Gear News: The 2020 PRS McCarty 594s

This conversation was originally posted to my Twitter feed.

A couple of very interesting bits of new gear announced today.

  • PRS are updating the McCarty 594 range to sound bang-on like a vintage burst.
  • And UAD are releasing new Apollo desktop interfaces, including something I’ve always wanted: an Apollo x4.

Tim Pierce has a video up about the McCarty 594 changes:

Chicago Music Exchange has a great comparison too:

And Sweetwater has a good video about the Apollo x4 here:

The 2020 594’s Have A New Sound

I’ve mixed feelings about the updates to the McCarty 594.

As much as I adore the Les Paul, the 594 is simply a better designed instrument. Better intonation, better tuning stability. I would gig a 594 over a Les Paul every single time.

There’s two flavours of the 594: singlecut, and double cut (which is what I have). In my experience, they often sound quite different.

I like the double cut 594 because it doesn’t sound like my Les Paul. Yes, it’s vintage-voiced, with that emphasis on the upper mids. It has its own tone, and it suits me perfectly.

I literally spent a quarter of a century searching for that tone.

The singlecut 594 is different again … the best way I can describe it is to say it’s like a muscle car in guitar form. Big, deep tones. Some distance away from the sound of a Les Paul.

Singlecut 594s with ebony boards can get quite close to the Les Paul. The sharper attack and snappier top-end is just gorgeous. The only reason I don’t own one is that my hand sticks to PRS gloss necks 🙁

I can understand PRS wanting to revoice the singlecut 594 to sound like the holy grail of guitars: the vintage bursts. But I’m glad that I have one of the older doublecuts. And I’m sad that the 594 tone won’t be a thing in future years.

#CoffeeAndKlon 10: My Desert Island Guitar

This conversation was originally posted to my Twitter feed.

Good morning! I hope you’re all having a great weekend so far. I’m still buzzing from playing all those PRS Guitars over @astringsuk on Friday night. Or is it just the coffee? #CoffeeAndKlon

Coffee this morning is the very last of the Sumatran that I was drinking last week. I forgot that the machine was almost out of beans. It’s got about half the coffee it should have. I might have second coffee in a bit.


Last week, I started talking about my Desert Island rig. One thing I didn’t do was establish any rules or constraints on what could be in the rig.

I’ve been thinking that over, and I’m feeling torn about that.

An #AnythingGoesDreamRig, where the only limit is your imagination, has its own appeal for sure. I’d love to learn what kind of gear you’d choose if you could – and why you’d go for that gear in particular.

So that could be a thing.

The rig I’ve been thinking about though is more of a #MySoundMyRig kind of thing … the gear that gives me ‘my’ sound, whatever that is. I don’t know about you, but if I was stuck on a desert island, I’d be happier with that than any other kind of rig.

My rig starts at the guitar. And it’s not a Les Paul. It’s my PRS McCarty 594, in the only colour they should ever be made in.


I’ve got two stories to share about this guitar, which is affectionately named Deadnote. I’ll save the story behind its name for another time 🙂

When I bought this guitar, I had two 594s to choose between: this, or a Private Stock model. The Private Stock model was an amazing instrument. It rang like a bell, with a clarity that I loved. It very nearly came home with me.

But it was actually this one that I bonded with, right there and then in the shop. This one’s got a bit more bark to it. Stick it in front of some dirt, and it does the growl thing that I love.

I had the same experience Friday night, playing some gorgeous Private Stock guitars. As instruments, they were perfect for highly technical players who could make use of that extra clarity. But the tier below had that bark, that attitude that works better for me.

The second story?

I’ve been collaborating musically with Tess on and off since 92. The moment she heard me playing this guitar, she told me that this gives me the sound I’ve been searching for all that time. When others hear it, you know you’ve found it.

The 594 gives me what I love about the Les Paul – the scale length, the control layout and location, the vintage voicing. It also has tuning stability, intonation, and usable coil split sounds that I haven’t found on any Les Paul.

I would gig a 594 over a Les Paul every time.

So yeah, the first piece of #MySoundMyRig for the desert island is the PRS McCarty 594. What guitar would you be shipwrecked with? I’d love to hear how you found the guitar that gives you ‘your’ sound.

Have a great weekend, and next week I’ll talk about the next piece of my signal chain for this rig: the tuner 🙂

PRS SE Line In Limited Stealth Gray

PRS have done a limited run of SE range guitars with quilt tops and a faded satin gray finish. Chappers and The Captain have got their hands on them and boy do they sound good,

These are (almost?) the bottom of PRS’s product line, and that’s reflected in the little things that Chappers point out in the video. But don’t let that put you off.

Listen to the opening jam. That’s one of the best lead tones that Chappers has had on an Andertons video this year. And that’s carried through throughout the entire video.

Watch the video to hear how good they sound, and then head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment.

PRS MT 15 Amp Demo

Shawn Tubbs has taken a look at the new PRS MT 15 amp. These were announced at NAMM, and look very interesting indeed.

This is Mark Tremonti’s new signature amp, featuring a Fender-style clean channel with 3 band EQ and a lead channel with melt-your-face levels of aggressive gain. It runs a pair of 6L6s in the power stage – very unusual in a 15 watt amp – and 5 preamp tubes.

