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Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

Author: DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 23 years. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist.

A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia.

displays Edward Bond and Gibson Guitar

Editor: Edward Bond

Edward has been playing the guitar since 2002. So Edward has over 20 years of experience as a guitarist, has authored 15 guitar books, has written for renowned music blogs, and spent a decade teaching music. He began merging his passion for writing and music in 2020 and has written for big guitar websites such as Guitar Head Publishing and KillerGuitarRigs.com.

Originally from Seattle, Edward moved to Norway in 2021 for a master’s in music. He’s studied at the Jazz Institute Berlin and Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and currently resides in Trondheim. His education includes a European Jazz Master’s, a diploma in Film and Game Scoring from Sofia, and a Bachelor’s in Jazz from University of Oregon.

Edward has played in numerous bands and currently, Edward works on his own project Starship Infinity


Best PRS Guitars - PRS S2 McCarty 594 Electric Guitar - Black Amber

Best Overall – PRS S2 McCarty 594

Reviewer: DL Shepherd

Sound
Playability
Overall Quality
Value For Money
Versatility

Summary

Pros:
-PRS 59/15 humbuckers provide superior tone with lots of options
-Constructed flawlessly in Maryland, USA
-The neck profile is incredibly comfortable to play during long sessions
-Looks gorgeous under stage lights!

Cons:
-It is a little heavier than I imagined. Not good for guitarists who like lightweight guitars.

Who is this guitar for?
The PRS S2 McCarty 594 is for the guitarist who is looking to get a professional-grade instrument without dropping huge amounts of money on a Core series McCarty model.

4.9

How the PRS S2 McCarty 594 sounds:

The S2 McCarty 594

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The Next Best:

Best Budget – PRS SE Standard 24

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • The low price point makes it excellent for beginners or budget-minded players.
  • Solidly built.
  • The neck profile is incredibly comfortable to play.

Cons:

  • Cheaper electronics don’t sound as good as more expensive models.

Who is this guitar for?

The PRS SE Standard 24 is for any guitarist looking for a budget-friendly PRS to add to their collection. It is also great for beginners who are looking for the best PRS guitar under $1000.

 >Read The Full Review<

Best for Metal – PRS DW CE 24 “Floyd” 

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • The neck profile is incredibly comfortable and fast.
  • The pickups are incredibly versatile.
  • The Floyd Rose makes this guitar a shredder’s dream.

Cons:

  • The neck may be too thin for some players.

Who is this guitar for?

The PRS DW CE 24 “Floyd” is for metal guitarists who want an extremely playable axe with a Floyd Rose and versatile electronics. 

Best for Blues – PRS SE Silver Sky

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • The neck profile is incredibly comfortable and great for long sets.
  • The distinctive headstock design sets it apart visually from other Strat-style guitars.
  • The pickups are hot and produce fantastic tones.

Cons:

  • Feels like playing a Fender with a different name on the headstock.

Who is this guitar for?

The PRS SE Silver Sky is a great guitar for blues. It is also the best PRS guitar for worship music because of its incredibly smooth tone.

Best Semi-Hollowbody – PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • A lightweight body is great during long sessions.
  • Coil-split tone control makes it easy to switch between single coil and humbucker tones.
  • “Pattern Thin” neck profile is very comfortable to play.
  • Versatile and can sound good through nearly any electric guitar amp.

Cons:

  • The glossy finish gets tacky during long playing sessions.

Who is this guitar for?

The PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow is a great guitar for anyone looking for a versatile semi-hollowbody with coil-splitting capabilities.

Compare the Key Specs

ModelPrice Range ($-$$$$)Body StyleNeckFretboardBodywoodsNut WidthNut MaterialBridgeScale-LengthPickupsControlsOur Rating
PRS S2 McCarty 594$$$$$Solidbody S2 McCarty 594Mahogany Set Neck22, Medium Jumbo Rosewood with PRS Bird inlaysMahogany1.6875″Synthetic/Bronze powder blendPRS 2-Piece Stoptail24.594″2 * PRS 58/15 “S” Humbuckers2 x volume
2 x tone (push/pull coil-split)
3-way toggle pickup switch
4.9
PRS SE Standard 24$$$Solidbody SE Standard 24Maple Set Neck24, Medium Jumbo, Rosewood with PRS Bird InlaysMahogany1.6875″PPS PlasticPRS Molded Tremolo25″2 * PRS 85/15 “S” Humbucker
1 x master volume
1 x master tone (push/pull coil-split)
3-way blade pickup switch
4.5
PRS DW CE 24 “Floyd”$$$$$Solidbody DW CE 24 DoublecutBolt-on Maple24, Maple, Black PRS Bird InlaysMahogany1.656″LockingFloyd Rose 1000 Locking Tremolo25″2 * Mojotone DW Tomahawk Humbucker
1 x master volume
1 x master tone
5-way blade pickup switch
4.7
PRS SE Silver Sky$$$Solidbody Silver SkyBolt-on maple22, MaplePoplar1.625″Synthetic Bone2-Point Steel Tremolo25.5″3 * PRS 635JM “S” Single-coil1 x volume
2 x tone
5-way blade pickup switch
4.8
PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow$$$$$Semi-hollowbody CE 24 DoublecutBolt-on Maple24, East Indian Rosewood, PRS Birds inlayBasswood1.6875″PPS PlasticPRS Patented Molded Tremolo25″2 PRS 85/15 Humbucker1 x volume
1 x tone (push/pull coil-split)
3-way toggle pickup switch
4.6

