Long known for high quality guitars PRS has made a few unsuccessful attempts to launch a bass line, while the basses were well made their price point put them in the range of well established basses without offering anything unique. PRS is looking to change that with the launch of two new basses in their E line; the Kestrel and the Kingfisher.
Both basses are available for under $900.00 and come with a gig bag. Often when manufacturers include a gig bag it’s little more than a padded sock to slide over the instrument offering little of no protection from anything stronger than a blueberry; PRS has gone beyond that with the new gig bags they offer and the bags are equivalent in quality to something you might purchase from the Tribal Planet line. In terms of construction both basses are neck through body instruments with the famous PRS bird inlays down the neck. The pick-ups are PRS and all the hardware is Hipshot featuring a string through body design. Of the two the Kingfisher is the more expensive by about $50 and has 24 frets opposed to the Kestrel’s 22 fret design. Both bodies are a flat surfaced offset design and dual pickup, with the Kestrel being a 2 pickup jazz style and the Kingfisher being a two pickup double coil style.
The real question is how do they play and sound and are they worth the money?
In a word – yes. The body designs have a balanced feel both seated and standing and weigh less then traditional instruments, yet they don’t sound thin or hollow. While the official PRS website claims that the instruments have sound and styling reminiscent of classic basses. Which sounds good for marketing but isn’t very accurate. Both instruments have a smooth feel and easy attack with a rounded sound that is easy to control with both pick and fingers with an even feeling neck and easy access to higher frets. The electronics, while not dynamic, respond evenly and smoothly. Single lines, chords, tapping and snap/pop playing is clear and doesn’t muddy. The Kestrel has an alder body while the Kingfisher sports a swamp ash body with both having their necks constructed of maple and walnut.
Overall either bass is a solid choice and plays well right out of the store that feels as though it would settle in nicely and be a piece that would be a good work horse bass for anyone in a range of settings. The styling and the sound would fit in with any style of music, and with the reasonable price tag including a well made gig bag either the PRS Kestrel of Kingfisher are well worth consideration for your next bass purchase.
You can check out this video of the Kestrel Bass
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight