SE Paul Allender review by Paul Reed Smith

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (97 votes)
Paul Reed Smith: SE Paul Allender

Purchased from: P.M.T. Music

Features — 9
The thin wide 24 fret neck is a breeze to play. Fast runs flow and the fret dressing was superb with no sharp ends in typical PRS quality. Play-ability is a key factor to gigging with this guitar. The pick ups sound totally in contrast to the looks of this guitar when played clean as they have a '50s rock 'n' roll strat sound. Obviously most player of this guitar will pile on the gain but for those who play in '60s bands and function bands this guitar delivers. I fixed the bridge down as stable tuning is more important to me than silly whammy bar dives especially on a 3 hour gig. The pick ups on my model are always articulate and precise sounding (I have the early model without EMG's). Only two wires mean the guitar can't be modded for coil split but thats probably just being picky as I like my guitars to be able to gig in any style of band. I swapped the pick up selector with the volume control and replaced the tone control for a second volume so I can control each pick up volume independently as I adjust the tone on my amp. This isn't a criticism of the guitar layout but a personal preference I have for all my guitars. I have 6 guitars and this is the one that people ask about.

Sound — 10
I play everything from rock, country, soul, rock 'n' roll, '60s, pop etc and my guitar has to be able to perform in all these environments. This guitar acquits itself every time and gives a believable account of the sound whatever song style I'm performing. I have played it with acoustic pedal settings, blues nights, '60s bands, rock nights and the guitar just seems to fit. The purple and gold do not look garish at all which is a shame as the pictures are all edited to make it look a lot lighter and colorful than it actually is. the purple is actually a lot darker. Mind you, the guitar stands out and appeals to everyone I have shown it to. The bats in flight inlays look great under stage lights.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Out of the box the action was very playable. The guitar is easy to adjust for personal preference as I prefer to use 10's for better tone and tuning stability with a very low action for fast playing but I could have easily gigged this guitar out of the box if needed. Finish is flawless and again, that's the PRS quality control dept that keeps such high standards. The wide thin neck is a joy to play the half way scale length between a Fender and Gibson mean the guitar has a tone all of its own. Bends come easy with no choking and being a double cut super strat design the notes are staccato that encourage fast lead breaks.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I have owned and gigged this guitar for over 5 years now and I have never had a string break due to badly cut saddles. I fitted the guitar with strap locks but then I have done that with all my guitars. If your going to spend hundreds on a guitar then it makes sense to make sure its going to stay on the strap. I gigged for 5 years taking just this guitar with me as I always felt it was dependable and wouldn't let me down and I was right. I expected the gold hardware to have worn as I palm mute a lot on the bridge but there are no signs of wear on any of the gold parts.

Overall Impression — 10
After getting over the initial look of this guitar trying to scream its a metal guitar I found it a truly versatile instrument. It's eye catching and stands out from the crowd and yet it can be used in ballads and finger picked sets. I can easily go from playing stand by me to white snake songs without ever thinking its the wrong guitar for the situation. The first time I opened the case at a gig a small crowd gathered behind me to gawp at the guitar and thats something I have never had in over 20 years of playing. I then played funk on it and everyone commented just how good it sounded clean. I would definitely recommend non metal players giving it a try.

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