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Thread: Slightly puzzled by PRS marketing ...

  1. #1
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    Slightly puzzled by PRS marketing ...

    Hi All,

    When comparing the three "cousins" (SE 22, S2 22 and Custom 22) I am a bit puzzled by certain 'marketing' choices.

    There is a serious price gap from one model to the other and in order to justify this, there must be some (visible, audible, ...) differences:
    . the SE mainly differentiates itself from the S2 by its country of origin (also by the quality of the sound although I have seem some debate over this)
    . the S2 differentiates itself from the standard 22 by a few technical choices but also by its colours and absence of quilted tops.

    It seems as if PRS is especially known for the quality of its quilted top. I'm most likely going to purchase a S2 22 (or 24) but am not super excited about the colour choices and would love a quilted top. However, if the S2 had a quilted top, I believe many buyers would migrate from the standard 22 to the S2.

    Taken the above into account, why the heck did PRS choose quilted tops for the SE? It's like putting the body of a Rolls on the engine of a 'cheaper' car...

    Opinions anyone?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Whitecat's Avatar
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    The quilt on SEs is veneer, not solid though. Some people won't like that extra slice of wood and prefer a traditional construction.

    Remember too the carve is different between SE/S2 and Core products and this is reflected in the price - the 'violin' carve they do on the top of the Cores is more labour intensive (and quite frankly requires some mad skills) so that's another x in the equation.

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    Hi Eric

    What would YOU rather have - an SE, an S2 or a core line model?

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    Whitecat: thanks, that makes sense and perhaps for questions of "nobility" I wouldn't want veneer on the S2. Well, subject to debate...

    Michael: the answer seems obvious to me (but perhaps not to others). I would much rather have a core line model. However, the price tag isn't the same. Furthermore, I'm not much of a guitarist and would rather improve my playing before moving up to a core line ;-)

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    Senior Member jimistephen's Avatar
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    Does a MIM strat look that much different than a CS Strat from across the room? Also the S2/core the neck/headstock is made quite a bit different, allowing them to save more wood which helps bring the price down to the $1500 price point.

    As a side note you keep calling the Custom 22 the standard 22, there are two different models with those names.
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    Senior Member Audie's Avatar
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    Morning Eric and Welcome to the forum. Quilt tops as it relates to the S2 and SE line? Quilt is a bit more rarer than flame. Also maybe, and this is just my opinion, placing the veneer quilt on the SE line was a strategic move to boast their appearance. Keep in mind, it is a solid maple top (something no other brand offers on an introductory line) with a quilt or flame maple 1 or 2mm veneer on top of the maple. The resulting quilt veneer further sets the SE line apart with it's irresistable look.

    Because quilt is rarer and more expensive, a solid quilt top on the S2 line would prove costly for trying to make the S2 economically attractive. Also, it is important to note that PRS is no longer offering quilt tops with the artist package, because of supply. There are still quilt tops available as 10 tops though on the Core line, and of course through Private Stock. This is because in addition to rarity, quilt figuring is not as consistent as flame throughout the board. So when carving, what starts out as say an artist top, could easily drop down to a standard quilt top after carving. This happens with flame also, but not near as much. So you are left with a standard quilt top when you are in need of an artist quilt top. The result is diminshed supply as you start over with a new quilt top that is marked as artist grade. While the wood is carefully graded, there is no way of knowing for sure what you have until it it is carved. To chance this with the SE line or S2 line, would be out of the question.
    Last edited by Audie; 07-27-2014 at 11:12 AM. Reason: added "S2 line" in last sentence

  7. #7
    The SE line is brilliant because it plays well, sounds very good, and emulates the core PRS look.

    The S2 line is, to me, about stripped-down tone and playability on very near the Core level. Either one will get you addicted to PRS.

    You'll be mainlining Core models and PS eventually. That's their evil plan.

    Welcome!
    Last edited by LSchefman; 07-27-2014 at 11:46 AM.
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    Yippy ki yay! xjbebop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    The SE line is brilliant because it plays well, sounds very good, and emulates the core PRS look.

    The S2 line is, to me, about stripped-down tone and playability on very near the Core level. Either one will get you addicted to PRS.

    You'll be mainlining Core models and PS eventually. That's their evil plan.

    Welcome!

    I am a victim of this strategy.... and quite happy about it!

    Just because they might look alike in pictures and on paper (or pixels..), they are not.
    They are all quality instruments, but they are all different animals. If / when you set down with all three and actually touch them and play them and listen to them, then you will know the answers...
    "There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion.."
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    Thanks guys for your answer. Thanks Audie for your explanation.

