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Thread: The S2 Hands-on Evaluation Thread

  1. #1
    A♥ hoards guitars A♥ rugerpc's Avatar
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    The S2 Hands-on Evaluation Thread

    Ok, we've had lots of threads from people who have pre-judged these guitars and even evaluations about the quality and sound of the pickups from people who have not even bothered to plug them in and still poo-pooed them.

    They were in abundance at XPRS13 and are in the stores. Let's hear some real evaluations.

    I attended one of the many S2 demonstrations at XPRS13 and was happy to hear that all 3 models sound very nice. The Custom 24 had all the personality of it's core brother in tone. The PRS growl is there in abundance and the bluesy tones are spot on. Both the Mira and Starla sounded like their core brothers that they are replacing.

    With so many players trying to get into the demo area, sadly I still have not played an S2. But I did get to see and play them unplugged. The PRS quality there. I also had a long conversation with an employee in the S2 section of the shop. Quite simply, the woods are core grade woods, but at the lower end of the figuring scale. The body blanks are from the same pool of body blanks used for the core line.

    Think about that for a second. A less figured hog blank that becomes an S2 Mira could just as easily have become the body of a painted core model. So what is different? Only the intricacy of the carve.

    The maple tops are 1 inch thick instead of 2 inches thick. Same wood - different thickness.

    The neck blanks are dramatically smaller. I realize here that I should have taken a pic of the two side by side in the S2 area. The cost savings looking at the two together are obvious.

    Where did PRS tweak the specs to make the price point? The neck and top materials are in smaller dimensions than the corresponding core materials. If you have done any custom woodworking, that savings is obvious too.

    The bodies have a much simpler carve. That saves time in two places: on the CNC machine; in the sanding area. Time is money.

    The semi-reversed approach to neck machining also saves time. For example, the final cnc on the neck is done after the fretboard and it's inlays are attached...

    Like I said, I didn't get to plug one in, but from everything I have seen so far, and having heard them in person in the hands of people who play way better than I can, The S2 line makes sense to me.

    So - have you actually gotten to put one through it's paces? Post your review here! It's OK if you held one and didn't like the feel or played one and were not sold on the tone, but please do us all the courtesy of actually holding one or playing one and telling us your hands-on experience and not something based on what your think you know about them.
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  2. #2
    Member jrw32's Avatar
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    I had the chance to plug in an S2 Cu24 & Starla for 10-15 minutes each. They sounded/played great. I was especially fond of the Starla, both in looks and tones. I agree the PRS quality was there. 3 things that stuck out to me were: 1) the pattern regular neck carves felt really good - different from pattern regulars I've played before. They seemed not quite as narrow at the nut, or as slim as others I've played. Not sure if there is a slight difference in profiles with the S2s, but they felt good. 2). Maybe this is b/c I'm most used to 22 fretters, but the Cu24 neck felt REALLY long, longer than other 24 fret PRS models I've played recently. Again, probably just perception. 3) I think they should've stuck to all moons or dots on all the S2s...not much of a fan of the solid white plastic birds. All in all they seem like a great bang for the buck!

  3. #3
    Senior Member sleary's Avatar
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    I played an s2 cu24 two weeks ago.

    I thought they were well built and sounded great with the stock pickups . Neck and body felt fine. Only reason I didn't get one was not exactly what I was looking for, that's the only reason .

    Bridge, pickups , nut, tuners and electronics all seemed damn good to me.

    Will be very much looking into one when I am ready ....I needed just a second guitar for my medal stuff, hehe active electronics I do adore lol
    Last edited by sleary; 09-23-2013 at 04:03 PM.
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    Member Big Mard's Avatar
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    This isn't a review, like like a point of view. I don't know how-to play guitar. I've looked u tube and Marty Schwartz for lessons. I actually had my first real lesson today. But from what I heard and what I saw I was sold. They felt good they sounded great in other peoples hands. I really wanted the Custom 24 Swamp ash. Wife said no, lol. She brought me down to reality. I really couldn't justify the big price tag. with all the folks playing and seeing the process they are made I decided that they were for me. So I didn't bring a guitar home from Experience but I did order a S2 Custom 24 from Music Store Live that will be here wednesday. They were great to work with and I'm sure I'm going to happy with my decision. Maybe one day I'll actually be able to make it sound like some of the talented folks I heard jam session and testing area.
    Last edited by Big Mard; 09-23-2013 at 06:37 PM.
    2007 Korina McCarty Brazilian
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    Just a member JustRob's Avatar
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    Congrats in advance Big Mard! Can't wait to see some pics. Sorry I didn't get to talk with you at EXP.

