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Thread: SE vs Non

  1. #1
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    SE vs Non

    Hello.

    I am in the market for a new guitar. I have my eye on the single cut hollowbody II or the NS14 (semi-hollow body).

    I understand the SE models are made in Asia. I have a Gibson Les Paul. I take it that the SE is similar to the Epiphone models...would I be correct (not direct comparison, but meaning a lower quality guitar using the trademarked build of the origional)?

    I see a vast price difference, far more than Epi/Gibson. And the cheaper SE models also have very high ratings in the reviews.

    For example, I see the NS14 for sale online for $3700. I see the Zack Myers SE version online for $700!. Granted they are not the same. Different pups, etc. But still, can anyone give me the rundown of comparison why both have 5 star reviews? Is there a difference in actual construction methods? Neck profile, intonation set up problems, etc? Please give me all the dirt on the SE. If it is simply cost savings due to cheap labor but the woods, manufacturing methods and specs, etc, I might take a chance at saving some money.

    I am not a virtuoso, but I want a semi or full hollow body to complement my LP and Taylor and Classical guitars. I do not want any regrets later.

    But if I can save $3k and barely notice a difference, I will jump on it. But if the recommendation is that the SE reviewer doesn't know what he is talking about, then I want to know up front. Buying online is a hassle of the unknown, so any help you can give is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Rider1260's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum
    There are some great SE PRS guitars and they are great for the $$$$ ( way better that Epi ) some people find that an SE is all the guitar they need and a great place to start modding etc
    BUT
    The core line PRSi are in a different universe ( IMHO ) in wood, finish , features , TONE !!!
    If you already have a Lester I would look at the S2 line or Core models you will be broke but happy.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    I don't own an SE. But the quality is EXTREMELY good. There are a few I need to pick up ASAP. The new Zach is one. SE 245 soapbar is another. I believe each SE goes thru the USA factory for a quick quality check. They are great. Many guys use them as a mod platform, a lot of people play them stock as well.

    Yes, the USA core line is out of this world. It's not exactly fair to compare them to the SE line. If you can afford one, I'd shop for one.

  4. #4
    Goatee Practitioner Danerada's Avatar
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    I have both lines. I own a SE One and have a ZM SE incoming. I have owned several SE line models and can say that they are better than any Squier or Epiphone I have ever played. They are better than the majority of USA Gibbys I have played. They are a great freaking guitar.

    Also agree that it is unfair to compare them to the USA line.
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    Thanks for all the input. I think I will go for the Hollowbody II model single cut. All the S2 models are solid body, which I am not in the market for (maybe someday). What do you mean by Core products? Do you mean regular PRS made in USA as a "core" model? Or do you mean there is a lineup of guitars called the "Core" Series? I don't see anything like that.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Elahrairah View Post
    Thanks for all the input. I think I will go for the Hollowbody II model single cut. All the S2 models are solid body, which I am not in the market for (maybe someday). What do you mean by Core products? Do you mean regular PRS made in USA as a "core" model? Or do you mean there is a lineup of guitars called the "Core" Series? I don't see anything like that.
    Core are the USA high line production guitars. There are also Private Stocks, that are custom builds.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member AP515's Avatar
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    I've got both SE's and Cure (USA) PRSi. I think I am cualfied to answer your questions. It is my estimation that SE's are about 70% of the US models. The pups have been greatly improved and are close to the US models they were modeled after. I put USA pups on one of my SE's and I saw only marginal impovement. Was it worth the $300 it cost me to buy them? Probably not but then again, I'm glad I have them in it.

    If the money is tight, you can be completely hapy with the SE model. If you can afford it, you won't regret paying for the USA model. They are expensive, but they are worth it. You are paying for quality.

    Also consider that some SE models do not have an equivalent in the US line, and the opposite is also true. Find the model you want and buy it, which ever line you find it in.
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  8. #8
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    My take is that, SEs are professional instruments that plays good and they look good, the Core models (which means the USA PRS) are professional instruments that plays as good as they look, and they look absolutely fabulous. Get it?

