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The 6 Best PRS Guitars Reviews

Best PRS Guitars
Photo by C Drying

It’s not uncommon at all to focus on getting the best PRS guitar you can afford. After all, these guitars are consistently high-quality, and they tend to bear prices that match that high quality.

Many consider the top PRS Guitars as a nice mix of the best features of the Gibson Les Paul and the classic Fender Stratocaster. You often find the fiery tones and the hefty humbuckers like in the Les Paul, but you also get the Stratocaster’s slight and lightweight design.

And of course, don’t forget that even the most affordable PRS guitars for beginners are simply gorgeous. Even before you play it, you’ll get a lot of admiring glances and compliments once you whip out this beauty.

Do keep in mind that PRS, like many other top guitar brands, makes a wide range of different guitars to suit different preferences and musical tastes. So how exactly do you choose?

To help you out, we’ve made a list of the top options you should consider first, along with crucial information that will help you make a suitable choice to match your needs.

Top 6 PRS Guitars: Comparison Chart

PRS model Body Neck Scale length # of frets View on Amazon
PRS SE Standard 24 Bound mahogany Maple 25 inches 24 Check Price
Paul Reed Smith SE Zach Myers Signature Top: Beveled Maple with Flame Maple Veneer
Back: Mahogany
Mahogany 24.5 inches 22 Check Price
Paul Reed Smith Guitars ST24VC SE Standard 24 Bound mahogany Maple 25 inches 24 Check Price
PRS SE Custom 22 Semi-Hollow Top: Beveled Maple with Flame Maple Veneer
Back: Mahogany
Maple 25 inches 22 Check Price
PRS SE Paul’s Guitar Top: Carved Figured Maple
Back: Mahogany
Mahogany 25 inches 22 Check Price
PRS SE 245 Top: Beveled Maple with Flame Maple Veneer
Back: Mahogany
Mahogany 24.5 inches 22 Check Price

Best Picks of PRS Guitars

While fans of the brand may claim that all PRS guitars are great, we think you ought to focus on the following models:

#1. PRS Paul Reed Smith SE Standard 24 Electric Guitar

Features
  • Body wood: mahogany
  • Neck wood: Maple
  • Fretboard wood: rosewood
  • Bridge: PRS Patented Tremolo, molded
  • Pickups: 85/15 "S"

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The SE stands for “student edition”, which qualifies this as a terrific option for your very first electric guitar. Except that it’s just so good that it may well be the last electric guitar you’ll ever need, regardless of how good you become as a guitarist.

A lot of people consider this just about the best entry-level guitars in the industry today. That goes beyond its fantastic looks, especially with the Translucent Blue model we picked.

It is patterned after the Custom 24, which is the brand’s flagship model. This means it has all the standard PRS features, including 24 frets in the maple neck, a rosewood fretboard decorated with bird inlays, the 85/15 “S” pickups, and the patented molded tremolo.

This is one of the most affordable PRS guitars ever, which just goes to show that you don’t have to break the budget for PRS guitars. It’s just that PRS managed to cut down the price without having to sacrifice too much on reliability, playability, versatility, and tone.

The setup is great when you get this. In fact, you don’t really have much to adjust out of the box before you pay it.

The guitar plays very smoothly, and the pickups offer warm and open tones. You have a wide range of sound you can make, with lots of resonance.

Highlighted Features
  • 24 frets in the rosewood fretboard
  • Wide and thin maple neck
  • Bound mahogany body
  • 25-inch scale length
What I Like
  • It handles very well
  • Sounds good through the pedal board or straight to the amp
  • Extremely reliable
  • Plays very smoothly
  • Simply gorgeous
What I Didn’t Like
  • May be a bit heavy for some
  • The tuners may not be as good as the rest of the guitars

#2. PRS SE Zach Myers Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar

Features
  • Beveled Maple Top with Flame Maple Veneer, Mahognay Back
  • 24.5" scale Mahogany neck, 22-fret rosewood fingerboard
  • PRS SE 245 humbuckers
  • Nickel hardware includes PRS Adjustable Stoptail bridge and vintage-style tuners
  • Includes padded gig bag

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is one of the signature models that PRS offers. Zach Myers, in case you don’t know, plays lead guitar for Shinedown.

This was first launched in 2014, and over the years it has been changed and improved. Here, we’re focusing on the 2017 model, which has the coveted Paul Reed Smith signature in the head.

This semi-hollow guitar is a prime example of just how well-made PRS guitars can be. This guitar plays extremely smoothly, and compares favorably to other semi-hollows that are priced 4 times as much.

