these odd ingredients that gave it such a
different personality—I didn’t want it to look
like a typical PRS. And when I saw the picture
of the mandolin I really latched onto that
shape. It appealed to me straightaway.
Miles: Dweezil looked through the PRS book
and found that mandolin shape, which we were
nervous about at first because no one had ever
considered using it as a guitar body [laughs].
Once we got going, it proved to be not too difficult, though. We already offered our Custom
model shape with a single F-hole, so we had
CNC programs that could take care of hollowing out a guitar of that depth. The one unique
problem was taking the lower bout in so far and
having a neck joint to support the guitar. But
we moved the neck down into the body further,
which gave us more glue surface. Being able to
reach every possible fret was really important to
Dweezil. We ran a test body to make sure everything lined up and would intonate. But once we
checked all that out, it was full speed ahead.
Dweezil, have you had to change your
approach or tinker with your rig to accom-
modate this guitar?
Zappa: The whole point of this guitar was
to open up new possibilities and textures.
So, to tell you the truth, I’m happy about
what I don’t know yet. The Fractal Audio
Systems Axe-Fx Ultra amplification system
that I use now allows just about any kind
of classic tone. But it also allows me to do
some really insane, mad-scientist stuff. The
classic tones that I can get out of the PRS, as
well as the out-of-phase tone, are great for
recreating those classic sounds. But it’s also
so playable and has so much range and sustain—especially with that hollow body—that
I can go from classic to weird really easily. So
it’s a pretty ideal match for the Axe-Fx Ultra,
which is designed to really communicate the
personality of the guitar, but also has all this
sound potential that I’m still exploring.
You mentioned that Zappa Plays Zappa
took you quite a ways out of your comfort
zone. Does the PRS help you get back into
Zappa: I studied the music for two years
before even putting the band together for
this project. I realized I was going to have to
do a lot of work, both physically and mental-
ly, if I was going to do what I’d set out to do.
I had to learn some really impossible guitar
parts—even things that were written to be
played on marimba or keyboard—and then
be able to improvise in a style that was remi-
niscent of Frank’s. The PRS doesn’t necessar-
ily make the difficult stuff any easier [laughs],
but it’s really playable and makes you want to
get in there and explore pretty crazy stuff.
Is there a future for this guitar beyond this
Zappa: I would love to see it become a signature model!
Miles: A lot of Private Stock customers that
have come through have asked about it and
have been very interested. We see a lot of
potential for it as a new model.
Click here to head online
to premierguitar.com/video to
watch Dweezil select the
wood for this guitar in PRS’