Mark Lettieri is one of current music’s most in-demand – and also versatile – guitar players. From his work with jazz-funk-fusion-rock-world-music collective Snarky Puppy and the all-star Vulfpeck offshoot the Fearless Flyers, to his own highly varied solo efforts and playing for everyone from Erykah Badu, Nelly and Eminem to David Crosby, Kirk Franklin and Dave Chappelle, the Fort Worth, Texas-based guitarist is clearly adept at burning up the fretboard in a variety of genres and styles.
And so it’s no surprise that when it came to designing his first-ever signature model –the new PRS Fiore – he went for a guitar that was capable of doing a little of everything.
Or, make that, a lot of everything. “It really is kind of a ‘do everything’ guitar,” Lettieri says, and then laughs. “But not in a way where it does everything at, like, 75%. It does everything at 100%.”
Indeed it does. Lettieri created the guitar with PRS from the ground-up, down to custom Fiore pickups and even a new body shape that is beveled and balanced to his exact specifications. “It has a way of kind of bringing all the elements together right where you need them to be,” he says of the design.
Other Lettieri-requested appointments include a swamp ash body, maple neck and fingerboard, two-point steel tremolo and 25.5-inch scale. As for those pickups, Lettieri, who says he’s always been an “SSH type of player,” characterizes the Fiore single coils in the neck and middle positions as big and “oval” sounding, and compares the bridge humbucker to PRS’ 58/15 design, but with a bit more output to “push distorted tones over the edge.”
The tonal options, meanwhile, are seemingly endless, with a five-way selector switch and push/pull knobs on each tone control that make it possible to activate the three pickups individually or in any combination (including all three together), or run the humbucker in series or parallel.
“The goal was to make a guitar that will adapt to as many things as the player wants it to adapt to,” Lettieri says. “In a way the Fiore is a blank slate; when you play it you’re not going to hear the guitar – you’re going to hear yourself.”
You’ll also hear Lettieri if you pick up his newest release, Deep: The Baritone Sessions, Volume 2. Alongside the titular baritone guitar, Lettieri used the new Fiori for plenty of melodic and lead work on the record.
“Most of the sections are built around a baritone-riff kind of groove, but then there's all sorts of little sparkles, and a lot of that’s the PRS,” he says. “It just has this full range and flexibility. So yeah, the Fiore made it into the recording studio, real quick."