If you’re looking for the best PRS guitars under $1000, you really do need to take a look at the SE Zach Myers. Aside from the gorgeous looks with the bird inlays, you also get a guitar that plays fantastically.

This comes with the adjustable PRS Stoptail, as it’s Myers’ favorite bridge. It’s able to handle heavier strings that work really well on this somewhat shorter 24.5-inch scale/.

The SE 245 humbuckers sound great, even if it doesn’t quite give you that breathy edge you might get in the more expensive models. Still, it can give you the sound you need for really violent metal, or for indie music or even bluesy styles.

The controls are set somewhat differently from a Gibson, but it’s not a problem. The location of the pickup selector is perfect as well.

So just how good is this? If you’re basing it on popularity and demand, then it may be the best SE in the PRS lineup.

Highlighted Features
  • Has a beveled edge that mimics the violin-like shape of USA PRS guitars
  • Sanded neck finish that offers very smooth action
  • Well-fitted frets
  • The PTS Stoptail bridge accommodates heavier strings
  • SE 245 humbuckers offer wide variety of genre tones
  • Well-positioned pickup controls
What I Like
  • Again, simply gorgeous
  • Plays extremely smooth
  • Good for a wide range of musical genres (including metal)
  • Stays in tune
  • Usually comes with a padded gig
What I Didn’t Like
  • The humbuckers may not be as versatile as the more expensive ones
  • Sometimes the finish on 2 sides don’t look alike (which sometimes just happens naturally)

#3. Paul Reed Smith Guitars ST24VC SE Standard

Features
  • PRS S2 Tremolo, PRS S2 Locking Tuners
  • Volume and Push/Pull Tone Control with 3-Way Blade Pickup Switch
  • Nickel Hardware, 25" Scale Length
  • Mahogany Body, Maple Neck, Rosewood Fretboard with Bird Inlay
  • PRS S2 HFS Treble Pickup, PRS S2 Vintage Bass Pickup

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Okay, so we’ve mentioned the SE Standard here already (first on the list). Do we really have to list it again, just because we were able to get our hands on a Vintage Cherry color scheme this time?

While this color does offer a nice alternative, there’s actually a difference between this SE Standard and the model we listed first on this list.

That’s because this time, the guitar features a PRS S2 HFS Treble Pickup along with a PRS S2 Vintage Bass Pickup. On the other model, the PRS guitar had 85/15 “S” pickups.

We did our research, and we found that the 85/15 “S” pickups were patterned for the 30th Anniversary Custom 24, and it offered outstanding clarity with extended high and low end. This is a newer design, drawing on 30 years of experience making high-end guitars.

On the other hand, not everyone was pleased with the change. This is actually a common complaint with PRS guitars—sometimes the brand changes features and details that users loved in their earlier PRS guitar in the first place.

The PRS S2 HFS treble pickup and vintage bass pickup are certainly older, but these may offer the tonal qualities you either want or have been used to. If that’s the case, then you want this particular model of the SE Standard.

The S2 HFS stands for “Hot, Fat, and Screams”, and it was the evolution of the original PRS standard treble pickup. It sure is powerful, and it offers a great balance of clear highs, powerful mid-range, and burly bass along with a definite tone of aggression.

But this guitar is still your quintessential SE standard. It plays great and looks fantastic, and it’s one of the best PRS Guitars for the money.

Highlighted Features
  • Vintage Cherry model
  • Comes with PRS S2 HFS treble pickup and vintage bass pickup
  • Also features the PRS S2 tremolo
  • 24 frets with 25-inch scale length
  • Mahogany body, with rosewood fretboard (with bird inlay) and maple neck
  • Comes with a gig case
What I Like
  • The gig case makes easy to bring along
  • Utterly good-looking
  • Comes with different pickups
  • Low and easy action
  • Plays very smoothly
What I Didn’t Like
  • May be a bit heavy for some people
  • You may want the newer 85/15 “S” pickups instead

#4. PRS SE Custom 22 Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar

Features
  • Top Wood: Beveled Maple Top with Flame Maple Veneer; Back Wood: Mahogany
  • Neck Wood: Maple
  • Fretboard Wood: Rosewood
  • Bridge: PRS Patented Tremolo, Molded
  • Pickups: 85/15 "S"

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why would you want to go with 22 frets instead of the usual 24 frets? Actually, taking out those 2 frets changes the feel of the guitar and now you get a more classic vibe.

The semi-hollow body also offers a nice lightweight ring and sustain. The classic tones come with more midrange color compared to what you get from the solid body.

