Paul Reed Smith Mira 25th Anniversary Soapbar

Posted by on Mar 31, 2013 in Blog, Guitars | 0 comments

PRS MiraThis is the second in the growing list of PRS guitars that I love but let’s make no bones about it- this guitar is a Les Paul Special double cutaway only way better. I don’t know how the legal stuff works in the gear world and I doubt I ever will. I don’t know which design elements of a guitar you can copy and which you can’t but Gibson has always seemed to be one of the most aggressive companies out there in attacking copyright infringement so something about the Mira must be on the level. It’s not like PRS is based overseas and skirting the laws here- this model was built in the good old US of A. Normally, I’m bothered by copycats but in the case of Gibson, I’m all for it. I make no attempt to keep my opinion of their guitars a secret- they originated nearly all of my favorite guitar designs ever but in the last 20 years, their quality has plummeted while their price has skyrocketed. Frankly, I now love to see other companies building guitars that are, in many main elements, copies but with a quality level twice Gibson’s custom shop at half Gibson’s price. If Gibson’s not going to build killer versions of their classic designs at an affordable price like they used to do, then somebody else should and PRS is the perfect candidate. Otherwise, Gibson’s just a half-dead old man holding those awesome copyrights hostage from the music world. There. Rant over.

So- let’s talk about the Mira. Like the Starla and so many other PRS models, this thing is an absolute pleasure to play. Light-weight, well balanced, great neck, great finish, and excellent fretwork. I find I can play it for far longer periods of time than other guitars of mine with no hand fatigue (something that becomes more of an issue for me the older I get, sadly…) I haven’t directly compared the body shape to an LP Jr double-cut but it feels dead on. Even the neck joint looks and feels right to me. The body might be a touch thinner but it’s probably just an illusion caused by the very comfortable bevel around the edge of the top that is a definite departure from the blocky body shape of its Gibson counterpart. It’s got the same 1 volume, 1 tone, 3-way switch controls that I’m used to and a single wrap-around tailpiece bridge. Aaaaand, let’s talk about that bridge for a minute because I love it. I don’t know what they make theirs out of but it’s very light-weight and resonant. And in STARK contrast to my 2001 Gibson Les Paul Junior, the bridge on my Mira is dead-freaking-on in its intonation compensation and placed correctly on the body for overall adjustment. I’ve found that Paul Reed Smith’s hardware is like the Apple of guitar hardware. Their hardware is simple and eloquent in its design and it JUST WORKS. My Junior’s bridge was so wrong that it had to be replaced with an intonatable one and even that one had to be moved so far back to intonate that it’s almost off the studs. Shameful build quality, Gibson…

However, I AM going to give one win in this to the Gibson company. They’re still making some of my favorite pickups on the market. The pickups in my Mira sound great and have a thing that is definitely all their own but it’s just not MY thing. There is a classic sound that goes along with an LP Jr that I have in my head and I just can’t get away from it. I need any guitar of this design to sound like that or else it just seems wrong to me. My assumption from what I was hearing was that the stock pickups were the right type of magnet and construction for the sound I wanted but just way too hot. I decided to open the guitar up to see what the pickups measured and found my hunch was right. The stock pickups came in at about 14-15k or nearly twice the strength of the P-90’s I’m used to. Like I said, they sounded really good but were just too strong to get that classic P-90 sound that I love. The low end woofy fuzz they were putting out wouldn’t clean up on any of my amps. I decided to swap mine out for a set of Fralin stock wind pickups and suddenly everything was right about the Mira. (Weeeeelll, almost everything. It is super, super close but something’s just barely not quite right in the tonal spectrum. To that end, I have discovered that Fralin’s stock P-90’s aren’t AlNiCo magnets and I think that’s part of the classic Gibson P-90 sound. He offers AlNiCo versions though, and I think I’m going to get one to see if that does the trick. I’m betting it does. In the meantime it still kicks truckloads of ass.) Now it does exactly what I want with the build quality and playability I always wanted from my Junior. Well done, Paul & co.