I think a big factor is the price point for an American PRS which is often way above even some professional players budget and are also higher than say a US Les Paul Standard or US Strat Stanard
There is then an assumption that the SE's are just cheap budget versions in the same way that Epiphones are the cheapo Gibsons and Squire are the cheapo Fenders. However I would imagine everyone here knows just is not true at all.
I used to be a big ESP and Ibanez fan and have owned both brands of guitar but have always returned to owning a PRS (for good this time, no selling on and regretting afterwards) but when I compare the likes of ESP and Ibanez (both of whom make lovely guitars) to PRS, PRS just exude an element of class and quality that the others will never have in my opinion.
Some guitarists, especially in the metal/punk world simply don't believe that PRS are "metal" enough and want silly looking pointy sticks which in general, look fugly!!! To me at least.....
It's awesome to see super talented metal players like Emil Werstler and Dave Young embracing PRS full on.
I agree that price point is a big factor, especially for a beginner. Most parents will not buy their child an expensive guitar to learn on. I believe they solved that problem back in the early 2000's with the Santana SE and the Tremonti SE. I started playing guitar in the early ninties and wanted a PRS because Daniel Johns from Silverchair had one. I didn't know what the brand was, I just loved the shape of the guitar. Times are a changing, kids are idolizing PRS now!! My parents got me an Ibanez because it was cheap and looked cool. So when I started college the Tremonti se just came out and I had a newly acquired student loan. Got my PRS. After playing that guitar for 8 years I bought my first US model then another! I think PRS has done a great job at creating a gateway drug in the SE line. Especially with all the models available now. Parents can afford to buy their child a PRS to learn on. More and more kids who are playing these se's are going to step it up when they can afford it too!
As someone who was shopping for my first "quality guitar" a little over a year ago, and who was only moderately aware of PRS guitars prior to that, I can describe my own thought process. First, I was looking for a versatile guitar, with my primary interests being mostly in the classic rock and blues vein. Basically, I'm not going to own that many guitars, so I wanted one that I'd be very happy with, for a variety of situations.
I started out thinking primarily Fender or Gibson, and with a budget range that (in my mind) maxed out at $2k. In general, I knew I liked vintage, PAF-like humbucker tones, but I did want the ability to split coils and get tones that were at least vaguely Strat like. I love the sound and look of Les Pauls, but really didn't like the feel. Conversely, I love the feel and playability of Strats, but they don't really excite me that much. Tele's have a cool vibe, but just seemed too single-purpose to me, and they're not that comfortable, either. The other Gibson I've liked in terms of tone is the ES-335 family, but I wasn't sure about the lack of coil-splitting. I was OK with buying a new guitar, for the right price, but started scouring eBay. Somewhat accidentally, I started noticing various PRS models, and the idea of a Strat-like shape, with LP-like materials and construction, humbuckers, but with single-coil settings, etc., started to grow on me. Then I started to get caught up in the craftsmanship aspect, and the reverence for the brand that just emanates from PRS owners.
After a couple months of looking around, scouring eBay, playing different models at GC, etc., I pretty much narrowed down to a PRS Custom (I would have been OK with either a 24 or a 22, and had a preference for a trem.), a couple of other somewhat related PRS models (e.g. Studio - I was basically thinking double-cut body styles), OR (and I realize that this seems completely unrelated!) a Gibson ES-339 or ES-336 (essentially a ES-335 semi-hollow with a body that is scaled down to be about halfway between an LP and a 335). Sure, these aren't even close. But that's how my mind worked. I wanted a PRS more, but the Gibsons would have been a bit cheaper, and also appealed to me.
Then I saw the guitar I ended up getting on eBay, and snagged it for a really good deal (considering that it was less than a year-old, and in legitimate mint condition). There's just something about PRSi that appeals to me. Part mystique, part quality and craftsmanship, part tone, part playability, and with a dash of being just a little bit less prevalent than a Les Paul or a Strat.
Some of the reasons I think it happens:
- They're perceived as really expensive, "doctors and lawyers" guitars
- They don't say Fender or Gibson on the headstock
- They never had a unique, compelling sound of their own
Let me say more on that last point. I think it matters more than people believe.
I know people who will spend a lot of money on gear who would say that PRS were built really well, but just never really dug the sound or feel. I think once the vintage guitar craze started, they really never got their pickups dialed in to customers' tastes until the 57/08s. Before that, you saw even PRS devotees planning to change out the pickups on their brand new Customs, McCarty's, and Singlecuts. Alex Lifeson is one of my favorite players and honestly, he sounds better playing Gibson than he does PRS the times I've seen him live.
I took my Modern Eagle to a tone party several years ago, and started hearing comments like "that's the first PRS that really spoke to me." I think now they've got their guitars sounding really really good and people are catching on who didn't before.