Compare The Pickups:

image reveals How different electric guitar pickups sound

Pickups

Neck: PRS 58/15 “S” Humbuckers

Bridge: PRS 58/15 “S” Humbuckers

Pickups

Neck: PRS 85/15 “S” Humbucker

Bridge: PRS 85/15 “S” Humbucker

Pickups

Neck:  Mojotone DW Tomahawk Humbucker

Bridge:  Mojotone DW Tomahawk Humbucker

Pickups

Neck: PRS 635JM “S” Single-coil

Mid: PRS 635JM “S” Single-coil

Bridge: PRS 635JM “S” Single-coil

Pickups

Neck: PRS 85/15 Humbucker

Bridge: PRS 85/15 Humbucker

Learn more about electric guitar pickup types here.

About PRS

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that Paul Reed Smith (or PRS for short) makes some of the world’s best guitars. But what makes them so special?

It could be that they sound and play amazingly, but that’s pretty much a given since they are so popular. It could be their use of fancy inlays, gorgeously finished tonewood, and timeless designs. 

Perhaps it is their painstaking attention to detail. Maybe it’s the prestige that comes along with owning one. Whatever it is, there is no doubt that PRS guitars are the Rolls Royce of the guitar world. 

The company is based in Kent Island, Maryland, and began life in 1985. Paul Reed Smith collaborated with Ted McCarty, the former president of Gibson and inventor of the Explorer, ES-335, and Flying V. 

PRS made their debut at the 1985 NAMM show by introducing the PRS Custom which featured two humbuckers and a rotating selector switch instead of a standard flip-type switch. The rest, as they say, is history. 

PRS are now known the world over for their incredible instruments. Their quality is second to none, and their pricing reflects this. Artists such as John McLaughlin, Carlos Santana, John Mayer, and Mark Tremonti proudly play PRS guitars on stage and in the studio. 

Let’s take a look at the best PRS electric guitars and find out what makes them so amazing.


Our Reviews of The Top 5

Keep These 3 Key Things In Mind When Choosing a PRS:

Pricing for PRS guitars can from affordable to “this guitar costs more than your car”. The SE series is the most affordable followed by the S2 series, Core series, and then Private Stock. 

PRS has many electric models that have a piezo pickup in the bridge for acoustic simulation. Look out for this option if you are looking to expand your tonal palette. 

PRS makes their own pickups for their guitars. You will not find many new PRS guitars with pickups from other manufacturers. 

How Did We Choose These Guitars?

I have been fortunate enough to live close to a PRS dealer, Kelley’s Music, and have frequented their shop over the years. They normally have a pretty impressive selection of PRS guitars, and I have played every one they ever had while I was there. 

I like to make notes about guitars when I play them so I can better serve you – our readers! These were chosen carefully based on their features and how I feel they are best utilized.

Most electric guitars we recommend are run through tests like these:

  • We check electronics (Basic measurements with multimeter, resistance, etc.)
  • We inspect the guitar carefully to get a good idea of the finish and built quality of the guitar.
  • We inspect the fretwork and edges of the fretboard to make sure there are no sharp edges.
  • We run the guitar usually through BOSS Katana 50 MK2 and test clean, crunch, and distorted tones with lead and rhythm playing.
  • We use different playing styles to get a good feel for the playability. We use fingerpicking, sweep picking, riffs from different genres, shredding, tapping, chord playing, etc.
  • We test all the possible pickup combinations and use different Volume and Tone settings from the guitar.
  • We measure and weight the guitar.
  • We test the guitar with drop tunings.

Learn more about GND’s testing and reviewing processes here.

