SE Santana review by Paul Reed Smith

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.3 (107 votes)
Paul Reed Smith: SE Santana

Price paid: € 699

Purchased from: The Guitar Villa

Sound — 9
I play about every style, from soft blues/jazz to metal and everything inbetween. So when I went out to buy this guitar I was looking for a guitar that versatile enough to handle all those styles, and it does. This guitar really suits my playing style and has never failed giving me the sound I wanted. I use it with my Peavey Vyper 30 and it sounds great. I've also tested it through my friends Line 6 Spider 30 which was great as well. I've also tried it through a few Tube amps in the store which was even more amazing. The guitar isn't noisy at all unless when you crank the amp up to the max with the dirtiest sound you can get (but I think every guitar will get slightly noisy at that level). I was really amazed with the variety of sounds this guitar had to offer. When I saw the mahogany body, the short scale length and the 2xH configuration I expected the guitar to be rather dark and warm sounding. But if you use the bridge pickup with the tone all the way up you get an amazing almost "single coily" sound. The neck pickup is really warm, not "Les Paul warm" but pretty close.

Overall Impression — 9
This guitar really suits my playing style. I have been playing for a little more than 2 years and I bought this guitar as an upgrade to my first guitar which was an Epiphone Les Paul Special II (which was a piece of...). I wanted something that was a real upgrade rather than another crappy guitar to be complaining about. This guitar is more than an upgrade and in my opinion it beats about all the guitars in it's price range and even above. If this guitar were stolen I'd hunt down the one responsible and end his/her life with the provided hook tool in the gig bag. If I couldn't find him/her I'd buy the same guitar in a heartbeat, and maybe buy a fixed bridge PRS SE as well while I'm there. The thing I love the most about this guitar is the sound it produces and the feel. For me the slightly fatter neck feels great. It's great to have a little more wood in your hand when your bending a string etc. And although it's pretty thick it's not impossible to play some shred licks on it. It just takes a little getting used to. When I went out to buy this I was very open minded and played about everything the shop had: Les Pauls, Telecasters, Stratocasters, pointy metal shredmachines... And this immediately felt great. I wish the there existed a trem system which could be switched on and off though... There's this system called tremol-no which should enable you to HardTail the trem whenever you want to but this system is pretty expensive so... But other than that this guitar is great, I immediately fell in love with it. If your looking for a versatile, great sounding and beautiful guitar it would be a crime not to check this one out!

Reliability & Durability — 9
I haven't played live with this guitar yet but I'm sure it will withstand live playing. Everything feels sturdy and I've banged it arround quite alot and it didn't seem to affect the paint job or the wood work at all. The hardware seems to be sturdy as well so that shouldn't be a problem either. The first thing I did when I bought this guitar was fitting it with strap locks. Not because I didn't trust the stock ones but just to be sure. This is my only (real) guitar and I treat as if it was my baby. Idon't want it to fall to the floor. I think you should be able to gig this without a backup but I wouldn't recommend this. There's always a chance you break a string or a very enthusiastic fan pours beer over it or something... The finish should be able to handle a beating, cause it's pretty thick.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set-up pretty good from the factory. The action was set pretty low but not extremely low and the pickups were ajusted perfectly (no volume difference while switching pickups what'soever). The only problem it had was a tiny bit of fret buzz on the low E string, but that could easily be solved with the provided truss rod adjusting tool. The guitar was well-finished and had no flaws in the body-work what'soever. The trem was set up as it should and works fine. This trem is a trem that allows you to lift the bar as well as lower it (a bit like a floyd rose enables you to but not that extreme). The trem works fine but it's a little tricky to detune your guitar to let's say drop C. Because from the minute you lower the tension on one of the strings, immediatly all the others detune. It's less dramatic as you would experience with a Floyd Rose but it can be slightly annoying. It's not impossible but it takes some time. Therefore I usually keep it in standard tuning. I hardly ever drop tune anyway. The knobs feel pretty sturdy and the tuning pegs move smooth and are very precise.

Features — 10
My PRS SE Santana was made in 2011 in Korea. The body is solid mahogany with a flame maple veneer on top. The neck is mahogany as well. Mine is finished in Orange and it looks beautiful! The neck's scale length is 24 1/2" and has 22 frets. It's is what PRS calls a "wide fat" neck so it's not a wizard fast shred neck, as you would expect on an Ibanez or something, but a bit more chunky. For me it feels great! The rosewood fretboard is fitted with the classic "old school" bird inlays. The body is styled in the shape of Santana's American made PRS's and the bridge is a PRS designed Tremolo (which is awesome!). It's fitted with 2 PRS designed SE 245 (zebra-style) passive humbuckers, which are able to get an amazing variety of sounds. The controls are pretty basic and include a volume-knob, a tone-knob and a 3-way selector switch. The tuners are PRS designed non-locking tuners, which seem to amaze me everytime! No mather how hard I abuse the trem, put it in and out of the gig bag etc., they can handle it. Even with the tremolo system. I have no idea how they managed to do that but somebody in Korea must be doing a really good job. The guitar came with an awesome PRS SE gigbag which I think is able to carry a small elephant. It has lots of spaced to put cables, tuners etc. It also has a pretty sturdy hook which enables you to hang it on a clothes hanger and can possibly be used as a weapon to fight bears. It also came with a small tool-kit with some extra springs for the trem, a smal allan key and a tool to adjust the truss rod.

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