Guitarist upgrades his $569 PRS SE 245 guitar to get it closer to a $5,000 USA Core Tremonti model

PRS SE 245
(Image credit: Andertons)

YouTuber Stevie J is someone we can relate to as guitar modders trying to upgrade our instruments, and he also knows PRS's Indonesian-made SE guitars are some of the best mid-market electric guitars. So much so, they are often good to go straight out of the box, but what if you're looking for… more?

Stevie's dream guitar is a US--made PRS Core Tremonti model. Just over $5,000 in his preferred finish. Can he get close with a hardtail Charcoal Burst 245 SE that he picked up "used" but still with its tags on for just $569.

We think this is a useful video for anyone out there wondering how they can upgrade their own SE guitar. He starts with locking tuners, moves on to a black Tusq nut even darkens the fretboard to get closer to ebony. And for another cosmetic touch he switches the controls out for the PRS top hat variety that are on the Core models. And installing his own preference for strap locks. 

Most importantly there's the pickups; he installed the same pickups that are in the US Tremonti models.


(Image credit: Tremonti)

Of course, Stevie knows you can't upgrade an SE to a 10 top and more premium tone woods but for feel, subtle cosmetics and sound, it looks like money well spent for him. You can follow Stevie's steps in the video above, as well as an A/B before and after sound test. 

We would add from experience that guitar nut upgrades can be a tricky area; just sanding them to the right height without going too far – something we usually take to our local guitar tech to either carve a bone nut or fit an aftermarket example. It's usually money well spent.  

Also, if you're looking to darken your rosewood fretboard, Monty's Montepresso wax is a great option. 

Andertons in the UK currently has the PRS SE 245 on sale here in the same Charcoal Burst as Stevie's for just £549. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.