PRS Silver Sky Review: Is it Better Than a Strat?
Considering splashing your cash and buying the PRS Silver Sky?
There’s no doubt the PRS Silver Sky is a professional guitar. But with the over $2,000 premium price tag comes pressure to make sure it’s worth the outlay.
Furthermore, the Silver Sky is a Super-Strat. It’s a flooded market so this guitar faces stiff competition. Not to mention the lure of a Strat made by the inventors themselves Fender.
In this PRS Silver Sky review, we’ll go into the fine details. By looking over build quality, sound, value, and much more, you’ll know whether it’s worth the price. We’ll also show you the best alternatives at a similar price and a superb cheaper option to boot.
About The PRS Silver Sky
First released on March 20th, 2018, the PRS Silver Sky is a premium guitar. There is no affordable SE version, although rumors suggest that an SE Silver Sky is in the works.
The PRS Silver Sky is a collaborative effort between John Mayer and Paul Reed Smith. John Mayer is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist with Grammy Award wins to his name. Mayers collaborator Paul Reed Smith, is the PRS founder and creator of great guitars such as the Custom 24.
The Silver Sky is a Super-Strat with a striking resemblance to the Fender models of the 60s. Having reimagined the design after the success of the release in 2018, the Silver Sky is now available in 17 colors.
PRS Silver Sky Highlights:
There’s a lot to like about the PRS Silver Sky. From the build quality to the exceptional tone, it’s a major all-around guitar. Let’s touch upon what we liked and what we didn’t.
What We Liked
- Tone. Fitted with 635JM single-coil pickups, the Silver Sky produces an exceptional round and glassy tone.
- PRS workmanship. All PRS guitars are of remarkable quality but the level of the US workmanship on the Silver Sky goes above and beyond, it’s special.
- Playability. With the two cutaways, you can reach all 22 frets. The neck has distinctive qualities such as the neck profile and curved fingerboard.
What We Didn’t Like
- The PRS Silver Sky is the most Strat-like guitar in the PRS collection. With such striking similarities, many artists argue the point of opting for an original Fender.
- The Silver Sky is a fantastic guitar, and in many ways justifies the price point, but it’s expensive, even in comparison to an American-made Fender Ultra Strat.
- Plastic Machine Heads. The plastic machine heads on the tuning pegs feel cheap on what is an expensive guitar.
PRS Silver Sky Review: Features & Specifications
- Locking tuners for improved tuning stability.
- Steel tremolo bridge for whammy capabilities.
- Three 635JM single-coil pickups for excellent tones.
- Comfortable bolt-on maple neck resembling John Mayer’s favorite vintage Strat.
PRS Silver Sky Review: Our Insights
In the following sections, we’ll cover everything from build quality to the overall value. Here’s where you’ll get a deeper look at the PRS Silver Sky.
Materials and Build Quality
Built-in PRS’s Maryland, USA facility, the Silver Sky has a build quality worthy of the premium price.
The two-piece alder body is well-treated and is of outstanding stock. Cut to shape by CNC machines and then sanded by hand, the curves and shape are precise and smooth. Carved from the finest maple tonewood, the neck is beautiful to touch.
The fingerboard has arced edges showing PRS have considered every fine detail. The bolt-on neck has a subtle heel, and the connection is tight.
Regardless of which color you pick, the paint job is fantastic with even application. They then finish the guitar with gloss polyurethane. It’s a glossy finish to protect the instrument and was first used on Fender guitars in the late 1960s.
From endpin to the headstock, the workmanship of the skilled luthiers at PRS Silver Sky is faultless. PRS even cut the bone nut with precision.
Hardware and Electronics
There’s little cost-cutting on the hardware. One discrepancy to start with is the machine heads on the tuners. Made of plastic, they feel cheap. Some metal machine heads would’ve been more fitting for the price.
But there’s much to like. The locking tuners themselves are solid and durable. They do a top job of keeping the Silver Sky in tune. This is especially important if you use the whammy bar.
The steel bridge is dependable and looks like bridges found on classic Stratocasters. With six adjustable saddles, you can achieve superb intonation by optimizing each string.
The unthreaded tremolo arm means you can change the playing position to suit. By request of John Mayer, the tremolo is flush against the body. So, the pitch can only go down. By keeping the bridge in contact with the body, there’s little signal loss affecting sound quality.
Even the screws are worthy of a mention. The PRS Gen III knife-edge screws return the bridge back to pitch after whammy use. While the genuine bone nut is a stable foundation and preserves string vibration, adding to the sustain and ping in tone.
The Silver Sky is versatile. There are three single-coil pickups and a 5-blade position switch. So with five pickup configurations at your disposal, you can achieve tonal variety from one guitar.
