Finally Tried the S2 Line

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by JTroska, Apr 6, 2015.

  1. JTroska

    JTroska New Member

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    S2s are hard to find by me. But I found a brick and mortar store 50 minutes from me that had some and I went in for a test drive.

    There seems to be a divided opinion about this line. Some feel S2s aren't much better than the SE line to justify the higher cost. Others feel they're a steal considering how close they come to the core line. I already own an SE Semi Hollow Custom Soapbar and a Core SC250. After trying the S2s, my feeling is VISUALLY, they're more on par with SEs, but FEEL-wise, they come closer to the Core line. So it comes down to what a player values most in a PRS. If a PRS means lush 3D curly tops to you, you're probably going to walk away from an S2 unimpressed. If you love PRS for how they perform and can live without the cosmetic bling, you'll probably like the S2s.

    I will say this... If you're particular about flamed tops, DO NOT buy an S2 site-unseen. This store had six S2 models and the quality of the tops ranged A LOT. One was quite attractive in an elegant understated way. When I say "understated", I mean compared to the 3D hologram-like tops of the Core line. This particular S2 was still on a par with far more expensive Gibsons in the store. Other S2 specimens were quite bare in the flame department, and others were quite uneven and--I'll be honest--kind of ugly.

    Color ranged a lot, too. 5 of the 6 were Blue Crab Smokeburst. 1 was a Cherryburst. The Blue Crab Smokebursts were slightly different from each other. One was almost a grayish light green; one seemed closer to teal. Maybe my words are making the colors sound more different than they really were. But if you're particular about color, you should go look at the exact model you're buying.

    I tried the S2 Singlecut Semi Hollow first. I was immediately impressed by the unplugged sound of this guitar. Louder and more vibrant than I had expected from the smallish chamber. Probably not the deep round sound one might desire for jazz. But I'm doing pop rock and this guitar was sooo nice for that. I can't really comment on the pickups because I wasn't playing it through my own amp so it wasn't a controlled subject. I didn't hear any problems. The unplugged vibrance and openness makes me wonder if it'll feedback at higher band volumes, though. I liked that the volume pots were stiffer than on my Core guitar and seemed less likely to get bumped/rubbed out of position.

    I also tried the S2 Singlecut Standard (solid body) just to compare the difference between the semi hollow and solid models. Definitely a pronounced difference between the two. Those F holes aren't just cosmetic. But I didn't spend much time on the solid body as I already have an SC250.

    Also tried an S2 Custom 22 Semi Hollow. Pretty much the same deal as the Singlecut Semi Hollow. Maybe the Singlecut Semi Hollow sounded just a teeny touch better unplugged but that could've come down the the age of the strings on it. I'd say the choice would come down to the body shape and bridge one prefers.

    I don't know... That Singlecut Semi Hollow spoke to me. I'll sleep on it. I may just go back and take it home with me.
     
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  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    As JFB always says, do it!
     
  3. mcarty1

    mcarty1 New Member

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    Well I just do not like a PRS without a carved top! If I am going to pay american made prices, I do not think it is unreasonable to expect a carved top.

    But that is just me. I would rather have a used CE than an S2. And by the way, the CE line was the "red headed stepchild" for a lot of PRS owners on guitar forums back in the day....much like the S2 is now.

    Still the CE at least had a carved top! It may have a bolt on neck, but it had a carved top!
     
  4. g.wizz

    g.wizz New Member

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    I'll re-phrase: GO FOR IT
     
  5. Luminandy

    Luminandy New Member

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    Perhaps the Ce's had a little too much bang for the buck, having the same electronics and.hardware also. I would be hoarding those things if I could afford to.
     
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  6. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    Are the CE's bright sounding guitars? I've always assumed they are due to the maple necks. Would love a 22 fret stoptail model though. With a toggle, if such a thing exists.
     
  7. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    Very well said JTroska, I feel the same way about my S2. The chambered bodies aren't a gimmick, that's for sure. I think the tops are getting better, but I have seen a lot of what you've described, and I'm sure there's a lot of that hanging around in retail stores still. Certainly they don't all have a lot of figure in them, but from what I've seen they're getting better in terms of being matched. Drives me nuts when I see them and the two halves of the top look like they aren't from the same piece of wood! When you're known for tops, they need to match! At least those ugly ducklings have a good personality, right?
     
  8. VHTStark

    VHTStark New Member

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    They are a little brighter and snappier than their Custom model counterparts, yes. Pretty much interchangeable though. The old alder body CE's with maple boards...those to me are a different beast. You can definitely find stoptail CE-22's out there, but you would have to install the toggle in all likelihood.

    As for the S2's.....great review! That is what I found as well: feels like a core and built incredibly well. If it spoke to you and you have the means, I say grab it.
     
  9. NomadMike

    NomadMike New Member

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    But it could be riskier to not launch something like the S2 line.
    PRS must have seen a large untapped market in people who liked PRS quality but didn't care for the looks of the usual PRS styles (people like me) and costs.


    I find the reaction to much of the S2 line is very positive especially the Knaggsian models, so except for some in the PRS camp I haven't heard much if anything negative about the line.
     
  10. JTroska

    JTroska New Member

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    The beveled edges don't bother me. In fact, if PRS hadn't revealed those were a cost-cutting measure, I may have just thought they were a stylistic decision. But I'm a rock guy. So I see the beveled edges and just think, "Gibson SG", and it's legit. I can understand how maybe country or jazz players may be used to more ornate guitars and see the bevels as cheap-looking.
    I just Googled some CEs right now. Definitely nicer looking than the S2s. And I don't mind bolt on necks. I actually really like maple. But I don't think they come in semi hollow, which is what I'm in the market for. And I think they're one volume, one tone, and rotary pickup selector, which is all wrong for me. I like to turn the neck pickup down with it's own volume pot and flick a toggle selector for clean / lead sounds.
     
