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The PRS Silver Sky has to be one of the most controversial models that Paul Reed Smith has ever released. Some people love it, others love to hate it. Some think it’s just a Strat copy, and others think it’s something more. If you’re reading this article, you’re likely a fan – and you’re in good company. I can state from personal experience with my own Midnight Rose Silver Sky, it’s a great guitar.
However, it doesn’t come cheap. Lucky for us, the Silver Sky SE was finally released in January 2022. The debate still remains, do they sound the same? Both models are different in several ways, from the body wood, fingerboard radius, and most notably, the pickups. Since very little data exists for either the 635JM or the 635JM “S”, we took it upon ourselves to test both. Before we jump in, an important note is that both the Silver Sky and Silver Sky SE use identical pickups for each position, with the only caveat being the middle position is reverse-wound, reverse-polarity (RWRP) for hum-free 2nd and 4th pickup selector positions. The data below will apply to the bridge, middle, and neck positions.
Visually, there are several noticeable differences. Most obviously, the pole piece radius is different. This makes sense, as the Silver Sky and Silver Sky SE have different fingerboard radius values. Less noticeably though, the magnets of the 635JM “S” are slightly thicker and taller than it’s sibling, 4.96mm x 18.67mm vs. 4.74mm x 17.67mm. Neither are beveled, and both keep the magnet height consistent across. The 635JM removes the bobbin extension for the leads, while the 635JM “S” keeps traditional bottom flatwork. Lastly, the cover colors are incredibly close, but the 635JM “S” appears to have a very small tint of amber compared to the 635JM. Flipping them over reveals an unexpected factor.
While the 635JM appears as expected, the 635JM “S” has metal inserts in between each pole piece. This is very similar to DiMarzio’s Virtual Vintage technology, where they add metal slugs in between pole pieces. This patent is expired, so it’s fair game for other companies to take advantage of. By adding extra ferrous metal within the pickup’s core, the inductance values will increase, decreasing the resonant peak.
Finally, let’s see how these differences affected the resonance curve and specs:
|DC Resistance||7.45 K||6.43 K|
|Magnet Type||Alnico 5||Alnico 5|
|Inductance||2.72 H||2.33 H|
|Resonant Peak||3.5 kHz||3.9 kHz|
Both of these pickups achieve exactly what they aim for – to make awesome Strat sounds. They get there in different ways, and they end in different spots. Will these pickups sound the same within the same guitar? No. They are different in almost every measurable way – DC resistance, inductance, resonant peak, Q-factor, the list goes on. It’s possible that the Silver Sky SE uses different parts that create a brighter tonality, in which case the differences were created intentionally. From Paul Reed Smith’s reputation, I wouldn’t dismiss this notion. Overall, the 635JM “S” will have a bit less high end and a slightly smoother tonality as compared to the 635JM. This may actually be preferable in many situations. As always, try before you buy.