The sound works extremely well for the blues and classic rock. It’s sounds rather earthy and crude so it may well be the best PRS guitar for rock, but it’s not too spiky in output and tone.

Switch to the neck pickup, and the voice sounds emotive and great for solos.  With the 85/15 “S” pickups, you get that clarity you want in your sound, along with an extended high and low end.

This can work as a guitar for beginners, but many pros rely on this as well. As it’s an SE, it’s not too expensive, but you still get that reliable PRS quality the brand is known for.

Highlighted Features
  • Maple top with mahogany back
  • Rosewood fretboard with mahogany neck
  • New 85/15 “S” Pickups
  • 22 frets with a 25-inch scale length
  • Comes in Vintage Sunburst design
  • Also comes with a gig bag
What I Like
  • Gig bag offers easy portability
  • Classic vibe
  • Great for rock and the blues
  • Good-looking
  • Emotive solos
What I Didn’t Like
  • Mahogany neck isn’t as good as maple
  • Not quite suited for heavy metal (Solid-body Custom 22 may be better for metal)

#5. PRS SE Paul’s Guitar Figured Maple Top Aqua

Features
  • Top Wood: Carved Figured Maple
  • Back Wood: Mahogany
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Fretboard Wood: Rosewood
  • Included Accessories: PRS High-Quality Gig Bag

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Now we come to another of the Signature Series in the SE lineup. This time, PRS put in many of the brand’s signature features found in the more expensive lines into this Student Edition guitar.

Let’s start with the TCI “S” pickups, which give you a rather vintage sound that’s quite pure. They offer a wide range of clean quality sounds that any musician will appreciate, and it is among the most versatile PRS guitar models.

The setup also gives you 2 mini-toggle switches right between the tone and volume knobs. This layout lets you put both or either of your pickups in true single coil mode.

This is the kind of electronics setup you actually find in the more expensive Private Stock and Core lineups. In both single coil and humbucking positions, you get the unique and clear vintage single-coil tones you want.

You even get the PRS Stoptail with brass inserts here that you find on the (much more expensive) Core USA Paul’s Guitar. On the other SE guitars with the double-cutaway design, you get the usual vibrato.

In the end, this is a great combination of the original PRS recipe that tried to combine the best of what the Les Paul and the Stratocaster brands offer. It offers the standard PRS qualities: classic resonance, tuning stability, great intonation, and easy playability.

The SE models offer a lot of bang for the buck, it’s true. But many consider this the very best of the SE lineup, as it showcases the core features that the PRS brand is noted for.

Highlighted Features
  • Vintage sound from the TCI “S” pickups
  • Electronics setup the same as in the Private Stock and Core
  • Hardtail bridge that can handle heavier strings
  • 22 frets in 25-inch scale length
  • Wide fat neck shape
What I Like
  • Beautiful (which is a given for PTS guitars)
  • Versatile and clear
  • Good tuning stability
  • Classic sound
  • Not too heavy
What I Didn’t Like
  • Doesn’t come with a vibrato (if that’s what you want)
  • No left-hander version yet

#6. PRS SE 245 Electric Guitar (Charcoal Burst)

Last update on 2020-10-28 / Affiliate links (#ad) / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The naming convention that PRS uses can be rather eccentric, but it makes sense (somewhat) when you check out the reasons behind the name. In this case, the SE 245 designation is because the scale length is just 24.5 inches.

Do keep in mind that this is a different model from the SE 245 Standard. Aside from the different wood used for the body, you also can’t get the SE 245 Standard in Charcoal Burst design.

This is a guitar that’s affordable enough that you won’t mind just throwing it into the back of your tour bus. Yet it’s also good enough that you certainly can use it to record that single that will launch your career.

Here you get the maple top with the fat mahogany body that really catches the eye. The mahogany neck has also been set deep, promising a build that will last for a very long time.

This PRS p245 semihollow is very expressive, and it sounds great especially when you just sit back on the notes. Of course, this means that it’s not exactly built for shredders, but if that’s not what you are, read on.

The tone here is very clean, with a warm character filled with length sustain. There’s a wide range for you to work with, and you can thin it down or fatten it up accordingly.

As for the distortion, it’s loud and has a lot of bite, and overall, this SE 245 sure has its own unique character. It’s made for raunchy rockers, who aren’t quite shredders.

