PRS Alex Lifeson Signature
Price: $8,999 (list)
What do you call the most beautifully made production acoustic you’ve ever seen? You might consider calling it the Paul Reed Smith Alex Lifeson Signature acoustic guitar. With a European spruce top that has enough bear-claw figure to lead one to suspect they brought in a real bear to do the work, and so much colored Paua that in bright light you might want to don sunglasses, the Alex Lifeson model is an exercise in achieving perfection.
While similar in shape to PRS’s Angelus Cutaway and Tonare Grand, the Alex Lifeson body is slightly thinner. Complementing the aforementioned spruce top are highly figured Koa back and sides, a mahogany neck, and an ebony bridge, fretboard, and headstock veneer. As one would expect from a premium PRS, the fretboard is adorned with mother-of-pearl and Paua inlays, in addition to Paua purfling along the top, fretboard, and headstock.
The sound of the Alex Lifeson is geared toward the acoustic electric player. As a purely acoustic instrument the Alex Lifeson has excellent single-note definition and clarity. The guitar played evenly up and down the neck, but it wasn’t quite as loud as several reference acoustics such as the Gibson Advanced Jumbo or True Vintage J-45. Also, the bass of the Alex Lifeson Signature didn’t have as much power or extension as either of the two Gibsons or a Taylor 814 also used for comparison. This paucity of bass is a mixed blessing when the guitar is used purely as an acoustic instrument, but when electrified the Lifeson’s bass response proves easy to control with very little in the way of runaway or excess bloom.
Setup on the direct-from-the-factory test guitar was adequate, but obviously anyone purchasing an Alex Lifeson Signature from a PRS dealer will have the dealer do a final setup. As it came from the factory, the test guitar had some room to lower the action, which would have improved the already good playability to the sort of level that PRS has become known for on their electric instruments.
If you see a PRS Alex Lifeson in the flesh, give it a serious once-over, because if you are looking for a primo acoustic-electric instrument the Alex Lifeson could be one of the nicest acoustics you’ll ever see or hear.
This article originally appeared in VG February 2015 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.