Reviewed: Paul Reed Smith SE Custom 24 Zebrawood

Electric Factory | elfa.com.au | Expect to pay: $1499

PRS is a guitar company surrounded by some of the best players in the business. Not only do Carlos Santana, King Crimson, Paul Allender and Mark Holcomb (need I say more? Yes. John Mayer, Dustie Waring, Mark Tremonti and Zach Myers) call PRS home, but PRS continues to produce expertly crafted instruments for the masses.

The PRS SE Custom is one famed body shape, and the Zebrawood Edition of this guitar is a sight to behold. Featuring - you guessed it - a Zebrawood veneer over the maple body and - yep - zebra coloured PRS 85/15 pickups as standard, the SE Custom Zebrawood needs no introduction, nor additional aftermarket changes. It’s a guitar that’s easy to play, sounds fantastic, and will continue to inspire for years to come. The tone is rich but articulate, thanks to the streamlined body and neck. It’s a 25” solid body electric with 24 frets, but it’s also so much more.

 

A scale length of 25” makes this guitar sit somewhere between a Les Paul (generally 24.75”) and a Super Strat (generally 25.75”). The neck is notable, it feels particularly thin around the first fret and takes some getting used to. The neck shape is PRS’s own ‘Wide Thin’, and is ideal for complex chord voicing and noodling because the notes, frets and strings are so close together. The double cutaway body is contoured beautifully to allow easy access to the 24th frets, and overall feels phenomenally put together. The guitar resonates nicely, especially in E Standard, and was expertly set-up straight out of the box. The tuning stability is unmatched but the tension is low enough to really grab ahold of notes when wailing or noodling. The guitar itself is very responsive to dynamics, and the pickup combination works in tandem with the build. The neck pickup produces a thick, creamy tone without delving too deep into woolly mud, and the bridge boasts an abundance of bite without being overbearing or particularly snarky. Both pickups handle pedals well, and only build on the base tone that is retained through whatever gear you’re playing.

 

 

 

The guitar features a rosewood fingerboard with PRS’s famed bird inlays, located just above the PRS 85/15 pickups. The pickups feature a coil split on the tone knob, which is a noticeably thinner tone, but not a lesser tone by any means. The Zebrawood veneer provides a darker overtone and extra harmonics that the wood is known for. The guitar itself is mid present, sparkly and rich without an overbearing low end. Rock riffs can be chunky but controlled, and bluesy or Spanish inspired leads are thick and present. This instrument could be a go-to in the studio or on stage for leads or other articulate playing that may be called for.

 

Overall this PRS SE Custom is a phenomenal instrument. Well crafted, the guitar is beautifully assembled with parts and woods that compliment the specs to a tee. The PRS pickups are resonant in the maple body, and the string sounds bounce off the Zebrawood veneer. The mahogany back of the guitar holds it all together in the richest way that only mahogany can. The PRS tremolo holds it down and keeps everything tuned and perfect along the 25” scale length, while the bird inlays flutter along the rosewood fingerboard. The frets are set perfectly, and the neck profile gives you the reach to grab ahold of those finnicky notes and hold them down. It’s no wonder PRS has such a stellar list of artists when they’re outputing guitars like the SE Custom Zebrawood.

Hits and Misses

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Great acoustic tone

Great tuning stability

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Neck initially feels thin

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