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This article was originally published in issue #57
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The P90s deliver a reassuringly vintage-sounding “clong” that’s excellent for surf tones, garage rock or fuzz-drenched stoner rock or doom riffage.
Absolutely perfect for the “other side” of low tunings - surf, slide, doom, stoner rock, you name it!
It’s a European exclusive run, so readers outside of the EU will have to settle for a regular SE 277.
Semi-hollow with F-hole
Quilted maple veneer top
703 mm Scale
PRS SE 277 Semi-Hollow Baritone Stealth Satin Quilt Limited Edition
MSRP £799 (UK) $N/A (US)
Brand new for 2018, and only for a limited time, PRS has produced a special edition of their SE range topped with Quilted Maple, and finished in a Satin Grey Black "Stealth" finish. Nick Jennison gives us the lowdown on the extended range option, with the PRS SE 277 semi-hollow baritone guitar.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll already know just how good PRS’s SE range of guitars are. The sheer volume of guitars being produced for PRS in East Asia allows them to keep prices very competitive while still producing some seriously good instruments. It also allows for the production of limited edition runs across multiple instruments, such as the Exotic Top range, or the 2018 “Stealth” line.
The Stealth range is a European exclusive range and features a hand rubbed satin finish in Grey Black over a quilted maple top, paired with slick blacker-than-black ebony fretboard (which has the added benefit of keeping these guitars CITES free, further reducing the cost). There are no less than eight guitars in the range, with 22 and 24 fretters, a Floyd option, a lefty, Tremonti and Zack Myers signature models and two extended range options - the new SE SVN and the 277 Semi-Hollow Baritone, the latter of which we’re looking at today.
Let’s start with a few thoughts on why you might want a baritone guitar over, say, a regular scale electric tuned low. Well, allow me to waft my hair at you because it’s time for the science bit:
- There are two ways to increase string tension: make the string bigger, or make the scale length longer.
- A standard 25.5” scale guitar using a set of 10s tuned E to E produces 16.2lb of tension on the 1st string and 16.9lb on the 6th string.
- The same 25.5” scale guitar tuned B-B would need a .0135 (yes, thirteen-and-a-half) to .060 set to maintain the similar tension.
- A 27.7” scale guitar (like the SE 277) would only require a .012 to .056 set to maintain a similar tension to the 25.5” scale guitar with 10s tuned E-E.
You may be thinking “that doesn’t seem that much of a difference, I’ll just go out and get some .0135-0.60 gauge strings and tune my guitar down”. Not so fast. Aside from the availability of said strings and the havoc, it’d wreak on your nut and saddles, strings this thick on a regular scale guitar can sound pretty muddy! The longer scale length of a baritone yields a much livelier and snappier response that makes for a much more vibrant and lovely tone - not to mention a clearer presence in a mix!
“That’s all fair and well, but why would I want to tune that low anyway?”, I hear you ask. “Isn’t that a metal thing?”. While it’s true that most long scale, low tuned instruments are aimed squarely at the metal market with solid body construction and fire-breathing humbuckers, the SE 277 has a different player in mind. The P90s deliver a reassuringly vintage-sounding “clong” that’s excellent for surf tones, garage rock or fuzz-drenched stoner rock or doom riffage. It’s also an absolutely astounding guitar for slide playing, where those huge strings and rich low voice really shine. Additionally, the relative position of the two P90s is much wider than you’d expect to find on a regular scale instrument, making for a huge and open sounding “middle” pickup selection with comparatively little phase cancellation.
There’s a phrase we use over at GI towers: “this one’s got songs in it”. It describes a piece of gear that inspires you to play (and hopefully, create) in a way that you otherwise wouldn’t have. This guitar is a perfect example of what we’re talking about. It’s an instrument with a unique and inspiring voice, and when you pair that with PRS’s renowned build quality and playability you end up with a guitar that’s very difficult to put down.