Best Overall – PRS S2 McCarty 594

PRS S2 McCarty 594 Electric Guitar - Black Amber
PRS S2 McCarty 594 Electric Guitar – Black Amber

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody S2 McCarty 594
Body WoodMahogany with Figured Maple top
NeckMahogany Set Neck
Neck ShapePattern Vintage
Neck Radius10″
Fretboard22, Medium Jumbo Rosewood with PRS Bird inlays
NutSynthetic/Bronze powder blend
Nut Width1.6875″
Pickups2 * PRS 58/15 “S” Humbuckers
Controls2 x volume
2 x tone (push/pull coil-split)
3-way toggle pickup switch
Scale-Length24.594″
BridgePRS 2-Piece Stoptail
TunersVintage-style

The best PRS guitar that I have ever played is the PRS S2 McCarty 594. I fell in love with it in just about every way imaginable. It isn’t the most affordable model in their lineup, but it still provides players with great value. 

It all starts with a mahogany body and neck for a warm, punchy tone with plenty of sustain. The warmth of the mahogany is enhanced by a gorgeous maple top that is simply stunning to admire. A rosewood fretboard dressed with PRS’s iconic flying bird inlays adds the finishing touch to the classy aesthetics. 

The hardware consists of a chrome and gold stop-bar tailpiece, premium PRS tuners, and translucent volume and tone knobs. A three-way toggle switch on the upper horn controls the selection of the PRS custom-wound 59/15 humbuckers. They are called “59/15” because they are based on the sound of a 1959 PAF humbucker and were introduced to the PRS lineup in 2015. 

There is also a push/pull coil splitting switch located in the tone pot to further broaden your tonal options. 

So, what is so great about this guitar other than the looks? Everything. Every little thing is perfect. How often do you hear me say that (not very often because I’m picky)? 

The sound of the PRS 59/15 humbuckers is unreal. They are like a slightly overwound PAF in the sense that they have plenty of output while still retaining their smoothness. You can play aggressive power chord-based riffs while maintaining single-note clarity. You can then change to a clean tone and do some intricate fingerpicking without having to use too much force on the strings. 

Whether you like rhythm playing or soloing, you’ll love the tone and response from these pickups. You’ll also love being able to split the coils to access single coil-like tones. If you like bringing just one guitar along to a gig or the studio, then this should be that one guitar. 

The neck profile is comfortable and easy to chord. It features a 10” radius instead of the more common 12”, and it is great for chording or soloing without getting fatigued. The 24.594” (where the 594 comes from in the name) scale length makes it incredibly easy to do complex chords without feeling like you’re stretching your hand too far. 

If I could only have one guitar for the rest of my life, then I would be completely satisfied with a PRS S2 McCarty 594. Just don’t tell my wife!

How this guitar sounds:

The S2 MacCarty 594

Summary

Pros:

  • PRS 59/15 humbuckers provide superior tone with lots of options
  • Constructed flawlessly in Maryland, USA
  • The neck profile is incredibly comfortable to play during long sessions
  • Looks gorgeous under stage lights!

Cons:

  • It is a little heavier than I imagined. Not good for guitarists who like lightweight guitars.

What others are saying:

“If you’ve never played PRS’s or if this is your first then get ready to start the game up because this guitar is fantastic when compared to a lot of other guitars in its price range. It has a great fit and finish, fantastic hardware, and super resonance. It’s a beast.” Cameron, Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

The PRS S2 McCarty 594 is for the guitarist who is looking to get a professional-grade instrument without dropping huge amounts of money on a Core series McCarty model. 

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This is not a guitar for fans of lightweight guitars because it is a little heavy thanks to the mahogany construction. 

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Best Budget – PRS SE Standard 24

PRS SE Standard 24 - Translucent Blue
PRS SE Standard 24 – Translucent Blue

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody SE Standard 24
Body WoodMahogany
NeckMaple Set Neck
Neck ShapePattern Wide Thin
Neck Radius10″
Fretboard24, Medium Jumbo, Rosewood with PRS Bird Inlays
NutPPS Plastic
Nut Width1.6875″
Pickups2 * PRS 85/15 “S” Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone (push/pull coil-split)
3-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25″
BridgePRS Molded Tremolo
TunersPRS Designed

PRS isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you’re on a budget, but they have some amazingly accessible instruments for those who are just starting out. The famous Standard 24 model can now be had for less than a grand, and it is the best PRS for the money. 

It’s great for beginners because it offers them professional features while remaining relatively affordable. Let’s take a closer look!

The PRS SE Standard 24 is crafted from high-quality tonewoods in Asia. It features a mahogany body, a maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard. This combination gives you plenty of sustain for soloing. The iconic flying bird inlays make it look like a much more expensive PRS model. 

The neck profile is PRS’s “pattern wide thin” which gives even the smallest hands a chance at playing it comfortably. It has a 10” radius like most of the PRS lineup, and it is extremely comfortable to play for extended periods. 

A string-thu tremolo bridge is included, and it puts up with light to moderate whammy action without pulling the guitar out of tune. The tuners are nice for a guitar of this price point and feel smooth when you tune up the guitar. 

