The only visual evidence that the new SE TX20E electro-acoustic is a Paul Reed Smith guitar at all is the classic PRS headstock shape, as well, of course, as that recognisable and famous flock of flying bird inlays on the fingerboard.
That said, the beauty of this guitar is far more than just skin deep here with its J-200-esque Tonare Grand-shaped body playing host to a solid Sitka spruce top, laminate mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck, glued in place, and an ebony fingerboard and bridge.
You’re basically getting all the tasty stuff a woodworm on death row would choose as its last meal. The bone bridge saddle and perfectly-cut top nut are quality appointments, and attention to detail is also evident in the 20 medium frets, all beautifully seated and crowned. The playability here is pretty special too.
The action is low, and the ‘Wide Fat’ neck profile copied from PRS electrics certainly makes this one of the easiest-to-navigate acoustics we’ve ever played. The fact that the TX20E also comes with a hard case makes this deal look like a no-brainer. Although, of course, the thing has to sound good too...
The whole point of buying a solid spruce top acoustic is the tone should mellow and mature as it’s played. The downside of that waiting game is that a brand-new acoustic can feel that its balls are yet to drop, metaphorically speaking, of course. You might get a load of squeaky top end and brash midrange and very little depth in the bottom-end.
The good news here is our TX20E’s voice has already begun to break with bags of sizzle and punch from the top and midrange, and we love the piano-like sustain and depth from the bottom strings. Of course, you can tweak the sound to exactly where you want it to be via the onboard Fishman GT-1 pickup. The preamp features a volume and tone control hidden just inside the TX20E’s soundhole.
What we have here is a sorted mid-priced electro-acoustic with great build quality and a pleasing tone straight off the peg. The important thing to note here is that you could say that about a fair few guitars out there – and all available at a similar price.
What we need is the SE TX20E’s unique selling point. The easy answer is that classic PRS ‘Wide Fat’ neck profile. If you’re an SE electric fan then you already know this neck, and the switch from your solidbody to this electro-acoustic should be pretty much seamless. If, on the other hand, you’re new to the brand you might be surprised as to just how approachable that neck shape is. It secures this bird-decorated beauty a lofty perch in the affordable electro-acoustic pecking order.