In the guitar industry, Fender and Gibson are considered as the two most famous and leading brands. But PRS Guitars are not that far behind. And lets just say we have a soft spot for PRS Guitars!
PRS Guitars (or Paul Reed Smith Guitars) are known for their two famous lines – that cater to different budgets.
In this guide, we will talk about the most affordable PRS guitars for beginners! Let’s start by identifying what are the two main lines of PRS guitars and if they fit your needs.
PRS S2 Guitars vs PRS SE Guitars
At first, PRS crafted electric guitars only at their US factory in Stevensville, Maryland.
But in the nineties, they introduced PRS Korean Guitars commonly called SE. Which offers a lot of features from the USA guitars at a lower price point.
PRS SE guitars are now considered as one of the key players in the mid-price range guitars. That makes PRS guitars famous even in the Far East.
There are a lot of products from the US factory such as their Core Series. But we are going to focus on their S2 and compared it to SE. Let’s take a closer look at these two amazing guitar series.
PRS USA S2 Guitars
The PRS S2 Series has 3 models, namely S2 Custome 24, S2 Mira, and S2 Starla. These 3 are created at PRS USA factory but the materials and techniques are different from the previous guitars.
S2 Custom 24’s bird fretboard inlays are made with opaque white material instead of abalone which was used on the regular Custom 24. The top is maple while the back part is from mahogany. Because of this, S2 Custom 24 comes in 7 colors
- McCarty Tobacco Sunburst
- Gray Black
- Dark Cherry Burst
- Black Cherry
- Antique White
- Blue Crab Smokeburst, and
It also has a more angular bevel and not bound. S2 Custom 24 has its own custom-wound pickups and same locking tuners. But it has a bit more standard tremolo.
The S2 Custom 24 has 2 more frets, a total of 24.
While S2 Custom 24 is the most expensive of the bunch, S2 Mira is the cheapest or least expensive!
It has a vintage style but not like Starla.
S2 Mira is made from beveled thin mahogany with a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. It has its own bass and treble pickups. And equipped with a familiar “Stop Tail” style bridge/tailpiece.
PRS S2 Mira is available in
- Vintage Cherry
- McCarty Tobacco Sunburst
- Sea Foam Green
- Antique White, and
Known for its retro and very classic look, PRS S2 Starla has a mahogany neck, a rosewood fingerboard, and a mahogany body. The bridge of this guitar has a Bigsy and the Tune-O-Matic bridge.
Though this one is a little on the heavy side, it is still a very well-known guitar because of its look alone and combined it with a PRS locking tuners and nickel hardware, it is irresistible! You can also choose between dot inlays and PRS birds.
S2 Starla is available in 6 colors same as S2 Mira.
All the S2 guitars are 25″ scale and Starla and Mira have 22 frets. Their pickup selector is a 3-way with volume and tone controls.
These 3 S2 models have different pickups, electronic, and hardware compared to there higher-priced brothers.
PRS Korean SE Guitars
If you’re looking for affordable PRS guitars, these guitars might be the one for you! Standing for “Student Edition”, this line features real PRS guitars for under $1000.
When this line is first introduced at the market, they are supposed to be for beginners and intermediates. But today, even professionals use them because of their modern features like upgraded hardware and top-quality pickups.
PRS SE Guitars are created in the Far East by World Musical Instruments Co. in South Korea to maintain the cheaper cost.
So keep the SE guitars low-cost, they built a factory that only used mass production techniques. This method’s goal is to produce dozens of guitars – to generate more volume. While the cost of labor is cheaper the attention-to-detail might be lacking compared to the PRS US-made guitars. But SE series still sports many features of the US-made PRS.
A lot of PRS SE guitars features Mahogany bodies and necks with Flamed Maple tops. SE is not really that far from USA models based on their aesthetic and tonal point of view.
PRS USA Guitars vs PRS Korean Guitars
A lot of people on the internet says PRS USA and PRS Korean guitars are not really that different. But here is a short video to help you differentiate one from the other.
The Best PRS Guitars for Beginners
There are a lot of PRS guitars in the market these days, some are really expensive and some are more affordable. We listed some of the most affordable Paul Reed Smith Guitars for beginners.
PRS SE Mark Tremonti Standard
The PRS SE Mark Tremonti Standard gives off a very powerful voice. Perfect for heavy rock rhythm and melodic soaring leads.
Standard has a thicker all-mahogany body, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard to make sure this guitar has a closer feel to the USA model. Its maple neck has PRS’s popular wide-thin neck profile with their signature birds for comfort, speed, and style.
This guitar is a little on the heavy side. There’s a lot of pure mids which lacks some tonal elements. This comes from the bridge that adds juice to your front-end. But with a lift in the low-end which any great single-cut guitar should have.
