The PRS McCarty Soapbar especially in this Gold Top finish is a guitar I swear I saw in damn near every issue of Guitar World when I first started playing with guitar. The look, the vibe, everything about this screams vintage and class. I picked this up off of Reverb.com in what I will call NOS condition. This is a 2004 model and I purchased this in late 2016. There is not a scratch on this thing and it appears as if it was never even played. There is something alway eerie about that. Who spent that kind of money on a instrument and maybe played it for a few hours.
The vintage vibe of this guitar does carry straight into the sound. However these P90s are much hotter than I was expecting. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I bought this trying to get rid of the desire to get another Stratocaster. I have several Strats, but they are all in storage at the moment. I played it in standard tuning for about a week and honestly got a bit bored with it. Its a great guitar, but it basically has ONE sound … at least to me. Its warm, a bit gritty, and much more suited to a blues or crunchy rock tone. I decided I would string it up with a set of NYXL 13s and tune it to C Standard as I began a phase of listening to Queens of the Stone Age and “stoner rock”. the PRS Soapbar did shine for this kind of sound. It was able to maintain some clarity in a bass heavy tuning and did not get overly saturated or fall apart as standard single coil would have.
I have since put the guitar back to standard but still using heavy strings (49-11). This is pretty important for these vintage type instruments to use a bit thicker string to bring out the acoustics in the guitar. I use the same strings on my PRS Singlecut Hollowbody.
The PRS Soapbar is really unlike any of my other guitars, and a p90 guitar is a good thing to have in your arsenal. However this one just isn’t MY sound, but the build quality and the ONE sound I have found with it is really fun for a few hours at a time. I highly recommend this with a clean tube amp (I uses a champion 600) and a good tube screamer style overdrive in front. Simple and effective. With this guitar tone is all in the hands.