The PRS 2021 Lineup will not be any surprise to long time fans of the brand, as the company makes slow, gradual moves. This is why PRS guitars are universally known to be amazing instruments. It’s all in the details.
PRS 2021 Lineup: First, A Little History
We are going to get to the beautiful new guitars that Paul and Company are releasing this year, I promise. But I wanted to give a little bit of background to those who may have never heard of the brand.
PRS (Paul Reed Smith) Guitars started in Maryland, in the 80’s as a repair shop. Paul started crafting his own guitars, that were somewhere between a Gibson and a Stratocaster when it came down to specs ( He hates when people says this). This design, the Custom 24 & 22 caught the interest of several artists, namely Carlos Santana.
Since then, Paul has released his creations every year. There are certain models of course that are a mainstay of the company. These models get “tweaked” a little bit every year. It’s rare to see a completely new idea, and when we do it’s usually an artist model.
This leaves the design work at PRS moving at an almost glacial pace. But this is exactly why the guitars produced are so amazing. I prefer this method of working over time to improve your products. They have been carefully changed, just a small bit…every year!
PRS launched the new models that make up the PRS 2021 lineup last night on their Youtube channel as a virtual event, since Winter NAMM is not happening this year. The presentation was amazing to say the least! The crew not only presented the prototypes for the new models, but also demoed the sounds and highlighted features.
Usually, we would list the specs, and say a few things about each instrument, but that isn’t how PRS wants to be presented, so I will use their descriptions for the PRS 2021 Lineup. I don’t mind them being particular with their press, as I think it just adds more personality.
Lets start with the one, that everyone is excited about…
PRS Silver Sky Lunar Ice (Limited)
The Lunar Ice Silver Sky is the most talked about instrument of the PRS 2021 lineup. These are limited to only 1000 pieces, and will be sought after by collectors all over the world. At first glance, the Silver Sky looks like another guitar, that will go un-named. But I assure you, it’s not.
“The PRS Silver Sky is an idealized version of a vintage single-coil guitar where every detail adds up and sets this guitar apart from the pack and the past. The result of a close collaboration between Grammy Award-winning musician John Mayer and Paul Reed Smith, the Silver Sky is based off of years of development.
Incorporating Mayer and Smith’s favorite elements of 1963 and 1964 instruments with an eye toward modern references, the PRS Silver Sky delivers the warmth and familiarity of an old guitar with the finesse of a brand-new instrument. “
This guitar is just plain gorgeous. It comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect from PRS, and what separates the Silver Sky from the “other brand” is the attention to detail. Especially with the tremolo system, and upgraded electronics. This is a versatile monster of a guitar, and while PRS doesn’t usually make our lists, it’s worth noting how impeccably designed the Silver Sky is.
While the Lunar Ice Silver Sky is limited to only 1000 pieces, you can still get the base model in 6 different colors. I have had the chance to play the base models not mentioned here in the PRS 2021 lineup, and your assumptions and criticisms have been proven false.
The Silver Sky is not only it’s own original design, but something entirely new to the guitar pantheon.
Core Model: Special Semi Hollow
Semi-Hollow guitars are not a new thing for PRS, but they are for the Core Series. This is a great addition to the PRS 2021 Lineup, and there is nothing else like it, in my opinion. This is a swiss-army guitar. It can literally do anything from Jazz to Metal. From PRS Himself:
22 Frets | Hum-Narrowfield-Hum Pickup Configuration | PRS Patented Tremolo, Gen III
“The PRS Special Semi-Hollow offers players a versatile hum/ “single”/hum configuration with two PRS 58/15 LT humbuckers and a PRS Narrowfield middle pickup. PRS Narrowfield pickups deliver the bite of a single coil, so they cut through the mix with plenty of clarity and punch – without the hum. Paired with a 5-Way blade switch and two mini-toggles that tap the 58/15 LT humbuckers, this guitar can handle myriad sounds and styles (with twelve pickup combinations in total). Roll back the tone control for added growl, turn it up for some shimmer, and have fun exploring this versatile tonal palette.
