PRS SE Standard 24-08: What is it?
PRS Guitars might well be one of the most high-profile aspirational guitar brands on the planet, but just as soon as we get carried away daydreaming of 10 Tops or a choice piece from the Private Stock collection along comes the Indonesian-built SE line to remind us that the company has gone to great lengths to broaden its demographic, bringing some of that high-end electric guitar craft to players with everyday budgets.
As PRS goes, they don’t come much cheaper than the Standard 24-08. It is one of life’s ironies that the Standard, an electric guitar that is quintessentially a part of the PRS story, having been in the lineup since 1987 – technically ’85 – should now be offered in the gigging pro S2 and student-friendly SE lines.
This suggests aspirational guitar making for the people, and that, as it turns out, is what we have here.
There is no shortage of evidence to support the efficacy of the SE line in translating high-end build to more affordable instruments. Most recently, the SE Silver Sky line was so good, well, it blurred the line between a quote/unquote fiscally sensible gear purchase and that of a dream six-string.
The SE Standard 24-08 is a bit like that too. The 24-08 refers to the number of frets, 24, and the number of sounds you can get from the pickup selectors and the two mini-toggle switches at hand.
Anyone who has played the regular SE Standard – i.e. the most affordable electric PRS makes – will not have come away complaining about the lack of options when it comes to tone.
The coil-splitting function doubling your core sounds from the dual-humbucker platform. But eight? That’s something, and that’s before you’ve even touched the volume and tone controls.
It has a body of solid mahogany with cream binding along the top that extends up the fingerboard edges, though it just stops short of the headstock. The three-piece maple neck is glued to the body, carved into a for-the-weekend easy Wide Thin profile, and topped with a rosewood fingerboard inlaid with Mr Smith’s fine feathered friends.
Dimensions are classically PRS, with a 25” scale length splitting the difference between the Big Two, and a 10” fingerboard radius. The vibrato is a kissing cousin of the US model’s vibrato, except here we have steel block and top-plate design instead of brass.
The pickups are uncovered TCI ’S’ humbuckers, which courtesy of the SE Standard 24-08’s control circuit puts true single-coil tones on the menu, a move that, on the face of it, seems audacious at this price. Doubly so once we plug it in.
PRS SE Standard 24-08: Performance and verdict
One aspect of the SE Standard 24-08’s design that sounds a little iconoclastic but is thrilling all the same is the ability to switch into single-coil mode and access sounds that you’d traditionally associate with a bolt-on build from the West Coast of the North American continent. But here, a flick of the switch, and you have that slightly scooped and spanky precision that offers a tantalising contrast to the full meat of the humbucker voicing.
When we think single-coils and PRS, the Silver Sky comes to mind, or Mark Lettieri’s superlative Fiore signature guitar – another bolt-on – rather than the traditionally set-neck and mahogany bodied rank and file. Coming from such a guitar, single-coil snap an intoxicating proposition. Even if we can’t combine these single-coil sounds for those in-between sounds as we can on the Silver Sky, or the Fender Stratocaster that inspired John Mayer’s model, they are superb.
And with both neck and bridge pickups split and combined you have a hum-cancelling voicing that will convince any on-lookers that someone has sneaked a Fender into the picture.
Play around with the combinations, adjusting the volume and tone pots, and you’ll avail yourself of more quite exquisite sounds. You can sell this guitar on the strength of the fit and finish, a build that is typical of PRS’s super-close collaboration with Cor-Tek, and the price. But this is an instrument that seals the deal with the amount of sounds you can get out what is an eminently playable platform.
The Wide Thin neck profile is the thinnest you’ll get some PRS, subtly tapered from the 12th fret to the 1st, where it measures just 20.75mm. It is immensely welcoming.
The Standard SE 24-08 lacks the visual pizazz of its Custom kin, or rather it lacks the figured maple on top, which is in many players’ eyes the look that defines PRS. But plain-top PRS electrics can look the bee’s knees, and this is no exception. It goes for classy and understated over red carpet dress.
• PRS SE Custom 24-08
All the core tones of the SE Standard 24-08 but with a flame maple top to add some visual flair – and a few hundred quid – to the deal.
• PRS SE Custom 24
If you don't need the extra tones and six will do just nicely, this makes for the more economical choice for the flame maple aficionado.
• PRS SE Standard 24
The SE Standard 24 can be found for £489 street and is a superb introduction to the brand.
Both looks are valid. Both are very cool. This, however, is cheaper, and in times like these, that might make the difference. The SE Standard 24-08 sits in a similar price bracket as the more top-line Chinese-made Epiphone models and somewhere between Fender’s Player and Player Plus series, and offers something different to both.
The market for mid-priced electric guitars has always been keenly contested but when you add guitars like this to the equation, well, that intensity will be like the final frame at the Crucible, Centre Court on a balmy late summer Sunday afternoon… Arm-wrestling in an 18th Nantucket hostelry at last orders. And that is good news for guitarists. And PRS even throws in a gig bag.
Some players won’t need all those switching options and might find themselves seduced by a more specialist model, but it is hard to think of a better-equipped model for a wedding band-style set for the money. This makes a superb first serious guitar, for when intermediate guitarists take their playing to the next step, cycling through the genres – blues, rock, fusion, etc – or for those who need a workhorse with a sense of sophistication.
MusicRadar verdict: The Standard 24-08 is another supremely versatile addition to the SE line that carries itself with refinement and bearing that belies the price tag. That versatility is not to be sniffed at either. This is no dilettante six-string. It offers eight core sounds that are convincing and stage-ready.
PRS SE Standard 24-08: The web says
"It’s faultlessly made and functions perfectly, but it’s the ‘08’ switching that turns it from being an also-ran into a serious workhorse for any player who needs to cover a lot of ground from one instrument.
"Yes, there’s an element of it being a Jack-of-all-trades, master of none, but for the serious practising, performing and recording musician, it’s £600 well spent and £300 less expensive than the SE Custom 24-08, which, when we reviewed it last year, got a Guitarist Gold 10/10 rating. A new standard for the mass production guitar? It’s a yes from us."
PRS SE Standard 24-08: Hands-on demos
PRS SE Standard 24-08: Specifications
- ORIGIN: Indonesia
- TYPE: Double-cutaway solidbody electric
- BODY: Mahogany, bound top edge
- NECK: 3-piece maple, wide thin profile, glued-in
- SCALE LENGTH: 635mm (25”)
- NUT/WIDTH: Friction reducing / 42.94mm
- FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, ‘old school’ bird inlays, 254mm (10”) radius
- FRETS: 24, medium
- HARDWARE: PRS patented vibrato (cast), PRS designed non-locking tuners – nickel-plated
- STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52.5mm
- ELECTRICS: PRS TCI ‘S’ Treble and Bass humbuckers (open coiled black bobbins); 3-way toggle pickup selector switch, master volume and tone, 2x mini-toggle coil-split switches
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.38/7.44
- OPTIONS: SE Standard
- RANGE OPTIONS: SE Custom 24-08, S2 Custom 24-08, Core Custom 24-08
- LEFT-HANDERS: No
- FINISHES: Trans Blue (as reviewed), Tobacco Sunburst
- CONTACT: PRS Guitars