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The PRS Fiore Review: AKA The Mark Lettieri



Jazz Guitar Today contributor Brad Jeter provides a quick drive-thru review of the PRS Fiore aka the Mark Lettieri.

Although not as in-depth as a result of an impending deadline, I nevertheless will shout from the rooftops: This one just all-out nails it. Okay, thanks for taking the time to read the review!

Snarky-ness aside, this guitar really surprised me…

When I first saw it, my knee-jerk reaction was another “super” Strat-style guitar. I have owned a few: Tyler, Suhr, and Anderson, and have played most of the other, more obscure but highly regarded ones, as well. All of the aforementioned instruments are of the highest standards and bring their respective builder’s vision of what should define a “super” Strat. 

I admit that I was predisposed to established bias because of my experiences with said instruments (I ultimately didn’t keep any of them long-term). So, having already set my expectations relative to other guitars of this ilk, I was stunned.

And here’s why: This is decidedly not a “super” Strat-style guitar. Sure, the lines and configuration are instantly recognizable but that is where the comparisons end. 

The PRS team and Mark obviously were after more–far more–than just another take on–let’s be honest, a long-in-the-tooth concept. Whatever the privy machinations that took place during the development (and I believe it didn’t happen overnight) a unique instrument came to fruition as a result.

The first thing I noticed (and everyone else I have spoken with that has either played this particular example or others) is the resonance and natural sustain that it possesses. I am speaking now of it played acoustically. Maybe it is possessed because it is almost spooky how the notes just pop and then linger. From the lowest to highest register, single note or chords, it rings like a bell. The tactile connection you make with this guitar is almost Zen-line. You want to play it and it will reward you. 

A slight digression is called for here. The set-up is to Mark’s preferences and one thing you will notice is that all three pickups are noticeably backed off of the strings. This is something that anyone with extensive experience with pickup height will immediately understand. This is especially true with single coils as their magnets are directly exposed to the strings. I can’t begin to count the players that have gotten rid of guitars because they “wouldn’t intonate” or there were “dead spots” on the neck or lack of sustain. String pull my friends, string pull.

Not only can pickups that are positioned too close to the strings cause the above-mentioned problems, but they can also strangle the tone. In other words, it can overwhelm the nuances of the timbre, associated harmonics, and overtones. 

The Fiore, set up properly (how it comes) has none of that. What you get are lush, vibrant tones that not only initially surprise you but will inspire you.

It is simply one of the more memorable guitars in this regard that I have had the pleasure to spend time with. And this is acoustically! 

The fit and finish are what you expect from PRS: exceptional.

The maple neck is just slightly leaning to the beefy side. The shoulder profile is very accommodating for a natural grip and, combined with a 10” radius and beautifully installed and finished frets, I don’t think many players would find a reason not to like or love it.

The body is swamp ash which, combined with the maple neck is a tried and true combination that has stood the test of time.

PRS locking tuners are some of the best available and hold the string like a proverbial vice.

Combined with a newly designed two-point bridge with classic style saddles, the expressiveness potential from the slightest whisper of wiggle to aggressive whammy action presents no problem whatsoever.

The controls are a familiar and proven configuration. Three pots are easily accessible and have a 5-way switch. The added garnish is the two-tone pots having pull-up switches that engage some nice pickup combinations to expand the palette. I am going to defer you to the PRS website to view what all the various switching combinations offer because it is represented there graphically which is far better than me trying to explain how to tie a shoestring.

Through an amp (a 1966 Deluxe Reverb) the first thing I latched on to is how balanced the output is between the two single coil and the humbucker. Going from there, I was most impressed with the neck pickup. I would proffer it is the definition of woody goodness with a generous sprinkling of spank. Full, rich definition without any harshness on top. The middle pickup shares these same qualities overall but with a more focused presentation because of its physical location relative to the strings (it is also reverse wound for almost noise-free operation in positions 2 and 4). The Humbucker is, to my ears, a more modern wind. It has a tight, controlled response through the lows into the mid-band and, like the single coils, a smooth top end that doesn’t get shrill. I played them sparkly clean and with my favorite OD and low-gain pedals. Big sounds all around! I didn’t really get into the pull-pots and all the manifold variations on offer mainly because it really isn’t my thing. I will say there were a lot of tonal variations achievable with my brief, cursory exploration.

Wrapping things up on this somewhat shortish review, I more than enjoyed my time spent with the PRS Fiore. I was actually smitten. It is a guitar that is at once recognized as highly refined and also a utilitarian workhorse of the first order. I also think it represents a particularly good value given the more than reasonable asking price for this level of instrument.

“Brad, all your reviews are very positive, why is that?” 

Simple. I will not do a negative review. I don’t believe it serves any purpose to the reader. Ultimately, instruments speak for themselves, figuratively. Plus, most everyone knows when they step in a pile of dog poop–they don’t need to be told about it, they figure it out for themselves in short order.

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