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Thread: Why are some artist models only "SE" versions

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    Why are some artist models only "SE" versions

    Hi... Just wondering... I'm new to these forums and don't know much about the PRS lineup....

    From what I can see though, the SE series is the cheaper, offshore made version.. Possibly with lesser quality woods and hardware. Much like say the Mexican Standard range of Fender Guitars....

    This being the case then, why are the Artist guitars such as Mikael Akerfeldt and Fredrik Akesson only available in the SE range? Surely this is not the actual guitar that they use... I would think they would have their own guitars made for them in the same quality range as the top of the line PRS guitars...

    So all that being the case if I'm right, correct me if I am wrong, you can't actually buy the actual exact guitar that they use? Just the cheaper replica that looks like theirs? I just can't imagine guys like this actually using these Korean made instruments...

    Thanks for any replies...

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    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    The SE artist guitars ARE the actual guitars these artists use. Your assumptions about the quality and "cheapness" of the Korean made SE line are off base.

    The best way to dispel yourself of these assumptions is to try out the various guitars in the SE line. You will find that they are vastly superior in quality compared to the Mexican Strats.

    Don't take my word for it. Try them yourself
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    Hi... Thanks for clearing that up... I guess I just got confused... As I said... I'm not very familiar with the PRS lineup...

    On the PRS Wikipedia page it says the following:

    However since the 1990s they have expanded production to Asia, where they manufacture the more affordable 'SE' line of instruments.
    What kind of price range are we looking at say in USD for the Mikael Akerfeldt guitar? And what's the difference between that and the top of the line instruments that I've seen for like $5000 + USD?

    Sorry for sounding so ignorant....

  4. #4
    Senior Member Chris528's Avatar
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    SEs are incredible guitars! I own 3 and only one US PRS.

    I do know for a fact that Clint Lowery uses his SE model right out of the box. I have his and a Tremonti and absolutely love then.
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    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    You seem very interested in Opeth - Mikael and Fredrik both use their signature SE's quite a bit, though I think they also own some USA made non-signature guitars. I think it says a lot though that they're comfortable using SE's alongside core models. In fact, I believe almost all artists that have sig models exclusive to the SE line use them regularly.

    Most of the SE's run about $700 USD. They do have differences from the USA models, in general the hardware isn't the same super high quality, which is NOT to say it isn't good. Pickups are overseas made recreations of the USA pickups. The woods are not as high quality either, but still very good. The SE's usually have bodies made from 2-3 pieces of mahogany, and plain maple top with a thin figured veneer over it for the flame or quilt, vs the core line, which I believe are usually one piece bodies and full thickness maple tops. I actually think that the SE woods are very nice, it's just a matter of how large the pieces are - pieces with an imperfection are cheaper, and thus used in sections rather than whole.

    The SE's are killer instruments. I played a couple of LP studios the other day and was begging for my Akesson by the time I got done. While they aren't the pinnacle of the company the way the core models are, I think it could easily be argued that the SE's are by far the best "bang for your buck" guitar in the PRS lineup as well as the sub-$1k range of all brands.

    Lastly, welcome to the forum! Great to have you with us.
    -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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    Junior Member polara's Avatar
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    Well, the SE models are "Student Edition" and are made to be more affordable. If they were the complete shiznit no one here would prefer a US-made guitar, right? I've tried a lot of them in stores and own a Mexican-made Fender Standard Telecaster and that Tele is a damn good guitar. I think it's a valid comparison in terms of quality, and I've wondered the same thing: a lot of PRS artists use US guitars, so do the ones whose sig models are Korean made use the Korean guitars on tour? Orianthi plays a bunch of US guitars though her sig model is Korean.

    In the end of course David Grissom will play circles around me if he's on a cigar box guitar, so no one's really gonna be handicapped by playing a Korean PRS but if I were a touring pro I'd want the best-made guitar I could get.

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    Cool... Thanks for the reply... I'm just an Opeth fan and was surprised by the price.... Which got me thinking if it was the actual one they used...

    i live in Australia though, so they are much more expensive here, and harder to find.. Why are they so much more expensive? No one knows..... Given the exchange rate etc, I could import one for a lot cheaper....

