SE Custom review by Paul Reed Smith

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (318 votes)
Paul Reed Smith: SE Custom

Price paid: $ 1000

Purchased from: L M Furtado and Sons India

Sound — 8
I was confused when I wanted to actually buy a guitar last year as I was deep into Jazz. As all blues / rockers know, there are some guitars that signify prestige, power and class like the Les Paul and Paul Reed Smith - it's like owning a Vintage hot rod. I played the guitar through a Laney amp and was quite impressed with the action, finish and quality of craftman ship. I neglected the sound in overdrive mode at that point as the store was really noisy and I was playing on a flat setting through the amp. IT seemed to squeal and crunch and burn when I tried playing some rock and roll rifs and further more the sustain was just too hard to ignore.Currently I run the PRS through a DigiTech RP 250, Boss MT2 into a Laney LV300 - tube amp and with a Boss DD3 in the effects loop. After playing for a year and actually sitting down to design my own sound, I noticed that the stock pickups are really horrible. Not that I didn't care before, but it took me a year to get my gear and accessories together to sit and analyse the smaller things that made a difference to my playing. I got a tube amp to get that raw growl on the Drive channel, but the pick ups fail miserably the moment I dial in the the EQ for either rythm or leads. If I set it to a scoop I can get a low death metal chug in the middle position of the toggle Switch, but the moment I Switch to either the neck or the bridge pick ups, the sound is a complete mess on the same EQ settings. Hence I work around this problem by switching between my clean and Drive channels on the Laney that allows me two different eq settings. So To play rythm I go on the clean with a scoop and Drive for solos with the different eq settings. I would say that the pick ups are not worth it and the tonal range that you can get is pretty poor. Probably replace it with a super distortion / or a evo.. But then again the reason I bought this PRS was for the clean warm sound of the stock pickups in the neck position -- I would say they are the best I have heard... I wont experiment with this particular purchase as I am planning to shelf this guitar and change my guitars to Ibanez. BUt this will be a piece I will retain for the sake of having an affordable PRS - and may be use it specifically for blues / hard rock where it sounds good. On the Drive channel with Drive set to under 50, I can easily adjust my volume POT and get a clean sound and simultaneously crank it up to get a lead tone --- with out having to touch a single pedal. How ever it doesnt't work with a Boss MT2 in line as the signal get too hot for the AMP.

Overall Impression — 9
I play a wide variety of genre - I play lot of '60s pop rock and roll, and of course hard rock and heavy metal. Although in my initial years I was more concerned about getting the sound of main stream artisits whos covers I would play, not my aim is to get my signature sound. For a blues/ rock guitar player this is a pretty decent guitar to establish that sound. I got this guitar primary because I wanted to stock my collection three different types of guitar systems.. 1) Strat - I have a Gibson Epiphone S-10 which is good for playing all the '60s surf music and some Dire straits. I have the PRS that I can used to play all my classic rock and blues. And I am getting my New RG Ibanez that will be my work horse for the next couple of years as I am turning commercial very soon.

If there is one thing I seriously would advise PRS to change are the tuners and put some locking tuners - the price difference would be less than $50 for this upgrade if done at the factory level - I would keep the stock pickup aside as every pro musician I know never works with any Stock pickup and has his own choice when it comes to the pickup. Primarily because you have to match your pedal settings, amp settings and guitar tone to create your signature sound, so I really would not worry about that for now and neither should any one reading this review feel that it's the most negative aspect of the custom SE models. And I feel guitar companies know that as well. They test on a specific set of equipment and can never afford to run it through all the amps in the world and see if it is very versatile in sound quality and play in all styles. This experience comes from the customers Who can post reviews like this and expect the community to work around issues. After all even if you were to buy all the gear the Carlos Santana uses, you just can't sound like Santana.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Haven't really abused it. But so far so good and looking at the quality of construction I would say that this guitar will go a long way. I have been playing electric guitar for 17 years now and can definitely rate this a 10. I don't think any pro guitar player will take the chance of playing with out a back up, how ever for a small private party or gathering you can go with no back up and may be an extra set of strings if you have the time to string up between songs.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The fit and finish was perfect out of the box. I had the technicians at Furtados lower the action a bit more, but I had to work on the intonation once I got back home. The bridge is pretty smooth with three springs, but do a huge bend and your can see the saddle lift up and all your string go out of tune. Tuners were a disappointment, I expected locking tuners to be Standard in PRS - but guess not. The guys at PRS were kind enough to suggest me to get Grover 406 machine heads as replacements for the stock tuners. The nut could have been of a better material, but IMHO dampens the sound a bit. The pots are smooth and operate but the knobs don't fit tight, they can be pulled of easily and there is a slight ply in the fitting. The frets were filed very professionally and the paint work finish is really super quality, I have checked, ever edge, crevice and joint and it is flawles. it's as if the guitar was dipped in pain and clear coat. The sunburst is very even and consistent in thickness over the entire guitar egede. Strap knobs are of premium quality. The color of the rosewood is consistent through out the length of the fret board and seem to be a tight grain selection. The moon inlays look good upclose, but I feel they are not abalon / MOP.

Features — 9
The PRS I picked up is made in Korea and in the year 2007. I have had it for over a 1.5 year now. It has a mahogany neck with a rosewood fret board and regular frets. It has a flamed maple top and I have the sunburst color on it. The flamed maple is a killer in look, I can't imagine a single time when people have seem my guitar and not said WOW, including some experienced musicians. I have the tremolo bridge which is decent and is super smooth in it's action. As usual it has a toggle Switch giving me three modes of the pick up like a traditional Les Paul. It comes with stock Zebra humbucking pickup - not great in sound. Tuners are Standard tuners and I was expecting them to be a locking kind, but I think I will have to do with the cheap tuners. Got a good quality gig bag with the PRS logo and insignia on it which is pretty good and well padded, it will even survive a mild shower if need be. No straps of add ons. Got the required allen keys and truss rod spanners along with the guitar in a separate pack.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Hmm... I think I might get one of these. They're inexpensive, have all the features I'm looking for, and sound pretty good. Maybe I'll for the semi-hollow though.
    love the guitar, uising 9-42 strings and standard tuning (EADGBE) but if I do any other tuning(DGCFAD) the guitar tunes UP^ on the low "D" to D# by its self along with dodgy machine heads which seem to "Slip" while tuning. I would give this guitar 7/10 though I love how it looks, but ther is a few minor problems which I could probably fix myselft if I had the tools. Mind you, I also have a Gibson LP standard which I have fitted Locking Machine Heads too, maybe I can get some for the PRS.
    I just got this guitar (whale blue) and I love it. The only thing I would change is to upgrade to locking tuners. Otherwise this guitar is absolutely amazing. I love the finish and over all feel of the guitar as well. I would recommend this guitar to anyone.