SE Singlecut review by Paul Reed Smith

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

Price paid: £ 220

Purchased from: Ebay

Features — 9
This great looking model was built in Korea by the World Musical Instrument Company in 2006 and is crafted in the image of the PRS S2 Singlecut model, which famously caused a legal dispute due to its resemblance to the Gibson Les Paul. Features include single-cutaway shape mahogany body with flamed maple top, set 25" scale mahogany neck with 22 fret rosewood fretboard, Wide Fat neck profile and Moon inlays. The guitar is equipped with PRS designed open-coil humbucker pickups, 1 volume knob, 1 tone knob and a 3-way toggle switch, wrap-around Stopbar and PRS designed tuners. Also features a Tobacco Sunburst polyurethane finish and nickel hardware.

Sound — 9
The guitar is equipped with PRS' own open-coil humbucker pickups and it does not disappoint, packing the right amount of punch you would expect from a guitar styled on a classic rock icon! This guitar is perfectly suited for rock - plugged straight into my Marshall MG100DFX with the overdrive/distortion turned on I was able to recreate that lovely classic rock sound. By adding an Ibanez TS9 TubeScreamer I was able to achieve a convincing, Gary Moore-like sound and accompanied by my old Zoom 606 Multi-FX unit the guitar was more than capable of a decent metal sound and many others in between. 

I play various different genres of music, especially when teaching, but I confess that my guilty pleasure when I get a bit of time to play for myself is classic rock and heavy metal bands like Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard (Steve Clark era only!) etc and Blues. If I was to compare the PRS to my Gibson Les Paul Classic then I would have to say that the PRS has a lighter sound, less dense in the low end and a little less trebly in the higher register. Played clean, the PRS designed humbuckers have a nice clarity but they're nothing special, however turn up the gain and they are clearly in their element and deliver plenty of bite! The pickups are less powerful than those in my Les Paul but the PRS still more than capable of producing a quality, resonant rock tone with plenty of character and decent sustain - I would highly recommend taking the time to switch between the pickups and play with the tone control until you find the sound you're looking for! I do this with all my guitars!

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
As I purchased this second-hand I am not really in a position to comment on the guitar's original factory set-up. The first thing I did after purchasing was to have the guitar professionally set-up by my local guitar tech. I do this with all my guitars, so this is no reflection on the guitar's action when purchased. The guitar has been set up with a nice low action for 10 gauge strings as I use it for both lead and rhythm and is free of fret buzz or choking. The finish is in almost immaculate condition considering I purchased this second-hand and the frets feel well finished allowing for smooth playability during string bends. The PRS designed tuners do their job admirably and the Tobacco Sunburst finish is absolutely beautiful! It is undoubtedly one of the nicest finishes I have seen on a sub-£1000 electric guitar.

Reliability & Durability — 9
Reliability plays a huge factor for me as I both teach and perform on a regular basis. The PRS may be lighter in regard to the weight of my Gibson Les Paul Classic/Studios but it is solid in construction and is likely to withstand the rigours of regular use. Any serious guitarist knows that you should always carry a back-up guitar when performing as one can never predict when a string is going to break, however having said that, I feel confident that I could rely on this guitar without the need for a back-up. The build quality and finish is of a very high standard and it easily out-shines other singlecut shaped guitars, including many Epiphone models. I haven't used the guitar in a performance setting yet but have plans to take it with me the next time a performance opportunity reveals itself.

Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing the guitar for 20+ years in a variety of styles; classical, rock, jazz, blues, metal and other contemporary formats and have been teaching the instrument for half of that. During that time I have experimented with a large number of different guitars and I have to confess that I was very impressed by the quality of the PRS. I will be honest, the PRS SE Singlecut is NOT in the same league as my Gibson Les Pauls, but I never expected it to be! Brand new the PRS would have originally cost about half the price of my Les Paul Studios and only 1/3 of the price of my Les Paul Classic so overall I have compared the PRS with similarly priced guitars I have previously owned (such as Epiphone models) and on the guitar's own merit. The comparisons between the sound of my Les Pauls and the PRS was made in order to highlight just what a great sounding guitar the SE Singlecut is considering its price-range. It may not be as powerful or as expressive as a Gibson but at half the price this guitar certainly packs a punch!

The fact that the PRS is lighter than a Gibson Les Paul makes it the perfect guitar for students travelling to and from lessons or rehearsals and is also versatile enough to suit the needs of the travelling professional musician. If the guitar was either lost or stolen then I would definitely buy another one as I must confess that I previously owned an almost identical PRS SE Singlecut which I parted with roughly 5 years ago as I simply didn't appreciate it at the time as I preferred the sound of my Gibson Les Pauls. I purchased this new guitar whilst feeling nostalgic and regretting that I never took the time to appreciate the guitar for its own character - instead wanting it to sound like a Gibson - and I can honestly say I am not disappointed with my purchase! If it were lost or stolen I would definitely look for another of the original, now discontinued SE Singlecuts, but would probably think twice before buying a new one, such as the PRS SE 245 as the specifications are different. My overall impression... The PRS is a fantastic instrument and I would highly recommend it!

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