With 19 production guitars already in the affordable SE guitar range, you would think Paul Reed Smith would start working on a new series; but instead they decided to work on the ultra retro-cool SE Custom Semi-Hollow with Bigsby.
PRS have taken the very popular Semi-Hollow body and added a few cool features like a Bigsby tremolo and 3-ply black-white-black scratchplate, giving it a vintage charm. But it’s not only a pretty face and it was recently the winner of the Guitarist Choice award and when its in front of you in the flesh you can clearly see why.
The PRS SE Custom Semi-Hollow with Bigsby is, in regard to its body, almost
identical to a standard Custom Semi-Hollow. However its Mahogany back is
hollowed out on the upper bass side and capped with a maple top that sports a very Rickenbacker-esque soundhole. This ‘Slash’ hole not only looks awesome but also gives the guitar greatly improved sustain. Although its semi-hollow construction isn’t actually that hollow it still produces noticeably lighter articulate tones.
Its Mahogany, glued in neck is set in the typical PRS wide-fat profile, which is very aptly named. This is probably the only love it or hate it feature of PRS guitars as it does take some getting used to, but it’s just a really nice, comfortable neck, if you’re into that sort of thing.
However many people aren’t, and it doesn’t really allow you the freedom, especially when shredding, like a flat neck does. Its jumbo frets are slightly lower than other USA models, which sit comfortably over the edge binding and are mirror polished very attractively. It has a 10-inch luxurious Rosewood fingerboard with the iconic bird inlays that feels so comfortable to hold and play.
The main difference between the PRS SE Custom Semi-Hollow Bigsby and the
standard Semi-Hollow Custom is the USA made Bigsby Tremolo System. Bigsby’s
add a vintage look to any guitar and it is paired with a tune-o-matic bridge and PRS
top-locking tuners that maintain exceptional tuning stability.
The pickups are pretty typical with two PRS designed open-coil humbuckers, a master volume switch, master tone and a three way toggle selector to control them. The power is very much there, but in a subdued way as if waiting until called upon.
It was able to handle any Genre, certainly that I can play, except perhaps Metal where the neck might let you down. Unfortunately you can’t exchange the pickups for coil splits as none of the pickups have an extra-tap wire, which I wouldn’t do under normal circumstances but its well known Bigsby’s and single-coils go together perfectly.
Credit where it’s due the SE Custom with Bigsby ticks just about all of the boxes. It looks great, sounds awesome and is very well priced so it’s not very hard to see why it was voted Guitarist Choice. If you need any more convincing go and try one for yourself and you’ll see what all the hype is about.