Silver Sky SE review from a non-PRS fan perspective, why it's important

You_Narf

All for Lew ❤ RIP my friend
Joined
Jan 21, 2024
Messages
736
Location
Michigan
Note: This is a review from someone who buys blind, without research usually. Someone fairly new to the PRS experience. This is my second PRS guitar. I bought my first PRS guitar just a few months ago.

Intro:The Silver Sky SE (Maple Neck Version) is a very interesting instrument. I wouldn’t say that it feels or sounds like a Stratocaster - but it doesn’t sound like something John Mayer would play either. Over the course of this review, I'll try to break down my personal experience of this particular guitar, whilst promising to keep it all as honest as possible. Bare in mind, that even though this is my personal experience and perspective on this particular product, I went through great legnths to judge the Silver Sky SE wholly and fairly.

Let's start with the tuners!
There has been many talk on the tuners feelings cheap because they are lightweight but don't let that fool you. The "feel" of the material makes it easier to grip than traditional/standard metal tuning heads. The proprietary design in the plastic molding and whatever special formula they use causing a rigid yet smooth plastic feel and looks causing it. They are oversized a bit but respond very well and seem to be reliable. Durability is yet to be calculated as the guitar is still fairly new, how would the new plastic versions of PRS tuning heads handle a fall? Is unknown at this time. I find myself prefering the new PRS tuning heads over the usual plain Jane metal tuning heads that we always see. I always appreciate unique and stylish. The guitar stays in tune and the tuners feel great to me.

Let's move on to the body.
The body is indeed Stratocaster-like and as far as comparing it to the Stratocaster, this is the only thing that makes sense. The body shape is familiar to Fender-fans and the control and pickup layout is obviously identical to that of the standard SSS Fender Stratocasters. What's different? The bottom bull-horn (as Paul likes to call it) features PRS's signature half-way carving (also how Paul likes to call it), or half-a$$'d carving (as I like to call it hehe) The body itself, being made with Poplar wood, makes the Silver Sky SE consistently light, easily comparable to the Squier guitars made of the same wood. The wood is not light but durable and easily obtainable. There are times when I've prefered Poplar over Alder, Ash and Mahogany - I believe there is more of an airy chime to the tonewood (think laminated Maple).

"How about that neck?"
While we know that the radius and shape are the exact same as a standard Fender Stratocaster on paper, this couldn't be further from the truth in reality. So the neck feels like a baseball bat-styled Gibson type neck. This majorly surprised me, since I've never known John Mayer to be a Telecaster player - and maybe he's not. He started on wider, thicker neck traditional Acoustic guitars and classical style guitars so maybe that's where this comes into play. The headstock, of course, is the same you know and love from PRS! The bird inlays are there to stay and the dry maple look is something comparable to that which I found with my Squier Sonic Hardtail Stratocaster.

And finally, the pickups...
The pickups are a harder thing to judge or review - and perhaps my favorite part. It's difficult to judge from a foundation standpoint because it truly matters on your style and choice of amp/amps. So with that in mind, I tried the guitar through several amps and when compared to the Stratocaster, I found the Silver Sky SE to be "fuller" sounding. Why is that, exactly? The pickups have a wider bass sound, bass frequencies that are usually filtered out or absented in Fender or Seymour Duncan pickups. The sound is somewhere between a Strat and a P90 or maybe they are more of a variable P90 in a way, but in the size of a single coil. There's a Blues Driver/OD-3 effect that happens when on the neck pickup, that farty type of monster bass frequency and yet it's hard to hear this on the youtube videos because of mic's filtering and through-through YouTube compression. Lowering the bass on your amp can help tame the bass characterics of these pickups BUT won't get rid of them.

As for the pickups, I am still doing a lot of thinking on whether to replace them or not. While the flubby bass hair-like response makes the pickup less usable or identifiable in the mix, it's also another crucial part that gives this guitar it's unique character. So I'm not sure what I'll do in terms of swapping out pickups or not. The stock pickups are a great sounding set full of character, I have some unused great sounding sets that are also great sounding and full of character.

The bridge and hardware are exactly what you'd expect from PRS, I don't think I need to go there nothing but positive vibes here. I can't speak of anything on the wiring because I haven't opened the guitar, the sound is pristine and the pots have a great sweep and aren't scratchy.


