PRS 35th Anniversary SE Custom 24: My Review

Black-Viper75

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Hello everyone. This is my first attempt to do a guitar review. I purchased the 35th Anniversary SE Custom 24 a few weeks ago and I’d like to share my impressions and thoughts with the wonderful people on this forum for present and future reference on this outstanding guitar.

Backstory: My previous guitar was a Cort X-6 which I’d bought 19 years ago and I’d been dreaming of the 35th Anniversary SE CU 24 since I saw it announced in fall 2019. I’d started slowly saving up to purchase one but the Covid19 outbreak has had both me and my fiancée out of work for months now so I kept off from buying it. One day my fiancée saw me looking at this guitar again on my laptop screen and told me "are you just going to keep staring at that guitar? Go ahead and buy it. We'll work things out". Right away I called the Greek PRS Distributor, told them I’m interested in the 35th Anniversary SE CU 24 and the rest is history.

The Looks: The stunning black gold burst finish and the mesmerizing abalone bird inlays make me want to look at this beautiful instrument all day. The flame maple veneer looks like something from a much more expensive guitar and is so well done displaying craftsmanship and elegance in design. The “old school” abalone inlays on the rosewood fretboard are a real eye-catcher giving off a majestic turquoise/emerald shimmer as light reflects off the legendary PRS birds.

Out of the Box: Opening the box the guitar was in a brown gigbag secured in place by styrofoam wedges around the edges so it wouldn’t move around while being transported. Unzipping the gigbag I find the guitar wrapped in protective foam wrap and had a protective styrofaom cover over the 3-way blade switch. The tremelo arm, truss rod wrench and allen wrench were in the front pocket of the gigbag. The front pocket of the gigbag is nice a spacious and fits my Boss GT-1 effects processor. Checking out the switches and jack they were all tight in place. No sharp fret edges. No scratches, bumps or dents were to be found anywhere on my guitar. Intonation was spot on. It seems like the quality control form the PRS factory in Surabaya, Indonesia did a fantastic job as I didn’t come across any production flaws.

Playability: Upon holding this guitar for the first time the 24-fret maple wide thin neck felt very comfortable, fast and surprisingly shred friendly. The cutaway gives easy and comfortable access all the way up to the 24th fret. The set up from the factory actually felt fantastic. The action height is really comfortable and I had no fret buzz at all. The string tension has a nice, bendy feel that I hope I can keep after my first string change when I switch to 10s and a D standard tuning. I do seem to have a tuning issue on the G string so I’ll be looking into changing the nut when I change strings. Before hooking my 35th Anniversary SE to my amp I was surprised at how wonderfully clear and bright every note sounded unplugged.

The Pickups OMG!!! : Once connected to my amp, my ears couldn’t believe the clarity I was hearing from the TCI “S” treble and bass pickups. All the demos I watched on the internet couldn’t prepare me to how good these pickups sound in person. From what I’ve read on the internet “the two humbucking pickups in this SE Custom 24 are Paul Reed Smith-designed 85/15 TCI S's. An update on PRS's original humbuckers, the 85/15 TCI S's are designed to sound terrific whether used in humbucking or single-coil modes.” To take full advantage at the vast tone capabilities of these TCI pickups the 35th Anniversary SE CU 24 gives you a volume and tone control, a 3-way blade switch and 2 mini toggle coil tap switches. The two mini-toggle switches allow you to put one or both pickups in true single-coil mode or humbucking mode. Single coil mode is quiet and has no notable volume loss. I’ve found myself finding new and inspiring tones by using one single coil and one humbucker. To this time, other than the SE Paul’s Guitar, this is the only PRS SE guitar with the mini toggles and the TCI pickups. The clean tones ring beautifully and bright with high clarity. In humbucker mode a warm, vintage undertone, which I simply can’t get enough of, can be detected when using overdrive or distortion. This along with the mahogany body, gives great, mid punchy tones for rocking out riffs and very satisfying sustain for soaring leads. I play music ranging from blues to metal and this guitar is just perfect for me. If anyone tells you like a few people told me that the TCIs can’t handle metal or high gain don’t believe them… you can definitely play metal on this guitar. I seriously doubt I’ll ever consider changing these pickups.

