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.
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.
The development of the Super Eagle yielded a few “firsts” for a PRS model, including:
- 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:
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.
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:
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:
The Guitar Sanctuary
The Guitar Store
John Mann’s Guitar Vault
San Antonio, TX
Lefty Guitars Only
East Greenwich, RI
Music Store Live
South Burlington, VT
Northeast Music Center
Dickson City, PA
Seaford Music, DE
Fort Wayne, IN
Washington Music Center
Wild West Guitars
Willcutt Guitar Shop
The Guitar Shop, Canada
Long & McQuade
Electric Factory (ELFA)
Tom Lee Music