Now, let’s talk about electronics. PRS equipped the SE Standard 24 with 2 humbuckers – specifically, the PRS 85/15 “S” pickups. They are better quality than most Chinese-made pickups, but they do pale in comparison to more expensive models. This is to be expected from a budget PRS, however, and players can upgrade them if they see fit. 

The tone is full and smooth with creamy mids, buttery bass, and soaring highs. The pickups tend to get dirty faster than other PRS pickups which may not be good for players who rely exclusively on clean tones. However, they are far from being the worst pickups I have ever played, and they do well for hard rock, metal, and even some dirty blues. 

It may not come with a gorgeous figured maple top like higher-end PRS models, but this guitar is certainly a keeper. If you’re on a budget, give this one a try.

How this guitar sounds:

The PRS SE Standard 24

Summary

Pros:

  • The low price point makes it excellent for beginners or budget-minded players.
  • Solidly built. 
  • The neck profile is incredibly comfortable to play.

Cons:

  • Cheaper electronics don’t sound as good as more expensive models. 

What others are saying:

“I literally deliberated for quite a while before I got it because I’d never held a PSR Guitar before and wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, all I can say is I am in love with this beautiful blue music machine!! I added locking tuners and a graphite nut a couple of months later and now I’m officially a PSR snob LOL!!”

Lighter than most of my guitars the neck is perfection in my hand and the floating trem is just ridiculous I honestly like how the arm stays in place and doesn’t swing around and I made settings in my amp just for this guitar because there is something different about these humbuckers. Well worth its value and beyond!!”Jason, Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

The PRS SE Standard 24 is for any guitarist looking for a budget-friendly PRS to add to their collection. It is also great for beginners who are looking for the best PRS guitar under $1000. 

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for fans of single coil tones. This one is all humbucker!

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Best for Metal – PRS DW CE 24 “Floyd” 

PRS DW CE 24 "Floyd" Electric Guitar - Waring Burst
PRS DW CE 24 “Floyd” Electric Guitar – Waring Burst

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody DW CE 24 Doublecut
Body WoodMahogany
NeckBolt-on Maple
Neck ShapeDW
Neck Radius10″
Fretboard24, Maple, Black PRS Bird inlays
NutLocking
Nut Width1.656″
Pickups2 * Mojotone DW Tomahawk Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
5-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25″
BridgeFloyd Rose 1000 Locking Tremolo
TunersPRS Locking

Dustie Waring (Between the Buried and Me) knows what a good metal guitar should sound like, and this is his signature model. It is the best PRS guitar for metal thanks to his input. The PRS DW CE 24 “Floyd” is a beast, and it is ready to shred! 

It starts with a mahogany body along with a maple neck and fretboard. This is a tried and true combination for great sustain and tone. The neck profile is a slightly modified version of PRS’s “pattern thin” neck. This means that the neck is thinner than other PRS necks and not quite as wide, making it great for players with small hands. 

PRS’s iconic flying bird inlays are on the fretboard, making it easy to identify as a PRS. 

The electronics are Dustie’s custom-made Mojotone Tomahawk pickups. These pickups are incredibly versatile, and they are built using both alnico and ceramic magnets. These are hooked to a single volume control, a single tone control, and a 5-way selector switch. 

The selector switch makes it possible to get a wide variety of tones from snarling distorted growls to shimmering single coil-like chimes. 

The pickups are hot! Still, they maintain single-note clarity at higher volumes. You may notice some distortion at high volume with a tube amplifier, but that is to be expected. A high-gain guitar amp will allow these pickups to bloom out to their full potential, however. 

The bridge is a Floyd Rose 1000 tremolo, and it is ready for all of the dive bombs and shrieks you can throw at it. You won’t have to worry about going out of tune with this guy! Shredders will rejoice because the guitar is a shredding machine. If you’re a fan of Ibanez guitars, you’ll love this PRS! 

If you’re a metal player that is looking for the best PRS, be sure to check out the PRS DW CE 24 “Floyd”. It’s available in some fantastic finishes too! 

How this guitar sounds:

The PRS DW CE 24 “Floyd”

Summary

Pros:

  • The neck profile is incredibly comfortable and fast.
  • The pickups are incredibly versatile.
  • The Floyd Rose makes this guitar a shredder’s dream.

Cons:

  • The neck may be too thin for some players.

What others are saying:

“I come from a high-end vintage background. Gibson’s mostly. I wanted a “shredders” axe that still had a bit of class. The DW delivers. With a good rig, these things can cover any tone. The vintage vibe is easy to find in the MojoTone pickups. And of course metal tones are also on tap. The CE definitely favors a Fenderish hand-feel, but it’s a tonal chameleon. The most versatile thing I’ve ever played.” Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

The PRS DW CE 24 “Floyd” is for metal guitarists who want an extremely playable axe with a Floyd Rose and versatile electronics. 