The conclusion: I'm so glad I picked this guitar up, it's not close to a strat in any traditional sense (besides the body shape). First glances can be very deceiving. The thick neck and full sounding pickups make for a monster guitar that makes this PRS it's own thing. Colour me impressed, once again, with PRS making something that can stand out from the crowd. There are many videos that make it seem like it's a strat clone but on closer inspection, I've found it's nothing like a Stratocaster. If you're like me and have an assortment of strats, don't be afraid to pick up a Silver Sky SE. Even better if you buy blind - without trying it at a store because it will surprise the hell out of you. I am impressed, again, it's my second PRS guitar. Both my PRS happen to be SE models. My other is the Santana SE, which grew onn me and I'm very fond of. In that one, I did upgrade the pickups to the ultra rare Frampton signature pickups.
 
I would agree with you about the neck, to a certain degree. It is fuller than my MIJ Strat, but not as full as my Santana.

Having owned an LP, I would say the SE isn’t as full as that.

The road test I did on the Silver Sky at Guitar Guitar in Glasgow, wasn’t conclusive on the pickups. I would have had to have my Strat in hand and my own amp to properly compare. But I found them nicely balanced and not too harsh.



Thanks for sharing your observations.
 
I would agree with you about the neck, to a certain degree. It is fuller than my MIJ Strat, but not as full as my Santana.

Having owned an LP, I would say the SE isn’t as full as that.

The road test I did on the Silver Sky at Guitar Guitar in Glasgow, wasn’t conclusive on the pickups. I would have had to have my Strat in hand and my own amp to properly compare. But I found them nicely balanced and not too harsh.



Thanks for sharing your observations.
Thanks!

Out of curiosity, is your Santana a core or an SE? I'm just asking because I have the SE version but I could have sworn the Silver Sky SE's neck is thicker than my Santana SE. My Santana SE feels almost like a speed neck in comparison, while the Silver Sky SE can take a bit of effort to navigate.

I agree that the pickups are very balanced, EQ better balanced than most sets, more "whole" sounding. The switching between the positions is also very balanced volume wide, there is virtually no difference, it was out of box which gives the Silver Sky SE more unique points. PRS and John did a great job engineering this.

Thanks again!
 
This is my Santana, it’s a core and has been a dream purchase for number of years now.



I searched for sometime until I found the guitar I wanted. Its neck is fuller than my Strat neck which is a 56 RI from the mid 90’s.

I should also mention the Strat has a set of Onamac Texas Specials in it, so they are fuller/hotter than the pickups that were taken from it.

However as the years go by, I realise I’m not that really trebly, hot pickup guy. I like my PAF’s, but with a clear sound. I have a set made by @Fullmoon 1971 in my SE 245, that I would describe as articulate but full.



I love their clear bobbins. Uncovered pickups, every pickup makers nightmare. Seems to me that covers were put on originally to protect the winds and not for tone (maybe - and no I don’t want to start a debate over this with anyone here). Merely a suggestion.

All of my guitars offer me different tones.

As I’ve said here before, if I want single coil sounds then I use the Strat, if I want HB tones then the SE or Santana, or my other HB equipped semi-hollow (non-PRS).

It’s such a great time to be a guitarist, because the choice of instruments in whatever style, colour, layout and playability is tremendous.
 
All of my guitars offer me different tones.
Same here, that's what I love about them. I have 7 strats total in the house and each one sounds drastically different - whether noiseless, single coil sized humbucker, hot, underwound, hybrid magnet pieces or mixed and mismatched sets. Then we have the wirings and the preferences to which they get wired. Series or parallel, out of phase, filtering and the likeness of pots. Over the past few years, I've learned allt of this and that'sthanks to my gas allowing me to accumulate a collection and playing different instruments, pedals and amps/speakers in side by side comparisons. It may differ per person but I found that I learn these things in a room/bedroom better than in the studio or live gig.
I searched for sometime until I found the guitar I wanted.
To be honest, I buy all my guitars blind 😆

I wish I were joking but I've never went into a store and tried a guitar and bought it, I just go into a store and say "I'll take it" or read up online about one and if it interests me I buy it. Fortunately I've never regretted a decision except for a cheap Squier 60's vibe Mustang and that's because I hate the control layout for the pickups.

