My Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II electric guitar is one of the most beautiful guitars that I’ve seen, and it reminds me of the quality and elegance of an old Stradivarius violin. Because of the wider neck and the flatter fretboard compared to other electric guitars (16″ radius instead of the normal 12″), the Hollowbody II feels more like a classical guitar than an electric one. This is probably one of the reasons why I prefer to play traditional standard jazz à la Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery or Jim Hall instead of heavy rock or blues on this guitar – although it’s a great guitar for those heavier styles, too.
I first saw this type of guitar in the year of 2000 when I was at the Guitar Center in East Brunswick, NJ, USA, hunting for my Tom Anderson Hollow-T (read that blog here). When I was sitting in the store’s testing room with a couple of Tom Anderson guitars, a beautiful semi acoustic guitar caught my eye. It was a dark brownish coloured guitar with f-holes and it looked really classy – just like an expensive Stradivarius as I’ve mentioned earlier. I just had to try this beautiful guitar.
I unplugged the Tom Anderson guitar that I had tested and plugged this beautiful guitar in. It was amazing! Playing this guitar really felt luxurious. It was a really beautiful piece of art, and an example of perfect craftsmanship I had in my hands! While fooling around with some jazzy chords and phrases, I immediately felt that the traditional style of jazz guitar was the appropriate music for such a delicate instrument. In my mind I saw myself playing cosy jazz music with this guitar at a luxury five star hotel somewhere in the world.
After a while I woke up from my dreams and realised: “I’m not playing cosy jazz that much anymore and especially not for a living. I’m working in a studio composing music for commercials and documentaries etc. and I need a versatile high quality guitar for these kinds of jobs. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to buy a Tom Anderson guitar with a bright glimmering sound and not a guitar with a mellow sound that is more suitable for smooth jazz”. These were my thoughts and my conclusion: I wouldn’t have any use for this type of guitar, even if it was absolutely fantastic. This guitar would probably hang on the wall in my studio, or in my living room, as a piece of art for the eyes, and not being used as a tool for making music. I couldn’t buy a guitar for this non-musical purpose – especially not such an expensive guitar. So, I decided to leave this Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II for the future and go for my Tom Anderson, which also was the right decision – and I’ve never regretted it. (However, I do have to admit that for one second I got the idea of buying both guitars. I dropped this idea because of the inconvenience of bringing two guitars and my luggage on the plane back home to Sweden, though.)
My thoughts of buying a PRS Hollowbody II faded away and I had (and still have) many wonderful years with my Tom Anderson Hollow-T – on recordings in my studio as well as in my orchestra jobs on cruise ships.
In 2009, about nine years after I first came across this beautiful semi acoustic guitar, I told a friend of mine that one of the most beautiful electric guitars in the world must be a PRS Hollowbody II. I also told him about my wonderful experience with this guitar nine years earlier, and that I would like to have one in the future when I’m going to the USA. My friend told me that there are many PRS guitars in a music store here in Sweden and it could be worth going there.
I went to “Musikalen”, a music store in Halmstad, equipped with my Tom Anderson Hollow-T as a reference and tried a couple of PRS Hollowbody II guitars. One of them, a natural coloured one, was absolutely fantastic. However, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy it since at that time I was more into a dark brownish one (the same colour that I saw at the Guitar Center nine years earlier). So, I decided to wait a couple of weeks with my decision and go back to the store later, well aware of the risk that someone else could buy it.
Only one week after I had tested the natural coloured PRS Hollowbody II, I decided to go back to the store and try it again. I had realised that I really loved the feel and the sound of this guitar, although I wasn’t too happy about the look of it. However, the sound and feel of a guitar are more important than the outward appearance. Well, it doesn’t hurt if a guitar also looks good. Anyway…
I went back to the store and tested the guitar again and it was as good as I thought in the first round. My original idea was to go to the USA and buy one there because of having greater choice of guitars. However, here I was sitting in the store with an amazing guitar, so why wait and maybe miss this chance. If I would wait until I had the time and money to go to the USA, I would still end up with a guitar as good as the one in my hands. This guitar was perfect! (… apart from the colour that is to say.) After one hour in the store with this guitar I gave it the nickname “Paleface”. I had made up my mind and wanted to be the owner of this pale, natural coloured and very fantastic Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II.
I went to the salesman and told him that I had to go to the bank to transfer extra money to my debit card (I didn’t have the possibility of doing it via a smartphone at that time). It was twenty minutes to closing time for the banks and only fifty minutes until my train back home was leaving. I ran the fastest I could to the bank, waited in the very slow line, and finally managed to transfer my money just before closing time. Then I ran back to the store and paid for the guitar. Now, it was only ten minutes to my train’s departure. The salesman was very kind to me and offered to drive me to the station so I could get there in time. And why shouldn’t he be kind to me, I’d just bought a 4,000 USD guitar from him, a Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II.
Just a couple of months after I had bought this wonderful guitar, I started playing acoustic solo guitar and have been doing so until today. So I’ve never really had the chance to use my PRS Hollowbody II in a real live situation. As a matter of fact, I’ve never really played that much on my PRS guitar since I bought it. I’ve been busy full time with solo guitar on acoustic guitar. So until today, my Paul Reed Smith Hollowbody II has only been a beautiful piece of art for my eyes (!).