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for fans of low-output pickups. These things are hot!

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Best for Blues – PRS SE Silver Sky

PRS SE Silver Sky Electric Guitar - Nylon Blue with Maple Fingerboard
PRS SE Silver Sky Electric Guitar – Nylon Blue with Maple Fingerboard

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody Silver Sky
Body WoodPoplar
NeckBolt-on Maple
Neck Shape635JM
Neck Radius8.5″
Fretboard22, Maple
NutSynthetic Bone
Nut Width1.625″
Pickups3 * PRS 635JM “S” Single-coil
Controls1 x volume
2 x tone
5-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
Bridge2-Point Steel Tremolo
TunersVintage-style Non-locking

Blues guitarists – listen up! The PRS Silver Sky is here to show you that there are options other than Strats! This guitar is the brainchild of John Mayer and Paul Reed Smith. They took everything that John Mayer loved about his collection of vintage Fender Strats and put them together in a guitar that absolutely slays. 

This isn’t your regular “Strat copy”. The PRS Silver Sky is a completely different machine. It is made from a poplar body with a maple neck and a rosewood fretboard. The iconic flying birds will tell everyone that this is not a typical Stratocaster. The wood combination gives it a bright, plucky tone with plenty of sustain.

The neck profile is different than other PRS models. The radius is 8.5” which gives it a very vintage feel. It is ever so slightly bigger than a Fender Stratocaster neck and incredibly comfortable to play. It responds well to complex chords and single-note solos. 

One thing that I like is the 3 x 3 headstock. It gives this guitar its personality and separates it from other Strat look-alikes. The tuners are surprisingly smooth to use too. 

The tremolo bridge can handle light whammy bar action and still manage to stay in tune. The hardware seems to be of good quality, and it feels solid. 

The crown jewels of this guitar are the pickups. They are PRS 635JM “S” models that were designed specifically for John Mayer, and they sound incredible! They put other single coils to shame, especially in this price range. They can produce bell-like lows and glassy highs without losing their clarity. They are also hotter than other single coils, and that’s a good thing! 

The only complaint that I have is that it feels almost too much like a Fender Stratocaster. The pickups and the headstock are the only things that were different about it. Even the neck felt like a Fender. I guess it isn’t surprising since they got their inspiration from vintage Fenders.

The PRS SE Silver Sky models are available in a wide range of gorgeous finishes, so be sure to pick the one that best suits you! This is the best PRS guitar for blues! 

How this guitar sounds:

The PRS Silver Sky Maple Demo

Summary

Pros:

  • The neck profile is incredibly comfortable and great for long sets.
  • The distinctive headstock design sets it apart visually from other Strat-style guitars.
  • The pickups are hot and produce fantastic tones.

Cons:

  • Feels like playing a Fender with a different name on the headstock.

What others are saying:

“I will say this is my favorite S-Style guitar in this price range. The push-in trem bar, smooth fast neck, and the pickups are warm and darker than typical. It stays in tune and I’ve gotten rave reviews the last two weeks at church. Highly recommend.” Robert, Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

The PRS SE Silver Sky is a great guitar for blues. It is also the best PRS guitar for worship music because of its incredibly smooth tone. 

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for fans of a big, thick humbucker sound. 

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Best Semi-Hollowbody – PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow

PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar - Black Amber
PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar – Black Amber

Specs

Body StyleSemi-hollowbody CE 24 Doublecut
Body WoodBasswood
NeckBolt-on Maple
Neck ShapePattern Thin
Neck Radius10″
Fretboard24, East Indian Rosewood, PRS Birds inlay
NutPPS Plastic
Nut Width1.6875″
Pickups2 PRS 85/15 Humbucker
Controls1 x volume
1 x tone (push/pull coil-split)
3-way toggle pickup switch
Scale-Length25″
BridgePRS Patented Molded Tremolo
TunersPRS Low Mass Locking

If you’re a fan of semi-hollowbody guitars, then the PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow should be seriously considered as your next guitar. It is a perfect example of functional art, and it is a showcase of how PRS makes some of the best electric guitars in the world. 

The PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow is built with a mahogany body, a maple top, and a maple bolt-on neck. The fretboard is rosewood, and the PRS flying birds grace its surface. It has looks that grab stage lights, and it will command attention anywhere you play it. 

The body is chambered to give you resonance and attack that only a semi-hollowbody can give. The wood combination allows plenty of sustain and warmth

The pickups are the PRS 85/15 humbuckers with a three-way switch and a push/pull master tone coil-splitting pot. Just pull up on the tone pot to access glass-like single coil tones. This makes it an incredibly versatile tone machine! They have more body and warmth than the 85/15 “S” pickups that are found in the SE series too. 

