Several people, including the OP, have posted in this and other forums that they would never consider an S2 long before they ever saw one in person based upon what they think they know about the neck, the carve, the weight, feel, pickups, tone, trem, tuners what have you. My point is that it might be a good idea to plug one (or more) in and try what is actually there before writing them off completely. If they don't like them after actually playing them and giving them a real try, that is a different story.
Reading 'reviews' by people who have not even played the guitars leaves me scratching my head. Sorry for the confusion.
I'm curious though, if you picked up a guitar and it felt inferior or uncomfortable to you, would you still even care about plugging it in? I mean, even if it sounds like angels from the heavens, it still feels like crap and isn't fun to play. I have had the chance to briefly look at an S2 CU24, in person, and yeah it did leave me very underwhelmed for the asking price. Once I held it and played it acoustically, there was no desire to plug it in, because I didn't see the point. Perhaps this is a sub-topic; what is more important to you, comfort and playability or how the pickups sound?
12 408 - 12 DGT - 09 Tremonti II - 98 CU24 - 97 CE22 - Mesa MarkIV - Kemper Profiler Amp - EVH 5150 III
I don't believe that is what happened with the OP. He basically re-states that he knows the tone is inferior because the pickups are not wound in Maryland as he has postulated in other threads.
I have picked up guitars and had no desire to plug them in, I'm sure that is true for anyone who has gone guitar shopping. But I have NEVER bashed the tone of a guitar I have not heard in person or played myself.
Just walked into the GC and there at the PRS section hung 5 S2s. I was quite excited as I wasn't expecting their shipment to be so early! I picked out a Tobacco Sunburst S2 24 and immediately loved the way the neck feels. Being a Wide Thin player, I had to say this neck feels amazing! It's pretty comfortable for my hands, just enough meat to fill the palm and fast enough for leads, kind of like the standard Fender size. Plugging them in, I feel that the sound was great, initial impressions are good. They're clearer than the SE pickups, probably because although it's MIK, PRS had spec-ed everything for the pickup himself. Clean, the neck pickup sounds great, with the tone rolled down it does some pretty nice jazz. Dirty, it roars with plenty of bite, but not as much as the Mira. Harmonics are great and rolling back the volume cleans up the sound. Rolling down the tone, you can get the flutey blues sound going. Tuners were more solid feeling than those on the SEs, but that's just me nitpicking, the SE tuners are pretty decent in their own standards. I tried it for a bit, and I think they did a great job on the guitar. It really sits between the USA PRS and the SEs, but definitely closer to the Core model in terms of everything, like an affordable version of the Core model. You can't really complain about it at half the price of a USA-made one.
After I've had enough of playing, I inspected the whole guitar all over again. I really like the way the CE-grade tops are. Kind of like the "dirty" maple tops on the 408 in the shop, except with less apparent flames. Not the prettiest looking, but not annoyingly pretty as well. That signature decal on the headstock really helps to "class" it up. Compared to the SE headstock which is cramped with the SE and model name and a PRS silkscreen truss rod cover, it looks greater that way and more expensive-looking, I mean you paid for it right? Being compared to an SE 24, the bird inlays could have looked better if it came in pearloid instead of cream acrylic though. The IRW fretboard also looks rough with lots of pores, even the SE's fretboard looked smoother, but that's probably because the higher grade ones are reserved for the Core line. The differences are quite like a LP Standard compared to a LP Studio. Except the S2s are tidier-looking at corners, and still gets the gloss finish treatment instead of satin.
The pickup selector feels very solid and will withstand lots of abuse, but I've always loved toggles more than blades, so that's a very personal complain. The only one beef I had with it is the tone pot. The volume pot feels smooth and nice, but the tone pot feels loose and a tiny bit scratchy. Probably a proper lubrication will get it working. I've had no use for the coil-split, that's because the humbuckers simply sound better for me! That said, the tone pot is super responsive, just rolling it down to around 7-8, you can feel the high-end frequencies are already rounded off a little bit. That is much more responsive than the SE's tone pot, which is only effective below 6. But that could be because of a bad pot in the SE.
All in all, I feel that it could be a good introduction to the USA PRS, for the people who can't yet afford the Core lines, they sure can pick one up. It'll do the job perfectly without any mods. I would't replace a single thing on it if I get one for myself. But bear this in mind, I've never played a Core model before.
