Price paid: $ 600
Purchased from: NZ Rockshop
Features — 9
My first "real purchase" after 8 years of playing, I purchased this Korean made PRS as I identified it as essentially an SE 245 with some nice upgrades, mainly the nice ebony fretboard and absolutely stunning Maple veneer top. In the brown gloss colour it looks absolutely amazing.
Top Wood: Beveled Maple with Quilted Maple Veneer
Back Wood: Thick Mahogany
Number of Frets: 22 Jumbo Frets
Scale Length: 24.5"
Neck Wood: Mahogany
Fretboard Wood: Ebony
Neck Shape: Wide Fat with Extra Deep Cutaway For Upper Fret Access
Fretboard Inlays: Birds
Bridge: TonePros Adjustable Stoptail
Tuners: PRS Designed Tuners
Hardware Type: Nickel
Treble Pickup: SE 245 Treble
Bass Pickup: SE 245 Bass
Pickup Switching: Volume and Tone Control for Each Pickup ("inverted with treble controls in front of bass controls") with 3-Way Toggle on upper bout
Came with a really nice red soft gig-bag too.
Sound — 8
My music style consists of some softer cleans all the way to roaring, punchy distorted sounds. Typically anywhere from acoustic type cleans to medium Steel Panther type rock to speed metal, metalcore, hardcore etc. The cleans were great, the SE 245 Bass gives a really nice, round clean sound with some dynamic. Pick or strum and you get a great clean but dig in and you get some breakup and almost bluesy lead type sounds.
The SE 245 Treble on the other hand I don't believe was made for more extreme distorted sounds at all (Which makes you wonder why they put it in a signature guitar for an Opeth member but nevertheless). It can do most rock/hard rock stuff just fine but really lacks the output for metal and core styles. Unfortunately the Bridge pickup needs an F-Spaced pickup due to the string spacing so I was limited to what I could replace it with. I went through another set of pickups (DiMarzio Titans) until I ended up with a set of EMG 85/60 that I got for cheap. I bypassed the Tone controls because I never used them anyway and it has drastically improved in sound.
My setup consists of a Peavey 6505 with a Fullbore OCD clone in front pushing the lead channel (channel set to half gain) and the guitar has so much power and beef behind it through this configuration. It's pretty feedbacky but I don't have a noise gate at this current time (getting one of course) so take that with a pinch of salt. It's certainly no noisier than my other guitars through the same setup.
Bottom line, if you play cleans to hard rock then this is fine as it comes from the factory. If not, be prepared to do a pick-up swap. If it had a better stock bridge pickup then this section would be a 10 for sure.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The setup that came from the store was great, minus the new strings that were needed but that's to be expected with any guitar. Action was lowered a hair by myself as it could be done without it buzzing so I thought why not. Pickups were quite low (that could be a factory standard though, I'm not familiar with the PRS factory spec) so they were adjusted to where they sounded the best. Cosmetically this guitar was a 10/10. Not a single dent, scratch, scuff or finish imperfection.
Now the negatives. The fretwork was perfect except for one high fret at the 7th fret that mostly muted the high E and very slightly the B. Relatively easy fix if you know what you're doing or have the $30-40 to take it to a tech.
The other negative, the nut is rubbish. Corners were sharp, slots were cut WAY too narrow (seriously couldn't get a 48 to fit in the low E slot. The G slot is way too narrow to the point where it catches the string and, unless tuned a specific way, could drop half a semitone from a bend. Again, easy fix if you know your way around a nut file. Me personally, I'd get a TUSQ nut put on anyway as plastic nuts really aren't worth the time to me.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had the benefit of owning this for 5 months before doing this review so if reliability was going to be an issue it would be around now. So here goes:
+ Will this guitar withstand live playing?
Absolutely, built like a tank.
+ Does the hardware seem like it will last?
Totally, minus the wiring/pots/jack that was changed anyway. Bridge is solid, tuners are great, selector switch hasn't developed noise or anything.
+ Are the strap buttons solid?
Can't say, as with all my guitars I changed these immediately to DiMarzio Cliplocks.
+ Can you depend on it? Would you use it on a gig without a backup?
Wouldn't do this with any guitar but if I could only take one and one only then I would say yes, absolutely.
+ Is the finish good enough to last, or does it seem thin and easy to wear off with lots of playing?
Minus the few scratches due to the useless owner the finish hasn't cracked or worn at all.
Overall Impression — 8
Over the 8 years I've played this has to be the best playing guitar I've owned (previous "serious guitar" record: an Ibanez Prestige, Fender Esquire Custom GT, Ibanez Iron Label 7-string). Hopefully the issues I've had are the result of a mass manufacturing error.
If there is a budget line of guitars out there that really know what they're doing it is the SE series made in the World Instruments factory. Don't hesitate when you see their price, they are really worth it. If it was stolen then I would collect the insurance and buy it again for sure.
If I had to wish anything it would be that PRS start putting some decent nuts on their SE range. It's a common complaint about them and, although not an overly expensive add on, it's an extremely important part that should really be stock. Especially coming from an owner that believes so much in hardware choice.