Paul Reed Smith Announces the John Mayer Super Eagle II

PRS Super Eagle II

Great news coming out of Stevensville, Maryland today! PRS Guitars announce the debut of the new John Mayer Super Eagle II. This private stock guitar is limited to 120 pieces worldwide, comes in hemp green, and is absolutely gorgeous.

Here is the official release:

(STEVENSVILLE, MD) June 6, 2017 – It’s no secret that John Mayer’s main guitar for The Dead & Company tour has been the PRS Super Eagle that launched last spring. During the 2016 tour, PRS made Mayer a second version of that instrument with some updated woods and aesthetic appointments. Mayer played the Super Eagle II on the very last show of the 2016 tour and is continuing to play it for The Dead & Company 2017 summer tour. PRS and Mayer are excited to offer this new version, the Super Eagle II, to fans and collectors.

“Just like with the first edition Super Eagle, you’re literally getting the same guitar that is in John’s rig.  It’s been an honor to help create a tool that John can use to work with Dead & Company and beyond,” said Paul Reed Smith.

Some of the specifications Mayer and Smith collaborated on for this special run of instruments include a longer (for PRS) scale length of 25.375”, specially-wound 58/15 JM treble and bass pickups with a specially-wound Narrowfield JM pickup in the middle position (with three individual coil-tap mini-switches), a JCF Audio preamp with treble boost, as well as a hand-signed sticker in the f-hole of the guitar that was designed by Mayer’s friend David Smith (who also designed the cover art for Mayer’s 2012 “Born and Raised” album). The pickups deliver a bright, clear tone that has been heard in venues across the USA in Mayer’s recent performances with the Grateful Dead.

Some new woods and aesthetic choices were also selected for the Super Eagle II, including a one piece Private Stock curly maple back, African blackwood fingerboard and headstock veneer, paua birds and a green ripple abalone 12th fret violin bird and Private Stock eagle, as well as a new color: Hemp Green.

The Private Stock Super Eagle II is a highly-sophisticated instrument that at once reveres the history of guitar-making and guitar tone but pushes the boundaries of materials, design, and craftsmanship. The resulting instrument embodies the PRS Private Stock culture of meticulous workmanship as well as Mayer’s keen eye for playability, tone, and detail.

The Private Stock Super Eagle II will be limited to 120 instruments. Full specifications are available at www.prsguitars.com.

About PRS Guitars:

Paul Reed Smith Guitars is a leading manufacturer of high quality instruments in Stevensville, Maryland and has provided some of the world’s most renowned musicians with instruments since 1985. The PRS team of highly skilled craftspeople design and build a wide variety of musical instruments and gear for worldwide distribution, including electric, acoustic, and bass guitars as well as boutique-style guitar amplifiers. The PRS SE line of products complements the Maryland-made PRS line by offering highly approachable and more affordable electric, acoustic, and bass guitars. Carlos Santana, Neal Schon, John McLaughlin, John Mayer, Linkin Park, Orianthi, Blake Shelton, Mark Tremonti, Zach Myers of Shinedown, Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line, David Grissom, Martin Simpson, Tony McManus, and Derek Trucks are among the artists currently playing PRS instruments and/or amplifiers.

PRS Guitars Info: www.prsguitars.com

PRS Super Eagle II

PRS Super Eagle II – back

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Santana & Journey were Timeless at The Forum

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

On Sunday night, thousands of L.A. concertgoers were treated to a rare double billing of two rock titans: Santana and Journey. On any other night, each of these bands are headliners, but for this special night, they shared the stage and churned out hit after hit for nearly a combined four hours.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Carlos Santana and his band took the stage first and didn’t waste any time getting the crowd going. His signature brand of Latin-infused rock and blues had the crowd dancing from the front row to the last seat in the house. Playing fan favorites like “Maria Maria,” “Smooth,” and “Oye Como Va” really got the band going and it was evident that they were enjoying themselves as much as the audience. One special moment during Santana’s set was when Neal Schon came out and joined the band in playing “No One to Depend On.” The genuine happiness could be seen on the faces of Carlos and Neal as they traded licks on this classic song. Toward the end of the set, Carlos enlisted the help of a little boy to help him strum a few notes on his signature PRS guitar before ending the night with “Love, Peace and Happiness.”

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Shortly after 9pm, the house lights went dark at the “Fabulous” Forum and Journey started their show. For two hours, they played one memorable song after another while the sold out crowd eagerly sang along. Singer, Arnel Pineda, was dynamic all evening as he worked every part of the stage, connected with the fans, and was vocally impressive. Seeing Neal Schon dazzle with his fretboard fireworks was a highlight for me as a guitar player. His performance during “Lights” on a vintage Strat was notable, especially as nearly 20,00 fans lit up the venue with their phones. Other standouts from the night included “Open Arms,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin,’” which was their closing song.  

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Both Journey and Santana have an extensive list of notable, chart topping songs that have been the soundtrack to the lives of so many. This night was a celebration of music, their fans, and to the longevity of these two historic acts. These two bands will share the bill once more during Labor Day weekend in San Francisco along with Steve Miller and the Doobie Brothers. If you’re in the area, this is definitely a show you will not want to miss.

