SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body review by Paul Reed Smith

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (39 votes)
Paul Reed Smith: SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body
1

Price paid: € 650

Purchased from: Music-Line tienen

Sound — 10
When I went out to buy a new guitar, I was looking for one with a beautiful clean tone. I bumped into this one in a shop one day, tried it out, had to have it! You'd think that with a semi hollow guitar you can only play clean, or with a mild overdrive. Think again! First things first; the neck pickup. Beautiful tone, but with a lot of bass! It takes some getting used to! I now play with my volume at about 9, it takes the dark edge off, which seriously made open chords way to bassy. But it's the only bad thing about it. Open chords are a pleasure to hear, and with a bit of overdrive you get a nice blues sound that rivals +2000$ guitars. Even with a good distortion you get a very nice tone! Bridge pickup: Most of the bridge pickups I tried in my Quest for a new guitar didn't really do clean well. They sounded too cold, there wasn't enough warmth in it. This one doesn't. You can definitely use it when playing clean! It comes alive with a little overdrive, it keeps the notes and chords separate, everything sounds pure, no muddiness at all. With a full distortion it actually surprised me. I expected it to fail miserably, since it's an (semi) hollow body guitar. Ooh, what a nice surprise that was! You can play power chords, open chords, solo's, picking, everything you can think of! Of course, it's not a shredder or anything, but it really rocks. I play classic rock, modern rock, hard rock, and this one can take it all. Seriously, a very good tone. You can't bash this guitar though. I know, it's obvious, but with my Ibanezes (it has to have a plural, right? ) I was used to picking quite hard on the chords. You can play hard, but, not too hard. I had to learn to be gentler with my guitars, but it actually improved my overall tone and playing! When using the pickups separately, it is quite noisy... If you put the 3-way selector in the middle, the noise disappears though. Basic line, very rich and full sound, you don't have to play with the tone controller since it's not too bright or anything, simply perfect. Except for the too bassy neck pickup but if, like I said, you pull the volume down a bit it disappears. With an overdrive or distortion both pickups sound awesome, so don't hesitate!

Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing for 6 years now, and I've had this guitar for 5 months. Still haven't found a major flaw, still glad I bought it! It's a perfect match with my Marshall, but I think it would be a perfect match witch about any decent amp. Compare it to any other guitar of it's price range, and you'll be surprised. The sound is simply amazing! That the biggest feature. It's not a flashy guitar, it doesn't draw the attention when you see it (certainly not the black finish, like mine. It looks black. With some natural wood sticking out (e.g. The gap).). If you want a guitar that draws the attention by its looks, move along, this is nothing for you. If you want a guitar that draws attention by its sound, this is it. Especially in this price range! I tried out some strats before I bought this, and you'd have to go up to 2300 to get the same quality of sound or finish. Even worse for Gibson. And now, the stolen / lost question... I'd buy it again. No hesitation.

Reliability & Durability — 9
It's a PRS, and a semi hollow, so there are some things you don't want to do... 1. It's a beautiful guitar, so don't let it fall on the ground. It should survive the fall, it feels quite solid, but it's just a shame to let it fall in the first place. 2. I read a review before I bought it from some guy who said his prs turned out to be a piece of crap (quote). After a couple of years the neck had moved a lot, it had to be refretted, blablabla. It's a semi hollow, so again, be careful. I try to avoid major temperature changes, but apart from that I don't really see mine turning into a piece of crap.. It's well made I think, there are no visible imperfections, so I don't see why there would be a problem. I took it to several gigs, never had a problem. I didn't change the strap buttons, isn't necessary. Hardware is very solid. I always hit the toggle switch hard (accidentally, it's closer by than I think. Every time

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
When it came from the factory, there were a couple of strings that almost touched the neck. A bit of adjusting and the problem was solved. The finish was perfect, wood looks fine, all the hardware looks fine, no major problems. There is one thing though... Dust and fingerprints. It's a b*tch to keep the top clean. It's worth the effort, but it's annoying to dust off.

Features — 10
"The SE Custom Semi-hollow Soapbar is a 22 fret guitar with a semi-hollow mahogany body, mahogany neck and a maple top with a stylish, modern f-hole. The hollow chamber mellows the brightness of the two soapbar pickups while retaining their bright, articulation. This instrument has a very breathy, sweet tone with a touch of soapbar snappiness." => prs website I guess that says it all! Mine is the black version, since I really disliked the other colors. What you have to realize is that the top is flat, not curved. I saw the prs in natural finish, it looked beautiful! But, as soon as a spotlight shines directly on it, you've simply got a shiny mirror. The glossy finish reflects light, so the beautiful natural wood effect gets ruined... Too bad! If it had a curved top there wouldn't be a problem... The neck is shorter, be aware. It shouldn't be a problem to anyone, since playing on this guitar is really easy, you just have to know what this guitar can't take. I'm used to Ibanez necks, which as we all know are fast and thin. This neck isn't quite as thin, a bit below average I'd say. It's definitely not as fast as an Ibanez, but since it's a shorter neck it compensates. Finish is excellent, even though this was made in Korea. I just found one simple flaw, the tone controller isn't in sync with the volume control (if you turn them both at max, one says 10, the other 5. No biggy) Bridge, electronics, tuners, pickups, everything is PRS designed, and it works really well. It stays in tune like it should be once it's acquainted to the temperature (after playing for 10 minutes you have to tune it, and then you can play for hours). It all came with a gig bag of decent quality, a cable and a wrench.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Professor Grill
    Hopefully going to be buying this guitar sometime over the next couple of weeks. Going to be travelling down to edinburgh, hundreds of miles away, to try it out and buy it. (well it also coincides with visiting my friend, but the guitar is the real reason) Thanks for the reviews guys!