QUICK HIT: An upgrade suggestion for the PRS SE standard focusing on Seymour Duncan pickups, Ernie Ball strings and John Mann NOS bridge swap.
The PRS SE electric guitars are fantastic for modding. Even without any changes, they're some of the best economy guitars available. The Standard 24 comes with a Mahogany body and Maple neck that includes the vaunted "bird" fretboard inlays. While these aren't made in Maryland like their more expensive PRS counterparts, the design is solid and worth the extra investment.
In this article we'll put together a build that will replace the bridge, the mounting rings, both the guitar's pickups and the strings.
Here's the PRS SE Standard 24 out of the box:
And here's a graphic of what it might look like with all our replacements:
This is a pricier upgrade, though if you already own the guitar, investing in it is a safe bet, since the SE models tend to outlast and out-perform many guitars in similar price ranges.
Here's where our money will go:
PRS SE Standard 24
Seymour Duncan Jeff Loomis Pickups
MannMade PRS "NOS" Vibrato Bridge
Ernie Ball 6-String Baritone Strings
Kmise Metal Mounting Rings
The Jeff Loomis pickup set from Seymour Duncan is an aggressive, high-output pair that are ideal for heavier rock and metal music styles. Since Mahogany tonewood tends to give off a nice thick response, these pickups are a good choice for those who want to get a really heavy, low-end tone.
For starters, remove the strings, the mounting brackets and the original pickups at both the neck and bridge location. All of these parts will be replaced. Use a soldering kit to install the two Seymour Duncan pickups then place the new metal mounting rings over top of each pickup and screw them in.
At this point, you can adjust the height of the pickups, if necessary. Before you put on your new set of strings, you'll want to replace the existing bridge with the new MannMade 2000NOS model.
With the 2000NOS MannMade bridge we linked to, you won't need to do any modding or cutting into the body of the PRS SE Standard 24. It's just a straight in and out operation.
John Mann takes you through the process in this video. It's only about 15 minutes long, and everything is very straightforward.
Once you get the bridge installed, you can thread the new strings into the back of the guitar and up through the new bridge.
I've recommended the Ernie Ball baritone strings for this setup just because they would be a nice combo with the Jeff Loomis pickups. If you don't want strings that are that heavy, you can easily downgrade to a Regular or Heavy Slinky.
Also, the strings that PRS guitars ship with, I believe, are actually made by D'Addario. If you want to keep them, they're not bad.
For the Jeff Loomis pickups, I'd just prefer something heavier.
Your Questions and Ideas
Have a mod or part that you know would work particularly well with this PRS SE Standard 24 pickup mod?
Maybe you disagree with the choices we've listed?
Let us know in the comments section below. If you have an idea that holds water, we'll add it to the list so others can benefit as well.
Likewise, if you have an idea for a guitar (electric or acoustic) build, you can drop it there as well and we'll take a look.
Do you prefer these pickups over PRS m (Metal), 57/08 or 59/09?
Yeah see, this is a gray area for me. I’ve had the “stock” PRS pickups in a few different forms (I think the 57/08 but I can’t remember exactly), which have never been bad (I think they retailed for over $200). But for me, I liked what I heard out of the Loomis and Invader sets better.
Those PRS pickups are more of a vintage tone, and I personally just like a little more aggression and percussion coming out of my PRS (the one I use most is a 2005 CE 24).
So anyways, it’s a tough call if you know you’re working with a more expensive set like the 57/08.
Having said that, the SE versions have a much cheaper PRS stock pickup. I’d definitely swap those out and wouldn’t miss them.
I have a PRS Standard that has a push/pull pot that changes the pickups between single coil and humbucker. Sorry if this sounds stupid but, do I need a special pickup for that setup? Or, will the push/pull pot “separate” a regular set of Seymour Duncan humbucker pickups? Right Now, looking at the SD “vintage Blues”, for example.
I think what determines whether or not that will work is how you have them wired. Is it a three-way pickup selector? For have both humbuckers split, you would use this wiring diagram: https://www.seymourduncan.com/images/wiring-diagrams/2H_3B_1V_1TppSPL.jpg
Hope this is helpful.
Rich M says
I upgraded my SE with the same Mann bridge but used a pair of Fishman Fluence pickups. I added PRS locking tuners and a PRS composite nut. What about the toggle and output jack?
Hey Rich – thanks for sharing. To be honest, I’d leave the toggle and jack as-is, unless you’re having trouble with it.
I’d be interested to see an SE upgrade guide to make it more closely match a US built model.
Bobby Kittleberger says
We’ve built the high-end PRS bridges into our tool. There are only four bridges total.
Unfortunately, if you want to stay within the PRS brand for all the pickups and parts, they don’t have a ton of options. So with the SEs, you could do a PRS bridge and then whatever pickups you wanted.
Anyways, hope this is helpful.