SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body Review

manufacturer: Paul Reed Smith date: 12/02/2010 category: Electric Guitars
Paul Reed Smith: SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body
The SE Custom Semi-Hollow has the same basic appointments as the SE Custom - mahogany back, maple top, 22-fret wide-fat mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, and SE humbucking pickups.
 Sound: 9.3
 Overall Impression: 9.5
 Reliability & Durability: 8.3
 Action, Fit & Finish: 8.8
 Features: 9.3
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reviews (4) pictures (1) 9 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.2
SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body Reviewed by: Mitchell?, on october 22, 2008
4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Features: The PRS SE Custom Semi-Hollowbody is a Korean made semi-hollowbody electric guitar. It's got 22 frets on a 25" scale wide-thin neck. The guitar features a rosewood fingerboard with classy half-moon inlays. The PRS has got a solid, flame maple top in either natural, black, or blue matteo (a beautiful, deep blue colour.) The body is mahogany, with a "canoe-cut", or a chamber routed on the left-side of the body. This features a modern f-hole. The body style is vaguely like a modern solid-body Ibanez (like an RG) but with shorter, rounder horns. The right horn has a bevel on it for increased upper-fret access, which I personally love. It has a pre-intonated stoptail bridge. Instead of a tune-o-matic and a stoptail, the stoptail was intonated at the factory. This means no intonation problems, but it does mean you can't easily replace the bridge with aftermarket parts. The electronics are simple: volume, tone, and pickup selector. This makes for easy controls, and I have never felt limited by them. The pickup configuration goes HH, like an LP. The guitar comes with a high-quality gig bag. Also: I changed a few small things on the guitar, like pickup rings, pickup covers, and knobs, and they've all greatly affected the aesthetics. It looked good before, but now it looks great. // 9

Sound: The way I would describe the PRS would be warm and full. The mahogany body, dual-humbuckers and the semi-hollow body lend to a warm tone, which can still get bright and spanky with a twist of the tone knob. I use it with a Vox AC15, through a Fulltone OCD, Little Big Muff, and a Vox V847 wah. This guitar works great with just about any set-up, and is pretty versatile, although I wouldn't use it for a metal gig with my rig and pickups. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: The action on my guitar is just wonderful! It's challenged guitars three times it's price with playability and tone. The pickups were adjusted fine from the factory, but I raised the neck pickup a bit, and realized it's pretty hot. It makes for a great tone raised a bit though. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This guitar has gotten thrown around, but never quite gotten the shit kicked out of it. The hardware is tough, and I'd feel comfortable using it without a backup. One of my favorites things is that the strap-buttons are some of the nicest ones I've ever used, on any guitar. I love 'em! The finish is tough too, I wouldn't worry about it. I've forcefully slammed it into the sharp edge of a tile counter once, and it was fine. That's pretty damn awesome. // 9

Overall Impression: My overall impression is that this guitar is great for just about everyone. It plays like a dream, has a wide range of tones, and looks damn good. I compared this to a Taylor T5, and an Ibanez AJD, but I was really impressed by the PRS, and then a deal slid my way and I just had to pick it up. It's not quite the finish I would pick, but with a few mods, it looks great. // 9

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overall: 8.2
SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body Reviewed by: paradox_047, on october 06, 2009
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 800

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: The SE Semi-Hollow boasts a 22-fret wide fat neck with a scale length of 25". The modern f-hole sets the guitar up with natural reverb and a great clean sound, while taking the guitar's weight down significantly. It features a maple top with a flame maple veneer and mahogany back wood, and Standard pickguard. The guitar is comprised of a rosewood fretboard coupled with a mahogany neck with moon inlays. The stock bridge is a PRS-designed stoptail, which goes along with the default PRS-designed tuners; both made of nickel. Both humbuckers are PRS-designed stock humbuckers, which provide more than acceptable sound quality. The SE-Semi Hollow Custom has 2 control knobs - volume, and tone; and a 3-way blade pickup selector. The simplicity here does not at all take from the vast array of sounds that can be produced from the guitar. The only problems with the guitar physically are some scratches on the back wood, which may have been prevented with a protective finish; and visible wear on the bridge from the palm of my hand rubbing against it frequently. Included with the guitar was a quite nice soft but durable case, one cable, an Allen wrench, and a Tool used to adjust the action of the strings. // 9

Sound: This guitar has an astonishing variety of sounds, from blues to British rock, to hardcore metal. I play all kinds of music: classic rock, blues, metal, country, reggae, alternative, etc. The amp I am putting the guitar through now is a 65w Crate Amplifier. It provides a nice subtle clean channel which does justice to the guitar's natural sound. The distortion created by the stock pickups and guitar can range from a crunchy punk to a low, deep blues or even metal. Just by adjusting the tone knob, you can greatly change the type of sound, be it twangy or deep and full. Lack of variety is not an issue with this guitar. Also, by increasing the volume of the amp and turning down the volume knob on the guitar to about 4, you can achieve a beautiful Acoustic sound. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: When I obtained the guitar, it came in the package tuned, with fresh new strings, and properly adjusted pickups. The action of the strings was near perfect, and only after about a year of play did the neck begin to warp slightly. This was fixed by adjusting the neck with the Tool that came with the guitar. The hardware came completely unharmed or flawed. Problems I have encountered are: neck pickup keeps becoming loose, wear on the bridge, and the strap holders are somewhat loose every now and then. The main problem is the fact that I have to constantly raise the neck pickup if I want the original sound, for it keeps sliding down into the body of the guitar. // 7