    I did notice though that musicians friend does now ship internationally... How ever, doesn't look like thy ship new PRS products... In fact, I did a quick check on fender and even boss effects and hey don't ship those new either... Would be good to find out what they actually ship that isn't used!

    So thanks for the replies... Now I know.
    Last edited by Garf; 09-18-2013 at 07:25 PM.

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    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Must be a distribution agreement with PRS and MF... MF sells new PRS stuff here in the states. Bummer!
    -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.

    SE Custom 24 25th Anniversary - SE Akesson+57/08's - SE 30 Head/Cab

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    Welcome to the forum, Garf

    I'm a big fan of Opeth as well! As for them using the SEs live, there you go!

    Mikael:









    Fredrik:




    edit: sorry for the thumbnails, my go-to photo hoster is in down-time now, so I can't upload big images. Click the thumbnails for bigger images.
    Last edited by maxtuna26; 09-19-2013 at 11:00 AM.

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    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    It's marketing and demographics, combined with business decisions. I would like to see the average disposable income of all guitarists who like Opeth compared to the average disposable income of guitarists who like Santana. I would be willing to bet Santana's fans are older and wealthier and more likely to buy a USA PRS. Opeth's fans are younger, less wealthy and more likely to only be able to afford an SE. Plus, the idea is to get younger fans of bands like Opeth to check out PRS instead of other brand names of guitars, offer them a model they can afford, and give them something nicer to aspire to like a core line instrument. These are basic business ideas employed by many industries in many different ways.
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    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Beef View Post
    It's marketing and demographics, combined with business decisions. I would like to see the average disposable income of all guitarists who like Opeth compared to the average disposable income of guitarists who like Santana. I would be willing to bet Santana's fans are older and wealthier and more likely to buy a USA PRS. Opeth's fans are younger, less wealthy and more likely to only be able to afford an SE.
    John - I think you really nailed it with this one!

    What good would it do PRS to market $3K+ guitars to high schoolers and college kids? Not Much!

    The SEs are the perfect choice for younger bands and younger audiences.
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    My name be scrambled ElrytNamrogo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    John - I think you really nailed it with this one!

    What good would it do PRS to market $3K+ guitars to high schoolers and college kids? Not Much!

    The SEs are the perfect choice for younger bands and younger audiences.

    Absolutely agreed!!!! Further, it's also worth noting that more and more recently we are seeing these SE's used by professional musicians. I saw an interview with Paul Reed Smith recently in which he was discussing this topic and mentioned that a several times in the past Santana has used his SE....especially when the SE Abraxas was around. Also, there was the thread about the guitarist from Shinedown, Zach Myers. He discusses how he uses multiple SE's for his tours.....doesn't change anything about them, just straight out of the box. It's pretty cool to see how when these guitars were first designed, they were created for the younger, more cash-strapped musicians. But with the quality you get from PRS, these guitars are becoming more and more common among professional musicians.
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    Senior Member Todd_FindingMyWay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugerpc View Post
    John - I think you really nailed it with this one!

    What good would it do PRS to market $3K+ guitars to high schoolers and college kids? Not Much!

    The SEs are the perfect choice for younger bands and younger audiences.
    Its all about a price point...I may fit into another Demographic...Beginner guitarist and while I probably could afford a much more expensive guitar, I cant justify it at my skill level but I still know quality when I see it.
    2 Years ago I landed a PRS SE Torero that was used for 6 months and I paid 750.00.
    I've been taking lessons now for 3 years and I will make the jump and investment to an American PRS in a year or so becuase learning and playing guitar has sunk its teeth into me. ;-)
    Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobstrusive..

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Beef View Post
    It's marketing and demographics, combined with business decisions. I would like to see the average disposable income of all guitarists who like Opeth compared to the average disposable income of guitarists who like Santana. I would be willing to bet Santana's fans are older and wealthier and more likely to buy a USA PRS. Opeth's fans are younger, less wealthy and more likely to only be able to afford an SE. Plus, the idea is to get younger fans of bands like Opeth to check out PRS instead of other brand names of guitars, offer them a model they can afford, and give them something nicer to aspire to like a core line instrument. These are basic business ideas employed by many industries in many different ways.
    Wise words John, you're absolutely right about this.

    Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake fame also uses his SE BM live occasionally, it just goes on to show that these guitars are well-made enough for these musicians. That said, these artists want to make the guitars affordable so that fans are able to afford them, same idea with Fender artists doing Squier signature models or Gibson artists doing Epiphone signature models.

    View this from a business perspective. If you're making guitars that not many can afford and buy, why are you even making it a production model?! On top of that, it's got a name on the truss rod cover. If customers aren't fans of these artists, they're more likely to choose other similar models without that name on the headstock unless the price point is attractive (here comes the SEs). And PRS survives on sales, so if it's not going to sell, they surely wouldn't want to put out a model that stays on the store racks.

    If they think SE signature models are very "cheap" in name and "unusable", then these artists are better off with custom-made Private Stocks if they prefer exclusivity!

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    All good responses to this thread.... I completely understand marketing wise why these would be SE models, just thought that a big artist, especially ones as skilled as the opeth guys would have their own models made for them that are the same in every way apart from say the quality of woods etc... For example... James Hatfield wouldn't use the LTD model of his signature guitar... But it's there for those people who want something close, while he would use the proper ESP version.

    so yeah I've certainly seen them using those models, but close up who knows if they are hand made variants made in the US.

    But as I said, I'm new to the PRS world, and from the sounds of it, these instruments are good enough!

    So yeah ended up finding one in Australia for about $950... Which is about $900 USD.. So not too bad....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garf View Post
    so yeah I've certainly seen them using those models, but close up who knows if they are hand made variants made in the US.

    But as I said, I'm new to the PRS world, and from the sounds of it, these instruments are good enough!
    Nope...out of the box with NO alterations. Bernie too. He plays his REAL vintage Les Paul and his REAL SE...just an SE. Not a USA PRS with SE badging or disguise. Not an SE made with superior woods than the "normal" production SEs but the same one you or I can buy that was made in Korea.

    Other that the "out of the box and bone stock"...some probably mod their SEs? Maybe? I know I do...you know..swap pups etc but they're still SEs. I do pretty much the same mods on my USA PRSs as on my SE. Pickups.

    Anyway, the SEs are REAL guitars that's for sure.
    Incidentally, they're made in the same factory as the ESP LTDs. I can't comment on the ESP LTDs or the Hatfield signature guitars other than that.

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    Still a Junior Member Albrecht Smuten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Beef View Post
    It's marketing and demographics, combined with business decisions. I would like to see the average disposable income of all guitarists who like Opeth compared to the average disposable income of guitarists who like Santana. I would be willing to bet Santana's fans are older and wealthier and more likely to buy a USA PRS. Opeth's fans are younger, less wealthy and more likely to only be able to afford an SE. Plus, the idea is to get younger fans of bands like Opeth to check out PRS instead of other brand names of guitars, offer them a model they can afford, and give them something nicer to aspire to like a core line instrument. These are basic business ideas employed by many industries in many different ways.
    Exactly my case. Though it was kinda bad luck for me that I decided to buy PRS SE just about one year before the Akerfeldt Sig was released, so now I'm stuck with that damn Tremonti I don't even listen to
    (and no, I won't trade it, I love my stoptail)
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  18. #18
    I was under the impression that Bernie's own sig model is more like the limited edition SE they put out (100 made for the UK market only). This had 59/09 pups and coil tap, the original SE has no coil tap and pups made in the Far East.

    I know it's still a SE, but it would be wrong to say that it's a completely stock SE that are being sold widely by retailers.

    Aside from that, the SEs are such great guitars. Even though I have a new USA PRS, my SE still gets a lot of attention.

  19. #19
    Based on a lot things I've read on different guitar forums over the years, I think PRS owners have developed a reputation of being "cork sniffers". I've read/heard comments that the majority of people who own PRS instruments are often doctors, lawyers, and professionals who earn a handsome salary and can afford instuments that the average musician cannot. I believe PRS was listening and answered with their SE line.
    I think it's great marketing and it opens up the PRS line to musicians who would otherwise not be able to afford a PRS instrument. What's even better is the craftsmanship and quality control that PRS monitors on these SE instruments. They are not simply selling the PRS name through a crappy line of overseas instruments like many other manufactures. They are truly offering a well made instrument at a very reasonable price.

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    Still a Junior Member Albrecht Smuten's Avatar
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