Over the weekend, and after a few years of owning it, I finally replaced the original speaker on my Hot Rod Deluxe with an Eminence Red Coat “The Governor.” I had already replaced the original tubes and had some other mods done to the amp to smooth out the drive channel, but there was always something missing, and that turned out to be the speaker. What a difference that has made! I feel like my Hot Rod is now no longer a Padawan but a true Jedi. 🙂
The Hot Rod was my very first tube amp, and when I bought it, I just loved the sound, but as time wore on and as I played some really great amps, my love for the amp faded, and while I’d use it for some applications, it just didn’t have a sound that I considered to be first class. With the new speaker, it is now – in my opinion – a first class sounding amp. The cleans are gorgeous and the overdrive tone is nice and open, but well-defined, with no flabby bottom end. I’m in love again! Now with my Aracom VRX22, I’ve got two great amps!
Here’s a clip I put together while playing around this evening that demonstrates how gorgeous the clean tones are:
I used my Strat for the rhythm part – amazingly in the middle pickup, which I’m really starting to love – and did the simple solo with my Prestige Guitars Heritage Elite with both pickups with about 60/40 mix of bridge and neck, respectively. The reverb you hear in the solo is the spring reverb in the Hot Rod. I have to say that Fender does reverb right. 🙂
It’s one thing to test gear in a controlled environment, it’s an entirely different matter to use it for a gig. After receiving the Prestige Heritage Elite, I took it through its paces in my home studio, and it performed quite well; so well that I gave it very high marks, reflecting the excellent build quality as well as how it sounds, which was awesome in the studio. The operative word here is “studio.”
As I mentioned above, it’s an entirely different matter of testing gear in a gig situation. After all, during a gig, you don’t have the luxury to stop to make corrections on the fly. Furthermore, during a gig, an instrument’s tone interacts and reacts completely differently to the environment than in the studio.
Hope that little section above doesn’t make you nervous about how the Heritage Elite performed 🙂 because it worked great! I played the guitar at my weekly church gig with a full band. Now before you dismiss this venue, let me say that playing in a church is one of the most sonically challenging environments to play in because you don’t have the luxury to crank it up, and churches have pretty high ceilings so dealing with sound bouncing around a big space makes it even more challenging. In light of that, you have to rely a lot on the natural tone of the gear you’re playing. Especially with something like a guitar, it has to sound great at lower volumes, and have voicing that won’t get lost in the ambient.
In this, the Heritage Elite really excels. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t have the deep ballsy voicing you’d expect from a Les Paul-type of guitar. In fact, the voicing is much brighter, but from the standpoint of playing live, that’s a good thing, and something for which I’ve always praised Saint Guitars. But like a Les Paul, it has that distinctive chirp – that kind of hard to describe, subtle sound. It’s very pleasing to the ears – I dig it!
The other great thing about playing at my church is that I can play a variety of musical styles throughout the course of the service. I played some hard driving rock as well as some soft, finger-style music. Whatever the style of music I played, the Heritage Elite performed great. I especially dug its clean tone while finger-picking.
I also forgot how fun it is to play with independent volume and tone controls. I usually peg the tone controls, then use varying amounts of gain between the neck and bridge pickups to dial in just the right tone for a song. I actually played most of the service in the middle position so I could take advantage of both volume controls, though I used the treble position for leads – the SH-4 JB in the bridge position rocks!
So, whether you use it in the studio or on the stage, the Prestige Guitars Heritage Elite will do the job handily!
By the way, I found out why these boutique-like guitars come in at such a low price point compared to their more expensive counterparts: The guitars are cut, built and finished in Korea, then shipped to Canada to have hardware added and set up. For people who care about build location, this might be an issue. But PRS does _everything_ in Korea for their SE guitars, and they sound and play great! And I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make. Who the hell cares where Prestige guitars cut and constructed? All I know is that the guitar I’ve reviewed has no finish flaws, and more importantly, it sounds and plays great! I’ve even lent it to my close friend, and he’s diggin’ it! He’s amazed at how well it plays and sounds! That’s the most important thing with any instrument.