It causes me to think about the pickup switches more than playing so I don't use it. Learned I prefer simple controls like the Santana and such. Less is more or even the best yet, a Yamaha RGXA2, where there's a simple volume knob and a 3 way switch. . Who needs tone controls anyway?
 
I have down sized recently. Call it a time of life decision, but if I’m not really playing it or someone else can get better use of it then it goes.

I’ve found the tones I want and concentrate on those.

I’m a great believer in keeping things simple, however I love recently contradicted myself over on the “pedal board” thread 🤣

But you’ve got to have a bit of fun and keep things interesting. Well I think so. A little distraction if you will.
 
"nothing like a Stratocaster"? Well, you're the very first person to review a Silver Sky and say that, I'll wager...

My Core SS and my AVRI '65 Strat with grey bottoms are so similar they're literally interchangeable; don't even need to tweak any pedal or amp settings... Silver Sky pickups sound - to my ears - exactly like good '60s Strat pickups should sound. I never liked the thinner, spiky-er sound of '50s style Strat pups... anyway, glad you're happy with your SS; you've got plenty of company here! ;)
 
Note: This is a review from someone who buys blind, without research usually. Someone fairly new to the PRS experience. This is my second PRS guitar. I bought my first PRS guitar just a few months ago.

Intro:The Silver Sky SE (Maple Neck Version) is a very interesting instrument. I wouldn’t say that it feels or sounds like a Stratocaster - but it doesn’t sound like something John Mayer would play either. Over the course of this review, I'll try to break down my personal experience of this particular guitar, whilst promising to keep it all as honest as possible. Bare in mind, that even though this is my personal experience and perspective on this particular product, I went through great legnths to judge the Silver Sky SE wholly and fairly.

Let's start with the tuners!
There has been many talk on the tuners feelings cheap because they are lightweight but don't let that fool you. The "feel" of the material makes it easier to grip than traditional/standard metal tuning heads. The proprietary design in the plastic molding and whatever special formula they use causing a rigid yet smooth plastic feel and looks causing it. They are oversized a bit but respond very well and seem to be reliable. Durability is yet to be calculated as the guitar is still fairly new, how would the new plastic versions of PRS tuning heads handle a fall? Is unknown at this time. I find myself prefering the new PRS tuning heads over the usual plain Jane metal tuning heads that we always see. I always appreciate unique and stylish. The guitar stays in tune and the tuners feel great to me.

Let's move on to the body.
The body is indeed Stratocaster-like and as far as comparing it to the Stratocaster, this is the only thing that makes sense. The body shape is familiar to Fender-fans and the control and pickup layout is obviously identical to that of the standard SSS Fender Stratocasters. What's different? The bottom bull-horn (as Paul likes to call it) features PRS's signature half-way carving (also how Paul likes to call it), or half-a$$'d carving (as I like to call it hehe) The body itself, being made with Poplar wood, makes the Silver Sky SE consistently light, easily comparable to the Squier guitars made of the same wood. The wood is not light but durable and easily obtainable. There are times when I've prefered Poplar over Alder, Ash and Mahogany - I believe there is more of an airy chime to the tonewood (think laminated Maple).

"How about that neck?"
While we know that the radius and shape are the exact same as a standard Fender Stratocaster on paper, this couldn't be further from the truth in reality. So the neck feels like a baseball bat-styled Gibson type neck. This majorly surprised me, since I've never known John Mayer to be a Telecaster player - and maybe he's not. He started on wider, thicker neck traditional Acoustic guitars and classical style guitars so maybe that's where this comes into play. The headstock, of course, is the same you know and love from PRS! The bird inlays are there to stay and the dry maple look is something comparable to that which I found with my Squier Sonic Hardtail Stratocaster.

And finally, the pickups...
The pickups are a harder thing to judge or review - and perhaps my favorite part. It's difficult to judge from a foundation standpoint because it truly matters on your style and choice of amp/amps. So with that in mind, I tried the guitar through several amps and when compared to the Stratocaster, I found the Silver Sky SE to be "fuller" sounding. Why is that, exactly? The pickups have a wider bass sound, bass frequencies that are usually filtered out or absented in Fender or Seymour Duncan pickups. The sound is somewhere between a Strat and a P90 or maybe they are more of a variable P90 in a way, but in the size of a single coil. There's a Blues Driver/OD-3 effect that happens when on the neck pickup, that farty type of monster bass frequency and yet it's hard to hear this on the youtube videos because of mic's filtering and through-through YouTube compression. Lowering the bass on your amp can help tame the bass characterics of these pickups BUT won't get rid of them.

