PRS SE Custom 22 High E Issue

steve329

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May 11, 2022
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New Haven, CT
I recently purchased a PRS SE Custom 22 about 2 months ago. The high E sounds a bit lower in volume than the other 5 strings, which I can live with, but the biggest issue (that has been driving me crazy) is that the more I play the high E down the fret board, the more dead it sounds. This especially happens when bending the string. It has zero sustain and it just dies out almost instantly. I brought it to get set up a few weeks ago and still had the issue. The guitar tech said it's because the neck is curved. If anyone experiences this frustration, how you found a solution? Thanks!
 

Daryl Jones

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I'm no guitar tech, but he "said" the neck was curved and offered no options on how to address it? I thought that is what truss rods and their adjustments were for....? I had to tweak mine a couple years ago and it was almost invisible to me. A gigging friend had never played a PRS before and took it for a spin and noticed it immediately. As soon as he pointed it out it was more than obvious to me visually, but at the time I thought it was the strings....oops.
 

steve329

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I'm no guitar tech, but he "said" the neck was curved and offered no options on how to address it? I thought that is what truss rods and their adjustments were for....? I had to tweak mine a couple years ago and it was almost invisible to me. A gigging friend had never played a PRS before and took it for a spin and noticed it immediately. As soon as he pointed it out it was more than obvious to me visually, but at the time I thought it was the strings....oops.
He meant more that the fret board is curved rather than flat, so I guess that's why high E will sound a little dead and not bend like a Gibson, Schecter, etc. Did you tweak yours yourself or take it to someone?
 

Daryl Jones

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My friend did, I watched. I'm wasn't/not knowledgeable enough to tackle that by myself. It's on my growth list but I'm not there yet. I still get the shakes changing strings but I'm getting better. One of my co-workers changed the pickups in his Squire himself and I watched him do it. Not something I would just jump into but gave me some insight. I can tear down my race bike and put it back together but I shiver thinking about doing more intricate stuff on a guitar. I'm comfortable with wheels and gears and a torque wrench, but I have a fear to get over with my instruments.
 

steve329

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My friend did, I watched. I'm wasn't/not knowledgeable enough to tackle that by myself. It's on my growth list but I'm not there yet. I still get the shakes changing strings but I'm getting better. One of my co-workers changed the pickups in his Squire himself and I watched him do it. Not something I would just jump into but gave me some insight. I can tear down my race bike and put it back together but I shiver thinking about doing more intricate stuff on a guitar. I'm comfortable with wheels and gears and a torque wrench, but I have a fear to get over with my instruments.
I'm the same way. I'm too confident I'll mess something up on my guitars if I do anything besides change the strings haha
 

Birdsofprey

All Birds that Fly.
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The only advice I have is take it to someone competent. You paid for a set up and got an excuse. You don’t see others here saying hey my high e string just doesn’t sound right up the fretboard. The guitar can be set up properly. Is it a stop tail or tremolo?
 

steve329

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The only advice I have is take it to someone competent. You paid for a set up and got an excuse. You don’t see others here saying hey my high e string just doesn’t sound right up the fretboard. The guitar can be set up properly. Is it a stop tail or tremolo?
It's a tremolo. Agreed - I knew there was no way this was a standard issue across all PRS SE Customs (which is how the guitar tech made it sound when he was like "yeah, that's just how it is").
 

alantig

Zombie Four, DFZ
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First thing to do, if you haven't already, is change strings.

Next thing is play with your pickup height. You don't say if you've done any of this, so apologies if you have. Play it acoustically first and see if the issue happens. If the issue happens acoustically, I'd drop the pickups on the treble side and try it again acoustically (keep track of how far you move them so you can move them back). This should all help determine if it's a mechanical issue. If the pickups are too close to the strings, the magnetic field can cut down on the sustain. Moving the pups down should let you know if this is what's happening.

Next step is to do all that when you're plugged in. You're looking for the same issues as above, but you also want to see if it's isolated to one pickup. You should be able to adjust the pickup pole pieces to even out the volume issue.