Additional specifications include a maple top, mahogany back, 22-fret 25” scale length mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard, Phase III tuners, and PRS Gen III patented tremolo. The volume levels between the humbucking and single-coil settings remain very even, and the semi-hollow body with single f-hole provides a welcome airiness and depth to the guitar’s tone.”
This new addition to the PRS 2021 Lineup is probably the most versatile when it comes to dialing in a tone. You have so many options at the flick of a switch. This guitar could just as easily be used for Doom as it could be used for Blues. In the studio, the new Core Semi-Hollow could probably be your main weapon.
The New Studio Models
The PRS studio is a welcome addition to the PRS 2021 Lineup, as it has been missing for a few years! I am glad to see it back, with a few design choices that make it the ultimate guitar for gigging. It has a wide variety of sonic palates that most guitars can only dream of having.
22 Frets | Narrowfield-Narrowfield-Hum Pickup Configuration | PRS Patented Tremolo, Gen III
“The PRS Studio model is a modern take on a traditional single-single-hum guitar. With PRS’s proprietary Narrowfield pickups in the middle and bass positions and a 58/15 LT humbucking bridge pickup, the PRS Studio offers punchy single coils, vintage scooped tones, and the chunky kick of a bridge humbucker screaming in one instrument.
This whole new scope of sounds (that are only possible with a three-pickup guitar) are easily accessible in the Studio model thanks to the push/pull tone control and 5-way blade switch. With seven combinations in all, the PRS Studio covers classic tones but maintains a unique voice making it a perfect “desert island” guitar. “
The PRS 2021 Lineup may seem small at first, but when you consider the features of each guitar, it’s kind of insane. Each guitar serves a function, and I think they nailed it with the new Studio Model. It truly could be your ‘Desert island” guitar, considering all of the tones you could get from this beast!
PRS Custom 24-08
The Custom 24 is what PRS is known for! This is the flagship model that everyone is always talking about. This year, for the PRS 2021 lineup, Paul has changed a few things about the Custom 24 to make it even more versatile.
85/15 Pickups | Eight Pickup Combinations | PRS Patented Tremolo, Gen III
“The Custom 24 is the quintessential PRS guitar: the iconic guitar that started it all back in 1985. The Custom 24-08 keeps all of the same foundational specifications as the original Custom – maple top, mahogany back and neck, 24 frets, 25” scale length, the PRS patented Gen III tremolo, and dual 85/15 pickups – but adds a new level of versatility with its simple switching system.
Featuring mini-toggle coil tap switches, the Custom 24-08 has eight different pickup settings that provide an array of humbucking and singlecoil tones. For classic PRS playability, reliability, and tone with ultimate flexibility, check out the Custom 24-08. “
This beautiful instrument is geared more towards Rock and Metal, but could easily be used for any genre. The Custom 24-08 has so many tonal possibilities with the unique switching system, that it should quell any sonic needs.
This is a totally new addition, special for the PRS 2021 Lineup. While it may look unassuming in the pictures, I can assure you this is one hell of a guitar!
25.5” Scale Length | Swamp Ash Body | Single-Single-Hum Pickup Configuration
“All guitarists have a sound in their head – a sound that evolves and grows as they progress, discovering all of the beautiful idiosyncrasies that define their individual voice. To facilitate this process, players need a vibrant, dynamic guitar that becomes a free space in which their personality can unfold. PRS and I designed Fiore (Italian for ‘flower’) to be this guitar.” – Mark Lettieri
The PRS Fiore model continues PRS Guitars’ journey into the bolt-on, single-coil guitar world. Developed with guitarist, composer, producer, and instructor Mark Lettieri, the PRS Fiore offers a modern aesthetic, effortless playability, and an addictive and sophisticated tonal canvas.”
It would be easy to discount The Fiore as a “Silver Sky with a Humbucker”. However, that does not seem to be the case. The Fiore looks like it could also be a great guitar for the studio, with the H-S-S pick configuration. I have always been a fan of “super shredder” guitars with this pickup configuration, as they can do anything!