    There are more than just labour wage differences. The process in picking out tonewoods, the drying, glueing, painting and finish-coating processes are more tedious than the SEs, and obviously, the parts and material used are of a different quality, like, SEs get the moulded parts for their stoptails/trems while the Core models get machined trems/stoptails. The SEs get standard OEM pots and switches while Core models get in-house made parts.

    That said, there are certain SEs that get features only available on SEs, like the ZM model that has the bass side f-hole, while the Core HBSC II gets 2 sides. There's also the SE Custom Semihollow that has the Ricky-style f-hole that's not found in any of the Core line models. You have the SE One, which is a model unique to the SE line only.

    SEs are pretty good contenders, but I wouldn't say they're more worth the purchase than the Core models. It's all down to user preference in the end. Better pick one up and try it before you make your choice. Have fun!
    Last edited by maxtuna26; 02-15-2014 at 12:16 AM.

  9. #9
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danerada View Post
    I have both lines. I own a SE One and have a ZM SE incoming. I have owned several SE line models and can say that they are better than any Squier or Epiphone I have ever played. They are better than the majority of USA Gibbys I have played. They are a great freaking guitar.

    Also agree that it is unfair to compare them to the USA line.
    This!

    You gotta get out there and try them for yourself ultimately. try not to think about price but about which guitar speaks to you the most. If I had a few grand to spend on a guitar I would (hopefully) walk out the store with the one that worked for me. if that was an SE over a core US one or a Mexican over a US Strat so be it. It's nice to own an expensive guitar made of the best materials, etc but sometimes it's more than that. A guitar is a very personal thing in the end and price or even where it's made are only parts of the story.
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for the help everyone. Being this is a PRS site, I certainly didn't expect anyone to say "SE are crap, stay away". Also, I expected more "SE is A- and USA is A+", which would need to be taken with a grain of salt. I don't have a favorite company or guitar, I like almost all of them, but I do want a great guitar at a fair price. A huge price difference means there is a reason for it. PRS is not going to take a financial loss on the sale of them, so what gives? Thanks for the more or less unbiased list of differences Maxtuna.

    It really comes down to regret. 5 years from now I don't want to think "if only I got the better model". Again, I am not a virtuoso so I shouldn't be so picky, but still, I like quality. I think I will stick with USA for now, unless I get my hands on a ZM and I am blown away.

    I will attempt to get out and try them out this weekend. I see the best place so far to purchase is going to be Music Store Live (I just like thier philosophy, but have not used them before), anyone have experience with these guys?

    Maxtuna26, you mention the ZM has one F hole and the HBII has two, but isn't the ZM more a true semi-hollow whereas the HBII is a real hollowbody? I LOVE the idea of the pickup choices and blend option...Actually watched some video reviews online and my mouth was hanging open. My wife said "stop watching porn!" If only she knew how close to porn it was...Ha!

    Another area where the PRS website is lacking is an idea how to order. I am NOT going to put my faith in the GuitarCenter "experts" when it comes to options. Can I choose neck profile, color, inlay style, FB wood type, etc in my order? Or is it, take it as it is? My point is that if I go out to try them but I can't find a HBII, I will hold the solid body guitars to get an idea on neck shape comfort, and other qualities. Maybe I will find one particular profile is better for me, can I request that profile on my guitar?

    Are the cases nice? A hollow body needs a nice case to protect it, moreso than a solid body. I can't tell from the website and unless GC has one on display I can feel, I cannot trust them to say "yeah, it's great, so will that be credit or cash?"

    Sorry for all the questions and thanks again for the help! I am new to PRS and I want the first purchase to be perfect. No regrets. If I buy one and next year find out I could have gotten the bird outlines rather than solid, I will be angry with myself for not investigating deep enough.

    I am sure after my purchase I will be back trying to figure out how to properly set this puppy up and use the tuners/set intonation, etc.

    Hey, what's up with this forum site? In the time it took me to type this, I was logged out for inactivity and had to log in and type it all up again (only faster)?

