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Gibson vs PRS: Which Brand is Right for You?

Back in the early days of electric guitar, in the '50s and the '60s, there have been only a handful of guitar brands to choose from. What's more, in some areas, guitar lovers were only limited to one or two particular brands. That began changing during the '70s and the '80s, and today we are able to choose from countless brands models, ranging from the cheapest to the most expensive ones.

However, the same old brands have remained dominant in the market with Fender and Gibson still being in the lead, with some other great manufacturers, like PRS, also taking over a certain portion of the market. Due to some similarities, Gibson and PRS have often been somewhat of competitors, with the latter dipping in and taking over some of the Gibson lovers on their side. Here, we will be looking at Gibson and PRS guitars and discussing some of their differences, ultimately helping you decide which might suit you more.

Now, before we start, we need to point out that both of these brands have made great guitars over the years and that this will come down to personal preferences.

Differences between Gibson and PRS

Aside from some basic similarities, with both companies having single and double cutaway guitars, as well as the fact that most of their instruments feature the double humbucker configuration, there are some differences in general specs that should be considered. First off, the headstocks of most Gibson guitars are at a bigger angle, sometimes even up to 17 degrees. In addition, these necks are made from one piece of wood, making the headstocks at such an angle vulnerable and more prone to unwanted cracks and breaks. However, such a design has been praised for giving more sustain and countless guitar players over the years have stuck to Gibson for this reason.

When it comes to PRS, the headstock is not at such a big angle as compared to an average Gibson Les Paul or an SG. Aside from that, the average PRS, let's take an SE for example, will have different layout of tuners. This way, the strings go almost in a straight line from the tuner, over the nut, and all the way to the bridge. As for Gibson, the strings are at an angle between the tuners and the nut, which affects the tone in a positive way but might cause some tuning issues.

While we're at headstocks, on PRS guitars, they are made from two pieces of wood, and they're put together by a scarf joint. While some might argue that this kind of design might reduce sustain, this clearly provides players with much less fear of the headstock breaking off from even minor hits.

Furthermore, pretty much all of the Gibson guitars you can find out there have Mahogany bodies and Mahogany necks, and quite often you'll find them to have Maple tops. The PRS guitars have a bit more versatility both in the choice of wood and the design. Scale length on a standard PRS will be a bit bigger, and the necks might have a bit thinner profile, something that might work better with those who are more into "shreddier" type of playing.

When it comes to the pickups, both companies have great stuff on them and there's an abundance of great options to choose from and this usually comes down to personal preference. All the electronics are also pretty well done for both of these brands, so there are no worries there. However, you will more often stumble upon a PRS that has a coil-split option, even in the cheaper range. As opposed to Gibson which are usually all with the 3-way switches on them.

Conclusion

Overall, you can't really go wrong with either Gibson or PRS. However, it should be noted that at an entry level, for those cheaper models, it's advisable to go with PRS. While cheaper Gibson models are great, they do tend to be overpriced for the quality and the features that you get. A cheaper PRS might even be half the price of an entry-level Gibson, yet it will provide players with the same, if not better, quality.

As for the higher-end guitars, there's a lot of stuff to consider, depending on what you're into. Gibson might be a bit too pricy here, but the quality of work usually justifies it, although there are certain models to stay away from. When it comes to standard Les Pauls and SGs, the classic Standard, Studio, or Custom models are definitely worth it.

With all this said, it's probably the best idea that you go out there and try both Gibson and PRS guitars. Playing them and feeling them in your own hands will do you more than countless hours of online research. The differences explained above might just give you a rough estimate as to what you might enjoy more.

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8 comments

  • O have owned plenty of my guitars in my 30 years of playing and in my opinion you’ll be hard pressed to find a Gibsonin the thousand dollar rang that can even come close to the PRS" the Paul" guitar. This guitar has fabulous pickups. an Amazing neck and is simply gorgeous with it’s flame maple top. You can put Gibson guitars that cost twice as much as “the Paul” and they don’t even come close. Since zI discovered the PRS I haven’’t found a guitar that comes close. It is my favorite guitar on the market and if you play one you’ll find out why. They’re are an absolutely amazing guitar and VERY hard to put down. My favorite brand

    Steve
  • Before purchasing my PRS SE 22 Semi I sat down, using an Orange Amp and tried several brands and models. I love playing chops; therefore I was looking for an instrument for rythym use as well as leads. The Fenders, Ate at and Telecaster both remarkable guitars for rythym and lead but in comparison the frets bars seemed a high causing more pressure for choosing. Both Tele and Art at were my first choice.
    I have own several Gibson guitars and very familiar with the SG and Led Paul. So when purchasing my consideration was for the SG. It is much lighter than the Les Paul but with almost same action. And the SG just feels so good; as well, looks dynamic!
    But then I picked up the PRS Semi and it had the tone, neck, pickups and versatility of rythym and lead with accuracy. The PRS also has the most beautiful finishes of all guitars.
    I’m not saying the PRS is better than Fender or Gibson, I’m saying I fell in love with the SE 22 SEMI!!

    David Vincent
  • Before purchasing my PRS SE 22 Semi I sat down, using an Orange Amp and tried several brands and models. I love playing chops; therefore I was looking for an instrument for rythym use as well as leads. The Fenders, Ate at and Telecaster both remarkable guitars for rythym and lead but in comparison the frets bars seemed a high causing more pressure for choosing. Both Tele and Art at were my first choice.
    I have own several Gibson guitars and very familiar with the SG and Led Paul. So when purchasing my consideration was for the SG. It is much lighter than the Les Paul but with almost same action. And the SG just feels so good; as well, looks dynamic!
    But then I picked up the PRS Semi and it had the tone, neck, pickups and versatility of rythym and lead with accuracy. The PRS also has the most beautiful finishes of all guitars.
    I’m not saying the PRS is better than Fender or Gibson, I’m saying I fell in love with the SE 22 SEMI!!

    David Vincent

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