PRS SE vs the real thing?

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Post by thinskin57 » Wed Feb 13, 2008 7:01 pm

i'm really suspicious of the wood used on the se's. i've picked up about 10 over the years in different music stores, and they've all been freakishly light in weight. played 'em unplugged, but never plugged one in because i'd rather have the real thing. not necessarily a prs. just in general- a REAL strat over a MIM, a REAL paul over an epi, and so on. i see a lot of people are happy w/their se's, so they can't suck...right?

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Post by leblanc74 » Sat May 31, 2008 9:25 am

I went for the SE Custom version due to the fact it was lighter as a solid body... However, I did some upgrades on mine (Tuners, PU)... still cost me 1000$ cheaper than an American made and for me it was lighter...

Very Happy with my decision...
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Post by wastoid » Sat May 31, 2008 1:28 pm

A lot of folks seem to like the SE semi-hollows if you're into that sort of thing. I've played a few and thought they felt nice but I haven't tried plugging one in.
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Post by irishguy977 » Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:43 am

I've got an SE custom (bought it back in early '07). The main difference is that there is no carved Top on the SE custom models and also does not have the paint job nor finish of the American made that makes you :shock:

I will say that the stock tuners are a little crappy. I put on locking Sperzels for about $75, fixed that problem.

The stock pickups are very decent. Zebra striped Korean made with relatively low noise and good sustain when using distortion. However, I did swap mine out with DiMarzio's (PAF & Air Norton). Click this link to see the Guitar World video review (you have scroll down a little to watch it though) ... ic_guitars
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Post by Don » Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:33 am

I've got a PRS SE Soapbar II that I bought at GC a couple of years ago when they were blowing them out for under $300.

It's a great guitar. I love mahogany guitars with P-90s and a wrap tailpiece.
My only real complaint would be that the pickups are a bit bland for P-90s and the frets are smaller than I like. The tailpiece is lightweight aluminum and intonates fine.
The tuners are not fancy but they tune and keep in tune fine.

I bought two of these on sale, one for me and one for a friend (he paid me for it). His was set up a lot nicer out of the box, but I tweaked mine to be equally good, if not better.

The guitar's very light, but it's tiny. My Les Paul Jr was a bit heavier but had more wood.

My Les Paul jr had a much more aggressive sound from it's single P-90.

A set of Lollar, Fralin or even Gibson P-90s would make the guitar complete.

As nice a guitar as it is, it doesn't compare to a real Paul Reed Smith guitar.

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Post by leblanc74 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:29 pm

leblanc74 wrote:I went for the SE Custom version due to the fact it was lighter as a solid body... However, I did some upgrades on mine (Tuners, PU)... still cost me 1000$ cheaper than an American made and for me it was lighter...

Very Happy with my decision...

After considering the fact that if I added another 1000$ I was able to get an American version...

So I just went today and exchanged my PRS SE along with my P/U and tuners for a PRS Standard 22... To tell you the truth, couldn't be happier... Not that the SE is bad, I was quite happy with it, just that I like to have the signature on the headstock and the Standard have a better touch to it; futhermore, it is lighter...
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Re: PRS SE vs the real thing?

Post by hank66 » Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:45 pm

I´ve got several se's as well as usa models. The SE's work great. Pickups are a matter of preferance but for what its worth, the pups in the SE's are decent and well balanced. I've had to tweak the truss rods in a few of them but no big deal. Excellent bang for the buck all in all. Locking tuners would be nice if you're a string bender but that can be rectified. The baritone's alot of fun as well. :)

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Re: PRS SE vs the real thing?

Post by jlitteral » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:07 pm

SE's are decent guitars for the money. But there is no comparison to a USA made PRS.
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Re: PRS SE vs the real thing?

Post by Markedman » Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:26 pm

I had an SE, total junk! The guitar player in my band has a few USA PRS models, I say they're also total junk. He played my Jacksons recently, he's buying a Jackson Soloist tomorrow. The MIM strat I traded my SE for, although not Jackson quality, smokes the SE.
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Re: PRS SE vs the real thing?

Post by scott7d » Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:05 pm

There is a certain integrity I feel with the US models that I feel with no other brand, but the SE's definitely hold their own. You get some minor expected things from time to time like tuning stability, but nothing that would make or break ya. I've used an SE Cu24 as a spare along side a US Cu24 and I would say the US had the edge in tuning stability, tone, and playability. But I also would expect those things considering the price difference. That does not mean however that the SE sucked when it came to those things. They are actually good. The US model is/was just stellar in all of those aspects.
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Re: PRS SE vs the real thing?

Post by mc_carlini » Thu Sep 11, 2014 4:02 am

The SE is a killer guitar. I've owned the Tremonti SE, Hollowbody SE, Santana SE, Singlecut SE Trem, and now I've got the simple Singlecut SE. I also own a USA Tremonti, and comparing them, you can definitely tell the difference. But for the money, you can't beat an SE. They dwarf Epi's and all the other 'cheaper' ones out there. If you decide to pump in a few extra bucks in new tuners and pickups, then you've got one hell of a budget guitar.