Yes, with those scenes it's totally about image. With indie rock it's deemed cool to use some no name pawn shop guitar and amp over something decent. I'm friends with the singer/guitarist in a band my band has played a lot with and he's told me quite a few times, I'd love to play a PRS like yours but I would take so much crap for it because it's not considered acceptable in the type of music I play. I told him to have fun with that castrated sounding Fender :p
Originally Posted by Twinfan
In 06 I didn't know what a PRS was. I was an Average Player (I'm still an average player), and I was traveling with an extra day to kill in Phx so I spent part of it at a GC looking for a Les Paul. I couldn't find one that would stay in tune or that didn't have quality issues and all the time there was this amazing Emerald Green Cu24AP on the wall behind the register where no one could get it. I finally asked them to take it off the wall and let me try it. That was all it took. Sure it was more money than I expected to pay, but it was more guitar than I was getting in the other offerings.
It was only after I purchased it and started searching what I had found that I learned some folks wouldn't think they were the most amazing guitars on the planet. I thought all the negative talk was silly. Just play one and we can stop all the blah blah blah. I still think that, but they have to play it without preconceived notions about what it is or what it should be.
I would agree, although the cost of SE's seems to be rising these days and I don't really consider them to be a budget guitar any more, they have definitely shifted into the mid range price wise.
Originally Posted by Rodicus
I've only every recommended a PRS to one of my students because he really liked my Cu24 SE and he came to me with a budget in mind to buy a new guitar and that was able to get him a new 2011 Cu24 SE for a couple of hundred quid off.
If a parent comes to me for advice on purchasing or upgrading a beginner guitar, I generally recommend good old Yamaha Pacifica's....
The Pacificas are very good guitars for the money. Had a few over the years and still have one. Before they came out budget guitars meant plywood and questonable construction, etc. They set a new bar for quality at a low price. They've been overtaken by the other manufacturers since but it was the guitar to have if you wanted something good for tuppence. I'd still recommend a £200 Pacifica over a similar priced Squier or Epi.
Originally Posted by DRM_777
SE's are definately mid-priced to me. I tend to look at 'budget as being £300 or less'. It's a crowded world in the mid price category but SE's are without doubt one of the best if not thee best guitars you can buy in that price range. Serious workhorse guitars.
If I had children and they wanted to learn guitar there's no way i'd buy them an SE to start with. Nor would I buy them something that's poor quality.
However, if they started to show potential and looked like they really where going to put the effort in then i'd move them on to a more serious instrument such as an SE.
(Different story if you're looking at used prices I guess.)
I think a lot has to with keeping an open mind. Gibson and Fender give cash incentives to dealers. Both companies have been around for years and they are a very common name. I've owned three Gibsons ,a studio, SG and a Traditional. Honestly, I feel Prs are much better when it comes to quality and.Qc.
My dealer here has all the name brands. They sit here forever. I bought my se24 from them after ordering it in. Now they have brought the other Prs's in, can't keep them in stock now. The salesman I deal with who has been a long time Gibson player has fallen in love with a se Torino lol. I'm working these people in to changing their minds. Not hard at all either, put a prs in front of them and watch closely....I should ask Prs.for commission lol
I think with the prolific increase of Country players using PRSi, you'll see that trend start to wane...
I think PRS is still breaking into the market in a sense - yes, the company has been around for 25+ years now, but Fender and Gibson had a big head start, and when we look back at most of the classic sounds (and looks, sadly) of the past, it's a lot of Fender and Gibson. That's one reason I think people are reluctant, they want a certain sound and/or look, and they just aren't familiar with PRS. Heck, I didn't know anything about PRS the first time I saw one of their guitars being played (but you can see how that worked out for me).
I'll also agree with price - people see USA made Fenders and Gibsons going for under a grand, and assume that for how expensive a PRS is, they can't possibly be getting their money's worth when they can get another brand so much cheaper. Then they make the mistake of not actually trying a PRS, and walking out of a store with a Gibson. I won't go near a sub-grand Gibson with a ten foot pole, the necks are like 2x4's with frets, and the action is horrible. I think people buy them for the name and assume it must be good, not knowing how much better it could be. Plain and simple, it's not that cheap to make a high quality guitar in the USA.
And of course, the SE's get thrown in with the other imports. But I'll say this, I've tried plenty of Epi's, Schecter's, ESP/LTD's, Squier's, etc. and they JUST DON'T COMPARE. The Epi's have wobbly knobs, poorly set inlays, and bad setups, dead spots, etc. ESP/LTD's are supposedly made in the same factory as SE's from what I've heard, I'd like to know how that works. I've never heard one that had a good sound even unplugged, they sound like they have rubber bands for strings, so dead. Similar stories for the other brands.
A bit off here but, when did PRS start referring to SE's as 'Student Editions.' A friend of mine said when the first Santana SE came out the SE stood for 'Special Edition.'
See for me as far as I see with the exception of Some of the ridiculousness that transpires on TGP PRS guitars arrived a long time go..To Jamie's point about country....any time there is an awards show or a special I see more and more PRS being showcased...pretty big across other genre's...hard rock, metal...etc.. Come to think of it many music specials on TV no matter what genre seem to be showcasing PRS. Locally at least as far as the other musicians are concerned they are completely accepted.
