Most of you know I have been a Santana fan long before I ever had the most fleeting thoughts of actually learning to play guitar. I just was, and am, a fan. Hours upon hours have been spent listening to Europa or Toussaint L'Ouverture or Bella or Incident at Neshabur. And most of this listening at pain levels.
It was quite a while after starting to learn that I found out about the different manufacturers of guitars and then this company called PRS. And finally I learned the PRS/Santana story and the fact that there is a Santana signature model. Someday?
Early last year I decided it was time and went shopping in Chicago. I was there for about a week and dedicated a few days to hit some of the Guitar Shops in Chicago that are PRS dealers. I hit all the great ones, Guitar Works, MakeN Music, Music Gallery, all of them. I saved Chicago Music Exchange (CME) for last.
At this point it's appropriate to apologize for this NGD post for being so long.
I probably hit 4 stores and none of them had a Santana in stock. I looked at CME's inventory and they did have one. But it was called Private Stock and way out of my budget, over $10,000. One of the largest cities in the world and only one Santana and it's a PS?!?!
I went to CME my final day and explained to the salesman that I wanted to play the Santana just to see what it felt like. This one is way out of my budget but when they got a non-PS in I would probably be interested. He agreed and took me to the PRS section and there it was. Way up high on the wall where no one could reach it. It was, predictably, breathtakingly beautiful. A finish called "Black Gold". I'm trying to recall. I'm fairly certain an embarrassing amount of drool was forming on the right corner of my mouth. He climbed way up the ladder, took it down, and then as he was coming down the ladder, didn't hand it to me. Teasing me. He suggested that we take it in a trial/demo room, whatever they are called, and plug it in. I could play it as long as I wanted in private.
We did just that. He went ahead of me and plugged it it to some great sounding tube amp. He then finally handed to to me and left the room, closing the door behind him. Just me and the PRS Private Stock Santana alone together. I sat down, and grabbed the neck, got ready to try a few licks. And I was crushed! The neck felt like a tree trunk. 😩 It is, what is called in PRS nomenclature, a "Pattern Vintage" neck. That means tree trunk.
A dream of someday playing a PRS Santana evaporated.
Early this year I was in my local store, actually across the river in Council Bluffs, IA, the only one here in the Omaha metro that is a PRS dealer. I had decided that sans Santana I was going to look at a model called Special Semi-Hollow. Very interesting pickup combination that makes it very versatile. But while I was there I saw a beautiful 594 McCarty on the wall. The 594 also has the Pattern Vintage neck and so I knew that I wouldn't be interested in it. But they are supposed to be gorgeous sounding guitars so why not play it for a second?
Again, I was shocked. But in the opposite way. It didn't feel bad. In fact......
About a month ago I got a call from the owner of the store. He knew that I was interested in a Special SH and he had just gotten one in trade. Very clean. I drove over there to try it and he had it in the case yet, behind the counter, holding for me. I plugged it in and started to play it and there on the wall was the Santana! He had just gotten it in also. And, of course, I put down the SSH and grabbed the Santana. And again, it didn't feel bad. In fact.......
Do our preferences in necks change, mature, as we become more experienced playing? Of do we become more adaptable as we gain experience? Or, do we rationalize if, say, someone really wanted a Santana? I don't think this last one is a possibility. I would be interested in some of you more experience players' thoughts on this.
Anyway, finally, to the end of this story, I own my Santana!!!!! She isn't, admittedly, the prettiest PRS I've ever seen, although she is what PRS calls a 10-top. But it was so very reasonably priced and played and sounded so great I took her home.
My PRS Santana 10 Top in Charcoal Burst:
there it was. Way up high on the wall where no one could reach it. It was, predictably, breathtakingly beautiful.
Climb every mountain, Ron!
And, in a virus brings us closer story, last night I was playing over the Oye Como Va backing track you shared with me some time ago. Must have been vibration in the universal tone, because I had not played that track in over a year.