swamp ash

PRS guitars, either love them or hate them, but fancy bling mega $$$ flame and quilt 10 tops aside,  they make a damn nice playing and sounding electric guitar.

The Swamp Ash Special, introduced in 1996, was PRS’s offering at a more fender oriented design, (along with the EG,CE24 alder and prior to the 305,DC3,NF3)

There are several versions of SAS with revisions to the pickups and/or wiring combinations, however this comparison will focus on my 2004 Model

Specs :

Swamp Ash Special (Mid 2003 – 2005)

– 2 PRS McCarty humbuckers with a Seymour Duncan Vintage Rails in middle position
– 3-Way toggle, master volume and tone pot with push-pull
– The push-pull pot, in the up position, activates middle pickup and renders the treble humbucker to a single coil


  • Position 1: Treble Humbucker
  • Position 2: Both Humbuckers
  • Position 3: Bass Humbucker


  • Position 1: Treble single coil and middle pickup
  • Position 2: Treble single coil, middle pickup and full bass humbucker
  • Position 3: Full Bass Humbucker and middle pickup


So taking into account, that a Les Paul sounds like a Les Paul, and a Strat sounds like a Strat,  a PRS with its “inbetween” scale lenght, has its own vibe and feel.

The SAS has an immediately noticable percussive attack and “spank” that distinguishes it from other PRS models, whilst still retaining that signature sweet singing top end on lead notes. Along with the toggle and push pull selector,  a myriad of sounds are on offer.

I know a lot of people dislike McCarty Humbuckers, stating they are too dark and muddy, but the combination with Swamp Ash somehow results in a character that is both warm AND bright.

is it perfect?

no…i kinda wish this version had a 5 way blade and a push pull toggle, as you can’t isolate the middle pickup on its own + the humbuckers in split mode.

Does it nail the “inbetween” tones and quack of a strat?

Not really, what it does manage is capture some vibe of it.

Is it a jack of all trades and master of none?

clean and crunch, funk and jazz, progressive high gain metal and shred,…if you can play it, this guitar can handle it. A very useful tool to have, along with a Strat and Les Paul.

Here is a comparison demo with a Fernandes “The Revival” Strat copy w/stock pickups.


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