Santana

Santana @ The Forum

Journey

Journey @ The Forum

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Signature Style: Cost Effective Quality

It seems like more and more artists are getting signature model guitars and these guitars are being made overseas to make them more cost effective to hopefully get them into the hands of more people. As a guitar player, do you think that the quality of a particular instrument diminishes because it is made outside of the U.S.? Are U.S. made guitars superior to guitars made in China or Indonesia? Is the feel and sound of the instrument all that matters and all that should matter? These are all very important and relevant questions that should be addressed.

First off, I know many guitar players who refuse to play another artist’s guitar. Some have a problem with someone else’s name on the guitar, while others believe that the guitar should be for that artist or their fans. Personally, I have no issues in playing or owning a signature model guitar. I like that they tend to have different specs or features not on stock models and at times, they are limited production models, and have some added value. Some guitars are very artist specific like the various James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett ESP and LTD models, while other artists like Eric Johnson or The Edge have understated Fender Stratocaster signature models. It all comes down to the preference and style of the consumer and they type of guitar they feel like playing.

So if you’re the type of musician who would own a signature guitar, do you care if it is made in the U.S. or overseas? There are some musicians who if they buy a signature model, will only buy a U.S. made model because they believe the quality or sound is superior. I have owned a number of signature models and have not found that belief to be true. I care more about how the guitar sounds or feels in my hands than where it is made. I’ve played so many guitars that I can tell almost instantly if it works for my needs. One of my favorites was a 2006 Jackson Dominion that was made in Japan. The guitar could do anything and sounded phenomenal. These guitars are now made in Indonesia as are most Jackson Pro Series models, but that hasn’t hurt the playability or quality.

Recently, artists like Matt Heafy, Brent Hinds, and even the legendary Tony Iommi have announced Epiphone signature models. Each of these musicians could very easily have a Gibson signature line, but have realized that what matters is playability and reliability. If that can be achieved by making a guitar overseas and keeping the costs more affordable to the consumer then it is a great balance. Even Hinds’ fellow guitarist in Mastodon, Bill Kelliher has recently left Gibson to sign with ESP and his first model is a LTD signature that will be released in the Fall. These artist signatures aren’t just limited to Epiphone endorsees either; Paul Reed Smith has announced a PRS SE model for Periphery’s Mark Holcomb that joins other guitars in the signature SE line with artists like Santana and Mark Tremonti. This is just an example of a few guitar manufacturers that have taken their production of signature models overseas and haven’t sacrificed any quality or playability. Guitar god Zakk Wylde started his own company, Wylde Audio, to produce instruments, amps, and pedals. The first few models have begun shipping and production of all of those instruments takes place in Asia. The trend is going toward high quality, but cost effective instruments that sound great regardless of where they are manufactured.

To those signature guitar naysayers: more often than not, there is another name on that single cut Gibson electric guitar, and that signature model has done pretty well.

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Santana Delivers a Supernatural Performance in Vegas

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Carlos Santana and his band put on a spellbinding performance in front of a sold out crowd at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. For 2 hours, this musical legend took the captive audience through a journey of familiar hits that spawned over 4 decades. The energetic crowd fed off the energy from the band, and the band seemed to play even more inspired music as a result. Santana’s playing was expressive, passionate, and, at times, jaw dropping. Some standout songs from the night were “Jingo,” “Evil Ways,” and “Hope You’re Feeling Better,” which also had some teases of “Purple Haze” that Carlos worked into the solo.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Santana, a longtime PRS player, played an exquisite Singlecut model with a stellar red colored maple top. This was a custom built guitar for Carlos by Paul Reed Smith and I hope they decide to do a production model of this one. He also used a classic looking gold top Singlecut later on in the set, and that guitar was equally as nice. A key component of the Santana tone is the Mesa Boogie Mark I and that modest sized combo amp is a tone-lovers dream. The Santana sound is iconic, desirable, and comforts my soul.

It was impressive how tight and cohesive the band was musically, and how much they seemed to love playing this music. The joy in the faces of the band as they played was echoed throughout the crowd as they were smiling back. The music is a mixture of many styles including: Latin, Afro-Cuban, Jazz, and Rock and it all worked in an amazing musical stew that soothed the impassioned audience. 

