What kind of Tone wood is in the PRS SE Custom 24?
Quilted Maple top & Mahogany body
There are two components to the main body of a PRS guitar: The body itself and the top piece. In the SE Custom 24, that top piece is quilted Maple, while the body is Mahogany.
The PRS SE Custom 24 body is actually made up of two parts, similar to the construction of the Gibson Les Paul.
- The base body
- The top piece
In the SE Custom 24 the tonewood of these two parts breaks down as follows:
- Base body: Mahogany
- Top piece: Quilted Maple
This is the tonewood mixture used for a lot of electric guitars, aside from Fender electrics, many of which are made from Alder.
Understanding Grades of Tonewood
The core PRS Custom 24 - the expensive one - is also a combination of Mahogany and Maple. However, the exact grade of this wood is likely much higher than the wood used in the SE Custom 24. This is certainly reflected in the price difference. The same is true of Gibson Les Pauls.
For example, the Les Paul Studio's top piece is listed as AA Maple.
Read more: Understanding tonewood grades
Here are the other grades you'll typically see:
As a general rule, lower grade A tonewood has more grain irregularity and grain spacing, while higher-grade tonewood (AA, AAA and up) have a much tighter grain with less spacing and more consistency. Sometimes this will also be described as "select" tonewood.
So what about the PRS SE Custom 24?
Manufacturers tend to shy away from providing specific tonewood grades in their spec sheets. For example, even the more expensive core PRS Custom 24 simply lists Mahogany as their body tonewood. However, it's a safe bet that the more expensive guitars use a much better/higher grade of tonewood.
The PRS SE Custom 24 is likely an A grade tonewood, or perhaps lower, with more grain space and inconsistency.
That said, it's still a great guitar with the necessary and expected cost-cutting measures to make it available at such a low price point.
Predictably, as the grade of tonewood gets higher, the price does as well.
Does the tonewood matter?
So how much does the tonewood really matter?
In the SE Custom 24, you won't necessarily miss the higher grade tonewood, because the guitar sounds great, especially when you consider the low asking price.
That said, we have to acknowledge that the type of tonewood is a major factor in quality, both from an aesthetic and tone standpoint. If you were to play the core model, then go back to the SE version, there's a pretty significant difference.
The old adage is always true: You get what you pay for.
What does Mahogany and Maple sound like together?
While there are many other factors that play into the final sound of an electric guitar, Mahogany and Maple tend to produce a lot of punch and sustain. With Mahogany you typically have an emphasis on lower frequencies while the high-end is less pronounced.
This is why Mahogany is used in so many modern electric guitars.
Adding the Maple top helps counter that by providing a bit more attack and a more vibrant profile.
It's not enough to completely tame the Mahogany, but it does provide some balance.
Guitars that are all Mahogany, without a top piece, are going to be darker and more comfortably in the low-frequency/rhythm camp.
Other PRS SE Custom 24 resources
Here are some additional resources on the PRS SE Custom 24 and PRS guitars in general.
Questions and Comments
Do you have questions about the tonewood of the PRS SE Custom 24? Or maybe you just have thoughts/insight you'd like to share. Feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we'll respond.