PRS SE Custom 24 Review
The PRS SE Custom 24 is consistently noted for out-performing guitars of similar cost, some say to the tune of $600 to $700 more. We'd agree, having tested and used it extensively. It's hands-down one of the best-value electric guitars, and a dream in terms of tone and playability, especially for modern rock-focused rhythm guitar players.
The PRS SE Custom 24 is one of the most popular PRS guitars in the SE series. For those not accustomed to the PRS "system" of manufacturing, the SE series is the economy line of PRS, and costs significantly less than their mainline models. All the SE electrics are manufactured in South Korea, while the main PRS guitars - the expensive ones - are built at a factory in Maryland.
This means there's an understandable quality dip going from the $3000 PRS to the $800 PRS. However: The SE series is still home to some of the highest value electric guitars on the market, and the SE Custom 24 is a great example.
In this section we've built a table that allows you to compare guitars that are similar to the PRS SE Custom 24. You can use the compare buttons to see basic features and pricing.
PRS SE Custom 24
Squier John 5 Telecaster
Epiphone Les Paul Custom
Scoring, Pros, and Cons
In the next section we've put together a simple ratings table for the PRS SE Custom 24, covering basic strengths, weaknesses, and the ideal user.
IDEAL FOR: Intermediate players or advancing beginners who are into modern rock and rhythmic playing styles
Tone and Pickups
Unlike a lot of economy line guitars, The PRS SE Custom 24 has little - if any - hint of cheapness or cost-cutting in its tone.
It just sounds like a far more expensive guitar, particularly with heavier distortion and chunky rhythm riffs, both of which it handles exceptionally well. All PRS models seem to have a thickness and "boomy" response, especially on the lower register frets. Distorted power chords have a lot of chunk and bass to them, while clean open chords sound full and smooth.
On the lead side, it's not a particularly "edgy" guitar. It's definitely not grunge or dirty-sounding.
You'll hear more smoothness and a more melodic response, as opposed to the rough, bluesy tones you might get out of a Stratocaster, or other single coil guitars. This is characteristic of dual humbucker electrics in general, though particularly true of the PRS body design.
It just tends to sound full and heavy, making it a great modern rock guitar, especially for rhythm players.
The PRS bridge hardware designs are patented, both the tremolo bridge and the stop-bar tailpiece. For the SE Custom 24 you'll have a tremolo bridge with a whammy bar, which has a little bit of give to it, but not much. Most of the time I'm using this guitar (or similar PRS SE models) I just take the whammy bar off.
The silver design looks sharp and uses a six-screw setup like the vintage Stratocaster bridges. Tuners are also stock with a nickel coating.
They're nothing to write home about, but do seem to keep the guitar in tune fairly well. Of the two PRS bridges, the tailpiece (without the whammy bar) is predictably, more stable and more likely to stay in tune. For those interested, you can also get a version of the SE custom 24 that comes with a Floyd Rose floating tremolo and locking tuners:
Cost and Value
Without the Floyd Rose outfit, the PRS SE Custom 24 retails for around $800, or usually a bit under depending on where you buy from. At that price, we'd be comfortable saying it's one of the single highest-value electric guitars on the market, just because it performs so much better than other guitars in that price range.
Why is it so cheap?
A few different factors are in play that are helping PRS keep the cost of this guitar down. We'll talk specifically about the three most notable.
The South Korea manufacturing is a big part of what keeps the cost of these guitars low. Would it be nice if the SE Custom 24 was made in the United States? Sure. However, it's a big part of why they're able to offer the SE series so cheap.
If you lookup a mainline PRS guitar, you'll notice a significant difference in the contour of the body. For example, take a look at the body design on the anniversary model Custom 24:
This smoothing and curvature takes some significant craftsmanship and is a major time investment. I've talked to wood workers and luthiers in my area who have said that the increase in price could be justified by this feature alone. Compare it to the flat body style of the SE Custom 24:
While it still looks really nice, it's almost completely flat, with just a little bit of sanding around the edges. My guess is that this plays a major role in the lower price you get with the SE models.
And I can't say I have a problem with it. While I love the aesthetics of the contoured PRS body design, it would have to be considered non-essential from a tone and playability perspective.
It just looks really nice.
In the SE Custom 24, PRS saves you that money with the simplified body shape.
STOCK PICKUPS AND HARDWARE
The third factor in the SE Custom 24's low price is PRS's commitment to in-house pickup and hardware building.
Electric guitars that use third-party parts like Seymour Duncan pickups, Callaham bridges, and Grover tuners, are almost always going to be more expensive. In that scenario, PRS would be buying the parts - albeit in bulk - and then passing the cost along to the consumer.
PRS cuts down on that expense by building all their own parts, whether at the South Korea or Maryland factory.
The PRS SE Custom 24 is almost a universally useful guitar. With the 24 frets it can be great for lead guitarists and melodic players, while the thicker, punchier tone is a good fit for more rhythmic styles as well.
It's a modern electric guitar with a lot of rock-friendly features. We'd recommend it particularly for those interested in modern rock and even metal. From a skill level perspective, it makes a good second guitar for those who are coming out of the beginner stages and getting more serious about the instrument.
For the price, there aren't too many situations we wouldn't recommend it.
Manufacturer page: PRS SE Custom 24