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Thread: SE vs Older US Model

  1. #21
    Senior Member slev's Avatar
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    I've had several SEs and been through my share of production model MD made PRSi and the quality on both, as compared to competitors, is superior. You can't go wrong with either. Boogie is right, as soon as I got my first PRS, an SE Singlecut, I was looking to buy another. Next one was a MD made CE22 and I've never looked back. Every PRSi I have had has been flawless, tone is subjective to some extent and not every PRS works for every player or type of music. That said, I can't say the same for Gibson for example. It took me awhile to find an LP that just felt 'right' and had the type of build quality I expect from an instrument in that price range.
    Gear: Fender, PRS, Orange, Budda

  2. #22
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    Wow there is alot of good advice on here. Thank you all

  3. #23
    Senior Member Sage's Avatar
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    I'm late to this thread but I'll just add that if you're selling off most of your other gear to buy a PRS, you probably aren't looking to settle for an SE. The SE line is certainly impressive for the money but the US models really are a cut above. Finding a used or older model is a great idea; I actually prefer the older models myself, for the most part.

    I'll also point out that the Custom 24 is the original PRS production model, the guitar that really turned PRS into a coveted brand. Perhaps I'm biased because it's my favorite model, but I'd say try one out and see what you think.

  4. #24
    Member Gibson67v's Avatar
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    my '97 CE 22 feels better, plays better, sounds better, and will last longer than ANY PRS SE!! Carved Tops, Properly Dried Wood, EVERYTHING hand assembled and tested... PRS SE's are great guitars (I wouldn't waste my time on one, personally) but they pale in comparison to the US Models!!
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  5. #25
    Senior Member Chris528's Avatar
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    Well being the owner of 5 SEs and picking up my first US model today I will chime in.

    I love my SE guitars, but after just a little bit of time on my 01 CE22 I can tell you that I highly recommend a older Us model over a SE model.
    "BADASS MODDED" SE SEMI-HOLLOW W/BIGSBY
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  6. #26
    Member Gibson67v's Avatar
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    There are plenty of sites that sell Used Paul Reed Smiths at decent prices that ship... elderly is always a great place to look
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  7. #27
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibson67v View Post
    my '97 CE 22 feels better, plays better, sounds better, and will last longer than ANY PRS SE!! Carved Tops, Properly Dried Wood, EVERYTHING hand assembled and tested... PRS SE's are great guitars (I wouldn't waste my time on one, personally) but they pale in comparison to the US Models!!
    Having an opinion does NOT make it a fact!

    Look, no one is in any doubt that the US production guitars are generallybetter guitars than the SE's - IF you look at the overall picture of component pieces, and the quality of said component pieces and everything else that goes into making a guitar.

    But it's not just about quality is it?

    It's also about whether you like the sound, about whether you like the feel, whether you like the look, etc...

    A guitar is a very personal thing, so just saying "Buy a used US PRS" only fills in one part of the picture.

    Some SE's are unique... Oh.... And they WILL last you a lifetime if you look after them. Last time I looked I didn't see a bloody 'Best Before' date on it!!!

    The SE's are good INSTRUMENTS that are more than up to the job.
    Last edited by Mikegarveyblues; 06-09-2013 at 07:17 PM.
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  8. #28
    Member RichardJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikegarveyblues View Post
    Having an opinion does NOT make it a fact!

    Look, no one is in any doubt that the US production guitars are generallybetter guitars than the SE's - IF you look at the overall picture of component pieces, and the quality of said component pieces and everything else that goes into making a guitar.

    But it's not just about quality is it?

    It's also about whether you like the sound, about whether you like the feel, whether you like the look, etc...

    A guitar is a very personal thing, so just saying "Buy a used US PRS" only fills in one part of the picture.

    Some SE's are unique... Oh.... And they WILL last you a lifetime if you look after them. Last time I looked I didn't see a bloody 'Best Before' date on it!!!

    The SE's are good INSTRUMENTS that are more than up to the job.
    +1

    I consider I got lucky getting my CE in a good trade deal. Raising a really big red flag to some of the bulls my other go-to 'bucker guitar is a Korean made 2005 Ibanez SA120, it cost me £90 and is made, finished, feels and plays better than so many way more expensive US guitars I have had. Origin is no guarantee, it is the actual guitar in your hands that matters.

  9. #29
    Member Gibson67v's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikegarveyblues View Post
    Having an opinion does NOT make it a fact!

