Upgraded S2 Custom 24 vs Core line

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by musicroom, Nov 16, 2021.

  1. musicroom

    musicroom New Member

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    Curious as to some opinions from here regarding the subject line. I have a S2 Custom 24 with a mannmade nos2000 bridge and upgraded pickups. I find this guitar to be outstanding - both playability and tonewise. I often read there is nothing like a core and also read that with an upgraded S2 you have a very core like guitar. Anyone here done similar upgrades to a S2 and also have a core to compare it to? Or - do I still need to get a core model down the road to have the best?

    BTW - I also have 2 fantastic SE's, but I can tell a difference between those and my S2. The S2 wins that battle by a lot.

    Thanks
     
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  2. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob New Member for almost a year...

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    ‘Upgraded’ just means ‘changed’ to everyone else I’m afraid because everything is subjective. All guitars are different, even if they’re not supposed to be, and only you can decide whether one guitar feels better than another. That being said, play a few and see what you prefer, but if you play some cores you’ll soon find out that an S2 isn’t going to be “core like” any more than an SE can be “core like”.

    I’ve played cores that felt pretty ordinary, and others that felt superb, and my SE C24 dumps all over any S2 and CE I’ve ever played (which admittedly isn’t many, but it’s still true).
     
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  3. musicroom

    musicroom New Member

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    I appreciate your viewpoint! -- Thank you!

    I also have a sweet 2021 CE that I installed a mannmade nos2000 bridge on it as well. IMHO my S2 and CE are quite even. Maybe the CE has tad more enjoyable neck - maybe. No super victory for CE over the S2 between my 2. The CE is purtier. :)

    I'm an under $2500 dollar buyer - so if I was looking for Cu24 it will be a used version.
     
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  4. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob New Member for almost a year...

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    Is the issue simply that you’re not really sure how a core would be ‘better’ than the guitars you’ve already got? The only way to know is to play some, including used. You may even find a core that has been fettled to make it better than stock!

    Contrary to what you might read (especially on here) not all core guitars are perfect! Mine still needs a tiny bit of fretwork, which isn’t a huge problem and I’ll get to it at the next string change, but it’s still a little annoying on a guitar that cost well over $7000.

    Point being, if you’ve got an S2 or a CE that you think really kicks ass, then it probably does ;-)
     
  5. chicagoslim

    chicagoslim New Member

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    I only buy after playing (sometimes more than once), and I look for very resonant guitars. I'm a Custom 22 guy, with two core models and two S2's. My S2's play as well as my core guitars and sound very good. One was modified with vintage sounding PAF's and the other was just rewired. I'm now able to use the bridge humbucker with the split neck pickup. Something that my core guitars can do, but in parallel. The core models use better wood and electronics. It's up to you if you think that they are worth, twice the price. I will say that since the S2 line came out, I now own fewer core guitars.

    Over the past twenty years, I've owned over a dozen SE's. I started with the first SE Santana. This weekend I went back a guitar shop and played a Special Edition, SE Custom 22, in Black/Gold Quilt, a second time. I came home with an SE Hollow Body II. It sounded much better than the Special Edition Custom. Out of all of the SE's that I have owned, I've kept two, that I consider to be in the same class as my S2's. One was a MIK Zach Myers and the other is a MIC Hollow Body II. I have yet two find an Indonesian SE, that stands out to me. YMMV.
     
    #5 chicagoslim, Nov 17, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2021
  6. danktat

    danktat Award winning tattoo artist ... Amateur guitarist

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    ^^THIS^^
     
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  7. SamIV

    SamIV New Member

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    I only own three PRS guitars. An SE Tremonti Custom, an S2 Single-Cut Semi-Hollow, because Chicagoslim (Enabler) liked his so much, and a 98 CE 24. My SE plays as well as my others now, but took fret leveling, nut slot radius and lowering, and saddle radius adjustment work. It is a MIK model.

    Thought I was a slim neck only guy, but I play my pattern regular neck S2 the most now. It’s just comfortable as well as the guitar just sits well. I sold 8 guitars recently to slim down. I am in the hunt for an S2 Custom 22 or Standard 22 at the moment though. Seems acquisition never ends.

    I am a bit tight and I won’t pay new Core prices for guitars. So there’s that to consider. Also considering adding a middle Strat type pickup to my hopefully newly acquired S2. Will see if I ever get around to that. Also might put the 98 CE24 on the market if the S2 22 fret guitar works out. It is a sweet guitar that feels well played, but has zero fret wear. Most say it was built to Core specs. It does have a larger top carve and a nicer top.
     