The neck profile is PRS’s “pattern thin” neck, and it is great for complex chording as well as soloing. This guitar is a dream to play during long sets; it weighs in at just under 7 lbs. If you like a lightweight guitar, you’ll love this one! 

Premium PRS tuners and a PRS tremolo bridge give it incredible tuning stability with light to moderate tremolo action. It is perfect for those subtle flutters that sound so good when placed at the end of a riff. 

The only gripe that I have with it is that you tend to stick to the finish during long, sweaty sets. This is a minor thing in the grand scheme of this great instrument and shouldn’t be a deal breaker. 

If you’re a serious semi-hollowbody aficionado, then the PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow should check all your “must-have’ boxes.

How this guitar sounds:

The CE24 Semi-hollow

Summary

Pros:

  • A lightweight body is great during long sessions.
  • Coil-split tone control makes it easy to switch between single coil and humbucker tones.
  • “Pattern Thin” neck profile is very comfortable to play.
  • Versatile and can sound good through nearly any electric guitar amp.

Cons:

  • The glossy finish gets tacky during long playing sessions.

What others are saying:

“I’ve had guitars all my life and this is the best. Mind you, I still love my Fenders and Gibsons, but this was perfect right out of the box. It is a very comfortable guitar to play: great neck and overall action. The quality of the sound is absolutely beautiful. The physical quality of the guitar is flawless. It’s just really hard to put down.” – William, Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

The PRS CE 24 Semi-Hollow is a great guitar for anyone looking for a versatile semi-hollowbody with coil-splitting capabilities.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not a beginner’s guitar. The price point isn’t for everyone. 

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Runner-Ups That Just Missed The Top 5


A Brief History of PRS Guitars

Paul Reed Smith built his first guitar in 1976 as a challenge from one of his college professors. He received an “A” on the project and decided to make guitars his life-long career. He then began making guitars and hanging out backstage at concerts in order to peddle them to stars. His guitars soon ended up in the hands of players such as Carlos Santana and Al Di Meola. 

In 1981, Paul Reed Smith invented the compensated nut to correct tuning discrepancies that often occurred with fretted instruments. After several other inventions, he began to gather orders and had enough to start a company in 1985. By 1986, the company made its 1000th guitar. 

Paul worked with former Gibson Guitars President Ted McCarty, and he later released the McCarty model as a tribute to his former teacher and business partner. 

The business was booming, and that led to the company moving to a new 20,000-square-foot plant in Kent Island, Maryland in 1996. The business continued to grow, and they released the SE series in 2001. This new series was manufactured in Asia, and it brought in players who may not have been able to afford the brand before. 

PRS guitars have won multiple awards from organizations all over the world, and they are even displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. In 2021, PRS hired its 400th employee. 

Today, PRS guitars are seen by many as some of the best instruments in the world. Players such as Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti, and John McLaughlin proudly put their names on their PRS signature guitars. Each one is a functional piece of art, and PRS takes great pride in creating some of the best guitars that money can buy. 

The best-sounding PRS guitars are being made right now in Stevensville, Maryland, USA. Each one is crafted with care and backed by technology. Once you play one, you’ll never forget it.


Buyer’s Guide

The PRS Range Explained

PRS has several series, and each series is a little different. These are:

  • SE – These are made in Asia to the specifications of PRS. These are the least expensive PRS models.
  • S2 – Made in Maryland, USA. The S2 series features both new and classic PRS designs, and they are priced between the SE and Core series.
  • Bolt-on – These are made in Maryland, USA, and feature bolt-on necks.
  • Core – This is the original series of PRS guitars. They are made in Maryland and feature both new and classic PRS designs. 
  • Private Stock – These prestigious instruments are the jewels of the PRS crown. These are highly collectible instruments with a price tag that will make you look twice.

How to Choose The Right PRS Electric Guitar For You?

Here are some suggestions to consider when choosing the best PRS guitar for yourself.

Body Styles

Most PRS guitars are shaped similarly. Classic models like the Custom 24, McCarty, and CE 24 have body styles that look like a Strat and a Les Paul had a baby. Other models, like the Santana model, are more of a double cutaway style with the upper horn being nearly even with the bottom horn. 

Hollowbody and semi-hollowbody can be found in the classic PRS shape. Models such as the Mark Tremonti model have a single cutaway much like a Les Paul. 

The Silver Sky models look more like a Fender Stratocaster. They have three single coil pickups mounted in a pickguard that covers much of the lower portion of the guitar. If you don’t like guitars with archtops, then these are some great choices.

