Flash back to Winter NAMM 2015: one of the hottest, most talked-about guitars on show was Periphery guitarist Mark Holcomb’s limited edition Paul Reed Smith signature. Here was an instrument that filled a previously un-catered-to niche in the PRS line-up: a 25.5” scale length (compared to the regular 25”), a 20” fretboard radius (against a typical 10”), and Mark’s Seymour Duncan Custom Shop signature Alpha and Omega pickups. And now Mark and PRS present a new instrument that takes those basic specs and makes them more accessible: the PRS Guitars SE Mark Holcomb Signature Model. We caught up with Mark to chat about it.
You’ve been hinting at this guitar with pics on your Instagram over the last few weeks but you always cleverly kept the headstock out of view…
Yeah, I have no subtlety whatsoever, just crop out the headstock and voilà! We just launched the guitar and the response has been really nice so far. It’s a PRS SE model, meaning it’s made in Korea but it’s a take on the US model we made last year. It’s pretty much the same specs: fretboard radius is 20 inches, scale length is 25 1/2 inches, it’s got the same exact pickups in there which is a huge win. I pushed for that ever since it was conceptualized. We absolutely had to have the same pickups in there, not a cheaper version or something like that. So we got those in there. And aesthetically there are some pretty big differences between this and the US-made models. But in terms of its main features, the features that set it apart from the PRS catalog, those are 100 percent intact. And that’s why this model made sense from the very beginning for us to pursue. It just seemed very obvious that we should go down this route.
It is very unique because you haven’t just gone with an existing model and changed the paint job.
Yeah, and that whole approach of offering something different which the product line-up didn’t already offer, that was always the main point behind all of this. If I was going to just change the finish I would go and play a Custom 24 because those are amazing, amazing guitars. But I wanted to satisfy two criteria: I wanted it to be exactly the guitar that I wanted to play in every single spec, and I was lucky enough to make that happen. And it had to be different enough to be justifiable as a signature product, which is actually more to satisfy PRS’s desires. They need to make money, they need to make a smart business decision and they need to fill a gap in their product line-up. And fortunately it worked out for both of us and it seems to be working very harmoniously.
And you have an 8-string custom on the way!
Yes, I have an 8-string on the way! That’s something we’ve been talking about for a while and Paul decided to build an 8-string for these upcoming shows we have. And he knows that a third to a half of our headlining songs have an 8-string and he doesn’t like seeing other brands up there on stage (laughs). So he wanted to build me one. It’s going to be pretty much an 8-string version of the 6-string model we put out last year, and the 7-string version I have. So it’s going to look very similar to the guitars I already have, which is very deliberate on my part.
Next you’re going to have to start writing 9-string songs just to see what they can build for you.
Right! Or ‘Hey Paul, a lot of our songs feature trumpets now.’ ‘Hey Paul, we’re playing briefcases filled with a million dollars onstage now.’