    #10 JTroska, Apr 7, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015
  11. rugerpc

    rugerpc A♥ hoards guitars ♥A
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    Nice, objective review, JT - thanks!
     
  12. JTroska

    JTroska New Member

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    Yeah, the S2 semi hollow sounded better to me than my CE semi hollow. It was really better than I had expected. I mean they basically just took a solid body guitar and chambered it. So I wasn't sure it would be tuned to work as a semi hollow. But I really enjoyed it.
    Now you've got me thinking... The better tops were on the semi hollows, which are newer. The ugliest top was on a solid body, which may have been older. I don't know. Even the best top of the 6 guitars wasn't perfect but it was balanced enough to be pleasing.
     
  13. drdoom8793

    drdoom8793 THAT guy at Chick-fil-A

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    Just out of curiosity, has anyone had a chance to compare the Zach Myers to the S2 Singlecut SH? I'm interested in both models but wasn't sure how they compared.

    I've had the chance to compare the SE 24, S2 24 (30th anni edition), and a Core 24 and for me, while the S2 feels a little better than the SE, it doesn't warrant the price when I could get a used Core 24 for a little bit more. Of course, YMMV.

    However, I have an SE Singlecut (with a few mods) right now that I absolutely love, and I seem to be digging the SC shape more right now than the 24. The biggest thing for me is that if the quality isn't hugely different, I'd prefer to get the ZM and mod it quite a bit and spend about the same if not less than the S2, which is basically double the price and would probably require new pups to sound ideal for me.
     
  14. John Beef

    John Beef Opaque

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    I have noticed that Core PRS guitars are moving up in terms of flames and finishes and options (and prices). You just don't see a lot of dealer stock that's black or goldtop. You can't get moon inlays any more unless it's a DGT. I am drawn to more basic guitars cosmetically, but I am in the minority. Carved tops are very nice but I have no issue with a bevel either. My older core Mira is just as comfortable to play as my Custom 22.
     
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  15. JTroska

    JTroska New Member

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    I'm curious about this too. I haven't played a Zach Myers yet. The deal breaker, for me, on the ZM is the 24.5" scale. I know it's only a 1/2" difference but I really find 25" to be the sweet spot and less than that tends to play sloppily to me. 24.5" is even shorter than Gibson.

    Here's a fantastic shootout of various PRS guitars, including the Zach Myers. If you expand the description, you get an index of time points where you can jump from one guitar test to the other.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbxfKStqh38

    From what I'm hearing, the Zach Myers sounds really nice but the stock pickups don't bring out the best of the semi hollow design, imo. At the end, he plays the Zach Myers with upgraded pickups and it's beautiful.
     
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  16. gball

    gball New Member

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    I'm there in the minority with you. The solid-color S2's do it for me aesthetically in a way that flamey-tops and fancy bits never could. And, I actually prefer the bevels to a carved top, just find them more comfortable. I can bounce back and forth from my Mira to my SG and I am perfectly happy, grab something with a carved top and it feels weird to me now that I have gotten so used to them.
     
  17. cscott2413

    cscott2413 New Member

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    When I see a Core PRS, I see 2 maybe 3 S2's. I have 2 by the way, a Custom 24 and a Singlecut Standard. But, to be fair, I have never played nor held a core model. :)
     
  18. dsenoj

    dsenoj Old dude in a PRS T-shirt

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    I have an S2 Singlecut SH while a friend at work has a Zach Myers. I don't have great ears to describe the tonal differences very well but I think the S2 has much better pickups but the ZM pickups are hotter. The bodies seem very similar to me. The S2 has a one piece mahogany back and I think the ZM has a two or three piece back. The obvious spec differences are the different scale lengths, the S2 has locking tuners, and the S2 has coil taps, while the ZM has that nice satin neck. I thought of modding my S2 neck to be like the ZM but my wife objected. Both guitars have a great feel but the S2 feels more "refined" to me. I have five core PRS guitars and my S2 feels as good as they do. The ZM is close but I'm glad I got the S2.

    Another friend at work just got a S2 Mira SH and that's also a great guitar. All three of us are taking lessons from the same great teacher and our lessons are scheduled one after the other. Our teacher likes all 3 of these guitars. But he did say his favorite guitars of all his students are my new DGT Goldtop, the S2 Mira SH, and another student's 20+ year old Goldtop PRS.
     
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  19. JTroska

    JTroska New Member

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    The Zach Myers also has adjustable bridge saddles. I have those on my SC250 and they work great. It's a must if you want hybrid string sets or wound G strings to play in tune all the way up the neck.

    Speaking of bridges, does anybody know how the standard wrap-around bridge on the s2 takes to .011 gauge strings? And would the nut on an S2 accommodate an .011 set? Or would I need to file the slots wider?
     
  20. Ol'Lefty

    Ol'Lefty New Member

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    My S2 Singlecut, Dark Cherry, is a phenomenal guitar by any standard. I have now heard from PRS Service, and it is disassembled readying it for re- finish of the neck- handled as warranty without a moment's argument. I miss it very much. It was setup to be quite low and there was no string rattle or buzz. I was especially impressed that all of the adjustment points did what they should and results were predictable.
     

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