PRS SE Acoustics: Shaping The Sound Of A New Lineup

Posted Aug 03, 2018

Behind The Gear

In January 2018, we decided to kick off the year with a bang by announcing an entirely new lineup of PRS SE Acoustics. It’s safe to say that a lot of time was dedicated to researching and play-testing these new instruments, but in this blog we want to take you deeper into how we shaped the sound of this new and exciting lineup.

In the earliest planning stages, our desire was for six uniquely voiced models, able to cater to multiple musical stylings, yet at the same time share the common thread of PRS quality and reliability. Finding the right acoustic for your needs can be daunting, but we built each of these new guitars to excel in songwriting, performing, and tracking in the studio.


The Angelus body shape was born from the talented makers of our Private Stock Acoustics. A tried and true PRS body shape, the Angelus has appeared on earlier SE Acoustic creations and cemented itself as a staple. The cutaway offers easy access to the higher frets while maintaining a surprising fullness of tone despite less body mass.

A fresh sound was added to the lineup with the addition of the Tonare Grand body shape, a first-ever in the SE acoustic lineup, but not an unfamiliar shape to PRS. The Tonare Grand body shape first made its appearance in 2009 as a Private Stock Acoustic model, but was reimagined as an SE. The Tonare body shape offers a pronounced low-end warmth with phenomenal note detail.


Both the Angelus and Tonare body shapes are offered in three unique wood combinations: mahogany, ovangkol, and maple back and sides - all with solid Sitka spruce tops. The different wood combinations, along with the body shapes and bracing patterns, uniquely voice each acoustic. Here’s how we break them down and how others have described their playing experiences:

AX20E: Bright, Chimey, Articulate // TX20E: Balanced, Clear, Punchy Midrange

(AX20E): “This SE Angelus has a crisp high end, but isn’t entirely too bright. This guitar complements the chime of first position chords with string-to-string definition and no negative overtones.” - American Songwriter

(TX20E): “The guitar felt well balanced across the strings and up the neck, and the acoustic sound was also even with a distinct bias toward the upper midrange. Strummed chords sounded clear and warm, with pleasing overtones and crystalline resonances floating over a tight, modest low end. Fingerpicked passages revealed the instrument’s sweetness and dynamic sensitivity. Single notes came through true and clear, with a bit of notable zing. There was no low-mid mud to be found; in an ensemble, the TX20E’s mids and highs would cut through easily.” – Acoustic Guitar

(TX20E): “Under aggressive strumming, the tone is slightly compressed and balanced across the frequency spectrum. There are no spikes in the midrange or awkwardly booming lows. More delicate playing styles reveal a sweet high end that flatters fingerstyle and flatpicking without sacrificing cut and punch.” – Guitar Interactive

A40E: Midrange Focus, Sweet Highend, Articulate Throughout // T40E: Great Bass Response, Long Sustain, Deep Overtones

(A40E): “There’s a very nice balance between the registers in standard tuning. And when strumming cowboy chords or closed jazz voicings, the guitar has an appealing punchiness that probably translates well in band contexts. Individual notes in flat-picked lines are round and full, but are also very well defined—qualities that translate well to fingerpicking. In alternate tunings like open G and DADGAD, I often longed for a little more power and response from the bottom end. On the other hand, as I got to know the guitar a little better, I detected a real sweetness in its midrange-oriented voice that might be obscured by too much extra low-end thump.” - Premier Guitar

(T40E): “It produces a different frequency than the high end of maple back and sides, one that may further complement the sibilance of a vocalist – making the T40E perhaps the optimal choice for a singer-songwriter.” - American Songwriter

(T40E): “The T40E offers a lush, plump bass response – not dissimilar to black walnut, but with a little more in the midrange. The levels of volume and sustain are excellent and, with PRS’s ever-superb factory setup, the T40E is a very enjoyable guitar to play. We noticed, too, that the T40E responds particularly well to alternate tunings. Taking the sixth (bottom E) string down a tone to D really opens up a treasure chest of deep overtones and tonal nuances. Plugging the T40E into an acoustic amp with the controls set flat, the T40E performs admirably. The Tone control offers a considerable amount of ‘colour’ and, although not the most versatile pickup system on the market, the Sonitone is more than capable for most duties.” - The Guitar Magazine

A50E: Bright & Forward, Glittery, Dynamic // T50E: Powerful Attack, Balanced, Present

(A50E): “Fingerstyle players may enjoy the A50E’s accentuated midrange, and almost anybody will enjoy the huge sound this guitar packs.” - American Songwriter

(A50E): “Sonically, the maple bodied A50E is bright and forward reaching, with a tight bottom end, an even midrange, and glittery highs. Like the TX20E, it lacks low-mid oomph, opting instead for a balanced sound with prominent highs that cut through. Strummed chords sparkled while fingerpicked passages produced luminous sonorities. Plugged in, the Fishman GT1 captured and conveyed the instrument’s naturally bright character and dynamic responsiveness.” - Acoustic Guitar

(A50E): “The A50E is a fastball down the middle in the tonal department. It’s not fancy but rather straightforward, with a strong fundamental sonic sensibility. You can wail away at barre chords without worrying that the tone might compress or quack. It’s well-designed, with PRS hybrid X-/classical bracing that allows for a nice combination of nuance and bombast, the blend of which simply depends on your attack. The overall sound is balanced and powerful but not boomy, and while maple back and sides contribute to a sound that’s on the present side, it’s not particularly trebly.” - Guitar Player

"With the new SE Acoustic lineup, we wanted to pay homage to our classic acoustic body shapes from the Private Stock line, but create six unique sounding, fun-to-play instruments that you just don't want to put down." - JACK HIGGINBOTHAM

Below, our artists weigh in on the different SE Acoustic offerings, check it out:


Check out the SE Acoustic Product Page to explore more and find your fit.