No matter the price, the PRS SE Custom 24 is a steal of a deal with its wide variety of tones and quality construction.
PRS guitars are known for the wide range of sounds and easy of play. They’re also known for being pretty expensive. In an effort to bring PRS sound and playability to a wider audience, PRS launched their Korean-made SE series numerous years ago to wide acclaim. The SE Custom 24 model is a low-cost alternative to the PRS Custom 24, the company’s flagship guitar. At less than a fourth the cost of the original, how does the SE Custom 24 stack up?
The SE Custom 24 has a mahagony back with a maple top and a flame-maple veneer. The guitar has a maple neck with rosewood fretboard and 24 frets on its 25″ scale. The hardware is all nickel with PRS designed tuners and tremolo bridge. The SE Custom 24 sports treble and bass pickups with zebra bobbins. Moon inlays are standard.
The first thing we noticed when we played the SE Custom 24 was just how smooth and playable its wide-thin neck carve was. This is definitely a PRS guitar at its core! None of the problems that we tend to associate with lower-cost instruments are here. Bends were silky and smooth and arpeggios flowed with ease.
We reviewed the whale blue model, and the veneer top, though not the “real” deal, was still very attractive and is reminscent of the higher-end PRS flame tops.
The PRS-designed tremolo bridge is smooth and returned the guitar to pitch most of the time, but we did have some minor tuning issues. Keep in mind that the SE Custom 24 doesn’t have locking tuners, so we suspect installing those would alleviate the tuning inconsistencies.
The pickups provide a wide variety of tones usable for many styles from jazz to rock to blues. While the pickups didn’t have the complete range of the “regular” Custom 24, they are still top-flight pickups and we saw no need to rush to buy replacements.
The PRS SE series of guitars has received glowing reviews and with good reason. No matter the price, the PRS SE Custom 24 is a steal of a deal with its wide variety of tones and quality construction. We hesitate to label the SE Custom 24 a “budget” guitar because it’s such a quality instrument. But at a street price of $499.99 for a new guitar, it certainly is a budget instrument, and a great one at that.
Name of Gear: PRS SE Custom 24
List Price: $1,023.00
Manufacturer Info: Paul Reed Smith Guitars; prsguitars.com
Pros: Great value; excellent playability; good, usable tones
Cons: Minor tuning issues