Any other people have tried it and feel that they're great?
I plug in and play every single guitar that I am interested in. I mean, really, who performs on electric guitars unplugged? It's not an acoustic. The resonance is always there even if you play it plugged in, it's not like playing it unplugged will make it resonate differently. Bad guitars just don't resonate well and naturally doesn't sound well plugged in. Bad set-ups can ruin the feel too, so normally if I pick one up and like it but it's not set-up well, I'll just try another of the same model. I don't prejudge guitars myself. Unless it has a Floyd Rose! but it has nothing to do with tone. It's more of a personal opinion thing and I don't go around convincing people that Floyd Roses are bad(-sounding) just because I don't like them.
If I had gone purely by the spec sheet I might not have got my Mira X. If I had been in store and simply picked it up I might not have bought it. I sought the opinions of my peers here, good and bad, took the comments on board and approached it with an open mind. Thank goodness I did. What it on lacks paper in perceived premium features it more than makes up for in feel, playability and tone. The only way to be sure is to plug in and actually use it
I appreciate the comments about the S2 pickups, it was my only area of 'concern', but if it feels and sounds good it's a winner.
I agree that the S2 Custom 24 is kind of "meh," and here's why: in my view, there's a particular price threshold after which I'm no longer interested in a budget option, and am willing to spend much more for a higher-end product. I'm willing to compromise quality up to a certain price point. Once I go beyond that price point, I'm not interested in compromise; I'd rather pay more and get everything I want. That price point varies depending on what the product is (electronics, furniture, guitars, etc.) and even for guitars it can vary depending on the model, brand, etc.
For a PRS guitar, that price point is probably somewhere just below the list price of the S2 line. This is especially true of the Custom 24. Once I'm dedicated to spending more than $1k for a guitar, I'm pretty adamant about getting the carved top, one-piece neck, premium hardware and electronics, and my choice of neck carve.
The Mira and Starla are different; for one thing, the core models are being discontinued, so there isn't a higher-end Mira or Starla to compare the S2 against. But more importantly, the differences in construction between the S2 models and the core models are not nearly as drastic as they are for the Custom 24. The compromise in quality is not as big a deal. This, I think, is the reason most people seem to agree that the Mira looks like the standout of the S2 line. There is very little downside to the S2 version.
Obviously, that pricing threshold differs for everyone, and I'm sure there are folks for whom the S2 represents a good bargain. It is a step above the SE Custom 24, since it has a mahogany neck. It makes sense as a backup guitar, or if you're interested in the Custom 24 but not as your primary guitar (that's how I view the Mira). But for my main squeeze? I already play a Custom 24 from the core line. The idea that I would need to play the stripped-down version to really know for sure whether or not my current axe is better is downright ludicrous when that compromise in quality is the entire point of the line. That's just taking "you can't judge a book by its cover" to extremes. There's nothing bad or wrong about making a judgement on second-hand information if it's reliable.
I will certainly give an S2 a spin should I ever been in the same room with one.
I am anxious to see one in person. But I must admit that I haven't seen a photo of a flame-top one that I found all that attractive. The solid-color ones look good, but to me the veneers on most SEs look nicer than the cap on the S2s. Maybe in person the flamed tops look closer to the grade of wood used on CEs previously (as they said)? The S2 CU24s just don't look like $1400 instruments to me...and we all do alot of shopping with our eyes...
that being said, if they FEEL like $1400 instruments, and if I find one who's got a great personality...maybe we'll have a few dates. I'll let you know in a few months.
I do hope the S2 line is successful. Their worst enemy is the used market. $800 MD Miras are all over, you can still get a CE for under a grand if you look, and barely-touched SEs are sub $400.
1990, 91, 92 & 97 CE24s
1993 Standard 24
2011 Custom 24 Throwback
2012 Signature Limited Trem
2013 408 Brazilian & Paul's Guitar & S2 Mira
There's a whole generation of broke kids playing their SE guitars looking for the next step up. Why do you think they distributed early production models to reasonably popular but not household name bands? The kinds of bands that teens and early 20 somethings listen to? Bands like Surfer Blood or Minus the Bear are the right targets to hit for appealing to a younger group with less money.
I continue to be very attracted to the Mira, mainly because I have an older Mira and it's great, and the new one is 22 frets on a 25 inch scale, which is what I wanted the Mira to be in the first place when they were announced in 2007.
