PRS setups in the store (out of the box)

mixmkr

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I've gone into several stores with money burning a hot hole in my pocket, wanting to buy a nice looking PRS. Several times now, different stores too. But every time, the setup has just been so horrible, the guitar was not possible to evaluate. Super high action (1/4"+), intonation off and strings that seem like 12-68 on them. I know they weren't that heavy (and props to those using those guages). Even the trems seemed out of whack. . Some crazy neck reliefs too. So...I've never spent money at a store for one. I've gone to both mom and pop..and big box stores.
Is this normal? these were NOT cores, but SE and S2 line, typically the Standards or Customs.

That said... Daves has been selling SE's at crazy good prices, so for $350 shipped (no tax either) I picked up a mint condition (still had plastic on the back covers and NO pick scratches, etc) SE24 Standard... yes...the cheapest PRS I think. But it came with the SE gig bag and the setup was darn near perfect for me. Not super shredder low action...but maybe like 3/64 at the 12th, spot on intonation, trem perfectly floating. This honestly was an impulse buy, because it was so inexpensive, and I figured I could muck with it at home...and sell it, if it didn't work out and not take a bath. It makes all other imports I own, as 2nd place to this SE.

But...I'm shocked with the PRS level of excellence, I've always seen lousy PRS examples hanging in stores. How is this?
 
If they're hanging in a store, lots of people put their grubby paws all over them. Expose them to temp changes, and they're bound to need some attention. No telling what a store will do with respect to setting up before shipping. Dave's is a great place. I've been to their original store 3 or 4 times. I've always been treated well there. Everything I have bought from them has been in top notch condition.
 
Wood shifts due to weather changes during shipping and storage. It happens. I once went to try an Artist V at a store. Absolutely unplayable. Strings were resting against the fretboard. Told the guys at the shop, said I needed to grab lunch anyway, could they tweak it? I barely was able to get the words out before they were apologizing and they said, "Absolutely. Give us 15 minutes." When I came back, the guitar was pretty much perfect. I've had to tweak it once or twice due to changes, but that's the nature of the beast.

Better example - I drove 3.5 hours to check out a Hamer. Liked it, and it played like absolute butter. I watched the guy put it in the case. I carried it to my car, drove it home, put it in my basement and played it a little that night. Two days later, I went down to play it again - same as the Artist, unplayable. A little setup tweak, and I never adjusted it again.

This is more on the shops not taking the time to set the guitars up first when they come in.
 
I can almost guarantee that if you go to any of the PRS "go to" dealers - Moore, Danville, Guitar Sanctuary, John Mann, Dave's, North East, etc. - you will have a totally different experience when you pick a guitar off the wall. There's a reason they're top-tier PRS dealers. But the bottom line is even if they take the time to set the guitar up just right when they put it on display, and customers come in and play them, you really can't expect them to go over each day to check the guitars, and then get them ready again for the next day's customers - the setups will change over time. Nothing like your local high-school doom metal hero coming in and tuning the guitar down to drop-Z - does wonders for the setup. ;)
 
I understand...but I'm talking 1/4" off the fret board...like my first Montgomery Ward guitar 60 years ago. Action doesn't shift 1/8" from hanging on a wall. Trems getting blocked? IDK..maybe it does. I've never seen that on a personal guitar, ever.
I can believe little stuff...but
 
I travel a lot for work, used to a lot more pre covid, but still do through the Midwest.. I pop in a guitar store everywhere I go, and they definitely aren't created equal. I'm not talking about the obvious, like layout or stock, but the setups and qc type stuff. The se line is by far the worst offender for shop neglect, rarely a s2, and core not so much. Though, I stumble on a fraction of core to se in the wild. Don't even get me started on chains, like GC. So many bad examples of guitars, it's not even fair to attempt to judge half the time.

You started out right at Dave's. They are top notch. They've even setup an appointment for me and had specific guitars I was looking at once overed before I showed up. They rock!
 