    Look, no one is in any doubt that the US production guitars are generallybetter guitars than the SE's - IF you look at the overall picture of component pieces, and the quality of said component pieces and everything else that goes into making a guitar.

    But it's not just about quality is it?

    It's also about whether you like the sound, about whether you like the feel, whether you like the look, etc...

    A guitar is a very personal thing, so just saying "Buy a used US PRS" only fills in one part of the picture.

    Some SE's are unique... Oh.... And they WILL last you a lifetime if you look after them. Last time I looked I didn't see a bloody 'Best Before' date on it!!!

    The SE's are good INSTRUMENTS that are more than up to the job.
    The dude was asking for opinions, was he not?
    I've owned both SE's and USA Made Paul Reed Smiths.
    I've suggested SE's to people who are starting out with playing guitar (Hence SE = Student Edition)
    I've been playing for 19 years now and I'm very particular about the Feel, Tone, and Longevity of my guitars... I've earned that right!!
    I've also earned the right to respond to a question of SE vs US Made
    I absolutely respect anyones choice to purchase and play SE's.... they are great guitars
    If the dude would have said "I played an SE and a US Made and I like the SE better. am I wrong?" it would have been a totally different answer
    But an opinion was what the dude was looking for...
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  10. #30
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    The dude was asking for opinions, was he not?
    And this is a counter opinion to the one you posted. You 'opinions' at some points where dressed up as facts. A case in point is that you say your CE will sound better, play better and last longer than ANY SE. Have you played every SE? have you listened to every SE? Can you prove your CE will last longer? The insinuation is that an SE will not last and will at some point fall apart in your hands. You also mention 'properly dried woods'. How could you possibly know if the factory that makes the SE's properly dry the wood or not? You seem to be taking the view that because the guitar is 'cheaper' and made abroad then they couldn't possibly be doing a 'proper' job of building these things! But in truth (Unless you worked there) you have NO idea!

    I've owned both SE's and USA Made Paul Reed Smiths.
    But you haven't owned them all. Again... If we're talking in general terms I don't doubt the US PRS's are better guitars overall. I will at some point own one I'm sure. The notion that US PRS's are of higher quality pretty much all round is not under any doubt and I will be happy to part with my cash for one when the time comes. This will not stop me loving my SE's and knowing I have great guitars. However, I will not be buying a US PRS simply because it's a US one or that it's higher quality. There has to be more to it. It will have to tick EVERY box. In short, it will have to be exactly what I want. This is the issue I have given the OP's budget. The argument is to get a US PRS simply because it's a US one and all that implies. That leaves out a lot of things that may or may not decide whether the OP truly loves it.

    I've suggested SE's to people who are starting out with playing guitar (Hence SE = Student Edition)
    The insinuation here is that SE's are purely for beginners. Nonsense!!! Student Edition is a misnomer. Yes, many people (including myself I dare say) thought it stood for Student Edition. This appears not to be the case. Nobody knows what SE really stands for (If anything at all) and indeed there's a video out there in which PRSh pulls up an interviewer who mentions it.

    The SE's are a perfectly good instrument to start on so I'm not knocking you for suggesting them. However these are musical instruments just as much as US PRS. The quality levels may indeed be different but that does not stop the SE being a perfectly good musical instrument. There is no reason why you can't go into a studio and record with one. There is no reason why you couldn't walk out onto a stage in front of thousands with one. And let's not forget the audience couldn't give a sh*t!!! There are plenty of pro musicians that have recorded and played on major stages the world over with SE's. Indeed, I saw Bernie Marsden himself play to tens of thousands with a stock version of his guitar just a few weeks ago. Sounded great!!! The guy owns one of the 'Holy Grails' of guitar but has used his sig (Both stock and with US pups) relentlessly for the past year and a half. Sure, he want's people to buy it but many, many artists who have cheaper sig guitars - never actually or rarely use them. Bernie does. He clearly believes in it!

    I've been playing for 19 years now and I'm very particular about the Feel, Tone, and Longevity of my guitars... I've earned that right!!
    Snap! About the amount of time I've been playing too. I'm also particular about feel, tone and quality. I play an SE because it ticks those boxes. If my budget was larger I would also play a US PRS and a US Fender, etc... I've been playing long enough to know the difference between a good guitar and a stinker. The SE's are good guitars. Period.

    I've also earned the right to respond to a question of SE vs US Made
    You have! As I said, this is a counter opinion. I'm not knocking your overall message of 'look at the US guitars in your budget' but some of the points you made regarding SE's.

    I absolutely respect anyones choice to purchase and play SE's.... they are great guitars
    Ou said they are great guitars but in the same sentence said "I wouldn't waste my time on one, personally". Bit of a conflicting view is it not?

    If the dude would have said "I played an SE and a US Made and I like the SE better. am I wrong?" it would have been a totally different answer
    Fair enough.

    But an opinion was what the dude was looking for...
    He has got opinions. But we should stick with facts not supposition.
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  11. #31
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Dudes. C'mon.
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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  12. #32
    Member Gibson67v's Avatar
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    to Mikegarveyblues

    I certainly don't mean to come across disrespectful. In my experiences with the SE's that I have played and the US Models that I have played. The US Models (to me) are far more comfortable to play, They sound better through the amps that I have played them through (I always play test with a Mesa, a Fender, and an Orange in music stores), and from my experiences with friends/acquaintances the SE's tend to do what most other guitars do from Winter to Spring to Summer... Neck Movement.

    I'll give you a little background here. I'm currently living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our winters here are quite cold and lately we have winter weather in December, Spring weather in January, Winter weather in February, Spring weather in March, Winter weather in April, and finally summer until october... that's pretty hard on most guitars. I've owned a lot of guitars that just can't handle the climate change. the US Made Paul Reed Smiths that I own have NEVER had any neck issues... as a matter of fact I haven't even had to adjust anything on them (save for my Custom 24 that I needed to adjust the opening for the term arm so it would stay in). so usually around april/may when most of my friends/acquaintances are taking their guitars (most of which are Gibson or SE models) in for a set up or looking up how that's done online... I'm usually just cursing that my acoustic is Gibson and not Paul Reed Smith. The Wood drying process on US Paul Reed Smiths is phenomenal and in my experience has never caused me to baby... my babies.

    There's no questioning wether SE models are great instruments or not... they are! Hands down they would be my second choice if I could not longer acquire US Models and I was in need of a new guitar. You are absolutely correct in saying that I have not owned/played every SE model. I haven't even owned/played every US model. about once a month I will have someone come to me and say that they want to buy a new guitar or buy their first guitar... so I will go with them to one of the local music stores here in Edmonton. I will sit down and explain why SE's are the best to start with because they are comfortable and well made guitars... I will then sit and play every SE that is in house and we'll decide which one is best for them. I will also have them play 1 US model too so they can tell the difference. They can tell the difference (generally) but the price tag is usually what gets them to purchase the SE. Now don't worry... I also have them test out other guitars, too. But I have never had anyone actually want anything but an SE.

    So... in a nutshell... if you have the ability to try out SE's AND US models... you NEED to do that... however, if you don't have the ability to do so (I've been in places where no one carries PRS locally) and you are looking for advice/opinions on which has better sound and quality... my vote is for US Made models. More attention is put to the guitar than SE models and they don't generally require much maintenance (again that's my experience).

    and to clarify... I, myself, would not waste MY time on an SE. that is MY choice. I, personally, can tell a major difference when I play the two and I've been playing them long enough without ANY problems. As an example... the oldest PRS that I have is a '97 CE 22... I haven't had to adjust anything since I purchased that guitar. I also leave my guitars out of their cases and in stands... something I could not do when I owned Gibson Guitars and the few SE's that I used to own. Now... again I'll state... I am in Canada and the weather can get a little nippy here...
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  13. #33
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibson67v View Post
    to Mikegarveyblues

    I certainly don't mean to come across disrespectful. In my experiences with the SE's that I have played and the US Models that I have played. The US Models (to me) are far more comfortable to play, They sound better through the amps that I have played them through (I always play test with a Mesa, a Fender, and an Orange in music stores), and from my experiences with friends/acquaintances the SE's tend to do what most other guitars do from Winter to Spring to Summer... Neck Movement.

    I'll give you a little background here. I'm currently living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our winters here are quite cold and lately we have winter weather in December, Spring weather in January, Winter weather in February, Spring weather in March, Winter weather in April, and finally summer until october... that's pretty hard on most guitars. I've owned a lot of guitars that just can't handle the climate change. the US Made Paul Reed Smiths that I own have NEVER had any neck issues... as a matter of fact I haven't even had to adjust anything on them (save for my Custom 24 that I needed to adjust the opening for the term arm so it would stay in). so usually around april/may when most of my friends/acquaintances are taking their guitars (most of which are Gibson or SE models) in for a set up or looking up how that's done online... I'm usually just cursing that my acoustic is Gibson and not Paul Reed Smith. The Wood drying process on US Paul Reed Smiths is phenomenal and in my experience has never caused me to baby... my babies.

    There's no questioning wether SE models are great instruments or not... they are! Hands down they would be my second choice if I could not longer acquire US Models and I was in need of a new guitar. You are absolutely correct in saying that I have not owned/played every SE model. I haven't even owned/played every US model. about once a month I will have someone come to me and say that they want to buy a new guitar or buy their first guitar... so I will go with them to one of the local music stores here in Edmonton. I will sit down and explain why SE's are the best to start with because they are comfortable and well made guitars... I will then sit and play every SE that is in house and we'll decide which one is best for them. I will also have them play 1 US model too so they can tell the difference. They can tell the difference (generally) but the price tag is usually what gets them to purchase the SE. Now don't worry... I also have them test out other guitars, too. But I have never had anyone actually want anything but an SE.

    So... in a nutshell... if you have the ability to try out SE's AND US models... you NEED to do that... however, if you don't have the ability to do so (I've been in places where no one carries PRS locally) and you are looking for advice/opinions on which has better sound and quality... my vote is for US Made models. More attention is put to the guitar than SE models and they don't generally require much maintenance (again that's my experience).

    and to clarify... I, myself, would not waste MY time on an SE. that is MY choice. I, personally, can tell a major difference when I play the two and I've been playing them long enough without ANY problems. As an example... the oldest PRS that I have is a '97 CE 22... I haven't had to adjust anything since I purchased that guitar. I also leave my guitars out of their cases and in stands... something I could not do when I owned Gibson Guitars and the few SE's that I used to own. Now... again I'll state... I am in Canada and the weather can get a little nippy here...
    It's cool.. I was a little strong in my reply so apologies for that.

    I think all good points and a useful discussion. I think everyone is going to have different experiences... it's interesting you brought up the point about climate and it's effects. I do tweak the truss rod on all my guitars a couple of times a year, although this is extremely subtle and I'm extremely anal when it comes to all the measurements. More than I need to I'm sure!

    If the US PRS's are remaining rock solid that's cool. The climate here (As well as everywhere else it seems) has gone to extremes over the past few years and it has taken it's toll on a couple of guitars. They are absolute cheapos though so I shouldn't be surprised. The two SE's... A couple of minor tweaks to the setup are needed every few months.
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  14. #34
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    Despite my wonderful PRS experiences, I'm still a believer in the individual guitar over the make/model. Find the guitar that speaks to you without regard to color or features. And don't worry about pickup output because if the guitar is that good, you'll have to re-EQ your rig, regardless. And if it's bright pink and yellow with sequins, who cares? (OK, that might actually be a deal-breaker for me)

    Search out the right guitar for YOU. If that ends up being a PRS SE model, so be it. But if all other factors are the same, the Maryland-made models are masterpieces of human craftsmanship. Maybe you just need to find your first PRS but keep your eye out for #2? Good luck.

    ^^^^^^^^^. THIS
    Quote Originally Posted by Gibson67v View Post
    my '97 CE 22 feels better, plays better, sounds better, and will last longer than ANY PRS SE!! Carved Tops, Properly Dried Wood, EVERYTHING hand assembled and tested... PRS SE's are great guitars (I wouldn't waste my time on one, personally) but they pale in comparison to the US Models!!
    ^^^^^^^^. NOT THIS

    So far as we know, PRS requires World Guitars to dry their woods and hand assemble just like they do in Stevensville.


    Find local examples of models from both lines and PLAY them YOURSELF.

    ... what a concept!
    Last edited by rugerpc; 06-10-2013 at 02:22 PM.
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  15. #35
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post

    So far as we know, PRS requires World Guitars to dry their woods and hand assemble just like they do in Stevensville.
    I've wondered about this... Do the SE's really get the wood treatment that the MD models do? I always figured they didn't, but if they do that's great!
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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  16. #36
    Member Gibson67v's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy474x View Post
    I've wondered about this... Do the SE's really get the wood treatment that the MD models do? I always figured they didn't, but if they do that's great!
    I don't believe so... otherwise there would barely be any movement in the neck. It'd be nice to know their process though... I would think that more people are buying SE's than US because of price point... it's be nice to have a factory tour and all for the SE line.
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  17. #37
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    PRS showed World Guitars exactly what to do and they have a strict QC process.

    Some movement in the neck is normal behaviour - it's one of the reasons they have adjustable truss rods. As I said, I have to make tweaks every once in a while but they're extremely subtle. This to me is expected behaviour. I'll take your word for it that the US necks are more stable. I don't have a US PRS at the moment so I can't directly compare. I would still expect some movement as minute as it may be. I just don't see anything with my SE's neck behaviour that is out of the ordinary though.
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  18. #38
    We are all very different people and want different things out of our instruments. Some take playability over looks, some are attracted to the label on the headstock and/or pretty colours.

    Only you can decide what is important to you. If you will not be happy unless you have a US guitar in your hands, then it's not even worth considering a SE. You will always have the 'what if', and therefore you should seek out a used US model.

    If on the other hand you are looking for a guitar to speak to you, then just hit the shops and play as many as you can and buy the one that you fall in love with.

    You can get tons of advice in forums, but only YOU can make a decision on what is best for you.

    I love my SE, and I play it daily, but I will never be happy until I have a US model in my collection. But that's not a slur on the SE, it's just my dumb nature.

    I'm the same with my Fender guitars. I own two great Mexicans, but am desperate for a US model.

    My problem is though, that once I get me a US model, I'll then be hankering after a Private Stock or Custom Shop guitar.

    I hate this part of me, I guess I'm never fully satisfied. Even when I buy something non guitar related, I always wonder if I should have bought the other type/model.

    Anyway, to recap, take all the good advice here and apply it to you personally and make your decision based on your personality. Hopefully you'll end up with the right guitar for you.

    Sorry about the long post...
    Last edited by Desperado; 06-10-2013 at 06:56 PM. Reason: Spelling - fat thumbs and iPhones don't mix!

  19. #39
    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    Getting back to the heart of the matter, and liamb's original question, at the risk of sounding corny, I think the American PRSi go about their business with a bit more "grace and aplomb" than their Korean cousins.

    I read a review years back when someone was trying to describe the difference between a Honda Civic and an Acura Integra, and that's the way the reviewer described the Acura. Both cars, err, guitars, will get you there, but the MD PRSi have more character, you can get more complexity and range out of them.

    That being said, I usually use my SEs playing out because, through 5 pedals and into my smaller combo, those subtleties are less prominent, and it weighs on my conscience much less to beat on a $500 guitar than a $3000 guitar.
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  20. #40
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibson67v View Post
    my '97 CE 22 feels better, plays better, sounds better, and will last longer than ANY PRS SE!! Carved Tops, Properly Dried Wood, EVERYTHING hand assembled and tested... PRS SE's are great guitars (I wouldn't waste my time on one, personally) but they pale in comparison to the US Models!!
    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    So far as we know, PRS requires World Guitars to dry their woods and hand assemble just like they do in Stevensville.
    Quote Originally Posted by andy474x View Post
    I've wondered about this... Do the SE's really get the wood treatment that the MD models do? I always figured they didn't, but if they do that's great!
    Quote Originally Posted by Gibson67v View Post
    I don't believe so... otherwise there would barely be any movement in the neck. It'd be nice to know their process though... I would think that more people are buying SE's than US because of price point... it's be nice to have a factory tour and all for the SE line.
    This is why I weighed in on this thread. I have SEs that are as old as the line (my Original first model Santana is still my go-to-lessons guitar) and NONE of them have experienced any neck movement. None of them have required any truss rod adjustments despite years of being wall-hung without AC, humidifiers or dehumidifiers in our very changeable Maryland weather.

    My studio is way more climate controlled these days. But for years, it was far less than optimal.

    Since we have not had a tour of the overseas factory and since we have every reason to believe that PRSh would be quite particular about the standards to which the SEs must be built before he would put HIS name on them, statements about inattention to wood drying and shoddy assembly are uninformed and disinformation.

    If it is your opinion, fine, but unless you KNOW that the woods are not dried properly and the assembly is less than perfect, it is not helpful or wise to claim otherwise.
    Last edited by rugerpc; 06-11-2013 at 07:26 AM. Reason: found a missing word....
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