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This article was originally published in issue #28
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The PRS Custom 24 is one of the most iconic modern guitar designs and was revealed to the world at the 1985 NAMM show. Since then, Paul Reed Smith has expanded his business into a small empire with a vast range of models and artists using these wonderful instruments. So it might come as something of a surprise to learn that PRS has never issued a production model Custom 24 with that other iconic element of modern guitar design, the Floyd Rose - until now! For 2014 PRS are producing the ‘Floyd’ Custom 24 with an original Floyd Rose bridge, locking nut and their own \m/ (Metal) humbuckers.
The Floyd Custom 24 is very similar to its brethren in many ways, being constructed from a solid mahogany back with a carved flame or quilted maple top, available in all the usual range of finishes. Unlike the standard Custom 24 model, though, it features a flame maple neck with an ebony fretboard for a more immediate attack - suitable for more modern Metal and hard Rock styles - and, of course, the solid steel Floyd Rose bridge and locking nut for the ultimate in tuning stability during trem dives. This Custom 24 also sports PRS’s Phase III Locking Tuners, birds inlays and the very comfortable Pattern Thin neck shape, plus a standard 5-way selector switch and single Volume and Tone controls.
Our review sample featured a stunning flame maple top, described by the maker as a '10 Top'. This makes our sample an 'FM' version and you have the option of quilted maple if you prefer - in which case it becomes a 'QM'. We weren't quite sure how PRS defines '10 Top' but apparently (and this is from the company itself): “A very small percent of the maple trees cut in North America are actually figured. To make "10-Top" status, a PRS top must have clearly defined figure across its entire top with no "dead" spots. A guitar designated as a 10-Top will usually have a small "10" written on the back of the headstock in the upper right corner. Some of our earlier guitars have the "10" stamped into the finish in the same position.”
Clearly, this must be among the best wood PRS can source and it certainly impressed us. Then again, so did the quality of the mahogany back, flame maple neck and the ebony fretboard. Take it from us - the quality of materials used in this guitar are top notch: likewise the quality of manufacture. Workmanship with all of PRS’s custom instruments is always flawless and this Floyd Custom 24 was no exception with excellent finishing and fretwork and a solid feel to all the components throughout. The usual small touches such as the scraped binding around the body and intricate bird inlays and headstock signature add to the feel of custom shop quality and as ever, the sculpted body shape looks gorgeous with its recessed controls and contoured horns. A really nice touch is the lightly oiled finish on the neck, providing a fast and smooth feel, rather than a thick gloopy gloss that could provide too much sheen and polish when paired with the beautiful gloss finish on the body.
The Custom 24 has always provided a very comfortable and friendly player experience thanks to the ‘in-between’ 25” scale length and small body size. The Floyd version is no different and is a very accommodating guitar for those with smaller hands without being too compact for larger players. I’ve always found this scale length to be a nice compromise that works great with a 24 fret neck. The original Floyd Rose bridge works very well with no frills or design additions from PRS. It does exactly what you’d expect, just the way it always has and, thanks to the locking nut and locking tuners, remains perfectly in tune no matter how hard you abuse it. The bridge is recessed to allow for upward motion with the bar and the operation is smooth throughout with no spring creaking to speak of. The bridge is set-up for a lovely amount of sustained ‘flutter’ when the bar is struck and the guitar has a surprising amount of sustain, often a problem with Floyd style bridges.
Tonally, the Floyd Custom 24 is aimed at modern high gain sounds thanks to the pair of PRS designed ‘Metal’ humbuckers. Versatility is retained through the inclusion of a 5-way switch, allowing for parallel pairings of the neck and bridge humbuckers in single coil modes for three humbucking sounds and two single coil, Strat-like tones. The ‘Metal’ pickups are very dynamic, given their higher output values and have a distinct clarity and punch that is perfect for heavy riffs and low single note runs. In the neck position you can achieve fat clean tones for more Jazz-like excursions, with very convincing single coil tones in positions 2 and 4.
To pigeonhole this guitar into a Metal or Rock genre would be doing it an injustice as it's very capable as an all round guitar with only a little less body to the tone than a fixed bridge variant. Of course, having the Floyd Rose on board is a huge benefit for some and will represent the dream PRS for many.
The PRS Floyd Custom 24 is a great addition to the Custom 24 series and whilst expensive, it represents the upper echelons of guitar design and construction, so you get exactly what you pay for. If you can afford it then it’s a very worthwhile investment. If not, there’s always the SE model to consider!