After doing a stunning job of duping the entire guitar world into believing it wouldn’t happen, PRS has surprise-introduced Myles Kennedy’s new T-type signature guitar.
Not only that, it’s been released alongside the NF 53 – a standard-run version of Kennedy’s name model that PRS says will appease those who have been asking the company for “a guitar of this style and tone” for “years”.
Just as John Mayer's Silver Sky was PRS’s take on the Fender Stratocaster, these two are the Maryland brand’s reimagining of the classic Telecaster template, introducing a distinctly different take on the vibe that PRS has so far explored with its existing single-cut models.
Here, vintage, old-school style meets PRS’s penchant for surgical precision and craftsmanship in pretty spectacular fashion.
The guitar itself isn’t anything we haven’t seen before – Kennedy himself has been quite open about it in the past, and he’s played it live numerous times – but it was never something guitar fans thought would become a reality.
Kennedy has played down its production multiple times, for instance, playing it particularly coy during an interview with Total Guitar by teasing, “We’ll just have to see how it plays out,” when asked about a rollout.
Well, it turns out we were all wrong, and as Kennedy revealed in the upcoming issue of Guitarist – whose early hands-on demo with both models can be seen above – we’ve been wrong for quite some time.
“We actually started talking about doing a signature model some years ago, I’d say about 2014,” he recalled. “But at that time I just wasn’t really sure what that would be. After some years, I remember PRS called and said, ‘We think it’s time, let’s do this.’
“They presented the idea: what if we took a more T-style approach? Let’s put our heads together and see what we can come up with. I would say that was about two years ago.”
The Kennedy signature variant features a solid swamp ash body and maple neck, the latter of which features 22 frets, a 10”-radius maple ‘board and Bird inlays. Elsewhere, there’s a pair of Narrowfield MK pickups – one angled, one straight – which are controlled by a volume pot, a push/pull tone parameter and a five-way pickup switch that serves as a tone roll-off to bring down higher frequencies.
As for hardware, the 25.5”-scale model employs a PRS Plate Style bridge with two three-a-piece saddles, vintage-style locking tuners and a truss rod cover embossed with Kennedy’s logo.
It’s a fairly similar story for the standard NF 53, which features a few key departures from Kennedy’s own personalized spec sheet. The pickups, for example, are Narrowfield DDs, and are arranged parallel to each other, while it’s only a three-switch with standard master volume and tone knobs in the control department.
Notably, those Narrowfields are updated, boasting a mixed magnet/steel pole piece design utilized for “twangy, musical highs without losing too much bass”.
Aside from that, though, it’s business as usual. A solid swamp ash body partners a maple neck and fretboard – 10” radius and bird inlays included – and a two-saddle Plate Style bridge and locking tuners head up the hardware.
Each model also brings distinct aesthetic options to the table. Kennedy’s is available in the solid Antique White, Black and Hunters Green, as well as the grain-flashing Tri-Color Sunburst and Vintage Natural.
For the NF 53, it’s all about the swamp ash's natural grain, which is embellished with either Black Doghair, Blue Matteo, McCarty Tobacco Sunburst or White Doghair.
The release of the MK and NF 53 caps off “decades” of talks within PRS to produce a Tele-a-like, with Paul Reed Smith himself initially being put off by the hum that such single-coil equipped models produced.
And so – as was the case with the Silver Sky – he sought to refine the design with the Narrowfield’s help.
“If you pick up a ’56 or ’66 Telecaster it’s got an unbearable amount of high-end, the high E’s not very loud: they have problems,” he told Guitarist. “The NF 53 is thicker, fuller but has that sound at the same time.”
Both of the new models will retail for $2,899. For more information on the new models, visit PRS.
The latest issue of Guitarist, which features the full interview with Myles Kennedy and Paul Reed Smith, will be available from Magazines Direct on Friday (June 23).