Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: Paul Reed Smith SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body

 Well in the previous post, Zack said that he wants a hollow or semi hollow body guitar. So, to help him out, the next few posts would probably be what i consider great value for money semi hollows. Todays post will be a slightly more expensive one, a Paul Reed Smith, but still within the affordable range I should think. Enjoy!

Features: The SE Semi-Hollow boasts a 22-fret wide fat neck with a scale length of 25". The modern f-hole sets the guitar up with natural reverb and a great clean sound, while taking the guitar's weight down significantly. It features a maple top with a flame maple veneer and mahogany back wood, and Standard pickguard. The guitar is comprised of a rosewood fretboard coupled with a mahogany neck with moon inlays. The stock bridge is a PRS-designed stoptail, which goes along with the default PRS-designed tuners; both made of nickel. Both humbuckers are PRS-designed stock humbuckers, which provide more than acceptable sound quality. The SE-Semi Hollow Custom has 2 control knobs - volume, and tone; and a 3-way blade pickup selector. The simplicity here does not at all take from the vast array of sounds that can be produced from the guitar. The only problems with the guitar physically are some scratches on the back wood, which may have been prevented with a protective finish; and visible wear on the bridge from the palm of my hand rubbing against it frequently. Included with the guitar was a quite nice soft but durable case, one cable, an Allen wrench, and a Tool used to adjust the action of the strings. // 9

Sound: This guitar has an astonishing variety of sounds, from blues to British rock, to hardcore metal. I play all kinds of music: classic rock, blues, metal, country, reggae, alternative, etc. The amp I am putting the guitar through now is a 65w Crate Amplifier. It provides a nice subtle clean channel which does justice to the guitar's natural sound. The distortion created by the stock pickups and guitar can range from a crunchy punk to a low, deep blues or even metal. Just by adjusting the tone knob, you can greatly change the type of sound, be it twangy or deep and full. Lack of variety is not an issue with this guitar. Also, by increasing the volume of the amp and turning down the volume knob on the guitar to about 4, you can achieve a beautiful Acoustic sound. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: When I obtained the guitar, it came in the package tuned, with fresh new strings, and properly adjusted pickups. The action of the strings was near perfect, and only after about a year of play did the neck begin to warp slightly. This was fixed by adjusting the neck with the Tool that came with the guitar. The hardware came completely unharmed or flawed. Problems I have encountered are: neck pickup keeps becoming loose, wear on the bridge, and the strap holders are somewhat loose every now and then. The main problem is the fact that I have to constantly raise the neck pickup if I want the original sound, for it keeps sliding down into the body of the guitar. // 7

Reliability & Durability: The guitar is fairly durable for being a semi hollow weighing around 5 pounds. The tuners, frets, pickguard, and wiring seem to be in very good shape after a year of playing. The bridge is beginning to wear and tarnish, because I rest my hand on it when I play, the strap buttons have become a bit shaky (they may one day fail me during a Live show, which makes me nervous), and the neck pickup is loose. Other than those few problems, the guitar is dependable, and can withstand the action and abuse of a very energetic live show. I have used it many times on stage without a backup, and without fear of failure. The finish on the back has a good number of scratches on it, most likely from a belt buckle or something of the sort, and the area exposed to the pick have taken a beating, but I'm sure that it is from lots and lots of play. // 7

Impression: I played the guitar before I purchased it, so it living up to my expectations was not a worry. I have been playing it for over a year now, and it seems to have much better tone and playability than most guitars out there. If I were to lose this guitar, I might begin a search for something else after I finished crying over the loss of it. But odds are, I would get the same guitar, but maybe in a different color than black; although it is quite beautiful. My favorite feature would have to be, oh, the smoothness of the neck and fretboard. It's like playing butter, and coupled with Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkies...well, in my opinion it IS the most comfortable guitar I have ever played and I'm proud to say I own it. If I were to make another decision, the Strat would be it, because as many know, there's just nothing else that sounds like a Strat. The only modifications I would make to the guitar would be to add a tremolo bar, and to add new pickups, rather than the PRS-designed stock ones, which do the guitar justice all on their own. All in all, this guitar was certainly worth the money, and I hope it lasts me until I grow up and become an old man. Even then, I wish to continue to play it. // 9


  1. Very nice review. I have a question though..and it may sound a bit strange: How well does the prs se custom play unplugged?(as in acoustically?) I'm really curious about that since it's semi hollow. I'm thinking about buying the guitar and there aren't any guitar stores nearby that have one of these babies to try out..

    1. Well, like most semi hollows, they do play better unplugged when compared to most electrics but does not sound as good or as loud as an good old acoustic in my opinion. Semi hollows are built to get a great clean and sharp tone. just think jazz and blues and you'll get what i mean. Anyways, good luck!