Summary: Is it possible to build a better Les Paul. Prestige Guitars thinks so, and I think they’re on to something with the Heritage Elite. With its stunning looks and gorgeous voice, this is a great, all-around versatile guitar that will fit any style of music.
Pros: Very full and rich sound, and all the accoutrements make this guitar a real looker. Very nice treble pickup with higher gain settings.
Cons: This is just a little one. I’m not fond of the abalone outlining on the the neck as to me it takes away from the gorgeous vine inlay. But that’s just me. Also the intonation was off on the 6th string – again, it wasn’t a big deal – I just fixed it and went off to the races.
Tone Bone Rating: 4.75 – 6th string was slightly off in intonation, and I had to adjust it. Weird, because all the other strings were perfectly intoned. If it hadn’t been for that, the guitar would get a 5.0 rating.
Didn’t I just write a First Impressions? Well, I haven’t put this guitar down all day because I was having so much fun with it, so I decided to just go ahead and write the review. I’ll do a gig report once I’ve played it in a gig setting – which will be tomorrow. 🙂
Fit and Finish
What can I say? This guitar is gorgeous, and except for my little nit, everything is perfect on this guitar. I love the stain burst finish that really accentuates the quilted maple top. There’s no glue marks or finish mistakes to be found on this beauty, and the abalone binding around the body and ebonized head stock is to die for! The neck joint is perfect as well, and is nicely set with no extra bulk, so reaching notes in the upper registers is an absolute breeze!
Prestige really thought out the design of this guitar really well. The gold hardware is a nice touch, and the Grover tuners are the bomb. Even though they’re not locking, the guitar stays in tune. I’ve only had to hit the tuner twice all day due to temperature changes in my garage/studio. The vine inlay on the neck is oh-so-stunning, and reminiscent of high-end guitars I’ve seen and played that cost a helluva lot more than this beauty queen. How Prestige was able to build a great-looking guitar with so much boutique bling at a fairly reasonable price is beyond me, but hey! Who’s complaining? Definitely not me.
Normally, I can’t stand pick guards, but somehow, the pick guard on the Heritage Elite is really unobtrusive. This guitar just “works.” I dig it.
I have to admit that after playing “Goldie,” a Saint Guitar Company Benchmark that has a wide profile neck, it was tough to get used to the comparatively narrower neck profile of this guitar. But once I got my hands dialed in, I gotta say that this guitar is very easy to play. The C-shape neck is a joy to play, and the rosewood fretboard is nice and smooth, yet with enough texture to give great tactile feedback.
The thin body makes positioning very easy – especially for a big guy like myself that has a middle-aged gut, so how it hangs from the strap is important. I didn’t have to make any positional adjustments with this guitar, which is something I have to do with a lot of guitars.
The shorter scale was something I also had to get used to, but that’s not even a nit. Again, once I got my hands dialed in to play this guitar, it was so very easy to play. The action was perfect out of the box – nice and low, which is how I like it. They strung it with D’Addario 10’s to boot, which is my preferred gauge and a brand I’ve used for years (though I’ve lately been using almost exclusively DR strings), so the strings were instantly familiar-feeling. As I mentioned, the only ding that the guitar got was the intonation on the 6th string. I understand that this could be due to shipping, but it was off enough where I had to get my micro allen wrench and adjust it. That always makes me nervous with these demo guitars because I don’t want scratch them out of respect for the manufacturer’s hard work. But all went smoothly, so no harm, no foul.
How It Sounds
In a word, “gorgeous.” It has that classic Les Paul fatness, but it’s also brightly voiced, like a Saint Guitar. It’s not as EQ balanced in its brightness like a Saint is, but for what it offers, this guitar really kicks ass tonally. The Heritage Elite packs tons of nice harmonics and overtones that add complexity to its tonal presentation. And another thing that I really dig about this guitar is that it has tons of sustain, which really comes out in the treble pickup, especially at high gain settings! I’ve played tons and tons of guitars, and most have ear shattering treble pickups. The Saint Guitars and this Heritage Elite have the most usable treble pickups I’ve played. I think this is due to the guitars’ inherent, natural sustain. In any case, check out some sound samples I made:
Clean – Both Pickups
Clean – Neck Pickup
Clean – Bridge Pickup
Dirty – Both Pickups
Dirty – Neck Pickup
Dirty – Bridge Pickup
Clean clips were played in the Clean channel of my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, while the dirty clips were played in the Drive channel. For the dirty treble pickup clip, I slammed the front-end of the amp with a wide-open Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 clean boost, the best clean boost on the planet. That brought on tons of overtones and rich harmonics! Sweet.