Not only can you mix and match pickups, but the tone dials on these guitars are also responsive. By adjusting the tone dials, you’ll control the neck and middle pickup.
It’s the sheer variation these dials offer that comes as a surprise. The extreme settings offer either dazzling brightness or very dark colorations. Combined with the 5-pickup options, there is a lot of tonal variety.
With the neck pickup, the sound is throaty, while the bridge is much brighter. But whatever pickup configuration, there’s no harshness or brittleness. Even the high-end is smooth.
The Alder body provides plenty of resonance while the nut adds sustain. But it’s the 635JM single-coil pickups that are the showpiece.
The PRS designed 635JM’s have tonal qualities of a vintage guitar but without the hum. For recording and live they’re high-grade. Designed by Paul Reed Smith and John Mayer, you can say in no uncertain terms that the sound quality is for a pro.
Having modeled the Silver Sky on a 60s Strat, some features aren’t for everyone. But, if you have experience with older guitars, then the Silver Sky is great to play.
The rosewood fingerboard has a radius of 7.25″. It’s rounder than most and with the rolled edges, it’s comfortable and makes it simple to play power chords.
Based on the 60s Strat, the neck has a bulky build. It’s C-shaped but larger than newer designs. It’s not so thin it’s finicky but isn’t too large to be uncomfortable. That said, for players with smaller hands, it’ll be difficult to master.
With a scale length of 25.5″, it’s longer than the usual PRS. But, once again, this length echoes many Fender guitars. The distance between frets is ideal and roomy.
The string tension is nice and smooth to bend notes. While the 3×3 headstock offers a consistent more uniform tautness for slick playability.
There are 22 frets with the double-cutaway and shaped heel, allowing for unhampered access to all frets. No note is out of reach on the PRS Silver Sky.
Overall, the Silver Sky goes against the PRS norm with its more traditional specs. For the professional who can transition from guitar to guitar, playing the Silver Sky will liberate, and playing it will feel like a dream.
This is difficult. There’s no denying that the Silver Sky is a great guitar. The build quality, playability, and tone all point to a serious premium instrument.
It’s a professional guitar used by a musician at the peak of his career in John Mayer. So, a touch above $2,500 seems reasonable. For an American-built PRS, it’s good value.
The issue is, having modeled the Silver Sky so much on a 60s Fender, there’s competition. A Fender Original 60s, for example, costs $2,000.
Not that they’re the same guitar, it’d be easy to argue the Silver Sky is better. But with so many similarities to a Strat, there are cheaper alternatives.
PRS Silver Sky Review: Buying Experience
Are you convinced by the PRS Silver Sky? Next, you’ll need to know where to buy it from. Wherever you choose, ask about their store policies because it varies between outlets.
The information below is about my buying experience with Sweetwater.
Sweetwater offers free shipping to the contiguous United States. Whatever the size, and regardless of price, it’s free.
All instruments that cost over $299 qualify for the Sweetwater 55-point inspection. This involves a meticulous examination of the guitar and a play test by trained technicians. In the rare occurrence, the PRS Silver Sky has faults, the inspection should pick up any issues.
The PRS SE Mira comes in a gig bag. While not the most sturdy, it arrives well packaged. If you’re planning on taking the guitar to the studio or live performance, a hardshell case is advisable. Should you want a hardshell case, if you buy from Sweetwater they’ll put the guitar in the case before shipping.
As soon as you get your hands on the PRS Silver Sky, register it on the PRS website. They have a limited lifetime warranty. It’s worth checking over the terms and conditions. But to summarize, it protects against defects in workmanship and materials.
This shows how sure PRS are of their guitars. While the Silver Sky has premium build quality, it’s worth registering to protect against any mishaps in production.
Sweetwater has a 2-year warranty too. So you have another option should any issues slip past the 55-point inspection.
The return policy of Sweetwater is a defining feature. While the PRS Silver Sky is a timeless guitar, we’re all different. If it isn’t for you, it’s simple to return the guitar.
You won’t need to explain yourself. Whether you dislike the color or don’t like the feel of the neck, send it back.
As long as you’ve decided it isn’t for you within 30 days of shipping, you’re covered. Once Sweetwater receives the guitar, decide between a refund or credit in your Sweetwater account.
Should You Buy the PRS Silver Sky?
Ultimately, this depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re in the market for a premium Strat-like guitar, then the Silver Sky is up there with the best.
A collaboration between Paul Reed Smith and John Mayer has yielded significant results. The sound quality belongs to best-selling records. While the workmanship is to levels that will keep this guitar usable for a lifetime. If you can meet the over $2,500 price tag, it’s a guitar fit for a professional.
