In a world filled with Strat-type guitars, it takes a lot to set one apart, let alone stand above. The PRS Silver Sky was one that did. Can the SE version achieve similar status?
It’s common for PRS to produce an import SE edition of its more-popular guitars, and the plan for the SE Silver Sky came before the original “Core” model was developed. To bring the cost down, concessions were made including non-locking tuners and a synthetic nut; poplar sourced from China was selected for the body due to concerns over the supply of alder. But, they kept the traditional combination of maple neck with rosewood fretboard. A number of prototypes were sent to guitarist John Mayer during the Silver Sky SE’s development, and he selected the two-point vibrato as well as finish colors.
The SE has an 81/2″ fretboard radius because PRS felt the 71/4″ radius of the Core model could present challenges for fret leveling and setup in larger-scale manufacturing. Another nice touch is the SE’s shielded pickup cavity – the Core model’s is not.
Underneath, the SE pickups look similar to other Strat-style pickups, but each has six additional pole pieces. PRS says the “extra” poles are simply a design element that helped achieve the guitar’s desired sound.
Acoustically, the body is extremely resonant, which can be felt in the player’s body. Plugged in, its tone is on the sweeter side, with smooth, vocal-like mids and clear highs. Positions two and four on the five-way selector switch yield the cluck of a vintage instrument, and the standout is the bridge pickup, which can provide the expected jangle but has a midrange girth that avoids having it compared to a “two-and-a-half-pickup” Strat. Fretboard radius allows strings to be set low while making barre chords easier to play further up the neck.
With flawless fit and finish, excellent tonal characteristics, and a manageable price, the PRS Silver Sky rises above the common Stratosphere.
This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.