SE Custom 24 review by Paul Reed Smith

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 7.4 Good
  • Users' score: 8.4 (99 votes)
Paul Reed Smith: SE Custom 24

Price paid: $ 664

Purchased from: Musicians Friend

Sound — 8
I play hard rock so this guitar really fits the bill. Very versatile sound and for stock pickups they don't perform half bad. I always prefer to after-market my guitars for personal preference and to really make the guitar feel like my own custom model. That being said, I didn't have an immediate urge to replace the pickups unlike my Epiphone Les Paul. I play through a Randall RX120 and its just sings and growls when I need it to. The bridge pickup is rather bright and responsive, while the neck pickup is saturated approaching muddiness that I absolutely hate on a guitar. High gain produces a little feedback, but rolling off the volume just slightly cuts it out.

Overall Impression — 7
Overall, Paul Reed Smith DOES make excellent guitars but in this particular instance they need to go back to the drawing board and fix inherent issues instead of replacing unnecessary things. For example, the new 2012 model has coil splitting. Every company has jumped on that bandwagon. Instead of coil splitting though, they could have done what they do with their American models and made it a five-way which splits the coils naturally. They need to put a higher quality nut, or their own nut in place instead of cheap plastic. Many say a flat top cuts down on the cost but there is only a 15 dollar price difference from my model and the new 2012. Poor show, PRS. I've been playing for 9 years now and while this guitar outshines my modded Epi Les Paul, I've had to put money into it just to get it that way and considering the initial price, that really puts a bad taste in the mouth. I feel like if I had the money I would sooner feel more comfortable buying a Gibson Les Paul Standard than forking over the extra 500 for a Custom 24. Despite the upgrade in workmanship.

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Reliability & Durability — 7
I've gigged quite a few times with this guitar and before I replaced the nut and tuners, I was very nervous about playing live so I didn't abuse it too much. Naturally, this is disappointing considering the money spent. I always bring a backup no matter what, but its usually just for a little variety. The strap buttons on this guitar are an absolute shining point for this guitar. Many lower end guitars and even some higher end have notoriously bad strap buttons but I have yet to have a problem with these. They have not been loose once. The pickup selector is going bad which is a negative but they are cheap to replace.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
While the guitar was set up well from the factory, I immediately noticed a problem with the tuners. This guitar would not stay in tune for anything which was VERY disappointing considering what I paid for this I could have spent a little more money and got an American-made Gibson Les Paul. So before I rushed out and spent any money, I researched the issue and found out it was VERY common. The problem originates in the nut of the guitar and many people recommended putting graphite in the slots or replacing it altogether. Taking no chances, I chose the latter and also replaced the tuners with Gotoh tuners. It now stays in tune with no issues. (It's important to note that I replaced it with a PRS nut to be safe.) My biggest and only real complaint with Paul Reed Smith is they are the Apple of guitar companies. You could buy their pickups but they are even more expensive than Gibson's and that's quite a bit of clout considering the company (est. 1985) is so young. Also, their Phase II locking tuners that come on Standard models DO NOT FIT an SE model. You have to redrill holes on the headstock and that is VERY disappointing. While they do make wonderful guitars, I feel like the ball was really dropped in the manufacturing of this particular model.

Features — 9
I've had my PRS for almost a year now and figured it was a good time for a review. My Custom 24 has the tri-burst finish, which looks much like the 2012's tobacco finish, except a little lighter. All in all this is a beautiful guitar. Mahogany back and sides, maple top and rosewood fretboard. What sets this one apart from older models is the classic bird inlays which really complete the aesthetics on this particular guitar. Wide thin neck, VERY comfortable, and a nice deep cut heel for upper fret reaching. This guitar however gets a 9 for the flat top instead of the carved top on the 2012 model. Bridge style was tremolo with a twist. It is recessed to allow you to bend up or down. 2 humbuckers, 3 way selector and stock non locking PRS tuners.

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