PRS’s Korean-made SE range boasts a substantial number of models, but closer inspection reveals that none sport a maple fingerboard, aside from this eye-catching limited-edition model that’s new for 2019 and available across Europe.
As is the fashion these days, the maple neck has undergone torrefaction, the now-familiar process whereby the neck is ‘roasted’ in a specialised vacuum in order to remove sugars, moisture and other impurities. This leads to a more stable, resonant and lighter wood, not to mention an appealing caramelised finish.
The quilted-maple veneer top is a feature of this limited-edition range, and while it’s not as aqueous as some of the more expensive PRS USA models, it’s still quite striking. In fact, it’s the only model in the SE Custom line that has a quilt top.
The Wide Thin neck carve is common throughout the range. Unsurprisingly, it conjures up an image of a neck that is, well… wide and thin! But the reality is more of a rounded ‘C’ shape with a much fuller profile than the company’s nomenclature would suggest.
While the frets are far from the vintage type that you would find on old-style Strats and Teles, they still feel quite shallow in height and ensure that the left-hand fingers are regularly in touch with the fretboard wood. However, thanks to the wonderful thin satin finish, we still experience a frictionless playability which, following a quick truss-rod adjustment, proves to be impeccable.
The roasting appears not only to darken the wood but also the tone normally expected from a maple-neck guitar. The bridge pickup has all the power you would expect from a rock guitar – essentially the genre in which the Custom 24 is most comfortable – but possesses little of the sometimes brittle high-treble frequencies that a high-powered bridge humbucker on a maple-neck guitar can sometimes accentuate.
There’s plenty of clarity and definition on offer and when backing off the volume a little, we find we can cover a vast range of styles. The same cannot be said of the neck humbucker, which is rather bass-heavy and woolly sounding. This can be countered in split-coil mode and we discover some very usable rhythm sounds, though little in the way of syrupy-thick lead tones. Using a clean amp setting, the coil-split function further demonstrates the wide palette of sounds on offer and these are more reminiscent of a twangy Tele than a spanking Strat.
By now, the SE range is well established enough to be judged on its own merits, rather than being constantly compared to its more expensive brethren from Stevensville. Prices may have crept up a little over the years, but this is very much in line with quality, features and the wider market. Torrefied wood isn’t just for the well-heeled anymore and it adds an interesting look and sonic signature – your search for a maple-neck PRS may well start and end here.
- PRICE £799 (inc gigbag)
- DESCRIPTION 6-string solidbody. Made in Korea
- BUILD Mahogany body with quilted maple veneer and maple top, 24 frets, Wide Thin neck profile, set roasted-maple neck with 10”/254mm radius roasted maple fretboard, graphite-based compound nut, nickel-silver alloy frets
- HARDWARE PRS Patented Tremolo, nickel PRS-designed tuners
- ELECTRICS 85/15 ‘S’ (neck) and 85/15 ‘S’ (bridge) humbuckers, 3-way toggle pickup selector, volume and push-pull tone control
- SCALE LENGTH 25″/635mm
- NECK DEPTH 21.2mm at 1st fret, 23.9mm at 12th fret
- NECK WIDTH 43.6 mm at nut, 53.2 mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 36.6mm at nut, 42.8mm at bridge
- WEIGHT 3.6kg/7.93lb
- OPTIONS Floyd Rose version (£100 extra, Tobacco Sunburst and Whale Blue only)
- LEFT-HANDERS Yes (£25 upcharge, Tobacco Sunburst and Grey Black only)
- FINISHES Trampas Green (as reviewed), Fire Red, Grey Black, Tobacco Sunburst, Whale Blue and Purple Burst
- CONTACT prsguitars.com
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