Highlighted Features
  • 22 frets with 24.5-inch scale length
  • Maple top with the mahogany body
  • Mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard
  • Stoptail bridge with 245 “S” pickups
What I Like
  • This guitar rocks
  • The quality is good enough for a recording session
  • Expressive notes
  • Loud and proud distortion
  • Clean tones
What I Didn’t Like
  • Made for rockers (and not for jazz musicians)
  • Not for shredders, though

History of PRS Guitars Brand

PRS Guitars took its brand name from its founder, Paul Reed Smith. He started offering the guitars he made to noted musicians, way back in the 1985 NAMM music trade event.

The PRS brand certainly gained famed when Carlos Santana used their guitars, and even now he remains a loyal user. Other famous artists have also used these guitars over the years, including John Fogerty, Joe Walsh of the Eagles, Axl Rose of Guns N Roses, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and even John Mayer and Michael Bolton.

The brand has consistently focused on offering simply gorgeous guitars, regardless of its price. In fact, one PRS worker once confessed that they would destroy any guitar with a band saw if at any time during the manufacturing process a guitar showed even a tiny imperfection.

Why Use A PRS Guitars?

There are plenty of good reasons why you’d want to get a PRS guitar. Here are some reasons often cited in the PRS guitars reviews.

  • They’re expensive. This isn’t always a bad thing, because people in the know that PRS guitars are generally costly. The price makes each guitar a status symbol of your success, just like wearing a Rolex or driving a Porsche.
  • They’re all gorgeous. PRS people have a fanatical focus on aesthetics, and they show a craftsman’s devotion for each step of the guitar manufacturing process. They also make sure to use only high-quality wood for their guitars.
  • High quality standards. These PRS folks are also finicky about even tiny imperfections. They want everything to turn out right, and so they don’t tolerate mistakes.
  • Constant evolution. Every year, PRS changes a few things in their models in their quest for perfection. They don’t rest on their laurels, as they find things to improve each time they offer a new batch of guitars.

Where are PRS Guitars made?

For the most part, their guitars are made in the Paul Reed Smith factory in Maryland. Even now, all their high-end models are made in the US.

But in the 1990s, they introduced their SE (“Student Edition”) models which are made in South Korea. Production costs in South Korea are lower, but the quality control standards are still high.

Some of the SE standards have been made in Indonesia, to cut down on the price even more. However, these guitars still follow the exacting PRS spec requirements.

Who Makes the Best PRS Guitars?

PRS make several signature models with the collaboration of some of the more famous musicians in the world. These include Carlos Santana, Dave Navarro, Mark Tremonti (founder of both Creed and Alter Bridge), Al Di Meola (jazz fusion and world music), and Neal Schon (Journey and Bad English).

What Makes the Best PRS Guitars for Metal?

PRS guitars are actually versatile enough for a wide range of musical genres. But the best PRS Guitars for metal often have the following features:

  • Traditional wide neck. This generally results in less pain and cramps after long hours of playing, and you can play more accurately if you have large fingers. Wider necks are also better for those who like very wide vibrato.
  • Relatively round 10inch necks. These are better for large exotic chords, but the necks aren’t too round as to discourage bends or low action.
  • Comfortable carve tops. You can find these on the Core Line models, and also the SE2 and the CEs. They’re very comfy for technical players who remain anchored and mainly use their wrists, and also for those who tend to palm mute.
  • The 25inch scale length.

FAQs

Which guitars are made in the US, and which are made in Korea?

The US-made guitars are the guitars in the Private Stock, Core, and S2 lines. The SE guitars are made in Korea, but these still adhere to the exact PRS specifications.

 

What’s the type of finish on the Core guitars?

Since the beginning in 1985, PRS used a polyester basecoat and an acrylic topcoat for their Core finish. But this started to change slowly in 2019, when PRS gradually switched to a nitrocellulose over CAB (catalyzed acrylic) finish.

By 2020, all the Core guitars have the new finish. However, if the guitar was made in 2019 then you can’t really know for sure.

 

What’s the difference between the SE/S2/CE tremolo and the Core tremolo?

The molded tremolo in the SE/S2/CE has a cast steel block, plus brass plate and saddles. The machined tremolo in a Core guitar uses a machined brass block, plate and saddles.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for the best of the affordable PRS guitars (if there is such a thing), then you certainly need to look for among the SE models. Of course, you probably have your own set of preferences, so go and find one that suits your fancy.

But if you’re a true PRS fan, then it’s hard to argue against the SE Paul’s Guitar. The SE designation means it’s among the affordable PRS guitars. But this particular model gives you all the famous features and characteristics that the brand is noted for—except for the notoriously high prices.

The SE Paul’s Guitar is the best PRS guitar for us as it has what Paul Reed Smith himself wants in a guitar. In any case, congrats if you ever buy any PRS guitar—whatever it is, people will be envious!

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