SE Paul Allender review by Paul Reed Smith

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (97 votes)
Paul Reed Smith: SE Paul Allender

Price paid: $ 135

Purchased from: reverb

Features — 9
Bats on the fretboard. 2013 scarlet red w/ active EMGs and coil tap feature. Push/pull Volume and tone controls, 3 way pickup selector, PRS tuners and PRS tremolo. Maple neck, mahogany dual cutaway body. The highlight of the guitar is the "bats in flight" inlays. I'm giving it a nine for features. The guitar does okay in terms of hardware but the bat inlays boost the score. They are eye-catching and (I think) really cool looking. If you don't care about inlays then this is more of a 7 or an 8. If you are a maniac w/ the tremolo then you probably won't be satisfied. That's not to say it's a bad tremolo - it's a clear step up from the trems you'll find on an average starter guitar. The tuners are better than the grovers on my Epi Les Paul.

Sound — 8
Versatile.  I don't generally listen to anything heavier than Metallica, but I am pretty pleased with the active pickups all the same. The coil tap feature is great. You don't get a full-on strat tone but it definitely helps.  It has a great deal more versatility than my Les Paul but it's difficult to get anything as satisfying as the the warm growl of an LP. Whereas the LP is a one trick pony, this is a jack of all trades (and master of none). If you want a reasonably priced guitar that can handle a wide range of styles then this is worth consideration. I think that it would be a good fit for a guitarist who likes to switch back and forth between hard rock and funk sounds a la the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I got the guitar very cheaply by winning a "no-reserve" auction on reverb. I think that it had been hanging on the wall for quite a while before I got it. The strings looked very old and I needed to do some basic maintenance on the guitar. I changed the strings, adjusted the truss rod (very slightly) and adjusted the action. Intonation was good. I was able to set the action pretty low. It has a good neck, no fret buzz and it feels great. I feel that the guitar plays very well even if it is compared to other guitars in the 700 to 800 dollar price range.

Reliability & Durability — 8
I am not a particularly experienced player and I do not play gigs at all. I am very easy on my guitars and I do not have any reliability concerns aside from the point on the top of the headstock. I am not aware of any mechanical problems and I don't have any particular concerns aside from the heastock tip. The review feature requires 500 characters but do you really want reliability ratings from a guy who never takes the guitar out of his living room? Nah. I can only say that the Les Paul seems more solid, but at the same time I don't think that I would enjoy holding it for the length of a show.

Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing for about a year now. I feel that this is an excellent guitar for beginners, intermediate players and even for many working musicians. I suspect that a professional might be dissatisfied with tremolo. I also think that a versatility compromise has been made and the available tones are therefore good, but not great. I am using cheap solid state amplifiers at the present time but I will vouch that this guitar sounds very nice if you play it through a proper amp. A Fender Deluxe Reverb nicely complements the pickups and you can get some really nice hard rock or mainstream tones. The guitar seems to sound best when you're using it to range throughout the popular middle of rock and roll. This might seem at odds with the bats and the endorsement from Cradle of Filth's Paul Allender yet that seems to be what you're getting if you purchase one of these.

I love this guitar. I probably made it sound like I was less impressed than I really am, but I really like this guitar a lot. The PRS necks are my favorite and I particularly like the wide-thin style featured here. I like funk and hard rock and this is a great fit for me. Would I get the exact same model again if I lost it? Maybe not. I might opt for a PRS SE CU24 instead, or perhaps an HSS or HSH super-strat configured guitar if I could locate one with a neck that suited me. Of course I'd jump all over a PRS 513 if my income bracket changed. All in all I feel that this guitar (and the SE line in general) is a little under-appreciated. It is not a 3,000$ PRS. It is a very strong offering compared to the other big players in the 500-900$ price bracket. Play a few of these back-to-back with a few other guitars in the same price-range and you'll see what I mean.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I don't know why anybody would bust on this instrument. I've played everything from Les Pauls to Strats and Teles to Ibanez Jems - this thing is a fine instrument. I just got a 2011 model in Scarlet Red and I love it. I love it better than a Custom 24 (which it's basically modeled after) This thing is Active!! Just be sure to check/change your battery whenever you buy yours. I rate it 10/10. Solid instrument, great intonation with tremolo use, my chunky fingers have no problem navigating the high registers, very responsive, sustain is unreal. I'm gonna get another next week to have as a backup! Think I'll get the green.
    Can someone tell me the earliest year this SE was made. Im looking to buy one from a guy who's owned it for 10 months but he decided not to learn to play guitar, trying to get more info on this one, its little dinged up but I'm getting it for $100