Best PRS Electric Guitar Under $2000 (our top pick)
S2 series, specifically the S2 McCarty 594
The S2 series bridges the gap between the SE economy PRS guitars and the more expensive mainline models. We particularly like the S2 McCarty 594 thinline, but there are a lot of other great S2 models to pick from.
Updated by Danielle
Updated on May 9th, 2023
Important note: Pricing is always subject to change, and many of the PRS guitars in the S2 series are right around $1950. These are great options, though note that any of them - included the McCarty 594 - could tick above our $2000 price cap. We'll do our best to keep these price-sensitive articles updated as we're able. Thanks all!
The cheapest PRS guitars are always going to be the SE models, which were designed to be an economy line for PRS. They're great guitars, but if you're looking for something a little nicer, the $1200 to $2000 price range offers some happy medium electrics that are nicer, but still under our $2000 salary cap.
This actually includes one of the SE models, but we'll cover that later.
In particular, we'd recommend the S2 series and the McCarty 594.
Keep in mind, as Danielle mentioned earlier, a lot of the S2 electrics are near $2000 at the time of writing this article.
We'd have to do some absolutely ridiculous hair splitting to complain about anything here. Just enjoy the guitar.
Our main recommendation, the McCarty 594, was a good deal below that when we published this page. Just check the live pricing table below for updated numbers.
If you don't mind getting into the SE series, the SE Hollowbody Standard is more safely under the price limit, coming in as our second favorite PRS guitar under $2000.
Read more: Best PRS SE Guitars
Our Top Two Choices
You can compare these two guitars in the table below, which will show you basic specs and live pricing. You can also add more electric guitars, PRS or otherwise, to the comparison bar.
S2 McCarty 594 Thinline
SE II Hollowbody Standard
Compare More Guitars
If you want to compare more guitars to the Hollowbody II and S2 McCarty 594, you can search our database and add them here. We don't have everything, but we have a lot.
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Guitar Chalk's Methodology
We're very familiar with the PRS brand and have even worked with them on written gear assessment projects.
We intentionally write about the brands, and guitars within those brands, that we are most familiar with. We trust them because we know they're solid and we've used their products.
Speaking of using their products, we gravitate towards guitars that we've owned and/or tested.
Everything you're reading here is a first-hand account, and a sincere recommendation made by an actual guitar player.
We do not rehash other people's reviews.
If you have more questions about our methodology, please feel free to ask.
Price Guide for the S2 and SE Hollowbody
This section has live pricing tables for both the S2 and SE Hollowbody from PRS. It covers several of the biggest retailers, while everything is updated in real time. Always keep in mind that pricing and availability tend to be somewhat fickle, depending on where and when you look.
Features we like about the S2 and SE Hollowbody
Both of these guitars have the 58/15 "S" PRS designed humbuckers, which are similar in quality to something like the Gibson Burstbuckers. In other words, they're an in-house design, but they're not stock.
These are excellent pickups that are custom designed and sold as a standalone product. On occasion, they're even installed in other guitars because they're just, well, nicer.
Both these guitars also have a little bit of carving on the top piece of wood, though it's more noticeable in the SE hollowbody.
It's not as nice as the mainline PRS guitars, but it still ups the aesthetic appeal quite a bit.
Mahogany top and body are present and expected.
I guess Mahogany in an electric guitar is pretty common, but I just really like the sound you get from solid Mahogany. It's not unusual, but always worth mentioning, in my opinion.
Finally, you'll get a nice, warm percussive sound from both these guitars. The Hollowbody is a little better with cleans (not surprising) while the S2 handled better on the distorted side, but both of them sound incredibly good. PRS never disappoints in the tone department.
Pros of the S2
- Thinline body style is beautiful and feels great in your hands. Very easy to play.
- 58/15 "S" custom pickups are the real deal
- Handles well with high gain
- Strong on both the rhythm and lead side
- Tons of flexibility with the selector switch and push/pull knobs
Cons of the S2
- A lot of models run really close to our $2000 price cap. Many will cross it at some point.
Pros of the SE Hollowbody
- Piezo version available
- Non piezo version gives you a further discounted option
- Aesthetics are too good
- 58/15 "S" humbuckers again
- Cleans sound great
- A nearly perfect meeting of quality and price
Cons of the SE Hollowbody
- We'd have to do some absolutely ridiculous hair splitting to complain about anything here. Just enjoy the guitar.
Flexibility in the S2 McCarty
With the selector switch and push/pull knobs, there are a ton of tone options from the guitar itself.
Here's a diagram that shows everything. It's a lot of mileage out of a three-way pickup selector.
So we'd argue the best PRS guitar under $2000 is the PRS S2 McCarty 594, though there are multiple versions of the S2 McCarty that are also worth considering. You'll have to keep in mind that pricing here can change often, so check our live price guide above to get updated numbers.
Besides all that, I'm a big proponent of not over-thinking these things.
The S2 and Hollowbody are both great guitars that are likely within your price range. Buy them and enjoy them. You really can't go wrong with PRS. They'll take good care of you.
If you have questions, leave them in the comments section.
Bobby will answer while I do all the dirty work.
Thanks for hanging out with us.
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