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Construction wise, the new-for-2021 PRS SE Custom 24-08 body has a 3-piece mahogany back, with a solid maple cap. Yes, the green flame maple top is a veneer, but looks very sharp. The lower cutaway shows off the layered construction and trying to discern the separation between the maple cap and veneer was futile. The body has a shallower carve profile compared to their core model’s “violin” carve, but it still has curves in all the right places and was very comfortable playing seated or standing.
The 24-08 features a 24-fret rosewood fingerboard, which has PRS’ famous “Old School” birds. Profile wise, the 25” scale maple neck has their “wide thin” shape, with a gloss finish, and a natural headstock sporting Paul’s signature. The bridge is a steel molded version of the now classic PRS tremolo, with a pop in trem arm. It felt super silky smooth, and the rounded edges were very comfortable to rest the edge of the picking hand’s palm on top of it. The overall fit and finish was superb, the attention to detail that PRS is known for is here in amazing quantity, from the fretwork, finishing, and assembly.▼ Article continues below ▼
Pickups are PRS’s TCI “S” treble and bass models. TCI stands for Tuned Capacitance and Inductance. In recent years, PRS has been exploring how to get better single coil sounds from humbuckers, and the TCI concept has yielded some great results. The controls are also very PRS-centric, with a master volume, master tone, and a three-way toggle. The addition of two mini toggle switches allow each individual pickup to be put into a single coil mode.
The 25” scale balances nicely between the Gibson and Fender scale lengths, so players from both camps should have no problem getting around the neck. The 24 frets were also very nicely dressed, and regardless of where you were on the neck, it felt comfortable and easy.
Plugging it into a variety of our fave test units, such as our Fender Blues JR, ZT Lunchbox, Boss Katana, and Strymon Iridium, we had no issues getting great tones right at the start. In humbucking mode, the pickups really deliver a powerful and modern tonal experience. Together they balanced nicely and went from chunky power chords to leads easily without having to mess with EQ’s. Dialing back the gain, they had a really nice and open feel, and when going into single notes, there’s plenty of sweetness that feels balanced across the entire spectrum.
There are 8 different pickup configurations available to the player, and all are practical and musical in their own way. Many times, when multiple options are available with pickups, one or two just don’t really make sense. Not here; we found the single coil tones very sweet and still maintained unity gain and didn’t require any fussing with boosting the signal in other ways to still be heard or cut through.
So, with all these single coil modes, can it out single coil a Strat? The bridge pickup in single coil mode still had that snarl and attack, but it wasn’t shrill or harsh, even in a bright clean tone setting. Out spank a Tele? Put one pickup in full humbucking mode, and the other in coil tapped mode, and these extra pickup combinations really added in the balance of warmth and clarity.
Overall, it’s a practical and giggable instrument right out of the box. Some import guitars need mods to make them acceptable as performing instruments, but PRS conquered that hill, and other than needing a guitar strap, it’s ready as soon as it’s tuned up.
Well-made, great neck, fantastic tone, excellent pickup options.