PRS CU24 1996: I’m in love with my guitar

I love my PRS. Here’s why.

I’d been dreaming for years of getting one. I researched for about 18 months before finding the exact guitar I wanted. I finally pulled the trigger last spring.

I knew I wanted 24 frets instead of 22. Anyone interested in debating the pros and cons of each can simply google “cu22 vs cu24”. You’ll be reading for weeks, if not months. People on either side get pretty up in arms, so be warned. I had no idea it could be such an emotionally charged issue.

Anyway, I decided I wanted 24 frets. While I’ve heard of CU24’s that have a stop-tail bridge, I’ve never actually seen one. (And if I did, I probably wouldn’t be able to afford it.) So 24 frets meant tremolo bridge. I figured that was fine, since I’d read so much about how well PRS tremolos stay in tune.

But after I got my guitar and played it for awhile, I realized that a guitar with a tremolo isn’t simply a stop tail with a modification; it’s truly a completely different instrument. There are certain things you simply cannot do on a guitar with a tremolo bridge that you can with a fixed bridge. (And vice-versa, clearly.) Since I’ve got my hands full just dealing with six strings, I realized that I didn’t really need the tremolo. Actually, the more I played, the more I realized I didn’t really WANT the tremolo.

What to do? Sell the guitar and settle for a CU22 with a stop tail? Just deal with having ALMOST the guitar of my dreams?


Turns out someone else out there felt my pain. Someone who knows how to invent cool stuff and bring it into the real world. The guys who invented the Tremol-no. (Check out their demo video.)

This cool gadget allows me to lock down my bridge. Now my guitar plays like a CU22. But better.

And there are great installation instructional videos on YouTube. But since I’m not very good with technical things (like using a screwdriver), I had it professionally installed. (If you have ANY reservations at all about doing work on your gorgeous guitar, I recommend getting a professional to take care of it. Pay them extra to teach you, if need be, and practice on a junker guitar. Just my $0.02.)

I spent many years going through many guitars that were noisy and crappy. Strats, Strat copies, a Telecaster, a Les Paul Studio, an ES335… Even my nicest Strats were noisy. I wanted a guitar that was quiet (no hum) and that could provide the *crunch* I love when I want it. And I didn’t want to have to rely on distortion pedals. The CU24 comes standard with humbuckers. I don’t think they come standard with Seymour Duncan Zebra pickups, like mine did, however. These, by the way, rock my world.

I bought my PRS used off of Craigslist, from a guy up in New York, or somewhere around there. I was 99% happy with the transaction. He failed to send me the backplate, which costs $30 on the PRS website. But guess what? If I have the backplate on, then I have to remove it every time I change strings. Without the backplate, changing strings is a breeze, AND I have direct access to the Tremol-no adjustment screws. Yep–you can choose ‘completely locked’, ‘partially enabled (only dives), and ‘fully enabled’ (dives and pull-ups).

So now every time I change my strings and don’t have to mess with the backplate, I thank the guy for not including it. (And to be completely honest, I love my guitar so much anyway that I can live without the backplate. I bought it to PLAY, not to collect.)

The tuners are a trip. From what I understand, these are old school PRS “wing” locking tuners, and no longer come standard from the factory. They have a little “wing” on them, and it has taken me some time to get used to them. I even did research on how to use them when changing my strings; I was terrified that it would be too complex for me to figure out. It wasn’t. And I’m clearly no genius.

Okay, here’s the deal. If you own a PRS, you simply MUST get Strap-locks for it. Period. (The two main brands are Dunlop and Schaeller. I use Dunlop.) Why is it such a big deal? Oh… the horror stories that so many of us could tell… Back in the early 90’s, I handed my electric-acoustic to a non-musician one time to adjust my Elvis wig about 45 seconds before going on stage. The person took the guitar by the strap, with the neck pointed straight up in the air. I looked away for one second, the strap came off the button, the headstock made an arc through the air as it swung down and crashed into the tile floor. Big section of crushed wood in the headstock, but no broken tuners. I got lucky. I was able to play the gig. The woodwork repairs cost around $200.

If you love your guitar, you’ll install strap locks. That’s all there is to it. No questions. It’s a no-brainer. If you avoid one single mishap because you have strap locks on your guitar, then they’ll have paid for themselves. They’re worth the cost ten times over. Maybe a hundred times over.

(I’m pretty serious about this point. Go get some strap locks. Do it today.)

One of the best parts about having my dream guitar is that I’m becoming a better player; I feel guilty if I don’t play it. So I play it pretty often. Not quite every day, but almost. And I feel like I need to push myself to become a better musician, in the hopes that one day my playing will be worthy of such an amazing guitar. (Why invest good money in a serious instrument if I’m not going to play it?)

I’m in love with my guitar. How about you? What kind of guitar do you have, how long have you had it, and why do you love it?



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2 responses to “PRS CU24 1996: I’m in love with my guitar

  1. Franco

    Hello I have a prs custom 24 emerald green since 2002. It has the winged tuners, just like your the guitar. To lock the bridge instead my luthier has just put a small block of wood. I have another problem. After all this time my guitar is loses adjusting the tuning. and no one knows why. I have to adjust the tuning of the guitar after whenever i have performed one song with banding.
    Franco (from Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy)

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