There are two versions of the John Mayer Silver Sky electric guitar
- The PRS Silver Sky
- The PRS SE Silver Sky
There’s about $1700 difference between them in price, but is the USA version actually worth the extra money. In this article I’ll directly compare these two guitars so you can figure out which is the best for you.
Here are the main differences to get us started…
The PRS Silver Sky has an alder body, 6-point tremolo and locking tuners, whereas the PRS SE Silver Sky has a poplar body, 2-point tremolo and non-locking tuners. The pickups on the PRS Silver Sky have more top-end clarity compared to the SE version.
Here is a table highlighting the differences between the PRS Silver Sky and PRS SE Silver Sky electric guitar models.
|Feature||PRS Silver Sky (USA)||PRS SE Silver Sky|
|Neck Shape||635JM/ 635JM-R||635JM|
|Fretboard Wood||Maple/ Rosewood||Rosewood|
|Headstock Logo||PRS Signature (Decal)||PRS SE Signature (Decal)|
|Bridge||6-Point Steel Tremolo||2-Point Steel Tremolo|
|Tuning Machines||Locking Vintage Style||Vintage Style|
|Gig Bag Included||Yes||Yes|
Both these guitars have the classic 3 single coil pickups, however the actual pickups are different:
- The PRS Silver Sky has 635JM pickups which are made in the USA
- The PRS SE Silver Sky has 635JM “S” pickups which are made overseas
These pickups are incredibly hard to tell apart unless you listen to them back to back, and even then you have to really listen.
To my ears, the PRS SE pickups don’t have quite as much top-end sparkle as the USA Silver Sky pickups which can be heard more when using cleaner tones. However, when using driven tones I personally find it very difficult to tell the pickups apart.
Here is a YouTube video comparing the pickups on the PRS and PRS SE Silver Sky guitars.
Feel and Playability
Both the PRS USA and SE Silver Sky models have the exact same body shape and weigh
However, there are three differences we need to address here:
- Neck profile
- Neck finish
- Fingerboard radius
There are two neck profiles on the PRS John Mayer Silver Sky.
- The maple fretboard version has a 635JM profile
- The rosewood fretboard version has a 635JM-R profile
There is only one version of the PRS SE Silver Sky, and this has a rosewood fretboard but despite this, it shares the same neck profile as the maple fretboard version of the 635JM. A little confusing, right?
The 635JM-R profile feels a bit fuller compared to the 635JM profile, but they aren’t worlds apart. Her are the measurements.
|Neck Dimension||635JM (PRS SE Silver Sky and the maple version of the PRS Silver Sky||635JM-R (Rosewood version of the PRS Silver Sky)|
|1st Fret Depth||0.83”||0.86”|
|12th Fret Depth||0.96”||0.97”|
|Fretboard Width at Nut||1.63”||1.6”|
|Fretboard Width at End||2.22”||2.23”|
The USA version of the PRS Silver Sky has a gloss nitrocellulose neck, whereas the PRS SE Silver Sky has a satin polyurethane neck.
Satin guitar neck finishes feel smoother and have less friction compared to gloss neck finishes which feel more grippy and can feel much stickier particularly if the hand is sweaty. However, if you aren’t a fan of the gloss nitro neck on the USA Silver Sky, you can always sand it down.
All guitar fretboards have some degree of curvature. The fingerboard/ fretboard radius is a measurement of how much curvature it has. The smaller the fingerboard radius is, the more curved the fretboard is.
- PRS USA Silver Sky = 7.25″ fingerboard radius
- PRS SE Silver Sky = 8.5″ fingerboard radius
There isn’t a “best” radius to have, just personal preferences.
The smaller 7.25″ radius typically feels more comfortable when holding chords, whereas the larger 8.5″ radius on the SE makes string bending easier for a lot of players and allows the strings to be set at a lower action.
Hardware, Materials and Build Quality
The PRS Silver Sky is made in Maryland, USA, whereas the PRS SE Silver Sky is made in Surabaya, Indonesia.
It’s well known that guitars made in the USA offer the best build quality, however the build quality on the SE model is still very good. The Indonesian factory is owned by PRS, and all SE models are actually quality checked in the USA, so you can still expect to get a very high quality instrument.
The main difference in terms of materials, are that the PRS Silver Sky has an alder body, and the SE has a poplar body. Poplar does get some stick for being a cheaper tone wood, but the difference between poplar and alder really isn’t huge.
In terms of hardware, the PRS Silver Sky has a 6-point tremolo, whereas the SE version has a 2-point tremolo.
A 2-point tremolo bridge is easier to set up and makes it easier to adjust the guitar’s action compared to a 6-point tremolo. A 6-point tremolo makes the guitar more resonant, although the difference is minimal. Two-point tremolos feel smoother and more responsive than six-point tremolos.
Check out my article comparing 2 and 6 point tremolos to learn more.
There are also a few other differences worth mentioning:
- The PRS Silver Sky has locking tuners unlike the SE version
- The PRS Silver Sky has a bone nut which offers better tuning stability compared to the synthetic nut on the SE version
- The PRS Silver Sky has a scarfed headstock-neck joint which is stronger and less likely to break compared to the multi-ply construction on the SE Silver Sky
Both these guitars come with a soft gig bag as opposed to a hard shell case. I have to admit I do find it a little disappointing that the USA Silver Sky doesn’t come with a hard shell case, however the gig bag does offer some slight improvements over the SE version:
- The plastic bumpers on the USA version are a bit sturdier, and also present on the headstock (rather than just the body)
- The USA Silver Sky gig bag has a headstock clamp (unlike the SE gig bag)
- The strap is made from harder plastic rather than soft, flexible plastic on the SE
- The USA Silver Sky gig bag has more padding and a silkier-feeling interior
To the untrained eye, these two guitars look incredibly similar, however there are some cosmetic differences.
Firstly, the USA Silver Sky has a nitrocellulose body, whereas the SE Silver Sky has a polyurethane body.
Poly finishes are cheaper to make but also more durable and less prone to chips. Nitro finishes are synonymous with high-end guitars and offer a “relic” look over time. Check out my article comparing nitro and poly finishes to learn more.
Secondly, the color options are different on these guitars. The PRS Silver Sky is available in more colors, whereas the PRS SE Silver Sky offers fewer color options however they are a bit brighter and bolder. Here’s a list of colors available at the time of writing.
PRS Silver Sky Rosewood:
- Dodgem Blue
- Midnight Rose
- Moc Sand Satin
- Poplar Blue
- Roxy Pink
PRS Silver Sky Maple:
- Dodgem Blue
- Midnight Rose
- Moc Sand Satin
- Poplar Blue
PRS SE Silver Sky:
- Dragon Fruit
- Ever Green
- Moon White
- Stone Blue
Here’s a list of similarities between the PRS and PRS SE Silver Sky
- Body shape and contours
- Neck profile (excluding the rosewood version of the USA PRS model)
- 22 frets
- 25.5″ scale
- PRS Double Acting truss rod
- Bird fretboard inlays
- Bolt-on neck
- Nickel hardware
- Controls (1 x vol, 2 x tone, 5-way selector)
- 10-46 gauge strings
Here are links to both guitars on Guitar Center so you can check the current prices: