When noted bluesman and guitarist John Mayer found himself fronting a collaboration with Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir under the name Dead & Company, he needed an instrument that met the unique sonic needs of the gig. To that end he approached respected American guitar maker Paul Reed Smith with a list of requirements and, after an exhaustive R&D process, the result was 2016’s Private Stock Super Eagle.
Now comes the Super Eagle II in a new hemp-green finish, just 120 of which have been made available to the public worldwide. Featuring a slightly elongated 25.37-inch scale length, the guitar is loaded with custom-voiced humbucker pickups, comprising a JM Narrowfield and a pair of JM 58/15s. These are controlled not only by a traditional five-way blade selector but also via a trio of micro-switches that act as coil-splits for each pickup. Increasing the tonal palate is an on-board JCF preamp with treble boost designed by Josh Florian that gives what Mayer describes as a more ‘HD’ sound, with two more dedicated switches giving full control.
The hollowbody’s f-hole gives the guitar an open, more airy character, with the complement of tonewoods, including mahogany sides and curly maple for both the top and rear of the body. Curly maple has also been used for the wonderful neck, with its African blackwood 24-fret fingerboard sporting paua and green ripple abalone bird inlays.
Adding still further to the tone is the Gen-III bridge, designed to add mass and thus increase sustain. Even the Mayer-signed label set inside the body, designed by UK artist David Adrian Smith, is unique.
The Super Eagle II sounds as good as it looks and everything about it screams quality. Which, with a UK RRP of £10,995, it probably ought to.
More info at prsguitars.com/supereagle
Where guitars go when they’re Dead’s
Grateful Dead mainman Jerry Garcia’s legendary status had long been established by the time of his passing in 1995, and as a result, several of his custom guitars have been sought by super-rich Deadheads ever since. Two of the most famous are ‘Tiger’ (pictured) and ‘Wolf’, both built by San Franciscan luthier Doug Irwin during the 70s. Wolf features a 24-fret ebony and maple neck and a body made from curly maple and purpleheart, while Tiger is made from a laminate of maple, cocobolo and vermilion woods bound with brass. It also boasts a revolutionary wiring design that incorporates both an on-board preamp and an effects loop.
Tiger was snapped up by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for $850,000 in 2002, while Wolf was bought anonymously in 2002 for $790,000. Subsequently, HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan shelled out a whopping $1.6million for it at a benefit auction earlier this year.