    @Jimistephen: ok, noted

    Off to the store in a few days... Plunging into addiction I suppose...

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    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like you are trying to justify to yourself why the SE is where you end up. Not a bad choice really. I love mine. You get great tone, great playability, and a great look. But many who start there, move up because they keep the thought lingering in their head about what the upper levels would be like. Nothing wrong with it except it can end up costing you more because you have to sell the SE used or you keep it and save for the higher priced guitar anyway.

    And about improving your skills before "moving up" - that's BS. I played a cheap Squier Strat for 20 years. Then when I decided that talent or no, I wanted a good guitar, I jumped straight to an Artist Package Cu24. Best move I ever made. I used my tax return to get it and I'll never regret it. I instantly became a better player because the guitar wasn't holding me back, and I played it a lot more too. It has been my experience that the better the guitar, the more you will play it.

    I've said it before and it looks like I'll say it again, buy the best guitar your budget will allow. You won't be disappointed. The reverse may not be true. If your budget only will allow the SE, then buy it and be happy. If you can afford the S2, get it and love it. If you have a budget for the core model, that's where you should buy. Just make sure to include a good amp in your budget. The amp is at least half the equation to bring out a quality tone.
    Last edited by AP515; 07-27-2014 at 02:26 PM.
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    Member tolm's Avatar
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    I spent time with a Core Line SC58 and SE 245 recently. The SE was nice enough but you could feel and (crucially) hear the difference - it was really quite jarring to go back to the SE after playing the Core model.

    I also spent some time demoing my new amp with an S2 Mira recently. That felt night and day better than the SE and sounded amazing. As good as the Core line? Hard to say but it was damn close. Didn't look as "bling" - obviously - but I think that's the point:

    - SE : Bling On A Budget
    - S2 : Feel and Tone at the Best Possible Price
    - Core : Got The Moolah? Get Both!

    I think it's a pretty smart line up. And since I love the Mira and Starla, it's likely my next PRS with be an S2.
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    Sound advice.

    Interesting what people have to say. Some - not so much in this thread but I've read it elsewhere -- will say that there's no difference in sound between a SE and a S2 and other will say that it's night and day...

    @AP515: as a matter of fact I was leaning towards an S2 22. I've haven't actually seen any - I'll only be able to go to the shop this coming week - but the only thing that was throwing me back was that they seem "sad". The colours seem bleak (probably perfect for the blues;-)). I'm not looking for a flashy pink or the like but something more joyful. I don't want a grey guitar, damn it! As a matter of fact, the dark cherry burst seems nice.
    Yes, regarding the amp, I had gotten that part. I'm aiming at a small tube amp. I'll try a few but have read very good reviews about the Hughes and Kettner 5w.
    It's not so much that I want to improve before upgrading my guitar. It's more about mixing an intermediate-low player for a top guitar which I find a bit ridiculous. I know Ill be able to go a long way with the S2 though.

  13. #13
    Senior Member sleary's Avatar
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    I'd say the tops on the s2's arent too shabby ......

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    Not so bad after all ;-)

  15. #15
    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    You could go solid colors:
    1988 CE24, 1995 CE22, 2000 SC, 2003 Standard 22, 2003 Cu24 AP, 2006 Cu24 AP, 2006 SC AP, 2007 CuRo22, 2010 Starla Stoptail, 2010 Mira
    2007 SE Soapy 2, 2010 SE 25th Anni Cu24, 2012 SE Bernie, 2013 SE Angelus Custom

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricS View Post
    It seems as if PRS is especially known for the quality of its quilted top. I'm most likely going to purchase a S2 22 (or 24) but am not super excited about the colour choices and would love a quilted top. However, if the S2 had a quilted top, I believe many buyers would migrate from the standard 22 to the S2.
    There are, believe it or not, a lot of us not enamored with many of the PRS tops and colors of the cores. The S2 gives guys into understated guitars much of what we like about PRS guitars without the part that we generally don't want, which is fancy tops. Though a little bit of figuring can be nice.
    Last edited by NomadMike; 07-27-2014 at 06:41 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member shinksma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tolm View Post
    I spent time with a Core Line SC58 and SE 245 recently. The SE was nice enough but you could feel and (crucially) hear the difference - it was really quite jarring to go back to the SE after playing the Core model.

