If you are a PRS fan and you’re trying to choose between the PRS S2 vs SE, this post is for you!
I don’t own either PRS model but I am interested in this brand.
So I thought I’d do a comparison of these series here on the blog.
Also, I normally compare brands as opposed to models within brands.
So if you’re curious about brand comparisons, check out my posts about:
Paul Reed Smith Guitars – PRS
PRS Guitars is an American manufacturer of guitars and amplifiers founded by and named after Paul Reed Smith in 1985 in Annapolis, Maryland.
The company is currently located in Stevensville, Maryland.
Their first guitar model had a mahogany body, maple neck, and maple fretboard.
But the rotary pickup switching with high-quality electronics really set this guitar apart from others at the time.
Also, a big part of the successful start of PRS was the unique body design and the recognizable “birds Inlays” on the fretboard.
As the company grew, they created five series, trying to meet the needs of guitarists of many levels, playing styles, and budgets.
In addition to the S2 and the SE, PRS has the Core, the Bolt-on, and the Private Stock series which feature both standard and custom and signature models.
They maintain the uniqueness of PRS thanks to their own hardware and pickup systems.
They also have the unique PRS Tremolo, PRS Stoptail, and the PRS Wrapover Tailpiece which combined with the PRS locking tuning pegs offer good tuning stability.
Some PRS guitars have humbucker pickups for a Gibson-like sound but they also have single-coil pickup guitars for a Stratocaster-like sound.
And like many top guitar manufacturers, PRS has phenomenal signature models, the most prominent models being John Mayer’s Silver Sky and Carlos Santana’s Retro model.
And now I’ll focus on the SE and the S2 series.
PRS S2 Vs SE: PRS SE
I decided to start with the SE series because they fall into the affordable category (as you might imagine since SE stands for Student Edition).
This makes them one level lower than the S2 series in quality.
In other words, these are quality guitars that are cheaper than other PRS series. They are made in Korea and the materials from which they are built are second class.
But this can be a good thing. For instance, for half the price you can get a guitar that is of similar but slightly lower quality to the S2 or the Core series.
As a result of this, the price of the SE ranges between $500 and $1000, depending on the model and specifications.
PRS SE Standard 24
The most popular SE model is the Standard double-cut 24 (the number stands for the number of frets on the fretboard).
This model is the first factory-made PRS guitar that was produced at the very beginning in 1985. But it was first made as part of the SE series in Korea in 2000.
The body, top, and back are mahogany.
The neck has a wide thin shape with a 25” scale length made of maple.
The fretboard is rosewood with the signature “birds inlays”.
Additionally, the hardware contains a PRS patented tremolo, PRS designed tuners, two 85/15 “S” pickups, volume, and push / pull tone control with a 3-way blade switch.
In addition to the Standard models, there are Custom, SE 245, Hollowbody, Extended, and signature models.
PRS S2 Vs SE: PRS S2
The S2 series is one level higher than the SE. They are made in the United States and the material from which the body is made is carefully selected.
The pickup system is on a different level as well.
The S2 stands for “Stevensville 2”, after the location of the plant that produces them.
These are modern models that were first introduced in 2013.
Although a higher price does not always guarantee that a guitar will be more playable and better-sounding, in this case, it seems to indicate that.
These guitars range from $1000 up to $2000, depending on the model and specifications.
PRS S2 Standard 22
As an example for the PRS S2 series guitar, I will examine the Standard model again.
Although the model was created in 1985, it sounds more modern than the SE Standard version thanks to the latest technology and methods from which the body, the hardware, and the pickups are made.
The guitar has a solid mahogany body with a 25″ scale length and a mahogany regular-shape neck.
The fretboard is rosewood with dots as a fretboard inlay.
The nickel-type hardware has a PRS patented tremolo bridge (although in some cases it may be Floyd rose) and a PRS low mass locking tuners.
The two treble/bass 58/15 “S” pickups are responsible for the modern sound.
The controls are the same, volume, and push/pull tone control with a 3-way blade switch.
Thanks to all these features, the S2 standard is a versatile guitar that can cover most genres.
The other S2 models are the Custom and the “McCarty”.
Ted McCarty created this vintage-inspired guitar. He was Paul Reed Smith’s mentor and president of Gibson Guitar Corporation from 1950 to 1966.
PRS S2 Vs SE: Conclusion
So which guitar is best for you?
In an ideal world, I’d recommend playing the exact guitar you plan on purchasing.
That said, I know that isn’t always possible especially since many guitar sales occur online.
Thus, if you can’t play before you buy, definitely listen to demos of the instruments you’re trying to choose between.
And in this case, after listening to demos (or ideally playing each instrument) you can decide if the higher-end instrument is worth the extra money.
In short, if you are looking for a more affordable guitar with high-quality features, the PRS SE series is great.
But if you want a higher-end guitar with a lot of versatility, the PRS S2 series could be a better fit.