The SE i've got now has some upgraded pickups, tuners, and like most of the SE's before it, I am re-finishing the headstock because I hate the ugly "SE" on it.

Looking into selling my Breedlove acoustic to try the SE Angelus...

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Re: PRS SE vs the real thing?

Post by Dino. » Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:13 am

I have a Tremonti SE Custom for sale in the classifieds.

I'm not sure why folks say these guitars are "freakishly light".
This one weights close to 10 lbs., which is one of the reasons I've decided to let it go.

The Tremonti SE Custom has a super thin neck profile.
MUCH thinner than the standard Tremonti SE models.
It's similar to a Jackson or Ibanez "Wizard" profile, IMO.

If anyone is interested in the guitar, I'm open to trades as well.
Just email me at
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Re: PRS SE vs the real thing?

Post by MusicManJP6 » Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:08 am

This thread came back around it seems! The first time I posted in here I had a CE, but I do not have that guitar any longer. I've had an SE245 since they first came out back in 2011. I think it's a great guitar! I upgraded the pickups to the USA covered models. That made a HUGE difference. The stock pickups said 'Santana' on the back of them?? Anyway, it's definitely got the PRS tone, but it's so heavy! I've had the chance to compare it to a friend's US SC245 and the difference is definitely not enough to warrant the vast difference in price.
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Re: PRS SE vs the real thing?

Post by BigBadWolf » Mon Dec 21, 2015 6:53 pm

This seems to be my thread ;D

Mesa and PRS are match made in heaven for good reason. Both are made to provide way larger variety sounds than those so called classics. In amps the british M-thing and US F-thing make their tone stacks simple and quite foolproof. They have practically none variety to keep it in safe side all the time. This is how it is practically impossible to make one of those sound really bad. However they rarely sound - at least for my ears - anything better than ok. And when ok, it's usually one sound. Compared to those, Mesa gives all there is. You can do just about everything with a Mesa. Make it sound the worst there is, open a tonal heaven or everything between those. But Mesa does always more than one usable sound.

The same, as i see it, goes with guitars. PRS's give more. Best woods, best craftmanship and (this is just opinion) best looks. Every part innovative, 100% functional and they usually survive from small bombing. And yes. With PRS you can sound heavenly and crappy with same amp settings just switching mic selector from one spot to another. Like Mesa, there is so much available, that all doesn't fit in same setup.

People mentioned CE. I'm happy to have one of those myself. I think it's the most underestimated guitar in this planet. The thing does it all. From slow swing to death metal just by switching pickups and rolling volume a bit. Can't say that F and G are capable to that so easily.

About SE's, i have one old Santana SE. If i compare it to something, that would be them good ole workhorses like standard-class US made strat or LP. And if i compare the quality of work, SE's seem to be finished more carefully.

Had also 245 and Mikael Ã…kerfeld, but didn't like those. Too lespaulish for me.

Yes. The hardware is cheaper than in US PRS's and the quality of wood is not from the high end of tone wood. Still tone wood it is. And the bodies are not made from 20 pieces of recycled wood material like some F's teles. SE's seem to get better and better all the time. There is less options in pickups and not so much everything, but good instruments they are. However not comparable to US made PRS (if not to S2 series, which i have to admit, was not so good i expected). Easily compared to (and found better than) way too many "old classics".

But Mesa and PRS together (did i forget what i was babbling about?). Both brands may be difficult to use, if compared to their rivals. But hey. So is F/A18 Hornet fighter compared to club the cavemen used. And compared to my Mark V, a Plexi is from stoneage.

Wake up people. Check the time and date. When done, welcome to modern world ;D
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Re: PRS SE vs the real thing?

Post by afu » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:57 pm

I used to build guitars from scratch for a couple of years and I modified a lot of guitars for over 20 years. Both experience and research impressed a few things on me:

Multiple pieces of wood, when properly glued, clamped, and dried will act as a single piece of wood, but may be stronger depending on the grain directions.
On an electric guitar, everything from the bridge to the nut is the most important part of the guitar. The bridge is more important than the body material and the nut is more important than the neck material.
That said, the nut, bridge, and frets must be properly installed and flush, so the materials and craftsmanship need to be good enough to secure them (particularly the bridge, so avoid soft woods).
Assuming the neck and body are well cut and shaped, if you take a budget or intermediate guitar with a good fret job and replace the bridge, pickups, electronics, tuners, and nut with better quality parts where necessary, that guitar is almost always going to be just as good as a more expensive model.
One last thing: a well fitting, flush, and tight, bolt-on neck will work just as well as a glued in neck.

Our psychology makes us think that a more expensive guitar has to be inherently better, but a souped up, less expensive guitar is going to work great. The more expensive guitars will almost always have fancy finishes and ornaments, but that doesn't do anything for sound performance. If the guitar is handmade, the price will reflect that, but pieces cut on CNC machines will more consistently match specs at a reduced cost, without skimping on quality of work.

If a person wants to spend the money to own a work of handmade art, I think that's awesome and I wish I had money to do the same. For the people who can't afford it, look for the shapes that feel good, construction that is proper, wood that is good quality, and have fun. If you need to upgrade a few pieces of hardware to make the performance 100%, do so.
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