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Thread: S2 vs CE

  1. #1
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    S2 vs CE

    I did a search and didn't find what i was looking for:


    I'm looking to make my first big upgrade but not able to swing the Core Custom at this juncture. I first began looking at the S2 but i've become a bit turned off by some of the import parts and all of the corner cutting talk. I'm just not feeling it.

    The CE model seems to be everything the S2 pretends to be and other than the obvious fact that you can't just order a new one, i see no reason why i should pay so much for a wannabe when there are so many mint CE's floating around for less.

    Set me straight PRS gurus. Am i off base for thinking the CE is a superior and better option and the S2 is slightly gimmicky. What does the S2 do better? Thoughts?
    Last edited by alostpick; 01-23-2014 at 06:46 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    I don't feel the S2 models are at all gimmicky nor do I feel there are a whole lot of corners cut, but I will say I think the CE's are superior guitars over any of PRS's Custom models. They're really just different guitars.

    I think if you like the smoothness of the Customs tones there should be no reason to dismiss the S2 Custom. I don't think they're quite as sexy lookin' in the transparent finishes, but the opaque white S2 Custom is damn sharp lookin!

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    +1 everything Sergio said, and I will add that they are also very different fundamentally in that the CE's are bolt-necks and the S2 are set, some CE's are solid mahogany (no maple cap) or alder, and they have very different pickups. If you haven't played an S2 you should probably find one and make up your mind based on that. They are really great guitars.

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    This will be interesting. I'll sit in and wait for responses too.

    I, for one, thinks that the S2s are some pretty solid contenders, but comparing them to the CE isn't all that fair. The CEs were back when Paul hasn't started producing lower-priced guitars. Paul had also stated that for every CE (especially the mahogany body ones and the maple top ones) they put out from the factory, they're hitting on their own sales. That explains how the demand for CE has always been there, they're sort of a cheaper Custom 22/24 with more bang for buck. Now that Paul reintroduced the cheaper USA line, which the S2 is, he wouldn't want to shoot himself in the foot again. All these corner cuttings are just to squeeze more output from the production line using the same amount of wood. They're still pretty solid build-wise. I've tried them and I personally will recommend them to anyone low on budget looking at USA guitars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gball View Post
    +1 everything Sergio said, and I will add that they are also very different fundamentally in that the CE's are bolt-necks and the S2 are set, some CE's are solid mahogany (no maple cap) or alder, and they have very different pickups. If you haven't played an S2 you should probably find one and make up your mind based on that. They are really great guitars.
    It's hard for me to get to a Guitar Center over 100 miles away but even if i could i don't think i'll be able to try the CE. My current guitar is bolt on with same scale length as CE 22. General opinion from trusted sources aren't ecstatic with the S2 or it's pickups. But pups aren't a big deal to me because i will likely be changing them regardless. All seem to rave about the CE.

    I agree it's best to try something personally before totally dismissing it but that's part of the reason i'm here and have compiled other trusted opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by maxtuna26 View Post
    This will be interesting. I'll sit in and wait for responses too.

    I, for one, thinks that the S2s are some pretty solid contenders, but comparing them to the CE isn't all that fair. The CEs were back when Paul hasn't started producing lower-priced guitars. Paul had also stated that for every CE (especially the mahogany body ones and the maple top ones) they put out from the factory, they're hitting on their own sales. That explains how the demand for CE has always been there, they're sort of a cheaper Custom 22/24 with more bang for buck. Now that Paul reintroduced the cheaper USA line, which the S2 is, he wouldn't want to shoot himself in the foot again. All these corner cuttings are just to squeeze more output from the production line using the same amount of wood. They're still pretty solid build-wise. I've tried them and I personally will recommend them to anyone low on budget looking at USA guitars.
    Thanks. I appreciate the first hand recommendation. Yeah, i remember reading that about the CE and sales but i didn't see any need to add it to the OP. Genuinely just looking for some opinions from more experienced on the direct comparison.

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    The S2 pickups are just PRS pickups made in Korea. All the specs are given by Paul to the pickup department in their Korean factory. The tone, from my experience, is that they are in some ways better than the SE's stock pickups. They give you a very familiar PRS voicing, but with that little "something" missing compared to the Core pickups. That said, I find that the differences are too trivial to even justify a pickup change, well for me at least...

