February 1, 2004
It says a lot when the guitarist is so much a part of a band’s sound that he is given equal billing alongside the singer. Steve Stevens has become that to Billy Idol. I recently asked Stevens if he would like to talk about one of his guitars, and he picked his custom PRS. Based on the McCarty model, Steven’s PRS “Raygun” is built from a mahogany body and topped with an eastern flame maple top that’s brought to life with a translucent grey-black finish. The neck is mahogany, and the 10" radius Brazilian rosewood fretboard has 22 medium-jumbo, .103" x .045" frets. The custom inlays are the rayguns that the guitar gets its name from. McCarty models come with a wraparound tailpiece/bridge combo with an intonation set screw on the bass and treble sides, and the stock tuners are vintage Kluson-style. All of the hardware is gold plated.
Stevens keeps all his strings an even 5/64" above the 12th fret—just high enough to be able to dig in and still get a nice clean sound. The stock PRS nut is made of a low friction, self-lubricating material that is more durable than bone and is a great aid for keeping everything in tune. The nut-slot height is about .020" over the 1st fret, which allows the open strings to ring out more clearly. The truss rod is adjusted with .010" relief at the 12th fret. The pickups look like the stock McCarty set, but I was not able to get a clear answer on this. The electronics are a master volume and tone control with a push-pull modified coil cut and a 3-way pickup selector. Stevens uses Ernie Ball .009-.042 gauge strings.
—Gary Brawer, brawer.com