The New SE Custom 24-08
The SE series is the affordable line of PRS guitars, made in the Far East, but don’t let that dissuade you. These may be more affordable, but every SE guitar is put through the same quality paces as the Core USA guitars.
This year, the PRS 2021 Lineup has a very special addition to the SE line with the new Custom 24. Never has the SE line come so close to looking, and playing like their USA made counterparts. At first glance, I thought this WAS a USA made guitar.
Shallow Violin Carve | Eight Pickup Combinations | PRS Patented Tremolo
“The Custom 24 is the quintessential PRS guitar: the iconic guitar that started it all back in 1985. The Custom 24-08 keeps all the foundational specs of the instrument, while taking the Custom platform to new sonic territories.
Like the Core Series instrument, the SE Custom 24-08 features two mini-toggle coil tap switches that individually split the humbuckers into true single coils for a total of eight pickups configurations. Classic design elements include a maple top, mahogany back, rosewood fretboard, 24 frets, 25” scale length, bird inlays, signature headstock logo, and PRS patented tremolo. “
To be honest, it is pretty hard to tell where they cut corners to make this so affordable! It looks just like it’s more expensive brother, and the sound demo from last night’s stream was AMAZING. I really look forward to getting my hands on one of these.
The SE Custom 24-Standard
Finally, we have the SE Custom 24 standard model. This is the model that launched the SE series almost 20 years ago, as an affordable option to the Core Custom 24. This year, the PRS 2021 lineup shocked us with the new features:
Shallow Violin Carve | PRS Patented Tremolo | Push/Pull Coil-Tap Tone Control
“The SE Custom 24 is a modern classic with roadworthy durability, addictive playability, and wide array of tones, making it a perfect workhorse guitar. Played by internationally touring artists, gigging musicians, and aspiring players, the SE Custom 24 features a maple top with shallow violin carve, mahogany back, wide thin maple neck, rosewood fretboard with bird inlays, and the PRS patented molded tremolo bridge. Its versatile sounds come from the 85/15 “S” pickups paired with a volume, push/pull tone control, and 3-way blade pickup selector.
The SE Custom 24 brings “The One That Started It All” to the high-quality, more affordable SE Series.”
This year, the SE series gets a make-over with the Violin top, and a full maple cap instead of a thin veneer. It seems like the pickups have been upgraded as well, and they are based on the Core series.
You have tons of tonal options here, and it’s easy to see that the SE Custom 24 isn’t just for shredding. I cannot wait to actually play one, and test out these new features for myself!
The PRS 2021 Lineup: Final Thoughts
Look, I know PRS are often called “Lawyer Guitars” and I think that is a negative, crappy way to look at them. In fact, I think it is downright unfair to say that. PRS use the most quality woods, make their own hardware and electronics, and are designed totally in the USA.
Paul often defends the prices of his guitars, comparing them to classical instruments, and he has a point. If I played Violin, I would only own one…and it would set me back about $20,000 if I were a pro player.
Obviously the guitar world is different. But maybe that’s because we are SPOILED. We are living in the golden age of guitars. Never in history have you been able to get so many features for such an affordable price. The PRS 2021 Lineup has some affordable options, but they also have those “Lawyer Guitars”.
I owned a USA PRS before, and it was probably one of the best guitars I have ever played. I was unfortunately a bit skittish to take it to your regular “bar gig”. I didn’t want it stolen.
I still dream about that guitar….
How many PRS Silver Sky guitars in Lunar Ice are being released this year?
They are limited to 1000 pieces this year.
Do the PRS 2021 Guitars come with a case?
Most come with a gig-bag, even the Core models. But the gig bag is high quality, and well made. Some people prefer it to a hard case.
When will the PRS 2021 Lineup Ship?
If other years are any indication, the new models will go on preorder at the end of January 2021, and ship by March.
Are The PRS 2021 Lineup SE models still made in South Korea?
They are made in both Korea and Indonesia, depending on the model. Both factories produce quality instruments.
Are PRS Guitars Worth it?
In my opinion, yes they are. These are high-spec instruments made from the finest materials. The woods are often hand-picked.