PRATLEY PRO DLX GUITAR
Tully Mansfield gets his paws around a modern Aussie classic.
Full review and independent analysis of the Pratley Pro DLX Guitar by Australian Guitar magazine.
PRICE: $3395 RRP
Founded in 2004 by Martin Pratley and based on the Gold Coast, Pratley Guitars have now been producing top quality, hand-crafted guitars, stomp boxes and Cajons for over a decade. These days, Pratley products can be found onstage and in the studio with the likes of John Butler, Awaken I Am, Dead Letter Circus, and The Mission In Motion. Keep an eye out for their revolutionary new P-Link pickup system, too: a very cool concept that allows you to swap pickups in and out of guitars in a matter of minutes.
Looking at this guitar, it makes you wonder why more luthiers aren’t gravitating towards Australian timbers. The Tasmanian mountain ash used for the neck and body of the guitar is absolutely incredible, especially with the high gloss black burst finish highlighting the timber’s grain. The second you pick it up, it’s also immediately clear that the Pro DLX is the result of meticulous standards and exacting attention to detail. Even just taking a moment to take in the body shape, you’re struck by how much thought has gone into every aspect of this instrument. While it’s certainly a unique and original design, it manages to achieve what so many non-traditional guitar designs fail to do in that it still looks refined and familiar, and is, most importantly, well balanced and very comfortable to play.
Straight off the bat, one thing I love about the Pro DLX is the pickup configuration. There’s something awesome about being able to blend the tight crunch of a bridge humbucker with the dirty warmth of a P90 in the neck position. It just works. It also expands the range of sounds you can get out of a guitar. Starting out clean, you can go from nice, bright singing chords via the humbucker, right through to super smooth, fat, jazzy leads on the neck.
Step it up and dial in a bit of gain on your amp, and you’re instantly transported to classic rock territory, with plenty of bite to chords, and wonderful note clarity too. The Tasmanian mountain ash lends a wonderful timbre to the instrument. It’s got more snap and top end than mahogany, but equally, has a bit more richness to it than something like alder. Add to that the warmth and sustain you get from the rosewood fretboard, and it’s a really nicely rounded tonal package.
Cranking the amp gain right up to full saturation, there’s also some pretty meaty tones to be had from the bridge humbucker, but bear in mind that the Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II pickup is a vintage style pickup, not a modern high gain monster, so does start to lose a bit of its finesse with more distortion and overdrive. It’s still totally capable of punching out some gnarly sounding Acca Dacca riffs, though, which is all anyone really needs, isn’t it? Overall, this a terrific sounding guitar that will suit any number of applications brilliantly. Something that is well and truly demonstrated by the wide variety genres covered by artists currently repping Pratley guitars onstage.
WHY YOU’RE PROBABLY GONNA WANT IT
Looks great, plays great, sounds great. What more do you want?
Seriously though, there’s not much to say about the Pratley Pro DLX that hasn’t already been said. The workmanship here is magnificent, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find any guitarist who wouldn’t love to have one of these bad boys in their arsenal. What’s more, they’re Aussie made, and more than fairly priced for a top end instrument from a local builder.
WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER FIRST
As with most Top Shelf reviews, there’s not really any cons to the instrument, per se. If you really pressed me though, there are a couple of small (and completely subjective) things that I’d mention. The first one is small – the case it arrived in was a pretty cheap and basic plywood number. Not a deal breaker, of course, but with a guitar as nice as this, personally, I’d wouldn’t be taking it anywhere without a heavy duty ABS flight case for it, so it would be great if it shipped with something a bit more solid as standard. Second one is, again, more of a general thought than an actual con, but for me, I’d love if this Aussie made guitar came loaded with some boutique Aussie made pickups. Don’t get me wrong, the stock Seymour Duncans are perfectly fine, but boy oh boy, if this thing was paired with a killer set of Brierleys or similar, it would take the whole package to the next level.
Okay, so here’s the low down on what you’re getting here. The body is gorgeously figured Tasmanian mountain ash with cream top binding. The bolt-on neck - also crafted from Tasmanian mountain ash - has a 24 3⁄4” scale length, a nice solid C profile, and a Graptech Tusq XL nut. This is topped with a stunning dark East Indian rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and mother of pearl dots and twelfth fret feature inlay. On the hardware side of things, the Pro DLX has Pratley tuners with a 16:1 gear ratio for accuracy and stability, and an intonatable wraparound bridge. Rounding out the package is the versatile combination of a Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II bridge humbucker and a Seymour Duncan Phat Cat humbucker-sized P90 in the neck position, with a simple control layout of volume, tone and a three way pickup selector switch.
BEST IN THE HANDS OF
Anyone who wants to own a beautiful guitar, handmade right here in Australia. As noted above, however, if you’re looking for super high gain metal tones, the stock pickups don’t quite get there, so you may want to budget a little extra to have something higher output installed in the bridge - or get in touch with Pratley before ordering to see if there are different options available.
WHY IT’S ON THE TOP SHELF
Top notch instrument, built locally from high quality timbers and finished to an absolutely immaculate standard. Furthermore, while it’s certainly on the top shelf in terms of pricing, it starts to look like a downright bargain when you stack it up against comparable instruments from some of the big name US companies.
Pratley Guitars and Percussion