WHAT GUITARIST DOESN’T GEEK OUT AT discovering a relatively mysterious, off-the-map instrument that totally rocks? I had no knowledge of Prestige when the Musician showed up at GP Central, and I grabbed the unknown guitar for a rehearsal without any expectations. But mere seconds after I plugged the Musician into the Egnater Rebel-20, I knew I had stumbled onto something magnificent. Even though it’s one of the plus-sized models in this Fight Club, the guitar felt great on my shoulder, it played beautifully, and it could cover everything from jazz to rock to rockabilly to punk. It was also one tough customer. I’m not exactly a delicate player, but the Musician just shrugged at my vicious strumming, bombastic guitar-body percussion, and hummingbird-flutter Bigsby wanking. To further humble me, the Musician refused to be beaten horribly out of tune. A tweak of the Grovers here and there was all it needed to keep things tuneful.
The Canadian maker—which debuted in 2003—employs an interesting guitarbuilding methodology. All woods originate in Vancouver, British Columbia, where they are cut to the company’s specs. Then, the woods are shipped to Inchon, South Korea for manufacturing and finishing. Ultimately, everything is sent back to Prestige’s Vancouver factory for wiring, final assembly, setup, and inspection. The ping-pong production process seems to have no qualitative downside, as the Musician is an exceptionally well-made instrument. The frets are smooth and rounded, the hardware is rugged (even when banging on the pickguard, it stayed rigid), and the glossy, maraschino cherry finish is pristine.
As mentioned earlier, the Musician is a sonic “all rounder” that can take on many different guises. It doesn’t quite exhibit the extreme bass-to-treble shadings of the Normandy or the Reverend, but the Musician absolutely nails more traditional jazz and rock timbres. The neck-pickup sounds, for example, are warm and robust with just enough pop to bring fingerpicked melodic runs to the forefront. It’s not quite George Benson- or Wes Montgomeryesque, but it’s still a sensual tone. The dualpickup sound was my favorite, as it offers a meaty thud and an airy shimmer. That may seem like a bizarre sonic combo, but the simultaneous low-midrange resonance and uppermidrange attack produced a dazzling palette of bell-like arpeggios, ringing chords, and edgy solos. The bridge tones deliver enough midrange punch for crunch chords and aggressive riffs, but they lack a bit of sparkle and dimension for convincing faux-acoustic strums. No matter—every other sound rocks hard, so why quibble? I called the Musician the “Jennifer Connelly,” because it reminded me of first seeing the relatively unknown actress in the 1990 film, The Hot Spot. She blew me away then, she later proved her mettle with an Academy Award, and she has never stopped being a stunning presence—an arc of success that I believe the Musician will parallel.