As for the pickups, I am still doing a lot of thinking on whether to replace them or not. While the flubby bass hair-like response makes the pickup less usable or identifiable in the mix, it's also another crucial part that gives this guitar it's unique character. So I'm not sure what I'll do in terms of swapping out pickups or not. The stock pickups are a great sounding set full of character, I have some unused great sounding sets that are also great sounding and full of character.

The bridge and hardware are exactly what you'd expect from PRS, I don't think I need to go there nothing but positive vibes here. I can't speak of anything on the wiring because I haven't opened the guitar, the sound is pristine and the pots have a great sweep and aren't scratchy.


The conclusion: I'm so glad I picked this guitar up, it's not close to a strat in any traditional sense (besides the body shape). First glances can be very deceiving. The thick neck and full sounding pickups make for a monster guitar that makes this PRS it's own thing. Colour me impressed, once again, with PRS making something that can stand out from the crowd. There are many videos that make it seem like it's a strat clone but on closer inspection, I've found it's nothing like a Stratocaster. If you're like me and have an assortment of strats, don't be afraid to pick up a Silver Sky SE. Even better if you buy blind - without trying it at a store because it will surprise the hell out of you. I am impressed, again, it's my second PRS guitar. Both my PRS happen to be SE models. My other is the Santana SE, which grew onn me and I'm very fond of. In that one, I did upgrade the pickups to the ultra rare Frampton signature pickups.
I love your cat.🐱
 
The SS is one of the PRS guitars I'm still thinking I need to have. Whether I find a Core (used) or a new SE remains to be seen. I have yet to have one in my hands but I have the bug pretty bad of late. I'm not unhappy with the coil split sounds of my McCarty, but everybody knows that it's just not the same as a true single coil axe for those specific tones and voices.
But the review does give me pause on the neck. I play PRS electrics for the simple reason that I love the necks on the ones I have. And I literally hate LP necks and not a fan of Strat necks either, they just don't feel right in my hands somehow. Love the sound, just can't get past the actual guitar feel in my grip. I've bought several guitars blind (two of my PRS's were blind, never even heard or played) and have only suffered one huge bummer (which was on an acoustic) that went away real quick like. Every other one has been a total joy. I always do lots of homework before I order so that is a bit of a plus. But I think I need to do a discovery voyage on the SS before taking the plunge into ownership.
Great job on the review BTW
 
But the review does give me pause on the neck. I play PRS electrics for the simple reason that I love the necks on the ones I have. And I literally hate LP necks and not a fan of Strat necks either, they just don't feel right in my hands somehow. Love the sound, just can't get past the actual guitar feel in my grip. I've bought several guitars blind (two of my PRS's were blind, never even heard or played) and have only suffered one huge bummer (which was on an acoustic) that went away real quick like. Every other one has been a total joy. I always do lots of homework before I order so that is a bit of a plus. But I think I need to do a discovery voyage on the SS before taking the plunge into ownership.

You'll never truly know until you get one in hand, but I have both the core and SS models (couldn't pass up a purple guitar). Neither feel particularly fat to me. The radius difference is real, but other than changing my picking, I don't really notice the difference unless I pay particular attention to it.
 
Completely agree on that. Especially given my experiences with Strats and LPs. I guess I'm just hopeful a SS will somehow unlock that coveted style I look and long for. And I know it's not any guitar that's lacking, it's just a personal flaw in the individual discovery process...;)
 
Completely agree on that. Especially given my experiences with Strats and LPs. I guess I'm just hopeful a SS will somehow unlock that coveted style I look and long for. And I know it's not any guitar that's lacking, it's just a personal flaw in the individual discovery process...;)
Neither is really what I think of as a typical strat neck, I've played strats with similar but they are far less common or what I think most people would think of for strats. And I don't think LP either, 50s or 60s.
 
Last edited:
Back
Top