Reliability & Durability: The guitar is fairly durable for being a semi hollow weighing around 5 pounds. The tuners, frets, pickguard, and wiring seem to be in very good shape after a year of playing. The bridge is beginning to wear and tarnish, because I rest my hand on it when I play, the strap buttons have become a bit shaky (they may one day fail me during a Live show, which makes me nervous), and the neck pickup is loose. Other than those few problems, the guitar is dependable, and can withstand the action and abuse of a very energetic live show. I have used it many times on stage without a backup, and without fear of failure. The finish on the back has a good number of scratches on it, most likely from a belt buckle or something of the sort, and the area exposed to the pick have taken a beating, but I'm sure that it is from lots and lots of play. // 7

Overall Impression: I played the guitar before I purchased it, so it living up to my expectations was not a worry. I have been playing it for over a year now, and it seems to have much better tone and playability than most guitars out there. It is smoother, more comfortable, and even faster than about every Studio Gibson and Standard Statocaster. If I were to lose this guitar, I might begin a search for something else after I finished crying over the loss of it. But odds are, I would get the same guitar, but maybe in a different color than black; although it is quite beautiful. My favorite feature would have to be, oh, the smoothness of the neck and fretboard. It's like playing butter, and coupled with Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkies...well, in my opinion it IS the most comfortable guitar I have ever played and I'm proud to say I own it. I compared it to the Studio Les Paul, Jackson Flying V, Jackson Xplorer, and American Stratocaster. I chose this guitar over all others, but if I were to make another decision, the Strat would be it, because as many know, there's just nothing else that sounds like a Strat. The only modifications I would make to the guitar would be to add a tremolo bar, and to add new pickups, rather than the PRS-designed stock ones, which do the guitar justice all on their own. All in all, this guitar was certainly worth the money, and I hope it lasts me until I grow up and become an old man. Even then, I wish to continue to play it. // 9

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overall: 9.4
SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body Reviewed by: Gui_Lux, on january 14, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 650

Purchased from: Music-Line tienen

Features: "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. // 10

Sound: 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! // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: 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. // 8

Reliability & Durability: 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 // 9

Overall Impression: 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. // 10

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overall: 9.2
SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body Reviewed by: Noodlerman, on december 02, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 450

Purchased from:

Features: Built under franchise in Korea, the guitar has a wide neck with a low 'squashed D' profile. The body is 'canoe-routed' mahogany with a perfectly bookmatched flame maple top. (I have the 'natural' finish model and the 'zebra' striping is gorgeous). By 'canoe-routing, I mean that the solid body is routed out on the upper and lower bouts and also across the tail area. The wood of the set neck extends into this area (but not right to the tail) so that the two pickups can be mounted onto it. By peering inside the guitar, I could see that the end of this extended neck wood is rounded off and sanded smooth, even though it was never meant to be seen! The modern 'f' hole is reminiscent of the Rickenbacker style but its presence means that the guitar has a thin but pleasingly loud sound when played acoustically. Although similar in overall shape to a Strat, the horns and the cutaway and substantially different. Although the body itself is not contoured, it is extremely comfortable to hold and play. The tuners are mounted 3-a-side on the headstock and to my taste are geared slightly too low. (14:1 ??) That, however, is my only niggle. The stoptail bridge works perfectly but it does mean that when changing strings you have to be careful not to let the bridge adjusters move. (This is unlikely, but it's something to be careful about). Weight-wise, it weighs in at barely 6lbs which makes it a joy to hold for long periods of time. // 9

Sound: I play folk, blues, country and a little jazz. I'm not into heavy distortion or wailing sustain. The overall sound of the guitar is hard to categorise because it can range between quite jangly to very warm and, by rolling back the volume and using both pickups, the tone almost has the quality of an acoustic. To my ears, it is far more versatile than pretty well any other guitar that I have ever played. I use it with a Stagg 10w amp. I also use it with a DigiTech Looper Solo and either a Zoom 505ii multi-effects unit or a Zoom A2 1u multi-effects unit. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: What to say - nothing much except that no matter how hard I looked, I could find no flaws. Although built under franchise rather than in the actual PRS factory, the standards of finish and setting-up are spot on. It's a shame that as a result of Carlos Santana asking PRS to design a guitar that would be affordable for those without funds running into the thousands, that the 'SE' tag has been associated with the notion of a 'Student Edition'. Far better to think of SE meaning 'Special Edition' because that's what these guitars are. In all fairness, I cannot award less than 10 for this category. // 10

Reliability & Durability: Difficult for me to comment on because I'm not in the habit of stomping on my guitars nor throwing them about, but the instrument is built very solidly so I can't foresee any problems unless you do a Hendrix or Pete Townshend with it. The strap buttons are perfectly placed for balance and are as solid as a rock. I have had a couple of occasions when the guitar slipped against a hard surface but it survived without a scratch, so the finish has to have a major thumbs-up. On those occasions, the tuning did shift slightly. I can't award 10 because I haven't tried to break it, but I'm happy to award an 8. Purely on the basis of its obvious strength. // 8

Overall Impression: I play country blues, English pop and folk, folk-rock and 60's style guitar instrumentals. I've been playing for yonks but have often had to have long spells without a guitar. Only now in retirement do I have time and funds to buy and play really good instruments. This PRS is by far the best electric that I have. The SE Semi-Hollow looks fabulous, it plays beautifully and is in all respects a wonderful instrument. It's a credit to both PRS and the factory in Korea where it is built. It has to be another 10. // 10

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