SE Singlecut review by Paul Reed Smith

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (264 votes)
Paul Reed Smith: SE Singlecut

Price paid: $ 600

Sound — 10
The sound of this guitar is simply amazing. I've played Gibsons, Fenders, Ibanez and several other brands. This is my 3rd PRS SE and now I've confirmed that this is the sound I love. Perhaps pros would look down on this but I've managed to get as close as I'd ever want to any rock and roll guitar tone out there. Before I had two Santana SE with all mahogany body and neck, which were very warm sounding with a strong mid-range but not much zing in the high end. This model with the maple top adds a little more treble so the advantage in the rock area is great. The downside is that it isn't quite as warm as the other two for say, jazz. But it is mainly a rock guitar, as are all PRS I've played. It is extremely versatile but not quite warm enough for jazz. Get a hollowbody for that. Anything else, this is wonderful. Anything from Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, ZZ Top or the like are almost instant with the bridge pickup and tone at about half, depending on how tinny your amp is. The neck pup with the tone rolled back is great woman tone or Santana. And something I just figured out, with my Fender 212 100W amp's crunch channel on, with the treble at the max and the bass and mids cut completely, it sounds remarkably close to Hendrix! Before I thought you needed a Strat and that this was the one sound you couldn't get with a PRS or Gibson, but now I have absolutely no reason to want a Strat, since in basically every other area they are inferior in IMO. In short, this is the most perfect sounding rock guitar I've had. I can only imagine what an American PRS is like. Oh well, some day...

Overall Impression — 9
Overall this guitar smokes. With the mods I described, I have a trusty axe for life as far as I'm concerned. It is my go-to guitar for any rock or blues related music, reggae and funk too. The only thing it really won't do is jazz, like I said before. It can do metal fine, although some die hard shredders might want a little more focus from a guitar with a 25.5 range. But this has plenty of chunk for riffs (not quite as much as a Les Paul though) and lots of high end (not quite as much as a Strat though). I've been playing for almost 20 years and have had my share of electric guitars. This and others in the PRS line are the best I've had, at least for rock and roll. If stolen I'd go on a rampage and have to rob a guitar center, taking only PRS guitars. Aside from the gripes I mentioned earlier, the only other thing I would rather have had would be this same exact guitar but with a double cut body style. If not for the need to perform mods, I would have rated it a 10.

Reliability & Durability — 9
With the exception of the lousy tuners, this thing is a rock. Can handle any amount of gigging and I've put mine through the motions. The tuners don't hold very well. If you gig a lot, change them. One point off for this. But all the rest of the hardware is great, haven't had any shorts on stage and also, the weight distribution is fantastic. It sits confortably on my shoulder and the neck never slides forward. You can tell Mr. Smith thought about this carefully.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The fit and finish is perfect IMO. I haven't found any craftsmanship flaws at all. Amazing for a "discount" instrument. A word on action and intonation though: My first PRS SE was a stoptail version with the non-intonatable bridge. I use 0.11 gauge strings so I got rid of it because PRS customer service told me the guitar wouldn't tune properly with those strings. I spent several years before returning to PRS, although I loved the sound of that guitar, only because of this reason. When I got another, I made sure it was a tremolo even though I don't use it. I blocked it off like on a Strat by screwing the thing flush with the body. If you do this be prepared to have it permanent because you'll probably ruin the knife edge and the bridge screws will go all the way through to the other side of the body. This mod increased sustain, tone and tuning stability plenty and also makes very low action with minimal buzzing possible. I also considered getting one of those tonepros or PRS adjustable bridge replacements but read that they ride too high and eliminate the chance of low action. This is frustrating to me. How can PRS make such amazing guitars but with such a bonehead disadvantage that forces picky guitarists like myself to perform mods to an otherwise perfect instrument? Also, PRS SE tuners are terrible. Will be changing very soon. Because of these drawbacks, I discount two points.

Features — 9
Made in Korea, don't know what year but recently. 22 medium jumbo frets, wide fat neck with rosewood fretboard and moon inlays. Two open coil humbuckers, mine has the tremolo, cheap PRS tuners, mahogany neck, body and a maple top with a maple veneer. 3-tone control and master tone and volume knobs. I give it a 9 only because of the cheap tuners. Everything else is great.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have tele's, strats and a les paul, which i truly love and think sound fantastic all in their own ways. However, I also have an SE Singlecut Tremelo, and not only does the SE Singlecut sound fantastic in comparison to these guitars, it has to be the most comfortable guitar i've EVER played. The body and neck on this thing are just amazing, especially for the bargain price you're paying! whenever friends come over to my place to jam, its the first guitar they grab, even though all my others are much more expensive. Check it out!
    I tried it out at my local shop today. While the sound was to dark for my taste, the guitar itself was pretty amazing. The finish, the neck, the higher frets access, the tuning stability, the playability.... This is definitely THE guitar to buy if you're looking for a LP.
    I like this man's review; fair and balanced. And I bought a barely used one from Korea (serial starts with 'G') for $300 at a local SamAsh. I want those guys to remember me and what I look that they stop me when something 'just arrived today barely used...' . That is good business for both parties.  Wrapover tailpiece and with a flamed maple top cap and dark smokey blue/black tint for the top. I play well and have owned most of the good to damn good guitars over the years, but play a guitar that easily exceeds my abilities. I do not need a real JEM or a top level Gibson LP. This Singlecut is a guitar that, in the SE line, is enough for most guitarists. Affordable, versatile, better than normal pickups (like Duncan USM or Duncan Designed), and comfortable in every aspect (neck dimensiogns, radius, frets, control/switch placement, etc.). I consider some of the Ibanez guitars better rock and roll guitars as well as a cheap Kramer HSS guitar (hardtail and a very slight bridge mount defect and REAL cheap like new) that I snagged. I have learned that treating pro setup/repair guys with respect and asking how they do things pays off ! Nut slots, polepiece adjustment, neck relief and tailpiece to bridge relationship, etc. are all within your expertise once yo 'get it'. Every guy who plays my guitars is impressed that it is so well set up and I do it all myself. You can do it, too. And if you accept used or barely defective guitars... you can save a LOT of $$. Like the famous Motown producer once said when asked what makes a hit record... " Man, the hit's in the grooves ". Same for a guitar.