PRS Paul Reed Smith / Dragon III #11 / 1995 / Indigo / Guitar For Sale
Asymmetrical double cutaway carved solid body with set neck. This incredible 1994 PRS 'Dragon lll' features the super attractive Indigo finish. One-piece PRS-shape offset asymmetrical double-cutaway mahogany body (back, sides and neck finished in black) with a highly figured maple sculptured top. One-piece mahogany glued-in neck with a wonderful medium-to-thick profile and scale length of 25.50 inches. Dual-action truss rod. Back angled three-on-a-side non veneered headstock with PRS 'signature' logo inlaid in gold and 'Dragon lll' inlaid in abalone on the bell-shaped ebony truss-rod cover which is secured by a single screw. On the back of the headstock written in gold is the serial number "5 21063" and also DRAGON lll # ll". Individual Schaller/PRS 'Rotamatic' locking tuners with half-moon metal buttons. Ten inch radiused rosewood fretboard with a wonderful medium profile and 22 medium-jumbo frets. Rosewood fretboard with highly intricate inlaid 'Dragon' design consisting of 438 inlays of gold, red and green abalone, mother of pearl, mammoth ivory and stone. One PRS "double-black" Humbucker Dragon 'Bass" pickup in the bridge position and one PRS "double-black" Humbucker Dragon 'Treble" pickup with outputs of 7.70k and 9.75k respectively. Both pickups (uncovered as usual) with cream plastic pickup rings. One volume control, one tone control and a five-way rotary pickup selector switch. The underside of the potentiometers have "W4-1283" written in hand. Black plastic barrel-shape "Speed" control knobs. PRS 'wrap-over' stop-tail. All hardware gold-plated. Complete with the original PRS "Limited Edition" instruction sheet, PRS catalog, original case tag and truss-rod adjustment tool. This amazing guitar is in mint (9.50) condition. Housed in the original "GG Quality" black leather hardshell case with black plush lining (9.25).
"Dragon lll… with the most complex inlay yet, designed by Jeff Easely, a top Dungeons And Dragons artist. The intricate Dragon lll featured a 438-piece dargon inlay of gold, red and green abalone, mother of pearl, mammoth ivory and stone."
"When I was 16 I had a dream about a guitar with a dragon inlaid down the neck. Twenty years later, the technology became available to inlay such a complicated design with precision. This year's Dragon has 201 pieces of abalone, turquoise and mother-of-pearl. In addition to the inlay, these instruments have some fundamental design changes: 22 frets, a new PRS Stop-Tail, increased headstock angle, Dragon pickups, a wide-fat neck and gold hardware." With that brief statement, the first PRS Dragon guitar was launched in 1992, with a list price of $8,000.
The Dragon lll also featured a headstock with the "signature" logo inlaid in gold, not abalone, and the model name was inlaid in red abalone on its truss-rod cover. The Dragon lll had a lsit price of $16,000, again limited to 100 pieces. "The Dragon lll fingerboard inlay is composed of incredibly tiny pieces, some the size of a pin-head," remembers Larry Sifel of Pearl Works. "There's a lot of gold too. We had a truck that would come by every Thursday for months on end to deliver $4,000-worth of gold each time. They'd ask, 'What are you guys doing?"'
"The Dragon l was also the first guitar to be designed without the company's vibrato system in mind (although a very small number have been specially ordered with vibrato). This allowed the the headstock angle to be increased to approximately 11 degrees, which is flatter than the vintage Les Paul of around 17 degrees, but steeper than a standard PRS back-angle of about seven degrees. Smith says the extra angle puts a little more tension on the nut, that "every little facet makes a small difference". The new angle was subsequently applied to all 22-fret guitars except the EG.
But it wasn't just the acoustic sound of the instrument that was changed, because the Dragon introduced a pair of namesake humbucking pickups. The Dragon Treble pickup, conceived by John Ingram, was apparently Smith's personal favorite. "Fat with zero loss of clarity," went the description "Sounds great clean or high-gain. The Dragon Treble has a powerful ceramic magnet combined with our highest number of turns." As for the Dragon Bass: "This lower-output pickup has a great combination of rich, warm bass and 'angelic' high-end. Beautiful for solos and rhythm. Vintage alnico and vintage winding." Smith said at the time that he found the neck pickup exactly like a Gibson PAF humbucker, while the bridge pickup "gives you all the power you need". He was evidently pleased with the new pickups, and while they featured nothing especially new in their construction, the treble was, he said, "really powerful but retains a pretty high end that you don't normally hear. Smith also revealed to me at the time what he meant by "fat", a term that would creep into PRS-speak more and more as the decade progressed. If it has bass and midrange and no top, I'd call it 'dark'. But 'fat' means a really nice bass, the midrange is very solid and there's enough high-end for definition but it's not shrill. That sounds 'fat'."
Further tonal change occurred due to the Dragon's shorter neck. As the scale length didn't change, the neck humbucker sits further from the bridge than on the 24 fret guitars. "It adds a little extra bass to the neck pickup," said Smith. "It's moved about 3/4" but the main tonal change I hear comes from the guitar itself. I actually think the treble pickup position is more critical. A 1/4" change in position either way and you'll really hear it. Move the bass pickup the same distance and you don't really hear that much difference. "Of course, the wood choice for the Dragon l was second to none. The neck and back were South Americana mahogany, the top curly maple with a slightly deeper "Dragon carve" arch, and the fingerboard Brazilian rosewood. The hardware was all gold-plated and the "signature" headstock logo was inlaid abalone.
But for most the Dragon was not about tonal improvements. It was simply about the amazing intricate inlay that stretched along the fingerboard, a fabulous work-of-art that adorns what has to be one of the most striking electric guitars ever made, translated into reality by Larry Sifel's Pearl Works company. "This dragon changed our life and probably changed Paul's life a bit too" (Larry Sifel).
Fretted Americana , USA
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