Last year, I wanted something a little different than the Strat I was playing. I wanted a guitar with a little bit thicker sound and a little more versatility. I love my Strat, but after Gibson lost their lawsuit against PRS (which had prevented PRS from producing the Singlecut models), I anxiously awaited the re-release of the SE Singlecut series.
Ever since I first saw Paul Reed Smith guitars over 15 years ago, I’ve wanted to own one. I thought (and still think) the paint jobs and attention to detail were amazing. However, back then I was just starting out and had no need for such a high-end guitar. In fact, I still don’t really have a need for such a high-end guitar. Enter the SE series of PRS guitars. The PRS Singlecut SE guitars have a street price of around $600.
According to Paul Reed Smith, it was actually Carlos Santana’s idea to create the SE series. He thought that more players should be able to see and obtain the quality of the PRS guitars. Subsequently, PRS found a manufacturing facility in Korea and taught them how to make PRS guitars.
Body – Singlecut mahogany body with maple top & flame maple veneer (except for opaque black)
Neck – 25″ scale length mahogany 22-fret neck with rosewood fretboard and moon inlays, Neck carve – wide fat
Hardware – PRS designed stoptail, PRS designed tuners
Electronics – PRS designed treble and bass humbucking pickups, Volume and tone control with 3-way toggle pickup selector
Out of the box, this guitar played great. I haven’t had to do any setup changes in the 12 months since I’ve had the guitar. The neck feels great in my hands. It’s a little thinner than my Strat neck, and I generally prefer a slightly thicker neck, but the wide-fat PRS neck is very smooth and fast. I don’t like really low action, and this guitar’s action was set up perfectly straight from the factory. Not too high, and not too low.
The guitar is fairly light and comfortable. It feels a couple of pounds lighter than my Strat. However, I usually play sitting down, so weight isn’t really an issue.
Coming from a Strat-style guitar, it took me a few days to get used to the different position of the guitar when sitting down. The guitar sits slightly to the right of where I’m used to playing. It also took a few days to get used to the slightly shorter scale length (25″ vs. 25.5″ for the Strat). That being said, it really didn’t take long at all to get used to the guitar, and once I did I’ve really enjoyed it; it’s a fantastic playing guitar.
This guitar sounds great for a mid-range guitar. The pickups have a smooth sound, but can get nasty if you want them to. I find that it’s really easy to get a Cream-era Clapton sound out of the guitar. But, I can also turn up the gain and use the bridge pickup and get a metal sound, if and when I want to. I’ve been playing the guitar primarily through a Fender G-DEC practice amp, and the sound is fairly impressive. A lot of people on the forums recommend changing the stock pickups on the PRS SE guitars. I don’t know if I agree. The stock pickups sound great for the playing I do, although I don’t do any gigging. For most people, I think the stock pickups are fine.
After 12 months of ownership, I still really like my PRS Singlecut SE guitar. I have the tobacco sunburst finish model, which looks fantastic hanging on the wall. Additionally, the guitar plays and sounds great for a mid-range guitar. In fact, ever since getting the guitar last year, I’ve been playing it more than my Strat, although I go through phases where I play one guitar more than the other.
Compared directly to the Epiphone Les Pauls, the PRS Singlecut SE model is a better value, in my opinion. The quality of workmanship is fantastic for a guitar in this price range. I haven’t found anything that I’ve wanted to change or upgrade on the guitar. It’s not an American-made PRS, but it’s the next best thing and it’s less than a third of the price of an American-made PRS guitar.
If you’re looking for a dual-humbucking guitar in a classic style body, I highly recommend checking out the PRS Singlecut SE guitars. It works well for both classic and modern sounds and looks great to boot!