PRS McCarty 2020 review

Always in the Custom's shadow, the 26-year-old McCarty was PRS’s first ‘vintage-aimed’ model and has been revised for 2020

PRS McCarty Review
(Image: © Future / Neil Godwin)

Guitar World Verdict

The McCarty reimagines the vintage-voiced electric for the present day with a wide variety of grown-up tones covering smooth jazz, blues-rock and all in between.


  • +

    Exceptionally detailed build.

  • +

    Good weight.

  • +


  • +

    New hardware spec.

  • +

    Versatile voices.


  • -

    Yes, it’s costly.

  • -

    Considerable competition from other Core and new S2 models.

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Ted McCarty looms large in the early history of PRS Guitars: he was the Gibson president during its halcyon days who, in the words of Paul Reed Smith, “downloaded the hard disk” on how they made guitars back then. 

While Ted had no direct involvement in the McCarty Model that launched in 1994, at the time it was the most ‘vintage-style’ PRS, with the changes Paul had already made to his Custom recipe – for example, a 22-fret version, the development of the pre-intonated Stoptail wrapover bridge, plus suggestions that early PRS-user David Grissom had requested. 

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Dave Burrluck
Gear Reviews Editor, Guitarist

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.