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Carlos Santana’s residency at the House of Blues Mandalay Bay has a handful of dates in February before returning in May. Make every attempt to see this Supernatural Legend and be sure to wear some comfortable dancing shoes.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Carlos Santana

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AfterNAMMth: 2016 Edition

It’s that time of year when gearheads like myself get excited for the late-January trip to Anaheim. It’s always hectic trying to deal with the masses when parking and then having to join them as we funnel through the few available entrances of the convention center. NAMM is the only time of the year when I agree to wait in line to use and escalator and only be allowed to ride it in small groups.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Ernie Ball Music Man booth was my favorite booth of the convention. They showcased all of their new products in a thoughtful way that encouraged interaction with those visiting the booth. Some notable standouts from EBMM were their new line of overdrive and delay expression pedals, the Cutlass and Stingray guitars, and new signature models for St. Vincent and James Valentine. The St. Vincent guitar is by far the most unique and visually intriguing instrument of this year’s guitars. The guitar I was most impressed with, and the one was named Best in Show for 2016, was the new James Valentine signature model. This guitar looks great, plays great, and that’s all that you’re really looking for in a quality instrument.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Another standout booth was D’Angelico guitars. Their guitars are mainly hollow, or semi-hollow, body instruments that feel like art pieces as much as they do as guitars. I am highly considering getting a EX-DC as my next guitar. I was also a fan of the EXL-A, an acoustic archtop guitar that was stunning. I would recommend those to anyone looking for an affordable, well built instrument and especially to those looking for a great jazz box. D’Angelico also had a cool looking, limited edition EX-59 Marilyn Monroe guitar that caught the attention of many, but is only limited to a run of 20 — 12 of which will be for the US. The most unique guitar in their booth was the Teardrop New Yorker, which is part of their New York made Master Builder series.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Both ESP and Schecter impressed me with their instrument diversity and are sure to attract a variety of supporters. In the past, I felt like ESP and Schecter both catered toward the hardcore, or metal player, but now I feel like they are trying to branch out with more classic shapes, while still providing the radical designs that brought them to the forefront. Schecter had a great take on a Gibson Explorer-type of guitar that will definitely be of interest to many. They also unveiled a new Jeff Loomis guitar, called the Cygnus, which I expect will be a very popular model for them. ESP debuted two signature models that both look awesome: the Glen Tipton signature and a new James Hetfield V.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Fender booth is consistently impressive and this year did not disappoint. They announced the limited edition Magnificent Seven series of guitars, which will be released for only one month per model and with limited quantities of each. Similar to last year’s 10 for ’15, these guitars are sure to sell out and become instant collectors items. I was excited about the release of both a signature guitar and amp for The Edge.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The U2 guitarist’s sound is immediately identifiable and a good portion of that has come from using Fender products. The black strat and maple neck are timeless classics for a reason and it was not a surprise that The Edge chose them for his signature model. His hardwired Edge Deluxe amp is the fourth signature amp that Fender has made, building upon the success of the Eric Clapton amps. Fender also introduced the Bassbreaker Series of amps which consists of nine different models that will appeal to a diverse group of players. This is definitely one of the new releases at NAMM that I wish I could’ve spent more time playing.

The return of the CE model from PRS was a definite highlight for me. After being off the market for at least 10 years, PRS has decided to bring back this popular model that first debuted in 1988. Between the resurrection of the CE and the jaw dropping Private Stock models, PRS continually puts out high quality instruments. I also appreciate that Paul Reed Smith can often be found taking pictures and answering the questions of players, dealers, and associated media.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

In the matter of full disclosure: I’m not only a fan of these guitars, but I’m also a proud owner of a 30th Anniversary Custom 24 and couldn’t be more pleased.

The lackluster booth of the NAMM show (in my opinion) unfortunately went to Gibson. Their 2016 lineup featured the departure of the robot tuning gimmick and returned the brand to the quality and reputation that its fans have come to expect. The lowered price points will definitely help soothe the sour taste in the mouths of those who jeered the moves that Gibson had made in years past. I felt like the booth was too dark and it felt more like Club Gibson than a company trying to showcase their beautiful instruments. I like that Gibson had some top of the line models available to demo, including the limited edition Bob Dylan SJ-200, which was a treat to play. Gibson was more sad city than music city and that was kind of a let down.

As the 2016 winter NAMM show comes to a close, I’m excited about all of the new gear coming out soon. I have already begun plotting how I’m going to afford some of the things that stood out. My legs are excited to have another year to prepare for the hell I put them through walking the floor. It may be an insignificant detail, but I was impressed that D’Angelico passed out little bottles of hand sanitizer in their gift bags. I appreciated that D’Angelico was thoughtful enough to help us fight the dreaded NAMMthrax virus.

NAMM 2016

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Bridge of Sighs

What type of bridge do you prefer?

Floating, hardtail, stoptail, I don’t care just let me play

Based on my experience, I think it has a lot to do with the type that was on your first guitar. My first guitar was an Epiphone Les Paul and 18 years later, I still prefer a stoptail bridge over anything else. I feel more comfortable with a Gibson in my hands than a Fender. I have friends who started with Strats and will not pick up another guitar. They, like others complain about the extra weight of a Les Paul, but I don’t really notice it. While I think that there are more tonal varieties contained within a Strat, I find that it takes some work to play one. I would rather have a guitar that is effortless to play, even if it does weigh a few more pounds.

I like playing Floyd Rose equipped guitars, but if I had to have just one guitar, I wouldn’t pick one of those. I don’t care for the hassle involved of having to make the adjustments when you need to change from standard tuning to a drop D or lower. I lovethe pitch manipulations that can be done on a Floyd and I’m wondering why I don’t have a guitar with one on it right now? I should probably add a new guitar to the collection…

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