REVIEWS

PRS 509

Published 6 years ago on September 15, 2018

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

The 509 is as close as you can get to a Swiss army knife of tones without resorting to modelling or active electronics.

Nick Jennison

PROS:

A classy, single-coil led take on the “do everything” guitar

PRS’s legendary build quality and playability

Beautiful aesthetics

CONS:

A serious price tag, even for a PRS core model

Guitar Interactive star rating: 4.5 stars

PRS 509

MSRP £3655 (UK)  $4300 (US)

Nick Jennison takes a look at one of the most versatile guitars in the PRS lineup, the 509. Harnessing the power of 5 pickups to deliver 9 uniquely musical tones, the 509 uses its innovative switching system to give players an array of humbucking, single-coil, and blended tones.

There are some guitars out there that do one job and do it well. A well-made archtop with a single floating pickup through a polytone combo is great joy and beauty, made for complex chord-melody work and warm single note lines. There are other guitars that have a single distinctive voice that’s at home in any situation. Telecasters, for example, are famed for being at home in any style. And then, there are guitars like the PRS 509.

The 509 is as close as you can get to a Swiss army knife of tones without resorting to modelling or active electronics. It’s forefather, the 513, boasted 5 single coil pickups with 13 potential tones - hence the name. The pickups were grouped together into “humbucker” pairs at the bridge and neck positions with a lone single coil in the middle position - essentially an HSS configuration, on a 5-way blade switch. A second 3-way blade switch toggled between “hot humbucking”, “clear humbucking” and true single coil operation. Whew!

The 509 uses the same pickup configuration, but eschews the second blade switch in favour of independent mini-toggles for each “humbucker” pair of pickups, making for 9 available tones instead of 13. However, because the neck and bridge pickups can be split independently, the 509 might be more versatile in the heat of battle.

You might be wondering why I’m using the word “humbucker” in scare-quotes. That’s because the neck and bridge pickups are actually pairs of strat-style single coils that are operable together in series for “humbucker” tones. Because of this, the “split” settings are actually true single coils, and sound way more convincing than coil-split conventional humbuckers.

Because of this, the humbucking positions are very fat and warm, with more low-mid emphasis than you’d expect from a typical PAF-style pickup. It makes for some very vocal and throaty lead tones, but perhaps lacks the tightness and bite for more extreme metal styles. It’s a compromise worth making for those outstanding single coil tones though, which are some of the best I’ve heard from a guitar that’s not a dedicated single-coil machine. There’s more depth and warmth than you’d expect from a strat; that could be as much to do with the 25.25” scale length as it is the pickups. It’s slightly longer than a regular core model but shorter than most typical Fender-style instruments.

In the hands, it’s business as usual for PRS; everything feels of the absolute highest quality, and the setup is sweet straight out of the box. The fret profile is a little different to what you’d expect to see on a typical core PRS; they’re taller and narrower with a flatter crown. Quite what the reasoning for this is I’m not sure, but I’m actually rather partial to this profile. And of course, it’s very very attractive.

All in all, the 509 is an immensely versatile guitar, and there’s not a bad tone in it. Unlike so many “HSH-with-splits” designs where the “splits” can seem like an afterthought, this one puts the emphasis on quality single coil tones and moves out from there. Pair that with PRS’s exception build quality and attention to detail and you’ve got something very special. If you can afford the hefty price tag and you need one guitar that will genuinely do it all, this might be the one.

SPECS

Mahogany Body and Neck

Figured Maple Top

V12 Finish

509 pickups

For more information, please visit:

prsguitars.com

 


YOU MAY LIKE

ADVERTISEMENT

LATEST

Mud, Rain, and Rock 'n' Roll — Guitar Interactive at The Download Festival 2024 | Feature

Tom Morello on new single with his son "Soldier in the Army of Love," the last time he saw Chris Cornell & beating Simon Cowell in the charts | Interview

Marcus King on 'Mood Swings,' Collaborating with Rick Rubin and Exploring New Musical Directions | Interview

Gibson Theodore Standard | Review

Aria Pro II 714-GTR Fullerton | Review

Music Man 2024 Axis Super Sport | Review

Danelectro Fifty Niner Guitar - Gold Top | Review

Taylor Guitars 50th Anniversary GS mini Rosewood SB | Review

Music Man 2024 Axis | Review

Jackson Soloist SLA 3 | Review

PRS 2024 SE CE 24 Satin | Review

JET Guitars JT600 | Review

Third Man Hardware x Donner Triple Threat Pedal | Review

Boss Katana-Air EX Wireless Guitar Amp | Review

Cort Abstract Delta Masterpiece Series | Review

Sterling by Music Man St. Vincent Goldie | Review

Mooer Tender Octave X2 | Review

Gibson Falcon 20 1x12 Combo | Review

Godin Session T-Pro | Review

Fishman Fluence 6-String Mick Thomson Signature Pickups | Review

Glenn Hughes on Black Country Communion 'V' & Why Joe Bonamassa is "The Greatest Rock Blues Player Alive Today" | Interview

D'Addario XS Coated Electric Guitar Strings | Review

21 Bands Not to Miss at This Year's Download Festival | Feature

Nothing More's Mark Vollelunga on Embracing the "Raw" and "Real" with 'Carnal' | Interview

Eddie 9V Delivers an Electrifying and Soulful Performance at The Grace, London — May 13th 2024 | Live Review

Top magnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram