Guitar Review: Paul Reed Smith SE Custom

SMG_Paul Reed Smith SE Custom

This weeks review spotlights the FINALLY affordable Paul Reed Smith SE Custom. Obviously the price led me to pick up this particular PRS. With its flamed maple veneer top on a Mahogany back and its fat mahogany neck, it can produce surprising sustain and high end bite.  The 22 medium frets are set on a wide carved neck that feels much like an old school fender. The SE custom has a 25” scale set neck with a rosewood fretboard and moon inlays. Now if you are a shredmeister like myself, you will find it very difficult to shred on this guitar. The neck feels like a baseball bat. But that’s not to say it’s not easy to play on.

Because of the thick neck, you can really grab onto the strings and it plays perfect for blues players. The PRS SE Custom comes with PRS designed humbuckers that have a mild warm tone and soothing highs.  The 3-way selector switch gives you minimal tone options. However, this is not a bad thing, as the warm tones of the pickups lend a smooth tone for just about any type of music.  The SE uses one volume and one tone knob for easy and quick settings.  The PRS designed tremolo stays in tune very well given its simplicity.

My over all opinion on the PRS SE Custom is that this guitar is fantastic for the price. It plays just like the more expensive PRS models minus hardware features and pickups. As you know, you can always swap out the pickups. I personally do not like the neck but that’s because my fingers like to flow like a river along the fretboard. This neck is a little wide for my taste, but it may suit your needs to a ‘T.’

The tone capabilities of the pickups are limiting, so I would recommend swapping out the pickups for some Duncan’s or Dimarzio’s. Basically if you have ever wanted to rock out with a PRS, the SE Custom is your model. As far as the feel and playability goes, I found no difference between this model and the $4,000 model. Something to think about?!

When you buy a new guitar, do you prefer to keep it stock or modify it to your own liking?

Till next time peeps, keep shredding!

  • Mickey

    Hey Nick – It sounds like a great axe for the price. Is this made at the same factory as the more expensive models?

  • Nick

    To my knowledge the SE is made in the same factory as the other models. I’m sure like all other companies if this model does well they will mass produce them in a different location. Cheers, Keep Shredding.

  • Mickey

    Well I hope they do well but not too well then 😀

  • Nick

    To my knowledge the SE is made in the same factory as the other models. I'm sure like all other companies if this model does well they will mass produce them in a different location. Cheers, Keep Shredding.

  • Dan (@DaedalusT)

    I thought the SEs were usually made in Korea, and the regular ones were made in the US?

  • The notion of an instrument being made in korea or outside the united states being of less quality in not correct. its all in how it is set up. the only differance in instrument made here is they spend a little more time in the set up prosess or made of different woods, but it doesn’t mean its a bad instrument. hope this helps. cheers.

  • ern

    The SEs are made in Korea. The more expensive PRS models are far better than the SE customs. There is a *huge* difference in playability and quality of tone (I don’t know how anyone could not tell the difference). The higher end models are made in the US and are higher quality (though it has nothing to do with where they are made, but how they are made), but are quite expensive. The SEs have always been made in Korea, and were basically designed to get PRS guitars into the hands of those who couldn’t afford the expensive models. The SE might look similar to the higher end models, but they are completely different.

    Still, the SE is a quality guitar for the price (I’ve owned mine for two years now). No, it’s not a shredder’s guitar. If you want that, there are Ibanez models that are reasonably priced. It’s a solid hard rock guitar, but you won’t get a decent metal tone out of it. It’s not really designed for that. A shredder friend of mine actually liked my PRS McCarty model quite well (he hated the SE), but then he’s used to his Ibanez JS1200.

Subscribe to SMG Podcasts!
Download the latest show
from iTunes >>>