It's sort of a like an awesome half finished poem to launch the S2 with only the Mira and Starla, because those two models are already unlike anything else in the USA core line. You really have to have something in there that's 24 frets and resembles the guitar that the company is really famous for, the maple top body in the shape of a Custom/McCarty et al, in order to round things out and make it seem like yes, these are PRS guitars.
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05 Custom 22 with DGT pickups ~ 07 Mira with old birds ~ 08 SE Baritone Fralin/Suhr pickups ~ 03 SE Santana
I haven't had the opportunity to see any S2s yet, let alone play one. But I can tell you this much. I can barely wait to try all 3 models. My current PRS collection numbers 13 guitars, from a pair of 85s, to Modern Eagles, and a Private Stock. To be honest, I doubt I'll buy an S2, but it's certainly possible. I'm simply going to have to try them first.
One thing that always tickles me is the way a LOT of people refuse to consider swapping out parts on a PRS. Granted, I really like most PRS pickups, and most of the hardware. But if the S2 pickups and trems aren't up to snuff, those are INCREDIBLY easy to swap out. You can find used PRS pickups all the time for great prices. For that matter, you can get a metric assload of great pickups used for big savings. If you don't like the S2 trem, call John Mann and order one of his excellent trems for $150 brand new. The first thing you see on the Les Paul forums is a guy buying a $4500 Gibson Historic, yanking the pickups and electronics, and getting Pigtail or Faber hardware, and nobody gives it a second thought.
Personally, I heartily applaud PRS for marketing an American made guitar at such a competitive price point. I remember whenever I was a kid and the economy hit a rough patch, the first thing you heard was "Buy American!" You'd see billboards saying it. PRS has busted their collective balls to innovate their manufacturing to offer a great series of American guitars for a very fair price. I think we should all give them the benefit of the doubt and at least plug 'em in before rushing to judgement. Like I said, I probably won't buy one myself. But I'll give them a fair shake.
Model citizen...Zero discipline
I would stop shopping at this location, but there's 3 guys: The Paul Reed Smith Guy, the Recording Guy, and the Manager who are outstanding! As I've said the good guys tell people to ignore the rest and apologize for them all the time
Custom 22 Brazilian Limited (Emerald Green/Artist Package Quilt)| Custom 24 (Red Fire Burst/Quilted 10 Top)| Custom 24 (Autumn Sky) | P22 (Solana Burst)| Standard 22 (TriColor Burst)| McCarty Soapbar (Seafoam Green)| CE 22 (Vintage Yellow/3 piece 10 Top)| CE 22 (Whale Blue)| Mesa Dual Rectifier Half Stack| Fender Blues DeVille 410 (USA Made)| Fender Evil Twin (Snakeskin)| Peavey Classic 50 410| Gibson Northern Jumbo Limited
I'm very interested to try one. I need a backup guitar for my DGT. I'm just going to keep an open mind. One mans junk, is another man's treasure lol
I kind of feel that a real maple cap on a guitar should be what it is all the way through and not a maple cap with a thin veneer. But I can see how people could disagree about this.
The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.
-- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
PRS has said that the tops are comparable to the quality used on the CD maple tops. I have 3 maple-topped CEs - maybe mine are exceptional, but from the S2 pics I've seen so far, I don't see them as being comparable. On the other hand, I've seen some SEs that I couldn't believe we're veneers.
If a guitar is pretty, I'm more inclined to want to walk up to it, pull it down and play it. And if it sounds good I might even buy it. But if I don't like the way it looks, or feel it looks cheap, I'll probably move to another...unless it really, really grabs my ears.
I get that the S2 line is the middle. But $1,400 is still a pretty high middle. As a consumer, if I'm paying 2-3x as much as a new SE for an S2, then I want it grab my ears AND my eyes. I hope at least one does...
And that's "no duh"
1990, 91, 92 & 97 CE24s
1993 Standard 24
2011 Custom 24 Throwback
2012 Signature Limited Trem
2013 408 Brazilian & Paul's Guitar & S2 Mira
So, for me it's tolerable that they're using CE-grade flame maple tops. Although I find no problems with a plain maple top and veneer, I still think the CE-grade is an upgrade over the SE tops, not aesthetically but hey, it's a real piece of flame maple there