In 2009, Sea Foam green was a standard color for the PRS Swamp Ash Special but if a person wanted a Johnny Hiland model in that sexy color it would have to be custom ordered, and, if there was one person you could count on to custom order a Sea Foam PRS, it would be Chris Tugwell, known especially for his collection of Sea Foam PRSi featured in a 2009 issue of Vintage Guitar.
passed away at the end of December, 2010.
His PRS guitars were, for the most part as far as I can tell, bought up by guys on the PRS online forums where he hung out. By September 2012 this guitar had gone back to the factory for a pickup replacement and returned sporting a new set of uncovered 59/09 humbuckers and a wiring change so that the treble pickup could operate in single-coil mode.
By February 2013 the guitar was being sold by Martin Music in Memphis but before it left there it was autographed by Johnny Hiland himself during a PRS clinic. And somewhere along the way it was also autographed by Mr. PRS on the back of the headstock. Also somewhere along the way it lost its trem cover on the rear (or never had one) and then acquired one. I'm tempted to autograph it! ;)
Not bad: a custom color PRS with all the autographs!
However, that was not the primary motivation for nabbing this axe.
Back in 1988 or '89 I came 'this close' to buying a CE model but I was never enamored of the sounds of PRS guitars. When the HFS pickup came out in the early 90s I thought things were heading in the right direction but it wasn't until the 57/08 pickup twenty years later that I was really blown away. I was looking for a Les Paul when I decided to revisit PRS and I ended up with an SC58. In the last five years I picked up a few other PRSi but I still had in the back of my mind a bolt-on maple neck PRS that would deliver some of that Fender spank.
So, the CE has been on my radar for a long time but it was two later variants that got my attention. The PRS Electric Guitar Book features a photo of a 1997 Sea Foam green Swamp Ash Special that became an object of irrational lust for me -- it was the only SAS that I ever wanted, still, I didn't really want or need that Seymour Duncan Vintage Rails in the middle position and the extra two frets would have been cool. Anyways, I could never find one to buy and none of the later Swamp Ash models (NF, 25th, etc.) did a thing for me.
The Hiland model was another CE variant that I was attracted to but I never found one that I wanted more than, say, a Custom 24, etc., mainly because I wasn't thrilled with the pickups or the wiring scheme that did not include a split coil treble pickup, odd for a PRS with a splittable neck hummer.
You might ask 'Why not just swap out the pickups yourself?' Well, whoever sent this one back to the PRS PTC (and that is where it went) was set back $500 for the trouble. Ouch! And I've been down the pickup rabbit hole and, frankly, there is no bottom. Changing the bridge pickup on my G&L Legacy has become a weekly ritual.
Then, out of the blue, this Hiland in Sea Foam came up for sale at Dave's.
Only 7.4 pounds with a sleek and fast, 24-fret neck, 59/09 pickups that both split. Finally, a CE that hit all the marks.
If you have any further info on this guitar drop me a line: gtroblq at gmail dot com