Most fretboards are curved - that's why you'll see the neck radius listed. That goes for Gibsons, etc. as well. If he means the neck isn't straight (nut to bridge), that's normally called a bow and again is normal based on personal preference. But as a tech, he should know that and if that's the case, he should have adjusted it to your preference.
 

steve329

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First thing to do, if you haven't already, is change strings.

Next thing is play with your pickup height. You don't say if you've done any of this, so apologies if you have. Play it acoustically first and see if the issue happens. If the issue happens acoustically, I'd drop the pickups on the treble side and try it again acoustically (keep track of how far you move them so you can move them back). This should all help determine if it's a mechanical issue. If the pickups are too close to the strings, the magnetic field can cut down on the sustain. Moving the pups down should let you know if this is what's happening.

Next step is to do all that when you're plugged in. You're looking for the same issues as above, but you also want to see if it's isolated to one pickup. You should be able to adjust the pickup pole pieces to even out the volume issue.

Most fretboards are curved - that's why you'll see the neck radius listed. That goes for Gibsons, etc. as well. If he means the neck isn't straight (nut to bridge), that's normally called a bow and again is normal based on personal preference. But as a tech, he should know that and if that's the case, he should have adjusted it to your preference.
Thanks for this! I’ve changed the strings a few times, trying different brands and gauges. I also tried messing with the pick up heights the other day and still the same issue both acoustically and plugged in. I spoke with a different guitar tech near me today and he said it sounds like I have some high frets at the top of the fingerboard. I'm bringing it to him tomorrow to fix. Hopefully this solves it!
 

dogrocketp

I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!
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Have him look at the nut for string binding. I’ve had the nut replaced on all the SE’s I’ve had over the years. NONE of them had a dead high E after proper setup. Be sure to call the first tech after you get the problem fixed. He needs to be held accountable for his stupidity.
 

steve329

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Have him look at the nut for string binding. I’ve had the nut replaced on all the SE’s I’ve had over the years. NONE of them had a dead high E after proper setup. Be sure to call the first tech after you get the problem fixed. He needs to be held accountable for his stupidity.
Good idea, I'll tell him to check the nut as well. Haha yeah I'm def going to let the other guy know once it's fixed
 

steve329

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I'm happy to report that I picked up my guitar yesterday from a different guitar tech I used and it sounds and plays amazing now. He did a ton of work on the fretboard (leveling out frets, etc) and the issue that I was having is finally corrected. Thanks again everyone for the advice & tips!
 

Daryl Jones

non-practicing pacifist
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I love it when a plan comes together! I think some guitar techs might be a lot like orthopedic surgeons and get a God complex or something. I know way more Orthopods than the average bear and have come across a couple techs that are really full of themselves in much the same way. Good ones are like gold, but it only takes one bummer to tarnish what should be a pleasant and rejuvenating experience.
I don't recommend going to extremes to meet a bunch of Ortho's like I have though:eek:
 

Rod Welles

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It's a tremolo. Agreed - I knew there was no way this was a standard issue across all PRS SE Customs (which is how the guitar tech made it sound when he was like "yeah, that's just how it is").
With an answer like that I’d get your guitar to a real guitar tech…. You could try raising the high e string saddle a bit.. get the right size Allen wrench and turn each of the 2 screws on the saddle 3/4 of a clockwise turn each…. Take your time…it may help, it may not. Worth a try….sounds like the neck may have a back bow on the treble side. Did you purchase it new from a dealer? If so, you could just exchange it for another…..
 

DISTORT6

NJ Devil
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With an answer like that I’d get your guitar to a real guitar tech…. You could try raising the high e string saddle a bit.. get the right size Allen wrench and turn each of the 2 screws on the saddle 3/4 of a clockwise turn each…. Take your time…it may help, it may not. Worth a try….sounds like the neck may have a back bow on the treble side. Did you purchase it new from a dealer? If so, you could just exchange it for another…..
Hey Rod…did you read post #13? ;):D:p
 
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