PRS Europe Employee Spotlight – NICK FRASER // Technical Manager
“I had an interest in guitars since I got my first aged 11, and soon began taking them apart, modifying them, and putting them back together. After a brief attempt at making it big in a band, I started work in the guitar industry in 1987, cutting my teeth teching on Ibanez and Westone guitars. Few years later, I moved job and worked on Washburn, Taylor, and Blade guitars. Around 1993, the company started working with PRS Guitars, and I’ve been working with PRS ever since. I have gained an extensive knowledge and experience of the models produced over the last 30 years, which comes in handy when dealing with enquiries about some of our older instruments.
My role within PRS has morphed over the years, and I now oversee our team of five techs who set up every PRS SE imported into Europe. I provide advice and training to them and am responsible for overall quality control. I spend some time liaising with the factories too. I supply technical advice to our customers, dealers, and independent repairers on our guitars and amplifiers and work closely with Chris in the Europe PTC, discussing repair options with customers. I still find time to do a few customer repairs and artist set ups, and, occasionally, workshops at the ACM in Guildford and London and ICMP London.”
1)What’s your typical day working in the Techroom?
Typically it starts with e-mails from PRS HQ in the US, our service centre in Germany, and of course customers and dealers. Over the course of the day, I will be advising and overseeing our techs and answering various technical questions from customers and our dealers. If I have any guitars on the bench, I will generally leave them till later in the day when most people have gone home, and I can concentrate, free from interruption.
2)What is the most important tool for your line of work?
They’re all equally important! However, a set of good quality nut files is essential.
3)You work on a lot of artist guitars, is there one that has been particularly memorable?
The most memorable Artist’s guitar that I have worked on belonged to Dan Weller from Sikth. It was a USA Standard, maybe 15 years ago, and it was covered in blood – he said it was his blood, and he just got a bit carried away at a gig; anyway, I just cleaned it up, set it up and didn’t ask any questions…
I don’t tend to get star struck, but it was a bit of a moment when I got to set up a guitar for John McLaughlin.
4)What’s been the most challenging guitar you’ve ever worked on?
Probably the biggest challenge to date has been fitting a Core Piezo system into an SE Custom for Jakko from King Crimson – that was a bit of a squeeze!
5)What made you want to go into guitar maintenance and repair?
I have always enjoyed taking guitars apart and modding them. In the absence of any sensible career paths ahead, it made perfect sense to follow my dream instead.
6) What’s your favourite PRS guitar and why?
My favourite PRS guitar is the S2 Mira Semi Hollow – it just works for me. The simplicity, the comfortable forearm contour, some extra warmth and fatness from the Semi Hollow body, and that solid workhorse feel that you get from an S2. If I had to choose a Core guitar it would be the Paul’s Guitar for simplicity, feel, and tone.
7) What’s your top tips for setting up a PRS guitar?
My top tip for setting up a PRS guitar is to get familiar with the truss rod. The amount of neck relief can change with the seasons and a small fluctuation can throw the set up and feel out a tad. The factory spec relief at the 8th fret is 0.010” so it’s good to keep it around there. The truss rod is your friend, don’t be afraid of it! Set up details on the main website.
8)What do you love most about working in the guitar world?
Pretty much everyone you come across is a creative type to some degree. Having that common thread helps with communication and understanding – there is a kind of family feel at PRS. We all love guitars in general and of course PRS’s! What better place to work?