PRS S2 or SE, not a hard choice for me

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by Em7, Aug 19, 2021.

  1. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    I have mentioned that SEs, while decent guitars, are not real PRS guitars. SEs do not hold their value like real PRS guitars. Here is an example. I can sell my McCarty 58 for more than paid for it. I learned an important lesson when purchasing gear a long time ago, and, that is, buy once, cry once. Quality gear always holds its value. Yes, there may be dips in the market, but there is always a rebound. Budget gear rarely holds its value (compare the resale prices of old Marshall amps compared to old Peavey amps). It is like burning one's money. If one is just starting out or needs a beater, okay, an SE is decent buy, but, then again, any Asian contract manufactured guitar will fill the need. However, if I one is thinking about spending $1K on a Cort contract manufactured guitar with PRS slaped on it, it makes sense to spend a little more and purchase an S2, which is manufactured in Stevensville (a.k.a. the real thing).

    A lot of guys will say something along the line of, "but the SEs have nicer tops." That is because what one is seeing a thin figured veneer on top of a plain maple cap. The figuring does not go all the way through the top like it does on an S2, CE24, or core model, which can be easily determined by matching the figure on the natural binding with that of the top (the curl on a Stevensville guitar can be seen in the binding). That is a sizable difference wood quality and manufacturing cost, which makes the S2s absolute bargains compared to the SEs. The wood guys at PRS in Stevensville do stellar job of selecting figured maple because one never knows what is going to happen when one starts carving into a figured maple cap. Besides the threat of tear out, the figure can change through the thickness of the cap.
     
  2. aphantomvaper

    aphantomvaper New Member

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    They may not be real, and they are PRS in spec and name. Didn't we get to see the new overseas factory with PRS on the outside wall with Jack touring?

    I'm not arguing here, more saying there is PRS juice in the SE line these days. I'd never have a HB II Piezo if it weren't for the SE line. Course those are China made so maybe I'm reinforcing your point.

    ***turns it up loud and plays it like its Maryland origin***
     
  3. Barquentine

    Barquentine New Member

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    I have an S2 Singlecut and a Bernie SE. They have different qualities and I love them both. I do not think the S2 is a 'better' guitar than the Bernie.
     
  4. cjlloyd

    cjlloyd Not vintage yet

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    I don't disagree with your arguments regarding quality. I think it's probably fair to say the guitars coming out of Maryland are more "authentically" PRS than those coming from Indonesia.

    That being said, resale value and this idea of brand purity are not always the priority for everyone. Of course it depends on the model but looking at the flagship, the S2 Cu24 is twice the price of the SE. For someone who's just looking to get into PRS, or someone who can't spend a month's wages on a hobby, it's a no-brainer.
     
  5. Tom Bradovich

    Tom Bradovich New Member

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    I hope this thread doesn't turn into a s**t show the way some of the threads that seem to deteriorate into "I'm right & you're an a**hole." As a recent first time PRS buyer, I have to agree with Em7 in as much as I was faced with that same decision - SE or S2. The kicker for me was that the S2 line is made at the Stevesville factory. Yes, I paid more for my S2 McCarty than any SE, but I also believe in buy once cry once. However, I fully understand someone else's decision to go with an SE based on their perceived notion of value. My advice to a nephew who may face this decision if he progresses from his acoustic will be to buy as much guitar as you can afford, and maybe a bit more. A stretch from $800 or so out to $1,600 may be too steep for some, but for others like myself (luckily at this time) I thought it was worth it.
     
  6. Aahzz

    Aahzz Bluebeard Member

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    Why is it so difficult to say that S2 are better guitars without crapping on SEs as not "real"? Yes, I think S2s are better guitars. However, any guitar that is designed by PRS, manufactured to PRS specs, and is said by Paul Smith himself to be a PRS, is a real PRS. The only SE I currently own, btw, is an SE20AX. I own 2 S2s, and have owned about a dozen Cores over the years. They're all great guitars. Must we cast aspersions on the lines we may choose to not purchase?
     
    #6 Aahzz, Aug 19, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2021
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  7. NBW

    NBW New Member

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    While it’s true that S2’s have the “advantage” of being assembled in Maryland at lower volume than SEs and if that floats your boat I’m glad. I only have SEs I’ve added lots of improved parts to them, so maybe I have S2 money in them by now. But for me the only difference is the body (maybe S2s come with locking tuners) the pickups, trem is all the same. Since I have upgraded those an S2 would be close to a CE in price.

    I have played core PRSi and S2s as well, I have compared them to my SEs and haven’t been moved to make a purchase. Now throw in a crackwood neck and that will change the calculus. But my playing doesn’t merit a core model. No one could convince me it does, and while private stocks are works of art, I would feel very self conscious playing one.

    So it’s SEs, mostly used ones at that and when I pick one up, I feel at home.
     