SE models will not have the expensive figured maple tops that are featured on the USA-made PRS models. These are also a great choice for those who dislike archtops.

Woods

PRS uses only premium tonewoods to build their incredible instruments. Here are some of the more common types of tonewoods that can be found on a PRS:

Mahogany
displays mahogany wood and reveals how it can affect the sound of electric guitar

Warm, well-balanced tone with smooth bass response and shimmering highs. Used for bodies and necks.

Ash
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Bright, sparkling tones similar to maple with snappy bass response. Used for bodies only.

Poplar
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Very flat tone with low sustain. Used for bodies only.

Maple
displays maple wood and reveals how it can affect the sound of electric guitar

Bright, snappy highs and bright bass response. Used for bodies, tops, necks, and fretboards.

Rosewood

Used for fretboards. Warm, full-bodied tone that is well-balanced with plenty of volume and sustain. 

Ebony

Used for fretboards. Clear, crisp tone that is well-balanced across all frequencies.

Pickups

PRS pickups are wound in-house, and they sound amazing! Here are some of their designs:

  • PRS 57/08 – Humbucker. Vintage tone that is similar to a 1957 PAF humbucker. It uses Alnico magnets for a warm, creamy tone. 
  • PRS 59/09 – Humbucker. Vintage tone that is warm, but with a bit more brightness than the 57/08. It uses Alnico magnets.
  • PRS Dragon II – Humbucker. A great mix of vintage and modern tones. They are made with Alnico magnets.
  • PRS HFS Treble – Humbucker.  The HFS (stands for “Hot, Fat, and Screams”) is a high-output humbucker with clear highs and aggressive mids and bass. It uses ceramic magnets.
  • PRS Tremonti Signature – Humbucker. Aggressive, raw, and very powerful. It uses a mix of ceramic and Alnico magnets.
  • PRS \m/ – Humbucker. You read that right, the “\m/” is the universal symbol for metal music (just make your hand look like the name and you’ll see what I mean). It is the hottest PRS out there, and it is designed specifically for metal music. The bridge pickup uses ceramic magnets and the bridge pickup uses Alnico magnets. 
  • PRS Vintage Bass – Humbucker. Designed for warm, smooth bass response that is perfect for jazz music. Similar to a Seymour Duncan Jazz model. It uses Alnico magnets. 
  • PRS 635JM – Single coil. Designed for a warm, shimmering tone, and is designed to John Mayer’s specifications. These pickups use Alnico magnets to deliver smooth bass response that is never harsh or brittle.

Neck Profile

PRS has made many different neck shapes over the years. Here are a few of the more common shapes.

Pattern Thin – A thin, “C”-shaped neck design that is made for speed. It is the thinnest profile that PRS makes. 

Pattern Wide Thin – A slightly wider version of the Thin pattern.

Pattern Vintage – This neck is a thicker “D”-shaped neck.

Hardware

PRS uses premium hardware on all of its instruments. The SE line, however, uses lower-quality hardware than the USA-made instruments. It isn’t bad, it is just lower quality than what is on the USA-made guitars.

The tuners are generally good quality even on the SE line. They are smooth and seem to hold their tuning. I have heard some reports of bridge issues on the SE line, but it does not seem to be a widespread problem.

Budget

PRS has a budget line of guitars: the SE series. These are made in Asia under PRS’s strict specifications. The SE line contains some amazing guitars and they are some of the best budget axes that we have played. 

If you want to step up to an American-made PRS, the S2 series provides you with some great options. They are higher quality than the SE series and give you more finish options. 

The Core series and Private Stock series are the more expensive lines. The Private Stock series will most likely cost you 5 figures for a single guitar!

Skill Level

PRS guitars are so playable that everyone can find one that they love. Beginners will most likely want to stay with the SE series simply due to cost. More experienced players will appreciate the professional features (coil splitting capabilities, premium finishes, premium electronics, etc.) of the S2 series, Core series, and Private Stock series.

How to Test

There are a ton of choices on this list alone so it is completely understandable to be lost when it comes to figuring out which PRS guitar to go with. You can narrow down your search by figuring out your basics:

What is my playing style?
  • Soloing or rhythm? 
  • Shredder or chugger? 
  • High-gain or low-gain?
What tone do I want?
  • Bright, articulate, and chimy?
  • Low, rich, and mid-focused?
How will I be playing most of the time?
  • At home? 
  • In the studio? 
  • On the road? 

Figuring out your style will help you narrow down what neck profile you’ll most likely enjoy and what pickups should be in the guitar when you buy it. Humbuckers are typically warmer than P90s which tend to have more high-end sizzle to them. Thinner necks are usually preferred by those who like to shred and thicker necks are usually preferred by those who play a lot of chords. 

