Behind-The-Scenes: The Super Eagle Collaboration with John Mayer

Filed Under Electrics / Private Stock Electrics

In mid-2015, Paul Reed Smith was put in touch with Grammy-winning musician John Mayer. At the time, and unbeknownst to the public, John was planning to join former members of the Grateful Dead to create a new group, Dead and Company.

Before John could tour with Dead and Company, he needed a unique yet reliable tool for the job. Paul and John got to work. In a number of clandestine meetings at the PRS headquarters in Maryland, Paul and John fleshed out what would later become the Super Eagle.

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The Super Eagle went through countless revisions and resulted in an instrument that pushes the boundaries of PRS material, design, and craftsmanship. John Mayer’s keen eye for playability, tone, and detail paired well with Paul Reed Smith’s desire for exploration and the art of guitar making. The two spent hours intently listening to every nuance and note from the instrument, seeking improvement at every turn.

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The development of the Super Eagle yielded a few “firsts” for a PRS model, including:

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- a unique and longer scale length, clocking in at 25.375”
- specially-wound 58/15 JM Treble & Bass pickups with a specially-wound Narrowfield JM pickup in the middle position.
- 3 individual coil-tap mini switches
- a JCF audio preamp with treble boost.

The development of the pickups and electronics layout was a multi-month process for Paul and John but resulted in an extremely versatile and sophisticated instrument. 

Paul recalls the design process, “It started with John sitting in my office going through every pickup we made. He picked specifically the treble pickup he needed, the middle pickup he needed, and the bass pickup he needed for each tone. Then we decided that we wanted to put phase switches (which were subsequently changed to coil-cancel switches) on there so you could get a lot more sounds.”  

Paul and John continued developing the electronics by working with electronics/audio engineer Josh Florian to custom-design a JCF pre-amp section for the Super Eagle. Paul says, “John wanted to put a pre-amp in the guitar but didn’t want the volume to increase so we custom designed the pre-amp to give the tone a more “HD” sound. We paired the pre-amp with a treble boost switch with a very gentle high-end shelving. The wiring is set up so you can get pretty much all the combinations of those three pickups, you can make them single-coil, you can use the pre-amp to make the output low-impedance without additional gain, and you can get additional high-end. It’s a wonderful system.

See the below graphic for an overview of the electronics layout:

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The production quantity of the Super Eagle will be kept to a limited number of only 100 and will be built entirely by the PRS Private Stock team. Each Super Eagle will receive a beautifully designed sticker hand-signed by John Mayer visible inside the f-hole of the instrument.

The design for the sticker was a collaboration with a European artist and friend of John Mayer’s, David Adrian Smith. Their relationship began when David was commissioned by Mayer in the design of his 2012 Born and Raised album. David designed the Super Eagle sticker with an incredible amount of detail and with a design that harkens back to turn of the century manufacturing quality.

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Watch John Mayer explain the process behind the Super Eagle in the video below!

Here are some Private Stock build-process shots of the Super Eagle inside the PRS Factory:

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If you are interested in owning one of the Limited Edition PRS Super Eagle instruments, the guitars will be available through the following domestic USA and international dealers:

DOMESTIC USA

Alto Music
www.altomusic.com
Middletown, NY

Brian’s Guitars
www.briansguitars.com
Hamden, CT

CR Guitars
www.crguitars.com/
Rhinebeck, NY

Dave’s Guitar
www.davesguitar.com
La Crosse, WI

Eddie’s Guitars
www.eddiesguitars.com
St. Louis, MO

Guitar Center
www.guitarcenter.com
USA

Guitar Maverick
www.guitarmaverick.com
Keller, TX

Guitar Resurrection
www.guitarrez.com
Austin, TX

The Guitar Sanctuary
www.theguitarsanctuary.com
McKinney, TX

The Guitar Store
www.seattleguitarstore.com
Seattle, WA

John Mann’s Guitar Vault
www.guitarvaultusa.com
Bedford, NH

Lark Guitars
www.larkguitars.com
San Antonio, TX

Lefty Guitars Only
www.leftyguitarsonly.com
East Greenwich, RI

Martin Music
www.martinmusicguitar.com
Memphis, TN

Music Gallery
www.musicgalleryinc.com
Highland Park, IL

Moore Music
www.mooremusicev.com
Evansville, IN

Music Store Live
www.musicstorelive.com
South Burlington, VT

Music Villa
www.musicvilla.com
Bozeman, MT

Musician’s Friend
www.musiciansfriend.com
USA

Northeast Music Center
www.nemusiccenter.com
Dickson City, PA

Righteous Guitars
www.righteousguitars.com
Roswell, Georgia

Sam Ash
www.samash.com
USA

Seaford Music
www.seafordmusic.com
Seaford Music, DE

Sweetwater
www.sweetwater.com
Fort Wayne, IN

Washington Music Center
www.chucklevins.com
Wheaton, MD

Wild West Guitars
www.wildwestguitars.com
Riverside, CA

Wildwood Guitars
www.wildwoodguitars.com
Louisville, CO

Willcutt Guitar Shop
http://www.willcuttguitars.com
Lexington, KY

CANADA

The Guitar Shop, Canada
www.theguitarshop.ca
Canada

Long & McQuade
www.long-mcquade.com
Canada

Electron Music
Canada

INTERNATIONAL

Electric Factory (ELFA)
www.elfa.com.au
Australia

Boomers Music
www.facebook.com/musiccollectionthai
Thailand

Dore Music
http://www.do-re.com.tr
Turkey

Guitarras 357
www.guitarras357.com
Costa Rica

KID
www.korg.co.jp
Japan

Lee Sheng
www.sls-music.com.tw
Taiwan

Music Force
www.musicforce.co.kr
Korea

PRS Europe
www.prsguitarseurope.com
Europe

Tom Lee Music
www.tomleemusic.com.hk
Hong Kong

Comments (4)

Chris Gibson May 19, 2016 - 2:27pm
This tone coming from his prs eagle is a whole new animal . He's is a buffered pup signal and split coils. He had takin advice from the veterans like Weir. When he first played with Bob doing truckin with his silverish fender. His original Fender and gear sounded terrible. Pround of you John and look forward to summer 2016.Glad to hear you using qtron...founder of the mutron.
Alex Gómez Lara April 18, 2016 - 11:34am
Hi! I'm Alex from México. I love PRS guitars and John Mayer's tone so Super Eagle guitar is definitely for me. I want it but I don't see any Mexican dealer. What can I do? Help me please!!!
Peter Yavaldakis April 14, 2016 - 9:41am
Been a huge fan of Mayer for quite some time now, and everything about this guitar is awesome. He's always been all about finding and utilizing the best tones for all his work, and you can hear it in this guitar as well with what he's been doing with Dead and Co. Solos, choruses, verses, bridges... he's constantly changing it up, but remains consistent with what he's been doing, and it just never gets stale. Amazing that he and Paul gave the fans an inside look as to what's going on with this guitar too; I'm sure it's been on every fan's mind. Well played gentlemen
Mitch April 13, 2016 - 7:09am
Awesome photos! Gorgeous guitar.

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