With this SE Tremonti, you’ll find the trem-up routed tremolo to nail that wide range pitch techniques.
PRS SE 245
Guitarists are obsessed with the scale length of PRS SE 245 guitars. It’s 24.5″ scale length makes bending easier and makes your strings feel smooth but tight. The SE 245 humbucking pickups give you the clarity and punch you need, from tock to clean jazz.
PRS SE 245’s solid mahogany body delivers the classic dual humbucking single-cut tones that everyone loves in an expensive PRS guitar. The comfortable single-cutaway maple topped body with wide and fat neck delivers easy and great playability and detailed warm tones.
For an affordable PRS guitar, PRS SE 245 boasts its own unique sound.
PRS SE Mark Holcomb
The PRS SE Mark Holcomb features its 24-fret, 25.5″ scale length wide thin satin maple neck, and 20″ radius ebony fretboard. It provides the right amount of output and articulation. Perfect for playing sophisticated chords and alone or working with a band.
It quilted maple veneer, black chrome hardware, and a 3-way black pickup switch are some of the great specs of this cool PRS guitar. And a push and pull tone know that adds single-coil type tones. As well as, Mark Holcomb signature Alpha and Omega Seymour Duncan!
The Omega bridge pickup is focused on the mids and lows to give a lot of punch but retaining enough highs to ensure tone clarity. While the Alpha neck pickup combines the fat and glassy sound with a lot of clear fretting hand phrasing.
PRS SE Angelus AX20E – Acoustic/Electric Guitar
The PRS SE Angelus AX20E delivers custom acoustic-electric features without an expensive price tag.
It has a Sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and x-bracing. This combination allows the top to vibrate while providing stability to give a loud, sweet, but powerful sound. Also, it has a strong midrange character – warm, focused, and a punchy midrange.
This guitar features an Angelus cutaway shape for comfortable playing and picking.
PRS KE4TC SE Kestrel – Bass Guitar
The PRS SE Kestrel bass guitar features a 5-ply neck-through, alder body, and Rosewood fretboard with PRS signature bird inlays. It has Hipshot HB6 tuners with Transtone bridge and designed with 2 pickguard volume controls and one tone control.
Kestrel pickups are really punchy and focused. Which gives the guitarist the ability to play in low-mid, high-mid, midrange, and top-end sound. This bass has an alder body and modern neck to help sustain and get an evenly balanced tone.
One of the great features of this bass guitar is its 7.5″ fretboard radius. Which makes it very fast and comfortable to play in any style or genre of music.
Who Plays PRS Guitars
With the PRS guitars great aesthetic and quality, it is not surprising that a lot of famous musicians owns and plays them. Here are a few of them.
A Grammy-winning pop, rock, and blues singer John Mayer is a huge guitar man.
Formerly, he was into Fender and even had a line with his signature – John Mayer Fender. However, in 2017, John Mayer started using white and silver vintage-styled PRS guitar, called Silver Sky.
Ben O’Neill played with Christina Aguilera, Common, Kanye, and Sting. But he became a Grammy-nominated guitarist when he was in John Legend’s band.
He’s been seen playing PRS Silver Sky guitar in Ellen and other performances.
The lead guitarist for Creed and Alter Bridge, Mark Tremonti won Guitar Worlds “Guitarist of the Year” on 3 occasions is a huge PRS guitar fan.
He worked to create his own signature PRS model, the Mark Tremonti Signature model! Made from carved maple and mahogany with a pattern thin neck shape. Also, with PRS signature design, silver bird detailing along the fretboard.
Dave Navarro played for Jane’s Addiction, Guns ‘N Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and more.
He used his own signature PRS guitar, called PRS SE Dave Navarro Electric Guitar. The guitar has white and gold hardware accents and been using it since Lollapalooza 1991.
Everybody knows Carlos Santana. No need for detailed introductions for this guy. He’s been using PRS guitars since 1982.
To celebrate Carlos Santana’s over 50yr career, PRS even made a full Santana-branded model line.
Paul Reed Smith Guitars started in 1985, hence the name PRS. It became one of the most famous guitar brands around the world.
Custom 24 is its original guitar design that paved the way for this company to be known. Today, PRS guitars are not only famous for their electric guitars but also other things as well. Like their acoustic models and amplifiers.
PRS guitars are not a cheap bunch, they are more on the pricey side. If you are a guitar enthusiast or aficionado, you will surely want to get your own PRS guitar yourself.
For beginners, it might be too pricey for you. But if you can spare a few bucks, and are really into guitars, PRS guitars are really worth checking out.
Remember, when you own the best guitar, it is always nice to have a studio cable to partner it with.