,200?

I’ve always struggled with how PRS has priced the Silver Sky. It’s borderline not worth it for me.

The problem for me isn’t the instrument, it’s how much it might get used. At the end of the day, I spend most of my time playing Les Paul-style guitars into tweed-tone amps or pedals. I haven’t played Strats regularly for over a decade now.

That’s starting to change this year. One thing my PRS Paul’s Guitar taught me is that what I actually wanted was a great Strat and a great Tele. Last year was all about the Telecaster; this year I’ve been easing back into playing Strats once again.

Even though I bought the Paoletti in the summer, I remained curious about the Silver Sky. That curiosity wouldn’t go away, but I just couldn’t find one at a price that worked for me.

Older Versions Are Available Cheaper

At the time of writing, there’s plenty of UK stores (including GuitarGuitar where I bought mine from) advertising brand new PRS Silver Sky guitars for a lot less than the £2,799 price.

However, they seem to be older stock from before 2021. And the same goes for many of the second-hand examples that I’ve looked at this year.

Why do I mention 2021?

The PRS Silver Sky has evolved a lot since it was first introduced. According to the community, pickups, neck carve, fret size and body finish have all changed between 2018 and 2021. I like what I read about the changes, and decided that I at least wanted to try a 2022-spec model for myself.

The new specs have been here at least a couple of years now. They must be alright, otherwise surely all the shops would have sold out of the older models by now? That was my thinking, anyway.

What About The PRS Silver Sky SE?

I’ve only played one – at the same event that I bought this one from – and I wasn’t tempted at all. For me, side by side, the USA model was substantially better: sounded better, more comfortable to hold, and more comfortable to play.

If I hadn’t liked the USA Silver Sky that I bought, I wouldn’t have bought the SE Silver Sky instead; I would have left without buying any kind of Silver Sky. It just wasn’t for me.

Comfortable And Lightweight

Since my operation in 2021, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the joy of reaching for lighter guitars.

When Jez handed me the USA Silver Sky to try, the first thing I noticed was just how light it is. It’s not feather light or anything, just noticeably lighter than I’m used to from Strats. That weight translated into being very comfortable to hold and play for long periods. It felt nicely balanced.

Whenever I switch back to Fenders from my PRS Paul’s Guitar or Gibson Les Paul, the Fender guitars always feel like they have physically larger bodies. They feel constrictive against me. I didn’t notice that at all with the Silver Sky. When I got the guitar home, Kristi also said that it felt a lot more comfortable than a Fender Strat.

The Satin Finish Deserves A Chef’s Kiss

I’m not a fan of PRS’s regular gloss finishes (to put it mildly). The finish on the body tends to magnify small knocks (compared to my Les Paul), while gloss finishes on the neck tend to stick to my hands. On my Paul’s Guitar, the gloss finish also seems to build up a static charge.

I didn’t realise that the Moc Sand model had switched from gloss to satin until I played mine. It won me over instantly.

The satin Moc Sand finish feels as good to hold as it looks in all of PRS’s promo shots. It’s really smooth and feels good to the touch. My arm doesn’t stick to it at all when playing.

The same goes for the neck. It’s also got a satin finish that feels very close to an oiled wood finish to me. It’s never grabby or sticky. It’s perfect for me.

The Neck Is Big, Compared To Fender’s Modern Strats

Back when I bought my first Telecaster, my friend and owner Andrew told me that it’s often the guitar neck that sells the guitar. That was certainly a contributing factor here.

The neck carve is definitely bigger than I’ve experienced on USA-factory Fender Strats. I wouldn’t describe it as a baseball bat or anything. Although it’s a different carve, it reminds me of my PRS McCarty 594’s neck, and the way that it’s very rounded to avoid feeling as large as it is.

For me, that’s another plus. My tastes have changed over the years, and I’ve come to prefer playing guitars with bigger necks.

The Fingerboard Radius Was Never A Problem For Me

The USA Silver Sky has a vintage-style 7.25” fretboard radius. Even though I typically play guitars with a 12” radius, I had no problems whatsoever playing the Silver Sky.

The only time I noticed it was when I switched to the Silver Sky SE, which I believe has an 8.5” radius? That felt alien to me, and harder to play than the USA Silver Sky. I can’t rationalise why that was. I was expecting it to be the other way round.

If you’re interested in one yourself, my advice is to go to a shop like GuitarGuitar where you can try both models side-by-side. No review can tell you which fretboard radius you’ll get on with, or (more importantly) if you won’t get on with one or both options.

The Pickups Sound Like A 60’s Strat To Me

To my ears, the pickups have a similar tone to the Bare Knuckle Pickups 63 Veneers that I’ve got in my green Fender Strat. While they’re in the same ballpark, there’s clear differences too between the two sets of pickups.

Here’s how my Fender Strat sounds, using the neck and middle pickups together. I’m running it into the NUX Horseman and the NUX Sixty Five overdrive pedal.

Modded Fender Player Strat > Horseman > Sixty Five Drive > Axe-FX 3

And here’s how my Silver Sky sounds, into the exact same signal chain:

Silver Sky > Horseman > Sixty Five Drive > Axe-FX 3

There’s a lot more output from the pickups on the Silver Sky. I had to turn the volume down to around 9 to get that tone (so that I didn’t have to touch the settings on the pedals).

With the Silver Sky, I’m hearing less bass and more note attack, which I think translates into extra clarity. Maybe it’s psychosomatic, I don’t know, but I think I’m hearing more complexity in the tone from the Silver Sky too. There’s something extra there that I can’t quite put my finger on.

I still like how laid back and mellow my green Strat sounds. But position 4 on the Strat has always been just a little bit off from what I’m looking for. A little bit too much phase-cancellation going on, perhaps.

With the Silver Sky, I think I’m finally there.

Any QC Issues?

Nope. That’s a nice change 🙂

(I’ve had five PRS guitars over the years, all brand new from stores. Two of them came with QC issues that – in my humble opinion – directly affect their capabilities as musical instruments. That said, I love those two guitars dearly, they’ve become very important to me, and together they’re the guitars I’ve played the most over the last few years.)

Any Design Problems?

Just the one.

For some reason, PRS has copied Fender, and used those horrible grub screws in the bridge saddles. You know, the ones that will happily rip your hand to shreds if you regularly palm mute at the bridge 🙁

It’s 2023. Surely we can do better than that by now?

Does It Have A Name?

It does. I’m going to be calling it The Fox.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has a story of the one that got away.

Mine is a 2012 Fender Custom Deluxe Stratocaster that I played in Andertons. It had a stunning birdseye maple neck and a set of Abby’s pickups in it. I must have spent an hour or more with it in the shop. At the time, it was the best Strat I’d ever played.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford it at the time. I’ve spent years watching to see if it would ever turn up on the second-hand market. As far as I can tell, it never has.

After buying the Silver Sky, I deleted my saved searches for that Custom Deluxe Strat. I’m good now on that front.

Between the Silver Sky and the Paoletti that I got in the summer, I feel that I’ve got the Strat thing well and truly covered now. The Silver Sky gives me my idealised 60s Strat sound in a very ergonomic package, while the Paoletti gives me the whole Super-Strat thing and a single-coil Strat sound that’s all of its own.

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