The amps on the other hand not as much....I got into it on TGP about this a few days go. I just don't understand why people critique without having any direct experience with a particular piece of gear or instrument....try the tool as it was intended...then give an informed opinion.
According to PRSh, the "SE" always stood for student edition, it goes back to when Carlos Santana urged him to make a guitar that students could afford. There's an interview floating around on YT where Paul talks about it. But you're right, the company hasn't ever made it abundantly clear what SE stands for.
Originally Posted by solacematt
I feel the same, in fact I think I read the thread you're referring to. A lot of people at TGP (and lots of other places) are knocking the PRS amps, and they've only listened to YT clips and are acting like they know. Or they've played one just to reinforce their preconceived notions, but didn't really give it a fair workout. In an effort to be polite to the others at the shop, they keep the volume at 1 or 2. I'll admit, many of the complaints I've heard about PRS amp tones are true - until you get past "polite" on the volume knob. PRS is making amps to emulate Hendrix tones, using custom transformers for certain power tubes - no one is going for Jimi's famous bedroom tone, c'mon. I play the SE 30, and just like people say, the gain sounds pretty buzzy - until about 12:00 on the volume dial, then it opens way up and RIPS. And probably a few people even on this forum are reading this and thinking the same about my amp that TGP'ers think about all PRS amps "here we go, some guy with an SE amp that thinks its worth a hoot" - if you haven't cranked one up, you don't know. Those things will mess you up (in a good way).
Originally Posted by DirtyMoonsRJT
Something funny happened to me recently - I went on vacation for a few days, but my band's practice space is at my place. I leave them a key when I'm out of town so they can jam. Our other guitarist has said from the get go that he thinks PRS guitars are ugly and lame. He's a bit of a hipster type that loves strange/vintage guitars, he usually plays my heavily modded strat through my Tweaker 40 at practice if he doesn't have his own gear there (which is frequently, but NBD to me). Yet when I get home, the recording gear is set up and there's a mic in front of my SE30. And my Akesson sitting next to it. So I asked him today at practice, "hey, did you use my PRS amp to record the other day?" And he replied "Yeah... and your guitar too..." And that's when I knew he couldn't deny it anymore. Boom.
Not that I can blame him, I have a hard time playing my Tweaker anymore either. Lots of people knock the SE amps, and the Tweaker is one of the most loved sub-$1K amps around, but when I play them side by side I keep coming back to the PRS. Maybe I'll sell it to him when I get a Blistertone, or an MDT... Anyways, back to the original point. I have no problem with people who really sit down with a PRS amp and work with it, and flat out don't like it - that's fair. But I think deep down a lot of players are scared, they already see that PRS guitars are better than whatever they play, and they don't want to feel that way about their amps too.
I think it's a fairly safe to say from the responses on this page that those who are reluctant of PRS are either just plain ignorant and have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to PRS, or, they are hipsters who are obviously waaaaay too cool and ahead of the curve to play PRS.....
I have no doubt that there are small number of folks out there who do have a clue and have more than likely tried PRS but it turns out it really just wasnt for them, and that's fair enough and I imagine these are the kinds of players who end up using the likes of Framus and Sadowsky, you know, very much the high end of the spectrum very much like the PRS Private Stock. (I'd love me one of those Sadowsky T models).
Sadly, this is a pretty accurate view of most of the negative forum chatter out there. Most players are used to setting master volume amps like most Boogie players do...master at 2. Very few Boogies get their real strength - the power stage - exercised. With this in mind, I decided to revisit the HXDA and 25th anniversary amps with a different perspective.
Originally Posted by andy474x
The first time I auditioned these PRS amps I walked away disappointed. There's a modern vibe that I spent years dialing out of my Boogie and with the 2x12 pine cab with V30s, I couldn't get past that mid presence scoop. But I spent the whole time with the master/attenuator at about 50% (in all fairness, I was in a tiny practice room and the volume was debilitating!) and not where these amps shine (75%-100%). Returning to these amps a couple of months later, having really done my homework, the experience was totally different. And after standing directly in front of David Grissom and having him demo the same amps, that was it. Ultimately, you have to step back from your perch (regardless of how many years of experience you have) and listen to those that built the gear. Having a truly knowledgable sales person also helps A LOT.
Wow, some very good replies! I've considered most of the above mentioned but not all. At least now I know I'm not the only one who is puzzled by the reluctance of others.
Don't forget there is a lot pf posturing in on line forums, with people saying things they think would be perceived as cool or accepted. Also, remember in the 90s/00s nu-metal community, PRS ruled. Just like lots of Nashville/country guys play PRS today. In fact, in many popular bands, the guitar player has at least one PRS in the arsenal. And while a PRS may sound like, or even "better" than a vintage Les Paul, it will never be a vintage LP. And that's okay. I love my Les Pauls too. But I don't pay any attention to people who say they would not play a PRS because its a "rich guys" guitar. That's just small mindedness.