    Appearance-wise, they definitely won't match up with a latter period CE. It's got the asymmetrical carve, which honestly, looks cheaper than the beautiful violin carve of the Core line. The maple tops are also less vibrant, and the signature natural binding of PRS is not present. But hey, at only a fraction of the the price of a Core line? Sounds great to me, and I can't complain. Especially the S2 Custom in plain black. They're really really sweet guitars. However, if you do get your hands on a used CE in good condition, definitely go for it. Those hog-bodied ones are killers. And the best part is that they're cheaper because they're all pre-owned.

  7. #7
    Senior Member wardog's Avatar
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    I have not had the opportunity to play a CE, but yesterday I went to the Guitar center with the platinum room to drool over a couple of PRSi. What is that a couple of S2's. They had a Mira and a few CU24. The Mira was hands down awesome!!!!!!. I played a few core and own a few and felt the Mira was as much core as any of them!!!!! I was bummed at last yrs experience that I was not able to play the Mira or CU24. They had a Starla and someone was always on it.
    I like surprises!!!

  8. #8
    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    CEs are my favorite guitars, period.

    I love my S2 Mira, and although I haven't played one, I am sure that the S2 CU24 quality is the same. It does bother me that the trem on the S2 CU24 is the same as the one on the SEs. I don't think you can really compare the quality on those, the design may be the same, but all of the shiny buts on the SE trems are much lighter than Core ones, and I gotta think that affects the tone somewhat to the negative side. I am happy that the S2 Mira has the Core aluminum bridge, and brass studs.

    That being said, a good CE will beat up an S2 at 3:00pm behind the school underneath the flagpole any day of the week, and twice on Sundays. I thin Paul & co. TRIED to make a cheaper guitar with the original CEs, but as was said before, they made something different and special. Depending on the body material, they kinda sound like ruder kissing cousins to the CUs, and ain't nothing wrong with that...
    1990 CE24 MT | 1991 CU24 | 1991 CE24 | 1992 CE24 MT
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    Quote Originally Posted by CantankerousCarl View Post
    I love my S2 Mira, and although I haven't played one, I am sure that the S2 CU24 quality is the same. It does bother me that the trem on the S2 CU24 is the same as the one on the SEs. I don't think you can really compare the quality on those, the design may be the same, but all of the shiny buts on the SE trems are much lighter than Core ones, and I gotta think that affects the tone somewhat to the negative side. I am happy that the S2 Mira has the Core aluminum bridge, and brass studs.
    I agree with you on the S2s using SE trems. Although the SE trems are decent in their own defence, I think they should at least put the Core saddles on the SE trem plate. That'll be a good compromise, right? Oh, and that plastic trem tip, a USA PRS wouldn't look USA without that trem tip.

  10. #10
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CantankerousCarl View Post

    That being said, a good CE will beat up any guitar at 3:00pm behind the school underneath the flagpole any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.
    Fixed that for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by maxtuna26 View Post
    I agree with you on the S2s using SE trems. Although the SE trems are decent in their own defence, I think they should at least put the Core saddles on the SE trem plate. That'll be a good compromise, right? Oh, and that plastic trem tip, a USA PRS wouldn't look USA without that trem tip.
    The only beef I have with the SE trem is the arm length, tip, and the fact that the block is actually larger than a "core" line trem, thus reducing the amount of downward travel it has.

    Tone wise? I own an original Milcom, the modern core version,s and the SE's.. The Se's hang in there with all of them, not worse or better.. just slightly different. Whoever makes them did as great of a job on a budget adapting John's design as they do with Paul's guitar design.

    On the subject of "General opinion" on the S2 pickups... It's so subjective. "General opinion" most places besides PRS centric forums and discussion boards are that most PRS pups "suck"... which is obviously BS.

    It sounds like your heart is set on a Custom, so my advise is to check out some used ones and save up a little more rather than looking at a different model or line of guitars.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    On the subject of "General opinion" on the S2 pickups... It's so subjective. "General opinion" most places besides PRS centric forums and discussion boards are that most PRS pups "suck"... which is obviously BS.
    "General opinion", on most things, consists of somebody trying something when it's new, not liking it for whatever reason, then forever and ever saying "this thing sucks - I tried one back in the day, and it sucks". No regard for any revisions that were made or the for the fact that YOUR opinion/need/desire is entirely different from his.
    Alan

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  12. #12
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    I know where there is a nice 97 CE 24 for under a G .
    2010 Taylor 816CE
    2012 PRS P22 in black gold wrap around

  13. #13
    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    Fixed that for you.
    Thanks...I don't know where my head was there.

    I think my main problem with the SE trem is the saddles...the SE ones are just so light that I feel they must somehow not pull their "rules of tone" weight lol...I also admit I am an alder body / MilCom snob. That being said, my 93 Standard has one of the early 2-pc terms and that sounds amazing too.