  6. #6
    Member Big Mard's Avatar
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    thanks Rob. Same here. Everyone I did talk to was just great. Music is a wonderful thing. Can't wait till next year.
    2007 Korina McCarty Brazilian
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    Almost was a FG22 owner.. WEDGE's Avatar
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    I got like two minutes with an S2 Custom 24 while I was checking out the Sewell amp............and was so engrossed in the amp that I forgot I was playing a so called lesser PRS........I mean that as a compliment........felt great and played great. Hard to judge the pups through headphones but I never thought anything less than I liked it.
    ​Secretary of Crackwood Addiction

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    Name Manglin' Putz alantig's Avatar
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    I played a couple models acoustically a few weeks ago but didn't get to plug in at that time. Solid build quality. The only part that wasn't really to my personal taste was the trem on the CU24 - the bar was a bit thinner than I like and the tension was a little light, which can be adjusted I'm sure.

    At Exp, I played a Starla through a two-channel C (a friend from another board has one on order). I would have said that the S2 line was not on my radar, but the Starla fits nicely in a gap in the PRS line - it's got a jangle that's just not present anywhere in the core models.

    After going through the S2 tour, I'm impressed with the thought process that went into this. Yeah, there were decisions - compromises, if you will - made to keep the cost down. But one of the big things is they've cut down on the time it takes to process the bodies.
    Alan

    "I watched approximately 45 seconds of 'Rock Of Ages'. It was like getting punched in the soul." - Abby Krizner

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    Junior Member Xman46&2's Avatar
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    I had the opportunity to get my hands on a Starla at EXP. I thought it played and felt great, as I have come to expect from a PRS. It sounded great and felt very well made. That being said, I own an SE model, which I also think is a great guitar in terms of feel and quality. For me personally, if i was in the lower end market i'd take two SE's over an S2. I believe that what they lack asthetically leaves me, and i expect many others who wish to own an MD PRS, saving our pennies for the core guitars.

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    I would love to check out a S2 Mira, haven't seen any locally yet. I wonder how it would compare to my 2000 McCarty as far as tone and feel goes

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    I played all three at one point or another. The S2 Mira was out in amp demo area and I played it through a 2 Channel C. Through the headphones it sounded great, felt comfortable, all that. The S2 Starla was back with the Apogee folks, so I bugged them to let me just play it a bit between their scheduled routines. I played it through the little single interface to a iBook w/Garage Band amp simulators. Not a really good test of tone, for sure, but as far as feel and general impressions - note: I've never before played a Starla - I actually like it a lot. I'm definitely open to playing one through a real amp at some point. I've played an S2 C24 in store through a 2 Channel Custom 50, and was pretty impressed then. There was an HX/DA up in the amp build area with this guitar and I was able to play it through what I have at home. I'm really impressed now.
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    My nearest dealer had stock up on some early S2 units. They only had the Mira and the Custom, no Starla as of yet but I'm dying to try one! I find that the pickups are their strong points. They're just plain amazing.

    The Custom gives you all the standard appointments of it's Core brother, but with lesser parts. But they sure feel closer than what most people would have thought. The asymmetrical carve looks great actually, all those camera photos just don't do it enough justice, imo. They're also comfortable, a bit like the SE bevel, but done in a different fashion to keep the main differences on the S2 and SE clear. Locking tuners are basically korean made phase IIs, so there's nothing to complain about it. The pickups are also basically the core line pickups wound to paul's specs, in korea. They sound really nice stock, so if I ever get one, I won't be able to find a reason to swap them out. The bridge is from the SE, definitely look and feel cheaper, but they're solid and well-made.

    The Mira sounds the best among the shop's floor units, imo. It's a classic rocker guitar, lots of bite and clarity when played with moderate gain in the bridge position. While noodling, the neck pickup is nice and fat. Chords just sound big in all positions. There's nothing much to say about them, they're made just for rock and more rock. Just pick one up and try a few open powerchords, you'll be blown away by the sound of it!

