SE Paul's Guitar vs Zach Myers


Tru-Arc Bridgeworks
Dec 25, 2021
Similar: 22 frets, mahogany neck, wraparound bridge, wide fat neck profile.

Different: 25" scale (PG) vs 24.5" (ZM), solid (PG) vs semi (ZM); pickups; control scheme.

(I'm ignoring the difference in body shape and tuners, as I don't think those are as influential as the other specs on tone or playability.)

I get that the ZM, by scale, design, and layout, is closer to a Les Paul in intention (and, presumably, tone). No coil splitting. I also understand the 25" PG will tend brighter overall, and (should) have a more "classically" PRS personality.

What I'm curious about is which sounds less like, say, a Core McRosie. Which is the more distinctive and original guitar within the PRS family?

I'm attracted to the idea of the TCI pickups in the PG, with their more authentic single-coil mode; that's probably my main attraction to the PG. (Along with the elegant curved-edge pickup surrounds, but I shouldn't confess to being that superficial.) I haven't heard the pickups in person, though, so can't judge the reality.

I've only heard the demos on the PRS site; both guitars sound good (duh), but Brian Ewald demos the PG and Zach demos his guitar. I've listened to Brian demo so many guitars that I'm familiar with his touch and approach to tone production, so when I hear differences and subtleties between the guitars, I know it's the guitar and not the player. To my knowledge, I've never heard Zach play anything. Thus when I hear the ZM, it's hard to to know what's the guitar and what's the player.

And the PG sounds wonderful to me in the demos. Very distinctive in tone, with a consistent timbre across all pickup combinations that's attractive to me.

I know everyone has his own opinion, based on his own taste and approach, so I ask less to get a consensus than to get varying perspectives. If you're familiar with both guitars - and if both cost the same (to eliminate "for the money" as a rationale) - which would you prefer, and why?
They are both different enough to justify owning both - the decision as to which to buy only comes down to you and your preferences. The best advice I can give is go with the one that you think is the right one for you.

Both are excellent guitars and loved by those that have them so whichever route you choose, it will be a 'great' guitar!
I'm searching for another flavor of the PRS SE experience. (I have: Hollowbody Standard, 277, CU22 Semi ('21), CU22 Semi ('17), CU24 Spalt. Also Core Mc594 w/Rosewood neck and S2 Vela semi.)

I may be over-analytical, but that covers 3 scale lengths; hollow, semi w/wraparound bridge, semi w/trem bridge, and solidbody; 22 frets & 24 frets; 85/15 & 58/15 pickups; maple over mahogany & all-mahogany bodies; and maple, mahog, and rosewood necks. I find all are pleasing recipes. What I don't have is a solidbody at 25" w/22 frets (I have the Mc 24.594") or a semi (at any scale) with a mahogany neck.

So both the ZM and the PG fill (possibly tiny) niches in the array. The interesting features of the ZM (for me) are the scale-semi combo and (superficially) that it's a singlecut (as I don't have a PRS singlecut). The compelling features of the PG are the scale-solid combo and the pickups/switching. There's no chance I'll be able to test-play the two guitars in a store, so I'm relying on thought experiments and the input of the community for some sense of which guitar would make the more "interesting" (and musically useful) contribution to the fleet.

It's not so much that I'm looking for single coils or 'buckers as a deciding factor. I have plenty of non-PRS guitars with great examples of various sorts of both, and I'm not looking for one do-it-all guitar. I do have a long-term interest in humbuckers that split to more convincing single-coils than most. The splitting on the PRS guitars I have doesn't produce truly convincing singles; even the McCarty's splits sound sharp and thin. But not as thin and twinkly as the SE splits, which (and be honest with yourself) sound a lot like piezo output direct into a board, especially on the bridge pickup and with tone maxed.

Don't take that as a slam or insult. I've found those splits work wonderfully in some situations; with the tone backed down to take off the piezo-quack they start to sound Rickenbacky or Surfcasty, and when I pour on some gain or fuzz (with tone and volume backed down), they're pretty delicious. It's just that without post-guitar EQ, it would be hard to mistake the 85/15 split-coil tones for those of, say, a Tele or a P90 or a Dynasonic. (HiLo'Tron, maybe - or a 60s Melody Maker single-coil.)

The chief thing that attracted me about the Ewald PG demo was a distinct character I heard across all the pickup settings - suggesting the guitar has its own unique voice. And, yes, the pickups sounded richer and fuller when split than my previous experience with most humbucker splits; that would be a bonus.

Also...I have several non-PRS 14"-bodied semis with humbuckers (a platform I'm a sucker for), so the ZM is at the same time attractive for that reason (that I'm a sucker for the format) - and a little less attractive because I already have some.

IF I had both guitars at hand, both strung with fresh identical strings, I suspect it would take me about 15 minutes to decide. And it's at least possible that the decision would be BOTH...but I'm at least trying not to be so self-indulgent. At least not all at once.
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Are you searching for single coils or humbuckers? That will be your answer.
Well, not exactly. I have a '20 ZM and I describe at as "a Tele on steroids". Lots of snap and zing on mine, but it feels like a light Lester.
Hmm. So...would we say the 245 pickups are voiced more like maybe P90s than Gibby 'buckers? Neck pickup has similar clarity?
I have both...a 2019 SE Paul's Guitar and a 2021 SE ZM. Different animals...the PG has very powerful pickups (11k output on both) and they are punchy, brighter and sound almost "high definition" to use Mayer's term. Ewald's demo is spot on...and a Celestion speaker will highlight those upper mids nicely. The splits are realistic as the volume doesn't drop out compared to full humbucker voicing. You can get some unique combinations with the toggles. I like to run mine clean through a compressor (neck as single, bridge as humbucker) for some Dead/Jerry inspired tones. The guitar RINGS and feels SO damn solid.

My ZM played like a dream in it's stock set up...the 245 pickups are brighter than an old school PAF (hint, they are 4 wire conductors in the 21 model). It has that semi hollow slight absence of mids to my ears. BUT...I really wanted to get some old school character from the Zach, so I took it to my local luthier and had a set of Duncan Seth Lovers and all new PRS core volume & tone pots installed. It's so smooth and thicker sounding now, the core pots really give me tons of tonal options.

Based on your arsenal, I'd opt for the SE Paul's's a uniquely voiced instrument with a modern voice....imho.
If I can completely clog up this comment section with an observation that does not answer your question specifically, contains no insight about the topic generally, and furthermore doesn't even pertain to PRS as a man/myth/corporation: the Tru-Arc bridge in my Gretsch 5420 arrived in days, looks awesome, and did exactly what I hoped it would do, in a simple and straightforward way. Tru-Arc rules. Not at all surprised to see someone with your perspective on tone and craftsmanship in these parts.
Aw aw. I am found out. Thanks for the nice words, Chuck. I love a happy ending, and I'm glad the bridge is working on your guitar. That's what we shoot for!

Tone and craftsmanship, craftsmanship and tone. A never-ending quest. So often refinement is achieved not by setting out to shock and awe, but by close attention to detail and the ongoing drive for perfect execution of true essentials. Thus PRS, huh?

Warmart, Doug, BBF, thanks for the insight into the choice. That's the kind of input I was looking for. I've concluded the PG is one to check out first, as it interests me more as a unique proposition. But the ZM also sounds like a great platform, and it's cool that it's so receptive to differently voiced pickups. So many rabbit holes!