    And the S2 Mira pickups sound AWESOME. I'd buy them.
    1990 CE24 MT | 1991 CU24 | 1991 CE24 | 1992 CE24 MT
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    Quote Originally Posted by CantankerousCarl View Post
    That being said, a good CE will beat up an S2 at 3:00pm behind the school underneath the flagpole any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.



    Really, really loving the replies so far. It seems the love for the CE i've encountered elsewhere is not lost here, either.

    I guess another one of my main concerns is the fear of buying used and inheriting someone else's problem(s) I guess aside from the usual major issues to look for the main one would be fret life on what might be 10+ year old axes?

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    2010 Taylor 816CE
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    Quote Originally Posted by alostpick View Post



    Really, really loving the replies so far. It seems the love for the CE i've encountered elsewhere is not lost here, either.

    I guess another one of my main concerns is the fear of buying used and inheriting someone else's problem(s) I guess aside from the usual major issues to look for the main one would be fret life on what might be 10+ year old axes?
    You'll definitely need some refretting if you're looking at used guitars, no matter high-end or budget guitars. But if you do get a mint one and get it refretted, there's nothing more pleasing in the world than rocking out on an old guitar that you wouldn't worry about lugging it around to performances. Old guitars just have that vibe going on.

  17. #17
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    I have had a few of the CEs and loved them, again, big difference is tone...quality was awesome. I found they produced more mids...than their set neck brothers. Another reason to go for it is the feel of their neck, versus a completely finished neck on Customs, which gets sticky to some. CE necks are finished, just differently. Bang for the buck, a CE around a grand is a lifetime guitar...things to check on used ...fret wear, check electronics a make sure all positions work, and truss rod. Have the store (or you can do it if private sale) adjust the truss rod in both directions to make sure it is functional ...I've only seen one with a busted rod ( someone cranked way too much) but again, as long as the adjuster only moves it in small adjustments, should be fine.

  18. #18
    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill SAS 513 View Post
    I have had a few of the CEs and loved them, again, big difference is tone...quality was awesome. I found they produced more mids...than their set neck brothers. Another reason to go for it is the feel of their neck, versus a completely finished neck on Customs, which gets sticky to some. CE necks are finished, just differently. Bang for the buck, a CE around a grand is a lifetime guitar...things to check on used ...fret wear, check electronics a make sure all positions work, and truss rod. Have the store (or you can do it if private sale) adjust the truss rod in both directions to make sure it is functional ...I've only seen one with a busted rod ( someone cranked way too much) but again, as long as the adjuster only moves it in small adjustments, should be fine.
    +1 on everything Bill said, plus check out the trem carefully. I have bought a lot of older, used trem-equipped PRSes and people sometimes do some really odd stuff with their bridges. Most common thing I see is folks setting the trem way too close to the body. Even if you don't use the trem, you're going to want to make sure you can set it @ factory spec to check it. That operation is something you should let a trusted source handle, coz doing it wrong can damage the bridge. And there's always the possibility that someone before you already did.

    Which also ain't the end of the world, because John Mann (MannMade, original MilCom guy) or the PRS store can hook you up with a new one...

    I need coffee...
    1990 CE24 MT | 1991 CU24 | 1991 CE24 | 1992 CE24 MT
    1993 STD 24 | 1997 CE24 3pc MT | 2008 SE Semi-Hollow Soapbar
    2011 SE Akesson | 2011 CU24 GC Throwback | 2012 Signature Limited
    2013 408 Brazilian | 2013 Paul's Guitar | 2013 S2 Mira | 2013 Hollowbody II
    2013 CU24 Swamp Ash Limited | 2014 SE Zach Myers

  19. #19
    Junior Member terickson's Avatar
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    Deals can be found, with a little patience. I picked up a '94 CE22 on the local CL for 850, needed a thorough cleaning, set-up, and a light fret milling and she's good to go. Some wear and dings, of course, but that's just mojo. Much nicer than a S2 in my humble opinion.

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    Senior Member Brad737's Avatar
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    Both of the CEs I've owned had maple caps...

    Quote Originally Posted by gball View Post
    +1 everything Sergio said, and I will add that they are also very different fundamentally in that the CE's are bolt-necks and the S2 are set, some CE's are solid mahogany (no maple cap) or alder, and they have very different pickups. If you haven't played an S2 you should probably find one and make up your mind based on that. They are really great guitars.
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