It’s not often that PRS Guitars comes out with a new shape but they’ve been on a roll over the last few years with models like the Mira and Starla. Joining that illustrious club is the new Vela, an intriguing instrument which does that magical thing of combining elements of a bunch of comfortable, familiar instruments to come up with something unique and wholly its own.
The S2 Vela has a mahogany body and neck with 22 frets. The scale length is 25”, midway between a Les Paul and a Strat, and classic PRS length. The rosewood fretboard has a red tinge to it which stands out against the sea foam green body and neck of the review model. The inlays are the optional classic bird motif or you can pick up an S2 Vela with dot inlays instead. The bridge is a PRS plate-style model with Telecaster-inspired saddles, but where a traditional Tele has three separate saddle units which each share an intonation adjustment across two strings, this version has two separate units that have two intonation adjustment screws each for a more customisable system. It’s still not as spot-on as a six-saddle system but PRS has evidently chosen this version for tonal reasons and the intonation seemed more or less fi ne during testing. PRS S2 locking tuners also help to keep everything nice and tuned. The S2 Vela has two pickups: a S2 Starla model humbucker in the bridge position and a PRS S2 Type-D single coil at the neck. The Starla pickup is splittable to single coil mode for a wider variety of tones, and the Type-D is modelled after an old DeArmond DynoSonic single coil pickup. The fi nish quality of this guitar is great.
The bridge pickup has a brightness and a vocal midrange quality, making it great for classic rock, country and fusion tones. It’s bright without being harsh, the bass is tight and controllable, and those mids allow for some great crunch tones when you turn up the gain. This guitar seems most comfortable dishing out great clean tones with plenty of character in both humbucker and single coil mode. The neck pickup sounds raspier, dirtier and looser, but in a really good way.
Hits and Misses
Great clean tones
Versatile pickup system
Saddle arrangement is a compromise