  8. SinSir

    SinSir Mad Scientist

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    I'm glad no one told the dealers and used market that PRS holds their value. I purchased my Core, S2, and SE for fraction of retail. Crazy thing is several of them were bought during covid, the highest priced market we've known in a while.

    Thie idea that a SE is not a PRS has more holes than the titanic. It's not an American made PRS but absolutely is a PRS. My high altitude understanding is they set up a factory at a factory in Indonesia, trained the staff, and implemented procedures for the whole process to mimic Maryland. They are then sent to Maryland for final tweaks. Sounds like a PRS to me.
     
    #8 SinSir, Aug 19, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2021
  9. NBW

    NBW New Member

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    I agree @SinSir. If you’re buying a PRS as an investment you’re in for some sad realizations down the road. Used PRSi mostly end up getting less than new.
     
  10. CrimesAgainstMusic

    CrimesAgainstMusic New Member

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    But upon examining my recently purchased SE Hollowbody II, and comparing it to my much loved S2 McCarty ...I'd say that if the Hollowbody was made in Maryland... the only difference is that it would be twice as expensive.

    The workmanship in my SE Hollowbody, in all of it's "Made in China" splendor ... is beyond reproach.

    I only bought Amurrican Made guitars. prior to buying my first SE. Fender and Gibson set the standard for all back in the '60 and so ...It had to be Amurrican !

    It was a young sales dude at the local Sam Ash, a kid that can play circles around me, and plays out at gigs (Plague Permitting) Said to me ...

    " I don't see any point in spending much more than $600. or a guitar" He was referring to Mexican made Fenders at the time (more like $750 now) ... and then he and another sales dude said They would prefer Asian made PRS's to the Mexican Fenders ...

    So I started looking, and the rest is history ...:cool:

    " Resale Value" is non-sequitur for me, as I do not buy any Toy with the idea of reselling it. It's 'Til Death Do We Part on Toys, so ... there is that. The "value" is to me, not a subsequent owner ...
     
  11. CrimesAgainstMusic

    CrimesAgainstMusic New Member

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    Rite On !!! :cool:
     
  12. CrimesAgainstMusic

    CrimesAgainstMusic New Member

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    My only PRS "dilemma" now, is to figure out how to buy another SE Hollowbody II AND another S2 Mc Carty 594.

    I want a DC in the 594, but the neck carve is a bit of a concern. I fondled one in a local store (its chunkier than the SE Wide Fat) ... but I was getting along with it.

    My proposed Thinline " Plus would be a no-brainer for me. It is perfect in all respects .. Just looking to add more "glam" to it

    The friggin Hollowbody, is different from anything I have ever owned (all solid bodies) ... And I think really deserves "backup" ! Like 2 or 3 more !!! Hey ... maybe one of each flavor ...;).

    Its a Bi*#H being a guitar junkie ... :eek:
     
  13. Tom Bradovich

    Tom Bradovich New Member

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    You beat me to it, CAM, I was going to ask all here this question: You can buy a SE CU 24 for roughly the same price as a MiM Strat. Which would you buy?
    I've never owned an SE, but I did own a MiM Strat for about two weeks. It went back to the store and I brought home a made in America Strat. If roughly $800 was all I could spend on a guitar today, I'd go with the SE all day long. Bumping up to that $1,600 level for me, it was S2 all day long versus an American Strat. Personal choice, not saying Fender is a PoS, just saying I'd rather own the PRS because I perceive current value in that guitar. I really don't care what it's going to be worth in 10 or 20 or 100 years.

    Back when I was a young man and a first time home owner, I'd buy a new power tool every payday, but I bought the cheapos from Harbor Freight. My good friend Fred would tell me, "You should have bought a Milwaukee or DeWalt." Couple of years later when that drill or circular saw pooped out, I listened to him. All the old adages seem to ring true. You get what you pay for. Quality costs more. Etc, etc. So, I buy once and cry once.

    I absolutely agree with NBW - I'd feel terribly self conscious owning and playing a 10 top core. My playing does not justify that expenditure regardless of the guitar's value, current or future.

    Bottom line, I'm quite happy with my S2 McCarty, and if I could have only spent $800 I'd be quite happy with my SE.
     
  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Everyone makes good points. I tend to agree with Em7 for any number of reasons when it comes to instruments I'll invest my own hard-earned on. And I kinda lean toward 'real PRS' are made in Maryland', but mine is just one singular lunatic's opinion! I don't have a PhD in Philosophy of Guitar. ;)

    I always say: There is no 'best'. There is only what's best for you.

    If an SE does the trick, excellent, you've saved yourself a wad o' cash. If an S2 is more your thing, and you're just as happy with it as you'd be with a Core model, so much the better!

    I tend to get the Cores and up, because I've never found another line of guitars I've liked playing so much, or that have sounded quite as good. So I've been playing 'em since 1991.

    This only applies to me, and I am not suggesting anyone else ought to agree:

    I'd rather have one Core PRS than an unlimited number of SEs, or a few S2s. However, it's also true that I don't play much high gain stuff, where the differences between guitars are harder to discern, and I like my tone as vintage sounding as I can get it, while still enjoying all of the ergonomic benefits of a modern guitar. In the PRS line, that means Core, regardless.

