The good old classic Fender Stratocaster – it’s been a go-to guitar for many of our favorite musicians. The famous Strat shape has also been used by various other manufacturers, most notably for some Super Strat styled instruments that began emerging in the 80s and the 90s.
But none of these caused such uproar and even division among guitar players worldwide like the new Paul Reed Smith’s Silver Sky guitar. Being known for his use of Fender Stratocasters, John Mayer raised some eyebrows in 2018 when he appeared with this guitar made by PRS.
However, despite all the confusing reactions, the Silver Sky is not to be overlooked or dismissed and it certainly deserves attention and huge respect from all the guitar lovers out there.
Before we get into all the specs, let us first explain the reason behind all the fuss and how this instrument came to be in the first place.
In early 2018, right after Paul Reed Smith began producing these guitars, John Mayer revealed why he decided to turn over to one of Fender’s competitors.
According to him, this was not a classic endorsement deal, it was just due to the fact that Fender was not able (or willing) to put his idea into work – an idea that he had for about 10 years to make an upgraded version of the classic guitar, mostly inspired by his favorite Strat models, the ones made back in 1963 and 1964.
So he turned over to PRS and the guys were happy to make this work.
Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room ñ how can a Strat have that headstock? Instead of the standard 6-in-line one, we have a classic 3 + 3 headstock you can find on most of the PRS guitars. But although it does seem weird, the more you look at it, the more if makes sense.
This was not intended as a full-on Strat copy but a whole new guitar on its own.
Another thing that you’ll notice is that the classic Strat shape is just a little modified. Just enough that you can notice them easily, but it’s not just about the looks and it makes a significant difference playing-wise. We’ll get into that in the next section.
PRS sells them in four different colors – Hoizon, Frost, Tungsten, and Onyx.
Here’s a demo of this guitar played by John Mayer himself.
One would expect Silver Sky to be just like another modern Fender Stratocaster copy, only with a different headstock and some other new design features. But there’s way more to this instrument.
The pickup configuration is, of course, the classic three single coils one. There is also the standard 5-way selector switch with one volume and two tone pots.
But what makes this special is that all of these three pickups are PRS 635JM. The idea here was to keep the brightness and clarity of the well-known Fender sound, but just make it slightly warmer and more “round”.
Just like with all the classic Strat guitars, the neck is a bolt on one. But its shape, which also bears the name “635JM”, is essentially a replica of the necks on ’63 and ’64 Fenders that John Mayer is so very fond of.
The fretboard radius is also a throwback to these old 1960s models ñ 7.25″ which is actually really round. As for the scale length, it bears the classic 25.5″ typical of all the Strats.
One feature that not only makes the design more interesting and more modern but also makes the playing more comfortable, is the scoop on the lower horn.
Being cut at the best possible angle (some would even say perfect), it gives players easier access to those higher frets. So with this instrument, you get the true old school vintage sound with the playability of modern guitars.
Imagine having the good old vintage sound of old Fender guitars with a bit more of a modern look, great ergonomy, and some more versatility in tone.
Of course, those who are familiar with the vintage instruments will notice that the neck feels just like those old Fenders. But the aforementioned lower horn scoop will make it an even more playable instrument up on those higher frets.
This is definitely something that will make all the lead players thrilled. Primarily for blues rock lead players, since the sound kind of works best for these kinds of genres, but it can also come in handy for some other stuff as well.
The three single coil pickups, which are all the 635JM, don’t push those ear-piercing high-end frequencies you’d expect from a vintage-styled Strat. John Mayer himself described these as intentional replicas of those decades-old pickups that have kind of worn off.
The result – crystal clear yet a very round tone with rich bottom ends. It lays somewhere in between the P90s and stock Fender pickups.
The bridge, which is a standard tremolo bridge, only goes down in pitch. It is also in the direct contact with the body of the guitar which not only makes it acoustically louder but also improves the signal to noise ratio for the constantly buzzing single coils.
If blues, jazz, blues rock, and even some harder rock are your genres, this guitar will certainly come in handy. But you’ve got to know, although it’s worth every penny, it’s not exactly cheap. Which is this guitar’s only downside. But you can’t really expect to have a great instrument without such a price tag.
Taking it in your hands, you can immediately feel that it’s a vintage type of an instrument. Especially with such a small fretboard radius. Those who are used to some modern guitars designed for metal might find Silver Sky to be a bit odd.
Mayer’s own recommendation is to play it with vintage Fender tube amps or any other amps that replicate that same sound and vibe. Of course, every player is free to experiment and find their own best combo. You just need to be aware that the original intention was the vintage sound.