If they're hanging in a store, lots of people put their grubby paws all over them. Expose them to temp changes, and they're bound to need some attention. No telling what a store will do with respect to setting up before shipping. Dave's is a great place. I've been to their original store 3 or 4 times. I've always been treated well there. Everything I have bought from them has been in top notch condition.

Dave’s are a great dealer, great experience online after your recommendation. Thanks bro.

I can almost guarantee that if you go to any of the PRS "go to" dealers - Moore, Danville, Guitar Sanctuary, John Mann, Dave's, North East, etc. - you will have a totally different experience when you pick a guitar off the wall. There's a reason they're top-tier PRS dealers. But the bottom line is even if they take the time to set the guitar up just right when they put it on display, and customers come in and play them, you really can't expect them to go over each day to check the guitars, and then get them ready again for the next day's customers - the setups will change over time. Nothing like your local high-school doom metal hero coming in and tuning the guitar down to drop-Z - does wonders for the setup. ;)

Similar experience at Guitar Guitar Glasgow, great customer service -

“Excuse me, I’d like to try the SE Silver Sky please”

“Of course sir, we’ll take that to the counter, tune it for you, find you an available amp and set you up to test ride that”

Good work guys.
 
PRS advertises from now and then the perfect setup execution, when opening the boxes on occasion.
The SE line is shipped from their factories to Stevenville, is being checked, and adjusted, if necessary.
Guitars to be sold in Europe are checked additionally at PRS Europe prior being forwarded to the European traders.

I bought my first PRS at Wildwood Guitars, Louisville, CO. They asked me about my personal wishes concerning string brand, gauges, and action. They did in 2011 a literally perfect job. Nine years later the same with a non PRS guitar.
They shipped overseas to me and boths guitars entered their new home in the desired condition of setup.

In 2016 I was about to purchase (and bought actually) a 2017s PRS SE Mark Holcomb.
The trader received three, two of them had slightly twisted necks, I decided for the guitar with the straight neck (which had aswell the nicest top veneer). Why did two twisted necks could make their way through two control instances at Stevenville and In Cambridgeshire?
SE are more price efficient builts than Core. At least: Don't trust words, ask the trader for adjusting the guitar up to your own specs.
 
Or learn to do your own setups. You are passing on a potentially wonderful guitar due to minor issues that are easily fixed. I own 25 guitars. The only one that didnt require at least a little work is an Ibanez Prestige. A 2k guitar. The cores I have touched have been spectacular. They also cost the price of a used car. You seem to be expecting 800 dollar gits to be perfect out of the box. Sometimes you find a unicorn but most will need a little love.
 
Happy New Year.
Congrats on your deal from Dave’s. Nice score.
I usually buy budget guitars -usually from local folks or sometimes Guitar Center or Sam Ash when the deal is very good since I can try the guitar first in person.
It has usually been hit/miss.
However, I bought a McCarty SE SC on New Years Day from Sweetwater and just got it a few days ago from Indiana to Calif. I didn’t wait 24 hrs, it had already been in CA before it got to my house.
When I pulled it out of the box WOW. I haven’t bought a guitar, new or used setup this well right out of the box. Very close in tune. Just a couple cents off. Action right at factory spec, PU height right on. Everything well in order. The guitar had already adjusted to the new location.
The G string was a bit high, and my dumb anxious self made the mistake of impatiently lowering the slot to “fix it” but I brought it down just enough to start hearing the sitar sound when I pick heavily. I had to raise the bridge a smidge to get rid of it, and am still slapping myself for not waiting a while to touch anything - honestly the guitar came just about perfectly setup from the factory. Also had Sweetwaters eyeball check but not sure if they did any tweaking but nice to have eyes on it before it arrived. Also got a deal so win-win.
I agree It does pay to research and consider the dealer/source.
-Dave
 
Or learn to do your own setups. You are passing on a potentially wonderful guitar due to minor issues that are easily fixed. I own 25 guitars. The only one that didnt require at least a little work is an Ibanez Prestige. A 2k guitar. The cores I have touched have been spectacular. They also cost the price of a used car. You seem to be expecting 800 dollar gits to be perfect out of the box. Sometimes you find a unicorn but most will need a little love.
I do my own setups, so we're both good there! I also own approx the same number of guitars. My gripe was the setups in the store was so off, evaluating the guitar, was not really possible. (please re-read my first sentence in my opening post) My SE from Daves in Wisconsin came with zero flaws. I was shocked..... unlike the store hangers I usually see.