    I also spent some time demoing my new amp with an S2 Mira recently. That felt night and day better than the SE and sounded amazing. As good as the Core line? Hard to say but it was damn close. Didn't look as "bling" - obviously - but I think that's the point:

    - SE : Bling On A Budget
    - S2 : Feel and Tone at the Best Possible Price
    - Core : Got The Moolah? Get Both!

    I think it's a pretty smart line up. And since I love the Mira and Starla, it's likely my next PRS with be an S2.
    Interesting observations. My own observations, and take this for the anecdotal evidence it truly is:

    I bought and received a used SE Akerfeldt last week. I played it a few times over the weekend, mixed in with my (core) hollowbody, (core) Cu24, and a MIM strat (first year when still called a Squier, better than the current models, IMHO). Frankly, the SE Akerfeldt plays just as well as the core models. Maybe I got lucky, or maybe I'm not as picky in guitar feel, but I am able to rock that guitar just as much as any other I own. The Cu24's wide-thin neck is easier for me to play blazing solos because I really like that neck profile, but the Akerfeldt's wide-fat neck feels just as good as my HB's wide-fat.

    When I was first looking for a PRS and hunting down the Cu24 I eventually got, I played a new core Cu24 (in a different color from my target) and then just a few minutes later played a used SE Paul Allender (the guitar with the bats on the neck). The SE Allender played better - the Cu24 simply hadn't been set up well at all (which was quite annoying, obviously, and also quite surprising), and it seemed obvious that although used, the previous owner of the Allender had it set up very well (at least, to my preferences). Perhaps Guitar Centers or other stores simply don't take the time to make sure the SE models they have on display are set up properly. I know PRS sets up all the guitars before they ship to stores, but stuff happens in shipping and due to different environments, and people playing them, and a good store should be checking the set-ups of their display stock constantly.

    I don't know whether the SE line has improved mildly in quality since first released - I get the impression it has from reading here and elsewhere, but I've never played any older SE models. And maybe it just depends on what your hands like. Some folks like the meatier feel of wide-fat necks, and find wide-thin necks to be very uncomfortable to play. So maybe that is influencing it. Or the stock .009s on the SEs vs the .010s on the Core line: gives a different feel and tone.

    Anyway, as I said, just a couple of anecdotes to muddy the waters...

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    Junior Member CJM3175's Avatar
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    I own a core model 2013 SC245 now and I love it, but I will proudly defend the SE I let go to get her...

    The ONLY reason I let my PRS SE Paul Allender go was the bat inlays that really just didn't suit my personality or style of play. However, the wide thin profile with jumbo frets combined to make it the best PLAYING guitar I have had to date. There wasn't a single dead spot I could find on the neck, and the notes all rang for days with huge sustain (with AND without an amp hooked up). If you think the S2 models are anything other than USA made SE's I think you are kidding yourself. I am all for supporting US products (hence my current guitar), but as for overall bang for the buck I think the SE's are still the best and much more than just bling on a budget. As proof, I challenge you to go to your local PRS dealer... pick up a new Zach Myers model... and not fall in love with everything about it.
    Last edited by CJM3175; 07-28-2014 at 09:29 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricS View Post
    Interesting what people have to say. Some - not so much in this thread but I've read it elsewhere -- will say that there's no difference in sound between a SE and a S2 and other will say that it's night and day...
    I wouldn't go so far as to say night and day but I do notice a difference when I switch from my SE to my S2. Both have had their pickups replaced, but the new pickups are of similar high quality so I do think it comes down to the guitar, and despite the fact that they are different layout and construction, the S2 is more responsive and has a more complex tone than the SE. Not to poo on the SE though: it is simply amazing and has benched my LP because it does that thick, liquid, sustaining trick as well but plays better and is lighter.

  20. #20
    Member tolm's Avatar
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    I dunno, you use one superlative and everyone get's all excited ...

    I guess fact that I A/B'd the SE with an SC58 could have affected my thoughts a little but my reasons for noticing a difference were:

    - SE neck shape felt more 'run of the mill' with none of the subtle V or rolled edges that I associate with a Wide/Fat or Pattern neck from the Core line.
    - The finish felt (and looked) thicker and more plasticky than on the Core models
    - The pickups (or perhaps overall sound) were extremely mediocre: very bland, flat and generic sounding with none of the personality from a good Core line model

    Now, when I played the S2 Mira a couple of weeks later, it felt, and sounded like my Core Line McCarty II ... and whilst the bling wasn't there the finish and woods looked classier and more in line with the Core range than the SE range.
    Last edited by tolm; 07-28-2014 at 01:00 PM.
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