Have you ever looked at a $3300 PRS and wondered why the top doesn’t appear to be bookmatched as well as an $800 import guitar?

As a PRS dealer, this is a question we have seen pop up many times, and we’re always happy to answer it. In fact, I even had the very same question many years ago!

It’s important to first understand how bookmatching works. When a guitar is bookmatched, luthiers essentially take a piece of figured wood and slice it so the two sides mirror each other – essentially making it look like an open book.

The issue with this is that you never quite know what you’ll get when you “open” the wood up.  Sometimes you can even find imperfections that make the top completely unusable. After both sides are sanded down, more variances between them become readily apparent.

The above effects are amplified when you are working with thicker, more figured pieces of wood…like Paul Reed Smith uses.  Their tops are some of the thickest you can find on production guitars, and they are typically very figured.

On top of that, the most well known PRS shapes are carved.  A flat and thin veneer used on an import is always going to be easier to bookmatch than a thick piece of wood that is being carved because you’re cutting much deeper into a piece of wood.

To some, the mismatched tops may be a little awkward, but to others they are one-of-a-kind gems. Sometimes after cutting into the woods, PRS will even find unique mineral streaks. The “imperfections” in the figuring are some of what makes a guitar so special.

At the end of the day, things boil down to what you want out of a guitar.

A full thickness carved top, like those used on a PRS, are more likely to look less mirrored when bookmatched, but they deliver the full tonal benefits of a maple top and look extremely chatoyant/three-dimensional.  Carved tops deliver ergonomic benefits that some players can’t go without once they’ve gotten used to the carved style.

On the flipside, a guitar with a veneer will have that mirrored look, but won’t really affect the guitar tonally.  The top also won’t have a 3D look to it.

The middle ground is going for a full thickness top, but flat and not carved. I personally prefer carved top guitars. To me, they are more comfortable to play. There’s nothing wrong with a flat top guitar though, and I still own many of them.

If you want to see some pretty PRS, then click here to see our top 6 PRS finishes.

Don’t forget, we are authorized PRS dealers and can get you your dream PRS here!

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