EDIT:... how can I evaluate pickups, for instance if the strings are a 1/4" too high off them? How can I evaluate fret consistency without pulling out a fret rocker (I only carry picks in my pockets...sometimes change!).
You can sight down a neck, but until it's really setup, I'm not comfortable about a proper falloff on the higher frets....or nut slot depth... all kinds of stuff.. but I'm rambling stuff you may already know.
 
I do my own setups, so we're both good there! I also own approx the same number of guitars. My gripe was the setups in the store was so off, evaluating the guitar, was not really possible. (please re-read my first sentence in my opening post) My SE from Daves in Wisconsin came with zero flaws. I was shocked..... unlike the store hangers I usually see.

EDIT:... how can I evaluate pickups, for instance if the strings are a 1/4" too high off them? How can I evaluate fret consistency without pulling out a fret rocker (I only carry picks in my pockets...sometimes change!).
You can sight down a neck, but until it's really setup, I'm not comfortable about a proper falloff on the higher frets....or nut slot depth... all kinds of stuff.. but I'm rambling stuff you may already know.
Agreed. How can you tell if it's the guitar for you if you're fighting to play it due to action that's too high for you? I can't.

I bought an Epuphone SG Pro in 2019. I'll never forget the first time I played it at the store. My thought was "how is it possible for a $400.00 guitar to play this good? The action was phenomenal with no string/fret buzz anywhere. Same with my PRS SE Standard 24. The action was right where I like it. So you can find those gems out there.

I'm of the mindset that thinks "if I'm fighting to play it brand new off the rack, how do I know if I'll be fighting it or not after a setup? If the setup is good right from the start then you can tell right away if it is or isn't the guitar for you.
 
The SE line is shipped from their factories to Stevenville, is being checked, and adjusted, if necessary.
I'd be hard pressed to believe this is still the process. I'd guess it was changed during all the covid supply chain challenges. Maybe a random spot check, but all, I'd be very surprised.
 
Not trying to be a dick.
But with that many guitars you would think you could evaluate a guitar even if its not optimally setup. I can and do sit with a used guitar and check it over. I dont need a fret rocker I can find dead spots by playing each fret. I can check relief with my hands. I can check nut slot depth with my hands. I can see pickup height. I can judge weight with my hands....you get the picture. I would own very few awesome guitars if I turned down everything that wasnt perfect off the wall.
 
Not trying to be a dick.
But with that many guitars you would think you could evaluate a guitar even if its not optimally setup. I can and do sit with a used guitar and check it over. I dont need a fret rocker I can find dead spots by playing each fret. I can check relief with my hands. I can check nut slot depth with my hands. I can see pickup height. I can judge weight with my hands....you get the picture. I would own very few awesome guitars if I turned down everything that wasnt perfect off the wall.
ah... this doesn't seem to be the trend in these forums... You win...you're better....sorry for starting a thread you disagree with. This is my last post on this topic... I'll go hang out in the accordian forums...no one is there to act like genitalia.
 
ah... this doesn't seem to be the trend in these forums... You win...you're better....sorry for starting a thread you disagree with. This is my last post on this topic... I'll go hang out in the accordian forums...no one is there to act like genitalia.
Man, don't sweat it, you have valid points. Watch out for Les on the accordion forum!

I was thinking about this earlier. I wonder if some of these shops have been so use to se being on point from the factory that they just do things how they've always done, nothing. Unbox and put on the floor. And the other premier shops, do what they've always done. Take pride in the stock, store, and value their customers or potential customers.
 
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