  11. #11
    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    Music Store Live is great group of folks that can point you in the right direction. I like that they are all heavily into music and gear..can't always say that about GC employees(you have to work a lot harder to find someone who know their sh!t). You can browse the dealer section on the board here, there are a pile of great dealers that post here that you can browse their websites and drool

    SCHB II only has 1 neck shape, which is pattern. Unless you do an artist package, the only fretboard wood is Indian Rosewood...artist you can go brazilian rosewood(only USA) or ebony(not sure on maple board). Options really are just what color and nickel or gold hardware on core models, I think.

  12. #12
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    OK, I went to Guitar Center. I do not like to shop here except for strings, etc. because every time I go I either get the vulture who lingers over me (I play a C chord and they say "oh yeah, C, that's a great chord! So.....do you wanna buy it?) or I can't find anyone to take my money.

    Anyway, I get what I expected. I walk in, right away greeted by the "Guitar Manager" and tell him I want a PRS single cut hollowbody II. He says, right this way and leads me to an SE custom semi hollowbody. I explain that is not what I want and he says "oh, those are the more expensive guitars, try the Hollywood location (an hour away), they may have it). Anyway, I kind of expected this and wanted to try it out anyway to check the neck. He says this is a Fat/wide neck. I asked if he had any pattern necks (which is what the PRS website says is the HBII) and he has no clue what I am talking about. He said they have fat wide and fat thin, there are no other choices. So I need to hold off on my purchase until I can figure out what is what.

    The PRS website says HBII is pattern. Then on the neck profile page it has 3 types of pattern (also called fat wide and fat thin). It is quite confusing which one I am getting or if they are implying I can choose. I have to say I didn't hold the SE custom for long, but I wasn't blown away by the neck, felt a bit too thick.

    I'll keep looking.

  13. #13
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    They (the GC workers) are just average people working at guitar shops for money and not very enthusiastic about what they're selling. I've had problems like that too when I was buying my SE. I told the salesperson, I would like to try the PRS inside the "glass room" and her facial expression was showing something like, "What's a PRS?" So I had to ask the person to kindly bring out the guitar by referring to the colour, not very "professional" at all... Also I had to do all my homework on how to know which guitar is good, how to set-up and how to maintain because clearly, these guys don't have a single clue at all!

    The Pattern shape is the new and improved Wide Fat shape, while the Pattern Thin is the Wide Thin, and the Pattern Regular is the newer Regular. They're pretty similar to the older Wide Fat/Thin necks, except they got a very subtle hint of V shape, less shoulder than the Wide Fat/Thin shapes, very boutique feeling. Try picking up an SE Custom 24, it'll give you an idea of how the Wide Thin feels like. And you had a taste of the Wide Fat shape already, which is found on most of the Singlecut-style guitars.

    You can assume that the ZM has the same shape with the SE Custom Semi-hollow, but somehow, there are microscopic differences in neck sizes all the while. My 09' SE Custom 24 has a WT neck, but feels different from any of the 12'/13' SE Custom 24 or the similar artist models. The SE Santana I tried also has a very much smaller neck than the SE 245 I tried, but both are listed as WF. You need to go and pick it up and give it a shot. Keep looking around, man. My advice would be to keep your mind open to different stuff. Who knows you might end up with a different model that you may like from the first time picking it up?

  14. #14
    Junior Member Therinx's Avatar
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    I've got an Epi ES339 hollow, a Mexistrat HSS, and an SE Tremonti custom. While all different guitars so its hard to compare directly, the one thing i can say is, IMO, the build quality of the SE is much much better. It was my third electric, and since then, i haven't been able to stop looking at PRS for my next purchase consideration. I haven't bothered looking at any of the other manufacturers sites anymore.

    I would highly suggest trying out the Zach Myers once it's available in stores, i don't think you'll be disappointed.

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    I have an LP, Strat, Tele, Epi 335, and a PRS Paul Allender. SE. The Allender has a great neck feel and is plays as easily as any of the bunch. A very nice guitar I got at a local pawnshop at a great price.