Is It Worth The Extra Cash ?: There’s been some debate whether the price of the 35th Anniversary SE CU 24 is worth the extra money over a regular SE CU 24. In my opinion: YES. You get the gorgeous black gold burst flame maple veneer, the abalone bird inlays, the TCI pickups and the 2 mini toggles. All this in a special anniversary model with only 3,500 of this model made to celebrate the 35 years of PRS Guitars.

Final Thoughts: The 35th Anniversary SE CU 24 truly is a fantastic guitar that I’d highly recommend to anyone thinking about purchasing one. The only negative thing I found, as I previously mentioned, is the tuning issue on the G string which really makes me wonder why a better quality nut is not used since almost everyone I’ve spoken with has had an issue with the factory nut and ends up buying a new one for roughly $/€10.00. Now some will say that with the money spent on the 35th Anniversary SE CU 24 I could’ve gotten a used S2 but I live in Greece and unfortunately there isn’t a market for used PRS guitars here if I wanted one. The gratifying thing for me is I’ve spent my money on beautiful instrument that’s defined by great craftsmanship. A guitar that is inspires and pleasantly compels you to play. It’s safe to say the 35th Anniversary SE CU 24 will bring me hours upon hours of musical joy in the years to come.

If you read this all the way to the end, thank you very much for your time.

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Tahlee

Tollywood Rhode Island
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I enjoyed your thoughtful and through review. Those birds are blowing me away. Congrats on that beauty.

I saw a McCarty Hollowbody SE yesterday in person and it had crazy beautiful old school birds, too.
 

Black-Viper75

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I enjoyed your thoughtful and through review. Those birds are blowing me away. Congrats on that beauty.

I saw a McCarty Hollowbody SE yesterday in person and it had crazy beautiful old school birds, too.
Thank you for your kind words. Yeah, those birds a stunning. It seems that the SE Hollowbody II Piezo that was announced today has the same birds.
 

shimmilou

Established in 1963
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Mar 15, 2018
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Nice review! Glad you are enjoying that fantastic guitar, congrats. I took mine to play with the band yesterday, we all loved it, especially the band leader who was the one playing it. :cool:
 

Black-Viper75

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Nice review! Glad you are enjoying that fantastic guitar, congrats. I took mine to play with the band yesterday, we all loved it, especially the band leader who was the one playing it. :cool:
Thanks. What rig are you running your 35th Anniversary SE CU through ?
 

shimmilou

Established in 1963
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I have used mostly a Bugera 1990 head and a 4x12, and it smokes, both clean and driven. Tried also with a Mesa TA 15 head, a Deluxe Reverb, a Hot Rod Deluxe, and it sounds wonderful with all. Since I play bass in the band, our lead guitarist played the 35th Ann, and he used a Supersonic 22 head and 2x12, with a Hot Rod Deluxe and extension cab, and it absolutely rocked with that set up in those professional hands. :)
 

Black-Viper75

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I have used mostly a Bugera 1990 head and a 4x12, and it smokes, both clean and driven. Tried also with a Mesa TA 15 head, a Deluxe Reverb, a Hot Rod Deluxe, and it sounds wonderful with all. Since I play bass in the band, our lead guitarist played the 35th Ann, and he used a Supersonic 22 head and 2x12, with a Hot Rod Deluxe and extension cab, and it absolutely rocked with that set up in those professional hands. :)
Wow, those are some very nice amps you mentioned there
 

NBW

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Mar 25, 2019
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I just got mine back from Dave’s. They finished the setup I started when I installed the core nut and Mann trem. It plays really well now and the controls and single coil tones from the TCI make me very happy. It’s a great complement to my SE custom 24 with the Stormy Mondays. Still a vintage vibe, which is what I gravitate toward, but with a bit more sparkle.
 

Black-Viper75

New Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2020
Messages
1,793
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Greece
I just got mine back from Dave’s. They finished the setup I started when I installed the core nut and Mann trem. It plays really well now and the controls and single coil tones from the TCI make me very happy. It’s a great complement to my SE custom 24 with the Stormy Mondays. Still a vintage vibe, which is what I gravitate toward, but with a bit more sparkle.
Nice to hear you're happy with the set up. I agree with you, that vintage vibe from the TCI pickups really give this guitar character.
 
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