PRS Silver Sky Alternatives
If you are unsure of the PRS Silver Sky or can’t meet the price point, there’s plenty of competition. Let’s look at some Silver Sky alternatives.
PRS Silver Sky Vs Fender American Ultra Stratocaster
Fender says the Ultra Series is their “most advanced series of electric guitars”. So the Ultra Stratocaster is a high-performance guitar. Coming in at around $2,000, it’s a premium guitar made by an iconic brand.
Headstock aside, both guitars have striking visual similarities. But here’s where they differ.
While the principles are the same, the Ultra Strat has modernized playability. There’s a compound fingerboard radius of 10″-14″. This means the fingerboard is flatter towards the bridge and rounder at the nut.
Both guitars have rolled edges for top playability. But the neck carve feels different. The Modern-D profile feels narrower on the palm compared to the 635JM on the Silver Sky.
The Fender Ultra Strat is ideal for pro players who want a premium Stratocaster made by the original manufacturers, Fender.
But a lot depends on the neck. Narrower, the Ultra feels more modern to play. For a more vintage feeling neck, then the Silver Sky is where it’s at.
Both are fantastic guitars, but a saving of around $550 with the Ultra may be an enormous factor in making it an attractive premium alternative.
PRS Silver Sky Vs Fender Player Stratocaster
The Fender Player Stratocaster is a Mexican made strat that rivals that of an American Strat at much more affordable price.
Read our Fender Player Stratocaster Review
If you’re looking over the Silver Sky and Ultra Strat in frustration at the price. Here’s the alternative.
Made in Mexico, the Fender Player Stratocaster is an affordable option for the Strat sound and playability.
Sure, you won’t get those expensive locking tuners like on the Silver Sky. Nor will you get Fender noiseless pickups like on the Ultra Strat.
But, the Player is an amazing guitar offering distinctive value for money.
The build quality is better than the price implies. It’s a workhorse capable of extensive touring.
It replicates the Strat quack through the outstanding Player Series Alnico V Strat Single-coil. More expensive Stratocasters are a little brighter, but it’s not to say they’re better. In fact, many guitarists prefer the sound of a Mexican Strat.
The PRS Silver Sky shows near-identical visual traits to a Strat. So the Fender Player Stratocaster is your budget-friendly alternative that plays and sounds like a Strat.
Priced around $800, it’s at an intermediate price, but it is much more than an intermediate guitar. It’s a Fender that professionals can enjoy, but without the inflated price point.
PRS Silver Sky Vs Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass
Ernie Ball, you know your favorite Super Slinky guitar strings, well they make guitars too. The Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass is a more leftfield alternative.
While the Ernie Ball name doesn’t have the same reputation as a Fender or PRS, the Music Man Cutlass is a fantastic guitar.
Although the alder body has similar double cutaways for high fret access. The shape is rounder than the Silver Sky. A 4×2 headstock design is pleasing to the eye and proves that while it takes inspiration from a Strat, the Cutlass is its own entity.
A Music Man bridge with modern tremolo and vintage steel saddles has a classic look but also adds a ping to the tone. Under heavy whammy, use the Schaller M6-IND Locking Tuners to keep the Cutlass in tune.
While the bridge position isn’t as glassy as the Silver Sky, the custom Ernie Ball single-coil pickups are top performers. With a vintage voice, they deliver warmth and a bell-like chime.
The spec list reads like a premium guitar. And it is. Its US-build quality is high grade with fretwork primed for optimal performance. With frets made of stainless steel, you won’t need a refret for years to come.
If you want a premium guitar a little more removed from the Strat shape, consider the Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass. At a similar price to the PRS Silver Sky, it offers a more against the grain alternative.
The Bottom Line
The PRS Silver Sky is a strong professional guitar capable of being in your collection for a lifetime.
Some highlights which make it stand out from the crowd include:
- 635JM Single-coil pickups for vintage warm but glassy tone. Run this guitar through a tube amp and the tonal growl is a backbone to a killer tone.
- The 635JM neck has a comfortable bulk to it. It doesn’t feel flimsy and has a vintage carve for bold playing.
- With help from Paul Reed Smith, award-winning guitarist John Mayer designed the Silver Sky. So, it’s safe to say, it’s made with professional performance in mind.
- Classic PRS build quality with the iconic bird inlays.
If you’re after a Super Strat, it’ll be hard to find many guitars that’ll compete with the Silver Sky.
But, the alternatives listed in this article are also great options. The Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass is the most adapted design. With the same principles of the Strat, it’s developed.
Then, of course, there’s the option to own a Strat by the original makers, Fender. The Ultra is high-performance, but the Mexican-built Player offers the best value for money.
Whichever way you decide, these are amazing guitars with a build quality to ensure the enjoyment lasts a lifetime.