1988 PRS Vintage Yellow Signature Model #2XX

 

1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar

The Saga of Signature Model #243 –

April of 2010 I saw a Craigslist add for a “black gold” PRS guitar. The pic in the ad was extremely small, so I contacted the Pawn Shop selling it and asked if they could send better pics. The shot above is the first they emailed me. There’s no mistaking Vintage Yellow, and there’s certainly no mistaking a way-beyond Ten-Top. Immediately I thought to myself — could this be a Signature Model? No. No way. Then the last pic they sent came through –

1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar

So I’d stumbled upon an early Signature Model, and the sellers didn’t really understand what they had. I brought my girlfriend along to go check it out. The shop was located out in Pacoima, CA. Trust me when I tell you Pacoima’s not the best of neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley. But I was certainly wasn’t going to let an astronomical homicide-rate put me off a vintage PRS hunt.

What I never could’ve expected was that the neighborhood itself wouldn’t be a problem — it was the pawn shop and its Owners that scared the holy hell out of you.

1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar

When we walked inside, we were immediately eyeball-to-eyeball with two stocky bald Russian gentlemen. “I’m here to see the guitar?” I mustered up my most congenial middle-class smile.

Owner #1 responded by grabbing a cartoonishly thick length of chain and giving it a hard jerk. A monstrous pit bull — had to be 150 lbs. if it was an ounce — immediately bounded out beside him aiming a low growl our way. My girlfriend — a dog-lover all her life– unconsciously took a BIG step back towards the door. My first thought — Thank God I left my cash outside hidden under the trunk mat.

Having successfully threatened to dismember a young bougie couple, he put the case atop the counter. When I opened it I got a big-time vintage PRSi rush — the top was OUTSTANDING. But on closer inspection, it was quickly apparent this find was also a tragically battered beauty.

1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar

There were deep, nasty gouges pockmarking the headstock, neck and body without rhyme or reason — two huge chunks were missing from the playing surface of the neck, which are particularly noticeable when gripping it. The original tuners were corroded, dozens of random divots of clear-coat were missing pretty much everywhere, and the buckle rash beside the trem plate wasn’t just worn “down TO the wood” it’s worn “down UNDER the wood” — whomever owned this beauty had clearly played the ass off it and had worn a heavy belt buckle every single day of their lives doing it (which is a pretty scary thought itself).

And yet, it was still such a beautiful guitar. Paul’s craftsmanship and design still shone through despite the many hard years she’d seen.

The Russians never warmed up. Not a degree. They were outright rude. “Why are these guys so ANGRY?” I kept wondering. But I did manage to coax them into letting me take these pics.

There were some pretty funny moments. When I asked about the deep-dish buckle-wear the owner told me it was “Nothing… just a chip of paint that had fallen off.” When I asked if I could lift up and check out the pickups to make sure they were original he said — “Tell you what. You give me the money, I’ll let you check the pickups, and if you don’t like what you see I’ll give you the money right back.” Needless to say, I declined his extremely generous offer with a strained laugh, but I definitely wasn’t smiling.

1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar

The brief backstory I got was this was a one-owner guitar, and the guy had hocked it to here “dozens” of times over the years for quick cash. The Russians implied there was a drug habit involved, and given the shitty area, it made perfect sense. When I asked how they knew he wouldn’t be coming back like the many, many other times, the owners just gave me a strange look. Evidently they knew something that’d convinced them the days of bouncing this vintage beauty back and forth had come to and end. I didn’t push any further to find out what that was.

When it came down to money, the owners predictably wanted too much for it — twice what I calculated it was probably worth. I bounced the pics off PRS expert John Ingram and he said fixing her up was out of the question, she was best bought as a weathered but high-end PRS “player”. Believe me, I considered it for a long while. But the angry Russians were intractable on the price and end of the day I simply couldn’t justify that kind of cash for a guitar in such disrepair.

Later, in September of 2010, Rick at Garrett Park got turned onto her by a friend. He acquired the piece, cleaned her up nicely without attempting any repairs, and offered her for sale. I know initially due to the condition he was having trouble moving Sig #243 — a very rare predicament for Rick — but ultimately it was sent to England and then flipped to a long-time PRS aficionado.

She really was a flawed beauty in the best sense, just a striking guitar that had undertaken a hard road since leaving Maryland back in ’88. God only knows what that axe witnessed over those 22 years — I think it’s a safe bet a lot of it wasn’t legal.

The great news is that the current owner LOVES this guitar and has given her a wonderful new home. He sent these recent pics and included a quick tone report –

1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar1988 Vintage Yellow Signature Electric Guitar

“Sound wise it’s mellower than many vintage Customs and the sweet-switch seems to roll off more treble and to produce less “honk”. Pickups are running 10.15K treble and 8.4K bass. Treble pick up has the milled E and B slugs which serve to warm the pickups up. All of this is great for me — I prefer it to most of the Customs I’ve heard.

Probably fate I ended up with it — what are the odds a guitar from the U.S. I liked and was thinking of buying ended up 1) in England and 2) with someone I’d sold another PRS to. Once the owner found out I knew Sig 243 and really liked it he promised to sell it to me for what he’d paid next time he was looking to raise some cash. Sure enough, he bought an ’86 and sold me the Sig.”

Taken by sgtsteiner » Posted on February 22, 2011 » Filed in 1988, Custom 24, Signature Models, Vintage Yellow » Link

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