The PRS "McCarty" was born from a passion for vintage tone. Since the introduction of the original McCarty model in 1994, the McCarty lineup has expanded as our company has evolved. Today we are armed with a greater understanding of vintage instruments, more research, and new models that push us towards our goal of building a perfectly modern, "vintage" instrument. Read about the journey below.
The story begins with Paul Reed Smith’s fascination with the golden era of guitar building, considered by many to have been in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. During this time, a man by the name of Ted McCarty was a pioneer of the electric guitar and the musical instrument industry. He served as vice president of the Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1949 and later as president from 1950-1966. McCarty was responsible for a number of patents and innovations including the humbucking pickup, Explorer, Flying V, SG, and Firebird to name a few.
As a young man, Paul was conducting extensive research on the electric guitar in the 1980’s, and he continued to notice McCarty’s name among patents. He was urged by a friend to reach out to Ted McCarty and interview him. Paul visited Ted and formed a wonderful relationship with him. Consequently, Ted McCarty became a mentor and dear friend to Paul and the PRS company in the late 80's and early 90's.
Paul called on Ted to consult him on various guitar design and production techniques and in 1994 a new guitar model was introduced - the McCarty. This guitar became Paul’s tribute to Ted and a tangible way to pay homage to Ted’s legacy of innovation. The McCarty model incorporated the full spectrum of techniques and knowledge Paul had gained from Ted as well as his own experiences as a guitar builder.
In 2015, our company re-released the McCarty model with updated 58/15 pickups - vintage voiced and personally designed by Paul Reed Smith.
In the video below, Paul elaborates on his significant relationship with Ted McCarty.
Like any true passion, the journey never really comes to a close, and in late 2015 our team began development on what we would later call the "McCarty 594."
The McCarty 594
Our goal with the McCarty 594 was to create a vintage-sounding instrument that offers the extreme reliability that comes from our modern-day manufacturing.
"The 594 is the best new guitar I've played in years. It has a vintage heart and soul but without the technical limitations that usually come along with an old instrument. What good is an old guitar if you can't get all that feel out of the upper frets, or the intonation is off? To hear that old PAF sound but be able to articulate the notes in a way that only modern manufacturing could allow is so exciting." - John Mayer
The 594 deviates from the original McCarty platform in a few unique ways. Most immediately you may notice the 3-way toggle placed on the upper bout of our double-cutaway PRS body shape. This location is familiar for many players and offers easy access to change tones on the fly. Here are some other unique specs the McCarty 594 offers:
- A 24.594” scale length, just slightly longer than our previous "vintage" instruments which clocked in at 24.5." The McCarty 594 derives it's name from this longer 24.594" scale length.
- New “58/15 LT” pickups. LT meaning low turns, which give the 594 a sweet, lower-output tone.
- 2 volume and 2 push/pull tone controls positioned so players can roll off both volume knobs at the same time, and with the added versatility of coil splits for even more tonal options.
- A new Pattern Vintage neck carve. This neck carve shares the same width measurements as our Pattern neck, but is slightly thicker front to back and features an asymmetrical carve with a little less meat on the treble side, and a little more on the bass side of the neck.
- Tweaked Phase III tuners that have an added set screw to pull the tuner’s shaft, gear, and worm together, but with the tuner button taken out of play, to promote tone transfer from the string directly into the guitar itself with as little energy as possible being detracted.
Check out the video below to learn about the making of the McCarty 594:
For 2017, we have recently announced the latest addition to the McCarty family, the McCarty Singlecut 594.
The McCarty Singlecut 594
The McCarty Singlecut 594 embraces everything "traditional" guitarists love. With the same electronics layout as the double cut McCarty 594, players can access a wide range of tones in a comfortable layout. The initial prototypes for this Singlecut were developed through our esteemed Private Stock department and released in a 20-piece limited edition model.
Give this model a listen in the demo below!
To try a McCarty model, find a PRS dealer near you!