I really like this guitar. It looks great, it sounds great and it plays great! By the way, this is their top of the line model, and at $1800 Canadian, it’s an incredible value proposition. Believe me when I tell you that you’re getting a boutique-quality guitar for a great price with the Prestige Heritage Elite!
So with great anticipation, I jumped out of bed at 7 am this morning, and unwrapped the package. The guitar came with a nice, form-fitting old-school, black tolex-covered case. When I lifted the lid to see the guitar, I was blown away by how awesome it looked! The abalone binding on the body, neck and headstock was gorgeous, and the mother-of-pearl vine inlay on the fretboard is spectacular. But that said, if I had my druthers, I’d skip the abalone binding on the neck, but that’s just a nit – it’s all beautiful.
The finish on the body is incredible, with the burst stain bringing nicely bringing out the contours of the curly maple top. Around 8:30 am, my buddy Phil texted me and asked if I had received the guitar (I show him all the gear that I review), and demanded that we meet for coffee so he could see this gorgeous guitar. He fell in love with it immediately.
Out of the box, the setup was awesome, though during shipping, the intonation got thrown off a bit on the 6th string. That was very easy to remedy though, so it wasn’t really a problem. I also expect that out of instruments shipped to me, so it’s not a negative. The action on this guitar is low – very nicely low – with no string buzz unless you really hammer the strings, which is to be expected. To me, the action is perfect! The neck is nice and fast, and with a 24 3/4″ scale length, you can really move around on the neck. Another nice feature of the guitar is that it doesn’t have a big neck joint, so reaching notes in the upper registers is a breeze.
So, how does it sound? In a word, awesome. It’s very much like a Les Paul, with a Duncan ’59 in the neck and a SH-4JB in the bridge – two of my favorite pickups. The bridge pickup is nicely damp and rich sounding, and the treble pickup really screams. Played through my Hot Rod Deluxe, it’s got a great, mid-rangy sound. I especially like the bridge pickup. It’s nice and tight and doesn’t lose bottom end, which is a beef I’ve had about some Les Pauls I’ve played.
All-in-all, this is one sweet guitar, and at about US $1450, it’s a guitar that has a ton of boutique features at a relatively reasonable price point. I need to play with it for a few days to get to know it better, and I’ll do a full review.
But my preliminary rating is 4.75 Tone Bones. This is a great guitar!
You gotta love Canada. You just gotta. In addition to being the country that brought us my favorite sport, hockey (Go Sharks!), Canada is now raising the attention of guitarists. The first Canadian manufacturer that caught my attention was Godin guitars. I first played a Godin at a local shop, and was really impressed by them.
But I recently caught wind of another Canadian manufacturer – Prestige Guitars – that is making me raise my eyebrows – A LOT! Granted, it took me reading about them in Guitar World mag, but that brief review article of the Prestige Heritage Hollow compelled me to do research on Prestige and see what’s so special about them.
From what I can tell, these are production guitars with TONS of boutique accoutrements. Click on the picture to the left to see what I mean. This guitar, replete with abalone binding and intricate mother of pearl inlays on the fretboard sells for CAN $1800! That is roughly US $1450!
What a price point for these kinds of features! An equivalent boutique guitar will sell for three to four times as much, and here’s this Canadian company providing the same kinds of features for so much less! YOU GOTTA DIG IT! YOU JUST GOTTA!
I haven’t been able to find any sound bites the web, otherwise I’d list some, but I’m going to do some research, and I’m definitely going to see if I can somehow play one of these!