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The PRS SE Silver Sky was being discussed before development on the original had even begun

PRS SE Silver Sky and John Mayer
(Image credit: Future / PRS/YouTube)

Mere months after John Mayer’s debut signature guitar with PRS – the revered Silver Sky electric guitar – arrived in 2018, broke the internet and sent the guitar world into a frenzy, there was one question on everyone’s lips once the dust settled: "When can we expect an SE version?"

Everybody’s wishes were realized earlier this year, when the Maryland brand finally, after years of anticipation, unveiled the PRS SE Silver Sky

However, while some believed the three-year delay was down to PRS’s reluctance to produce a cut-price version of the popular signature model, it turns out the SE iteration was actually discussed at the very onset of PRS and Mayer’s professional relationship.

Speaking in the new issue of Guitarist, PRS Chief Operating Officer Jack Higginbotham reflected on the SE Silver Sky’s inception, and revealed how he and Mayer actually discussed the inevitability of a budget-friendly version before work on the original had even begun.

When asked about when planning began on the SE, Higginbotham commented, “Quite literally the SE version was in the first conversation that I had with John Mayer – before there was a Silver Sky.

“There was talk back then of there being an SE version from that first conversation,” he added. “I vividly remember that conversation with Paul [Reed Smith] and John, and John was asking about the SE series and how the proposed guitar could become a wide range of products.

“Logistically speaking, we started work in earnest on the SE version, rather than it just being a concept, about two years ago.”

Elsewhere in the conversation, Higginbotham touched upon the possibility of seeing a maple fingerboard-equipped SE Silver Sky further down the line – a prospective feature that would mirror the original’s own development when it was equipped with a maple ‘board back in 2020.

“Here’s what I think will happen,” the PRS COO predicted. “We’re already swamped with demand that we can’t fulfil. We’re going to launch this thing and a whole other wave is going to hit us that we’re going to struggle with for a year or two to fulfil. Then we’ve got some more ideas cooking that’ll do it all over again.

“So,” he concluded, “my best guess is that a maple version is at least three or four years away.”

Supply and demand issues also came into play when PRS was writing the current SE spec sheet, and are responsible for one of the biggest deviations from the original blueprint: the appointment of a poplar body, as opposed to an alder one.

“We did it because we expected very large numbers and high-demand for the guitar,” Higginbotham added, “and we didn't want to be limited by anything – we didn't want to have capacity issues.

“We started looking for material that was more readily available but still of a higher quality so we wouldn't be encumbered by it.”

Head over to Magazines Direct (opens in new tab) to pick up the latest copy of Guitarist, which features a meticulous side-by-side Core and SE Silver Sky comparison, and an in-depth conversation and guitar tour with guest editor Steve Vai.

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.