    Not only may your mileage vary, it really should vary! We're all doing individual musical things with our guitars. Hopefully we're pursuing our own unique musical tastes.
     
  15. alantig

    alantig Zombie Four, DFZ

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    Yep - I went through a stage buying cheapo drills from HF. I'm not overly handy w/that stuff, but I do have uses for it. After going through several of them (and several more batteries for them), I asked my buddy for a recommendation. Got a DeWalt drill with two batteries sometime before the pandemic hit. Don't remember if it was 2018 or 2019. Charged both batteries when I first got it. I just changed the battery - and I think it was for the first time. I don't remember changing it before. But it's definitely better quality.

    As for the whole SE debate, I have SEs, an S2, and cores. They're all quality, if some are at different levels, and they're all real PRS to me. It's hard for me to look at the SEs that have no core equivalent and say they're not real PRSi, like the Holcombs, the SVNs, the Myers, or the acoustics. I'm not going to lie, I wasn't a fan of the SEs at first, but after playing a few, I am. I may prefer cores, but man - the SEs hit it out of the park, especially at that price point.

    The end result, to paraphrase Les, is play what makes you happy, play what you like. If someone else's views don't align, no biggie - but no need to denigrate them for it.
     
  16. Draconomics

    Draconomics Celebrating 15 years of bad tone

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    My view is this: If an SE is not a PRS, then I cook on a Chinese barrel and not a Traeger.

    SE guitars are great quality instruments at the price point. With a little help, they can be great guitars, period. I have setup SE instruments that are every bit as good as a US Fender or Gibson, and often better. If I gave you one of my SEs to play, and just put a towel over the headstock, you wouldnt know its an import. The idea that they are inferior because they are imports or made by Cort is undervaluing the craftsmanship of the Cor-Tek builders. For putting out the volume of guitars they do, they do a fine job.

    An S2 is to me what an SE made here would be. They are great and worth their cost. I couldnt choose between the two lines, thats why Ill end up buying both at some point. Theres no reason to either. As far as Im concerned, an SE is a PRS, goodbye, period, the end. When the SE Santana first came out, I think it was obvious PRS didnt look at them that way, but we are far removed from then and the lines between the imports and domestic lines are totally blurred.

    Btw, I get the resale value on the imports being a factor in choosing one line over another, buuuut...I dont resell my axes. There actually are many SE specimens that I see for more than retail, so they can increase in value. I dont see how anybody would by an SE with the intent to sell it for a profit though, they are players axes.

    At the end of the day, the debate is irrelevant. Get yer tukus out there and play whatever you got.
     
    #16 Draconomics, Aug 19, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2021
  17. Tom Bradovich

    Tom Bradovich New Member

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    Or, as Frank Zappa said, "Shut up and play yer guitar"
     
  18. NBW

    NBW New Member

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    I’ve told this story before. My friend for forty plus years (also my guitar teacher) has been a gigging jazz guitarist for a long time. He’s had and still has some really nice instruments a D’Angelico made by the man himself and at least one really pretty vintage L5.

    I lent him my number one (SE CU24 with Bareknuckle Stormy Mondays) for a gig. He loved it and asked me to assemble one for him. He’s played most of my SEs and thinks they’re great. He doesn’t have room for another guitar just yet, but if I ever find myself with a ton of excess cash, I’ll buy him a core model.
     
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  19. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    If it says PRS on the headstock………….I have at every level. I buy for SOUND. My SE’s sound different from my core guitars, and there’s a sonic reason to have them both. As Les said, play what makes you happy. I’d rather gig than sniff a cork, and I love them all. As a matter of fact, I just got an SE Singlecut for a local legend I play with. It’s an amazing guitar. It’s so good he sold his LP. The SE sounds better. A LOT better. I’ve flipped maybe 10 of this model, and Clarence has the magic one.
     
  20. GarrettIvo

    GarrettIvo New Member

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    This is close to my dilemma also.

    I'm about to come into some money thanks to the Australian Tax Office, which would be enough to buy the S2 594 I have been lusting after for several months. I sold my SE Cu24 a while ago as part of my plan to buy the McCarty.

    But it's going to cost almost $3000AUD, and a big part of me (not to mention a bigger part of my wife) is really wondering whether I could just as easily buy the SE Paul's they also have hanging on the wall.

    For a start it's only half the price of the S2, and they have a used SE HB I could maybe sneak in as well. I do though think my wife would be just as peeved if I came home with TWO guitars, given we don't have much space and they hang on our bedroom wall.

    I've got no problem buying an SE guitar. They are great quality. But the allure of that S2 594 - an American made, lifelong purchase, DREAM guitar... is hard to resist, even for someone that just plays at home for fun. I'm never ever going to buy a Core model, but the S2 will absolutely satisfy me.
     

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