    Not sure if it was mentioned but the differences with the S2 series vs. top of the line models are construction time. The S2 necks are two pieces vs. one pices carved. Fewer body carve outs on the S2. And fewer options. These all add up to making it less expensive. Played them last year at the Experience and thought they were nice guitars. Probably worth the cost difference over an SE.

  16. #16
    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    One of the downfalls of this wonderful brand is that it can be damn next to impossible to actually try the core model you want, or if you are lucky enough to find it, compare it with other similar PRSes. A good local dealer is often not an option. Many of the larger chains only carry the SEs, or only some locations carry core.

    Some chains offer a liberal return policy, and I have taken advantage of that (but not abused it) to try and often buy PRSes I am interested in. A shipping charge to your home, where you can try the guitar with your amp, your cables, your pedals is well worth it in the end if it prevents you from making a costly mistake (or better yet helps you find "the one").

    While not every single PRS is perfect, the quality control on all lines is high enough to take the worry out of buying without playing, and the company will take care of you if there is a problem.

    That being said, all reviews need to be taken in the context of price. I have found that the larger the price tag, the greater the expectation, and the better chance for unrealistic expectation, and therefore disappointment. Although I often buy big, I am sometimes happier when I buy small.

    I was reminded this last night when I cracked open the box on a sub $300 used SE Akesson. I haven't owned an SE since last summer when I purged them all to help fund a Core PRS.

    What a damn fine guitar.

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  17. #17
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    I have decided to pull the trigger. I would like to take your advise about starting small CC, but I am only in the market for a hollowbody and the double cuts just don't seem to look right. There isn't any other HB type from PRS. I have had many guitars over the years and kept trading in for better every year or two. Now I have my LP studio and I am going to keep it. I have advanced to the point of buying guitars nice enough to keep them for my son. I have a full line up, acoustic, classical, solid body and now for a hollow body....all I need now is more time to practice! I don't need two solid bodies, etc. I am not good enough to demand that. I have narrowed it down between this puppy and an ES. There are better brands, but they are more expensive. Also there are other brands, but the guitar is much too big for me. These two are the contenders. I was 80% of the way to purchasing a Gibson when I noticed a couple of small changes they have made recently. These changes are not for the better unfortunately. This makes me cautious. I would rather buy a used pre-2010 model before I bought a new one. Watching videos online, I have no fear of the tone of PRS. All I fear is the craftsmanship and the feel which I cannot do online. Is it top heavy? Is the neck slick? Etc. MSL says that the color I want (black) may be a special order in which case there will be no return available (except defect in product). They are going to contact PRS to see what is off the line available and if I find one I like I can get it with the return policy. This policy, even 14 days long means a whole lot in terms of buying something you cannot feel. I will know in an hour if I am happy, I just need that hour. To custom order something I have never held knowing I cannot return it unless it has a defect is very risky and I may opt for a color less than perfect in order to have that confidence.

    Thanks for all the help!

  18. #18
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    I've never heard of a PRS being neck heavy... That said, just go ahead and try out whatever that you can get your hands on. :P



    I'd hunt this down if I were you. :P It's an Experience 2013 guitar, so it'll be a more exclusive model.

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    Well, she is on order. 6-8 weeks I have been told. Long wait. I got the SCHBII in black with Hybrid hardware. I would like to show a bit of grain, but I never really cared for the flame look (especially on finishes that really bring it out), and the quit type are all custom and out of my budget. So it came down to white or black and the black just looks so damn classy. Is it ready yet? I should call the dealer to ask....

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elahrairah View Post
    Well, she is on order. 6-8 weeks I have been told. Long wait. I got the SCHBII in black with Hybrid hardware. I would like to show a bit of grain, but I never really cared for the flame look (especially on finishes that really bring it out), and the quit type are all custom and out of my budget. So it came down to white or black and the black just looks so damn classy. Is it ready yet? I should call the dealer to ask....
    Good choice! Hope you enjoy your guitar! And remember the NGD.

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