Review: PRS SE Silver Sky

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Review: PRS SE Silver Sky

PRS SE Silver Sky
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Electric Factory | RRP: $1,599

Artist model guitars seem to come and go. They’re an increasingly present part of the music retail industry, with people flocking to buy the unique guitars used by their heroes. These instruments usually start in the Custom Shop, with artists making special requests and concocting their own unique take on a staple body shape, but adding or streamlining the design to fit their needs.

These are played on stage for millions and the demand creates a trickle down effect before the signature models become part of the production line. 

Read more gear reviews here.

While we won’t go too far into the story involving John Mayer, Fender, and eventually PRS, the PRS SE Silver Sky is the result of a further trickle down effect from the highly regarded USA line of Silver Sky guitars. Born as a way for Paul Reed Smith to help John Mayer refine what he loved about the Fender Strat, the original Silver Sky range as a whole features an S-Style body, three single-coils, and a steel tremolo bridge.

While all this is part and parcel for a Strat, the modern refinements are equal parts what helped the original Silver Sky deviate from a Fender Strat. The SE Silver Sky takes all this and bundles it back up into a more affordable package, stamped with PRS’ seal of approval for production in PRS’ own Indonesian manufacturing facility, in partnership with Cor-Tek.

The SE Silver Sky is available in Moon White, Stone Blue, Ever Green, and Dragon Fruit, a deep red magenta-like colour. They’re a solid body poplar build, with a maple, multi-ply construction neck, and rosewood fretboard. The body itself features the Silver Sky’s unique curves in the guitar’s contours and cutaway, allowing for access right up to the tippity top of the 22 frets when need be. The headstock deviates from the classic six-in-line design, and the more modern tuners allow for faster string changes. The tuning keys are made of a solid plastic and complete the guitar’s modern look. 

Getting down to numbers, the scale length is 25.5”, so players of more traditional Fender style electrics will feel at home. The 8.5” fretboard radius places it between vintage 7.5” radiuses and modern shapes from 9.5” and beyond, giving players that vintage feel with modern playability, which seems to be the mantra of the Silver Sky range as a whole. The pickups are three 635JM “S” pickups, PRS’ own design that give all the tone you were hoping for with modern refinements to treat noise and hum. The 635JM pickups are controlled by a volume and two tone controls with a five-way blade pickup switch, while the knobs themselves are a classy white design resembling a witches hat-style knob with subtle texture for grip. It’s these little refinements that make the SE Silver Sky a really unique experience to play.

In the hands, the SE Silver Sky feels a bit like a sports car. It’s equal parts comfortable and familiar, but with little refinements that I didn’t realise I was missing. The cutaway and higher fret access really makes a difference, with the 22nd fret and beyond being easily accessible. The body contours on the back of the guitar nestled nicely against me while sitting, and the guitar hangs well when standing, with little neck dive and a nice weight to it. While poplar is a wood often used on more budget instruments, the combination of poplar and well-designed hardware makes for a really resonant guitar, and ultimate tone machine. 

Amplified, the SE Silver Sky features all the single coil twang and phasey tones I’m after, but without the hum problems of more traditional single coils. They retain the character of an S-style guitar without introducing problems when using gain or pushing the guitar or your amp into overdrive. The fretboard plays well, and I felt right at home on the 8.5” radius, having come from a history of equal parts vintage and modern specs, but the SE SIlver Sky felt like both at the same time. The guitar held tune well, even with heavy tremolo use, and in the event of tuning problems, the Silver Sky range has the back springs exposed for easy access. Repairs and maintenance aside, this also allows the player to easily try different tone tricks, such as hair ties on tremolo springs, foam blocks to prevent squeaks etc.

While the Silver Sky takes obvious points from more famous guitars, the modern design really pushes it into a league of its own. The body design is a refined shape, paying homage to the original but cutting away a little more wood and making a few minor tweaks for major upgrades to tuning stability, maintenance, and fret access, allowing you to use this one on stage with confidence no matter your needs. Small improvements like textured knobs and the three-per-side headstock make for a supremely playable guitar, while the 635JM pickups provide all that classic tone and less, the ‘less’ being the absence of hum and noise.

Standard controls allow you to tweak every tone imaginable from the five-way switch, all the while feeling uninhibited with a well-weighted guitar strung across your shoulder. The cutaway access and body contours make the guitar as accessible as the price does, and there’s no sacrifice in quality thanks to PRS’ exacting expectations. 

The original run of USA-made Silver Skys were hugely popular and continue to sell, but the SE Silver Sky is the new kid on the block with a more attractive price and no massive drawbacks. The SE Silver Sky is one signature model guitar that’s here to stay, and may or Mayer not already be one of the classics.

Head to PRS Guitars for more information. For local enquiries, reach out to Electric Factory.