Since Paul Reed Smith introduced the Custom 24 in 1985, it has become one of the most collected and respected guitars in the world. Traditionally there was the Holy Trinity of Guitars, Les Paul, Stratocaster and Telecaster. PRS Custom 24 is actually the fourth in the quartet. It’s a model status. After all, he has his own point of view, his own voice and his own feelings, and he has attracted the public’s attention. Of course, one of the things all SRPs know is that they have a healthy price. There’s no doubt the money is worth it when you have the DRP. But fortunately PRS has introduced its SE guitar line. It has given us easier access to the most financially problematic. Oh, and SE stands for Student Edition.
Where did it all start?
Legend has it that the SE line was actually Carlos Santana’s idea. Perhaps the most famous figure of the PRS (although Paul Reed Smith himself is a very public face of the brand). It is said that Santana talked to Paul and told him that he had students who wanted to benefit from the quality of the PRS brand, but simply couldn’t afford it…. That’s how the student edition was born. I don’t care if this legend is true or not, but it’s a great story!
The SE range is growing by the year, 7 models are currently available and there are many more SE branded models available. On their website you can find more information about the assortment, where we focus on Custom 24 SE. More recently, PRS has launched the S2 series, a curious introduction which seems to be linked to the success of the SE line, but which offers an alternative to American production. The S2 line is of course slightly more expensive than the SE line, and it will be interesting to see (i) how they compare and (ii) how they influence the future of the SE line.
Enough history, all the way in
Fender and Gibson offer guitars at entry-level prices (through their brands Studio, MIM, Epiphone and Squier). The PRS SE line is not classified as an entry-level guitar. Mahogany body and neck, maple cap, expensive finish, nice pickups, thin and fast neck. It’s a guitar on which even experienced artists nod and smile while playing.
First of all, what surprises you is the overall result of PRS SE Custom 24, it is simply overwhelming. It’s not surprising when you look at the back of your money and read World Instrument Music Company, Korea. For those who have not heard of this company, it has the reputation of being one of the best violin makers in Asia. YouTube guitarist Rob Chapman opened the doors of a Korean factory and built his own Chapman guitars from it. The YouTube clips are really worthwhile, because he uses them to describe how guitars are made.
The model we are testing is whale blue, classic PRS, light and fat. At first you might think that the body is surrounded by a braid, but this light band is actually a maple hat they removed before applying the paint. So it’s a natural maple binder, I love it and I wish more manufacturers would use it.
If you see pictures of the SE Custom 24 models up to and including 2013, you will notice that they had a flat top, which means that they were not cut out of maple. Although the current model is not very well worked out, it is a big step forward for me. We’re really starting to believe the United States did SRP. Without a doubt, the sculpted tip increases the value, I am pleased that PRS has decided to add this attractive finish to SE.
Both PRS humbuckers are of very good quality and offer great sound versatility. I don’t think they’re very hot, and I wish they were a little more dynamic. But it’s a good sign for a quality tool that the microphones react very well when you remove the sound a little. They’re not deaf or flat, they just change… …very important to me. Since it’s a mahogany installation, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that, unlike the Stratocaster, the sound is usually that of the Pauls, but I think it’s almost at right angles to the centre. They can set a thick, dark tone, perhaps without the depth of a Gibson microphone in a heavy body like Les Paul. But you can also get enough articulated single coil sounds. I wish the microphones were a little brighter and clearer, but they certainly don’t disappoint.
One thing that surprised me was the impressive amount of support that PRS SE offers. The chords can sound and resonate and the individual notes last as long as you like, which really surprises me. On the test model there was a large attraction on the 12th floor. The G-string, oddly enough… …but with a distorted sound, it gets a good return every time.
The microphones have the function to split the coils with the tone control, giving you effectively 6 different tones in combination with a 3-way switch. Overall, I think the PRS Custom 24 SE microphones deliver a sound that is likely to appeal to a large group of actors, with the ability to find a lot of individuality through coil separation and sound manipulation. Read my article about the separation of the coil and the coil valve if you are not sure of the meaning of this terminology.
How does she play?
Let’s talk about game options that depend on a lot of features. When it comes to neck feel, PRS necks are known for their slim profile, and the SE Custom 24 is no exception. It’s not as thin as the wizard Ibanes’ neck, but close enough. If you like necks that look more like a handle or a basketball bat… it might not be a guitar for you – but I recommend you try it – because once you get used to the profile, it’s so comfortable.
Access to the upper frets is always easy. With some tools that have thicker necks and fewer collars, you will never stretch as much as you can. The neck of the ES is what PRS calls Wide Thinness. It has a nut width of 42.8 mm (1 11/16). The width of the housing is 57.1 mm (2 1/4) and the depth of the nut is only 19.8 mm (25/32). This means that if you keep your neck next to the nut (this is the end where the head box is), it will look very compact. No wonder he’s the thinnest DRP in the family. The freeboard radius is 10″, which will be known to most players.
The general feeling it gives is one of lightness and speed. If the fact of playability is the strength of PRS SE Custom 24. Our test model weighed 3.6 kg, which is somewhat surprising. When you take this guitar in your hand, the shape of the neck and the body makes you think it will lie in the shaft, but in reality the weight is quite normal. If your guitar looks lighter than it really is, that’s fine. It’s unlikely you’ll feel tired after a few hours.
Another important factor in the game is the action or the height of the string. I managed to lower the string extremely low without the fries buzzing. This has a lot to do with the quality of the tuning of the guitar, but it shows the quality of the construction. I could get the low string height by simply lowering the strings with the saddle nut. A low ride height may not suit everyone, but at least you have the possibility to use the SE. If you prefer, just lift it a few millimeters. But if you like ultra-low levels, you can do it with PRS SE.
The combination of a thin neck, compactness and low action makes the PRS SE modern and powerful. I discovered that the compact size of this guitar allows me to sit on the couch while it sits on my lap. So if you’re the type (like me) to use an excuse to have a guitar at hand, even in front of the TV on the couch – you’ll enjoy a light PRS SE feeling.
Let’s talk about birds
Bird inlay is the business card of Paul Reed Smith, his trademark. I think it’s love/hate for guitarists. Some say they are beautiful and different and give the instrument an artistic character. Others say they are presumptuous and unnecessary and only add value. I really am a fan, for me they add skill and are a good substitute for stitches and armour.
The SE Bird Insoles differ slightly from the Custom 24 soles from Maryland due to their robust shape. The proposals made in the United States are more complex because they are only sketches. They’re also a little more defined at the edges. That saves money, of course. But when you compare them, hard deposits don’t really look like a cheap imitation, they just look different.
If you read the overview above, it is difficult to find negatives. It’s a very good guitar. I had the feeling that the microphones were a bit behind in quality. It is similar to the look and feel of the guitar. They seem a bit flat, although they are certainly not bad flirting tools and most people love them. My main complaint is probably that there is no hardtail version of Custom 24 in the SE range (for the time being).
The tremolo system is not the best, and every time I see pictures of this guitar, it usually doesn’t have a tremolo. In fact, a promotional video on the PRS website shows them using exactly this guitar WITHOUT Tremello connected. Many owners have blocked the Tremello forever or just left their hand on it. The S2 line has a Hartwall variant in the world and the US Custom 24, of course, has a high quality tremolo. They also offer a version for the Custom 22 hardtail. Maybe a Custom 22 SE or a Custom 24 SE is a good choice for SRP?
I must say that PRS SE Custom 24 is a great instrument. Playability and processing are the most important points. The sound of the dual-coil microphones gives you a variety of sound options. For the price you get a very well made guitar, a unique look and an instrument that is suitable for almost every genre.
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