    My only complain with the S2s are that the pots feel cheap. I have no idea whether was it supposed to be like that, or not. The pots have almost no friction at all, it's like there's something missing inside. It turns without effort at all, even the slightest touch will move it. I've tried the pots on a few more S2s. Most of them were flimsy like the one I tried, while on some, the "frictionlessness" feels just right. The SE pots feel more substantial from what I tried, but I was just comparing what was there in the shop. They could have gotten themselves some S2s with bad pots and some SEs with good pots.

  13. #13
    My name be scrambled ElrytNamrogo's Avatar
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    I'm really wanting to try these, but my local GC is pretty pathetic when it comes to PRS stock....a lot of times they might have a couple SE's on the wall, but that's it. If anyone happens to know where to find one in Kansas City, I'd love to try it out and post an evaluation.
    --Tyler G--
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  14. #14
    Senior Member themike's Avatar
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    These things are killer... the real magic is in the all hog Starla and Mira - they just resonate for days. I also thought the tour and demo given by Jack was very transparent and open about what exactly is different about these guitars - it was great and very educational.
    Paul Reed Smith 7 - S t r i n g A c t i v i s t | Fueled by P T C

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    i just bought a s2 custom 24 in McCarty burst...i just love this guitar..

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    I played all three of the S2 models in the amp demo area at EXP2013 through a few of the amps and had some mixed feelings. I would expect that just like all of the other guitars in the world you could play 5 guitars of the same model and have 5 totally different experiences so my opinion only applies to the three I played.

    The S2 Mira was an excellent guitar. The only things that were obviously different it from the Core Mira I used to own was the pick guard color/shape and the fact that the coil tap was activated using the knob rather than a toggle switch. Aside from those cosmetic differences I couldn't tell the difference and was totally sold on the guitar.

    The S2 Custom 24 felt just like a Core instrument as far as playability is concerned. It would be a great sitting around the house and playing without an amp guitar. My issue was that the pickups just didn't do it for me. They didn't seem to have as much depth as the Core pickups and weren't as musical when using a clean tone as I would expect.

    The S2 Starla felt good to play and had pickups that seemed to sound worse than the C24 pickups. I didn't spend a whole lot of time playing the Starla because it just didn't sound good to me. Watching a lot of the people playing the guitar throughout the weekend it looked like after a few notes on the Starla people were reaching for the knobs on the amp to try and make it sound better.

    I think the S2 is a good move and they have definitely bridged the gap between the SE and Core lines.

    I do wonder what the cost/benefit ratio is between bringing in foreign made electronics and American made woodworking versus outsourcing the woodworking and using American made electronics? It seems like it could bring it up to another level if they had Core electronics and outsourced the CNC/Sanding portions of the guitars.

  17. #17
    I love my s2 custom 24. Sounds better than my les Paul and my American strat. Nice tone. Not as fast of a neck as my MM Petrucci but I could get used to this. Nice. Nice nice

  18. #18
    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    I played a coupled S2 Miras at a local store a few days ago. The one I felt had better unplugged qualities(was loud and resonant), I plugged into a Mesa Mk 5/4x12 cab. I thought it played and sounded great, I only played on the 3rd channel because there was no footswitch and didn't feel like fumbling around the back of the amp. I could've pretty easily rocked that guitar right out of the box for anything. Rolling off the volume knob cleaned the amp up nicely, even with the amount of gain I was rocking. The action seemed a tad high, but didn't bother me too much. All in all, I think they are a good value for the $.

  19. #19
    Member Big Mard's Avatar
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    FedEx guy brought me a package today. My wife suggested the color. I wasn't sure since I couldn't find one to see what the color really looks like. Some pictures looked blue, some looked green. All I know is that I like what mine looks like.







    Last edited by Big Mard; 09-26-2013 at 05:24 PM.
    2007 Korina McCarty Brazilian
    S2 Custom 24
    SE Bernie Marsden
    SE Custom Semi-Hollow Body
    SE245

  20. #20
    I looked for one to play at my local GC today, but they didn't have one.

    I did get to mess with a pretty sweet DGT though...yeah!
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
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