Sadly, we don’t get to hear if it takes pedals well. That’s a shame, because this lunchbox head will launch in June for under 500 GBP. There’s nothing from Fender to compete at that price. Pair it with a Marshall Origin, and you could have a dual-amp pedal platform at an amazing price.

Watch the video for more details, and then head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment.

Andertons Unveils New Fender Signature Models

Andertons are back with a world exclusive! After PRS took a Fender Strat and stuck a PRS headstock on it, Fender are hitting back with new signature models from Slash and Carlos Santana. After all, if PRS can take an iconic guitar and slap a new headstock on it, why can’t Fender slap one of the most iconic headstocks of all time on a PRS guitar too?

This is an April Fools’ joke from Andertons, based on how the guitar community has reacted to the PRS Silver Sky. The two guitars in the video do exist, and are currently being auctioned on eBay for charity. Full links are in the video description on YouTube, so click through if you fancy bidding on either of these instruments!

PRS Silver Sky vs Original Fender 1965 Stratocaster

The first batch of PRS Silver Sky guitars is out in the wild. Tim Pierce has borrowed one, and he’s posted a comparison of the Silver Sky vs an original Fender Stratocaster from 1965 – a guitar that costs about 10 times as much as the Silver Sky.

Have a listen.

I couldn’t hear a difference between the two guitars, not in the mix at any rate. And, honestly, I think that’s impressive.

Folks have been trying to recreate the fabled 59 Les Paul tone for decades, and so far no-one – including PRS – has managed to do so. We’ve ended up with some really good instruments to choose from if we don’t want a Gibson, but that hallowed tone has remained elusive. (In part because no-one can agree on what it is …). The PRS McCarty 594 is a fantastic guitar, but it does not sound like a Les Paul.

With the Silver Sky, it appears that PRS have managed to recreate that 60s Strat tone, and then improve on both the tone and the playing experience.

Once people get over the headstock, I’m sure this guitar is here to stay.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed Tim’s video.

John Mayer Talks PRS Silver Sky

I promise that I’ll stop posting about the PRS Silver Sky soon. Before I do, I have to share with you John Mayer’s own thoughts on his new guitar.

He’s not pulling any punches here. He tackles the guitar’s Fender heritage, why he went to PRS for this guitar, what makes it different from a Fender Strat, and where the time went on designing the Silver Sky. If you want to understand how he sees this guitar, it’s compulsory viewing.

The key thing I took away from this is that this all started with tone.  He wanted something that looked like a Strat, and played like a Strat, but that addressed some of the things he didn’t like about the Fender Strat sound. Paul Reed Smith is all about tone in a way that few other guitar builders are. And things evolved from there to become the Silver Sky that we’ve all been talking about.

Whether you like John Mayer or not, he deserves credit for putting out a video like this. It’s not some slick PR video. It’s just John talking into his phone on a livestream. How many other mega-artists would do this?

Sadly, he doesn’t post directly to YouTube, and I don’t know where the original video was posted. I couldn’t find it on Instagram or on Facebook.

PRS Silver Sky – John Mayer Rig Shootout

Today, we have a different kind of demo from Peach Guitars. They’ve done a shootout between John Mayer’s current rig – PRS Silver Sky and JMOD amp – and his old, pre-PRS rig – Fender 63 Stratocaster and a Two-Rock amp.

The PRS Silver Sky continues to be the most talked about guitar of 2018. I still can’t figure why it’s generated the reaction that it has – including my own reaction.

The more I hear it though, the more I’m interested in trying one for myself. To my ears, it sounds like a lot has gone into tuning it to be a great guitar for completely clean tones. That’s where I used to live before moving onto Les Pauls. I’d love to find the right guitar to go back to that style one day.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed Peach Guitars’ video.

Which Is The Best Strat – Fender, Suhr, PRS

Not to be outdone by Anderton’s PRS Silver Sky video today, Thomann have shot a shootout video comparing a real Fender Strat against two of its competitors – Suhr (who used to work for Fender) Classic Pro and the new PRS Silver Sky.

It’s wonderfully click-bait-y – but do we learn anything from this video? I’m not sure that we do.

I didn’t hear much difference between the three – and nowhere near the amount of difference that I was expecting. The extra low end we heard the PRS Silver Sky do on the Andertons video isn’t there, and neither is the high-end from the Suhr’s stainless steel frets. I played a Suhr Classic Pro about a month ago, and in person that extra high-end is far from subtle.

So yeah, I’m surprised, and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed Kris’s video.

PRS Silver Sky Demo and Discussion

The PRS Silver Sky has been the most-discussed guitar of 2018 … and now Andertons are weighing in with their thoughts. Oh, and they have one to demo for us too.

This is a great video, and not at all the kind of sales-y video you might be expecting. From a first unboxing to first impression playing to discussing many of the points raised online – including comparing it to Fender Strats – there’s a lot of useful ground covered.

One thing in particular – there’s plenty of string bends in this video, showing that the vintage radius isn’t going to cause string bends to choke out.

For me, it sounds fantastic in this video. It has that quintessential Strat tone in buckets. There’s both a top-end snap and a bottom end chime that I personally look for from Strats and the like. The pickups seem nicely balanced in output too, and across the full range of the neck.

When they’re more readily available, I’m definitely going to try one out.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed this video.