Once you have narrowed that down, you can now figure out what body style you want. Keep in mind that larger guitars typically weigh more than other guitars because they use more wood during their construction. If you’re going to be doing a lot of sitting while you’re playing, you’ll want a body shape that is comfortable to hold while sitting (a V-shaped guitar is NOT comfortable to play while sitting down, for example).

Once you have it narrowed down between two or three models, then you need to play them! This will help you determine once and for all which guitar you want the most.


FAQ

Who Should Buy A PRS Guitar?

PRS guitars are made for serious guitarists. This is because they are premium instruments with price tags that are higher than other guitars. Beginners should probably consider a more budget-friendly brand simply to save some money. 

Are PRS Guitars Any Good?

PRS makes some of the best instruments in the world. They make guitars of exceptional quality, and their work is considered prestigious in the guitar community.

What Genres PRS Guitars Are Good For?

PRS makes guitars that are suitable for all genres. They have models that feature hot pickups for high-gain metal music, and they also have models with single-coil pickups that are great for blues and country. Jazz guitarists can also find a warm, smooth tone from many PRS guitars.

Are PRS Good for Metal?

Yes, PRS guitars are great for metal. Just ask Dustie Waring of Between the Buried and Me

What PRS Guitar Does John Mayer Use?

John Mayer uses a PRS Silver Sky, a guitar that he helped design. 

Are PRS Guitars Easy to Play?

Yes, PRS guitars are incredibly easy to play thanks to the attention that they put into making their guitar necks.

What is The Most Versatile PRS Guitar?

The most versatile PRS guitar is the PRS 509. It is loaded with two humbuckers and a single coil which allows you to achieve different tones on the fly.

Where Are PRS Guitars Made?

PRS SE series guitars are made in Asia (Indonesia and China). All other PRS guitars are made in Stevensville, Maryland, USA.

Why Are PRS Guitars So Expensive?

PRS guitars are expensive because they are made in the USA using only the highest quality tonewoods, hardware, and electronics. They are also made with very close attention to detail and are subjected to incredible quality control. 

Who Owns PRS Guitars?

PRS Guitars is owned by none other than Paul Reed Smith himself.

Are PRS Guitars Good for Gigging?

PRS guitars are not only good for gigging, they were made for it! They were built to be enjoyed on stage.

Are PRS guitars better than Gibson?

This is a personal opinion, but they have beaten Gibson on quality control in recent years. They took some of Gibson’s designs and shaped them into something more modern.

Is PRS better than Fender?

This is another personal question, but they have beaten Fender on quality control in recent years. They now offer a guitar that is based on a Telecaster body shape: the NF-53.

Are PRS Good for Beginners?

They are good for beginners who are willing to dish out $600 or more for one. In my opinion, that money could be used to buy a good guitar and a decent amplifier instead of being spent solely on a guitar.

Does PRS Manufacture Acoustic Guitars?

Yes, PRS makes several acoustic models.

Which Famous Guitarists Use PRS Guitars?

  • John Mayer
  • John McLaughlin
  • Carlos Santana
  • Mark Holcomb (Periphery)
  • Dustie Waring (Between the Buried and Me)
  • Mark Tremonti (Creed/Alter Bridge)
  • Zach Myers (Shinedown)
  • Alex Lifeson (Rush)

Conclusion

PRS makes some of the best guitars on the planet, and they seem to get better and better as time goes on. They make guitars for serious guitar players who are willing and able to spend the money on a high-quality instrument that will last a lifetime. 

The PRS legacy isn’t the fact that they make some of the most expensive guitars on the market – it’s the fact that they continue to make the best guitars. While it doesn’t have to be expensive to be amazing, it has to be amazing to be expensive. 

Owning a PRS guitar brings about a certain level of class and prestige. They’re like driving a Rolls Royce; they aren’t the fastest or the most extreme, but you will look classy and important while driving it. 

We hope you’ve found your next guitar on our list of the best PRS guitars. Happy shredding from all of us here at guitaristnextdoor.com!

DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 25 years and teaching guitar since High-School. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist. A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia. Expertise: teaching guitars, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, guitar amplifiers, guide pedals, flatpicking, bluegrass, metal, rock, and blues.
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Justin Thomas

I will keep mentioning that you haven’t included the SE Paul’s until you do or until you provide me with a decent explanation!

Joking aside (I can see reasons…I really wanted the fixed bridge as I have too many floating bridges), the SE range has changed the game for me. I’m still not sure if the reason that I never found my PRS before is down to the number of digits on the price tags!

Maybe I was just TOO critical because of that. Maybe I just got lucky and found the PRS for me. I just knew the moment I sat with it for the first time. Went in to buy picks, came out with a near $1,000 guitar 🙂 Not regretted it for a moment since!