    #7 SamIV, Nov 17, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2021
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  8. dogrocketp

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

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    On every level, there are magic guitars. The trick is to find one that is right for you and your ears. All these flavors are available for you. It’s worse than being a kid at a Baskin Robbins! I look for the magic, not the price point. My #1 (with a bullet) is a well used and worn 2010 Custom 22 triple soapbar. A guy who was a collector dumped it because it was beat. He had gotten it as part of a trade. They are out there, and for good prices is you’re diligent. Remember, at the end of the day, the one with the best tone wins!
     
  9. musicroom

    musicroom New Member

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    Thanks for all of these thoughts so far. Appreciate it and those comments are exactly what I'm trying to sort through. It boils down to me getting started with a PRS SE Cu24 3 years ago. That one came to me with a plek job and several USA appointments including a mannmade bridge. I was floored by that guitar. I bought it more out of curiosity and once I had it in my possession, I realized I had been sleeping on the thought of owning a PRS had no idea as to what I was missing. Ended up buying a few more and each time liking or loving all of them. I hardly play my other guitars now and they are for the most part excellent and not cheap. I like my other guitars, but the PRS guitars are what brings me the tone and playability that is much closer to what I want. My three favorites to play (at my church) are a PRS 305, Cu24 and CE 24. I still have a couple of SE's that are very nice, especially their playability, but there are slight tonal and sustain differences that I like much better in the USA models. With all that said, I just don't want to be missing out on yet another tonal improvement similar to what I found in the USA models that I own. By what I'm reading here, my current PRS guitars are probably representative of the best I can hope for so I may back off seeking a used core unless I see one that yells at me to take her home.
     
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  10. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    As someone who has a little bit of everything... it depends!

    As far as Custom 24's go, the sweet spot for me would be a used Core model from when they were coming with 57/08 or 59/09 pickups, for about $2500 bucks or less, because IMO those are the best pickups that have ever come in those guitars, and that's about how much it's gonna cost to purchase and upgrade an S2 to the same specs. Not a huge fan of the newer 85/15 pickups, they're more modern and "clinical" than I prefer, so a used but newer and more expensive core CU24 wouldn't really do it for me unless I also upgraded those pickups. With the nitro/CAB finish on the new S2's, and with a trem upgrade and set of 57/08, 59/09, or 58/15 pickups, I'd be feeling pretty good about the S2, and wouldn't feel I had a lot to gain getting a core model Custom 24 rather than some other core model - something else is going to provide more variety. The core Custom 24 may get a slight edge, but the money would be better spent on, say, a 594, SSH, HBII, whatever. Sounds like that's where you are.

    I have 3 SE's, 3 S2's, and 2 core models, and I can honestly say the playability and feel of the S2's is just as good as the core models (and the SE's maybe 85-90% as good, FWIW). That's a major compliment to be keeping up with the core models. My hands aren't picky about the PRS neck shapes, so that isn't a big factor, and they all have super clean fret ends, great fret leveling, action can be set as low as I want and beyond, there's really nothing I can say that the core models have over the S2's when it comes to the neck.

    The only thing I feel core models really have over an S2 build when it comes to tone is perhaps more clarity, especially in the neck pickup, not so boomy, certainly some of it is the pickups themselves, but the bones of the guitar seem to have some to do with it as well. But, that being said, still don't think getting a core CU24 when you already have a killer S2 in the rack at home is the logical play. Go wild, get something you don't already have!
     
  11. CrimesAgainstMusic

    CrimesAgainstMusic New Member

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    My own bias in the "Can an S2 be as good as a Core " thing ... Would be to cop an S2 McCarty 594 DC, Put your fav Boutique pickups in it ( ish Guitars did a flyoff between the 58/15 Core and Lambertone Crema)

    And have at it. The doggone S2 McCarty is now up to $1900 (not cheap in my book) , and $350 or so for the pickups, and for $2,200 you probably have a Core challenger.... tone wise.

    If played blind (so nobody knew which was which, on tone I think you got it going on. But I gotta believe the Core , is a better piece of "furniture" (no insult intended) but a nicer chunk of mahogany. The one piece neck, the curvy top and stripey strioes (The S2's get shorted on the flamey flame ) ...

    My own bias ,so there is that. But I 'm still not sure however that I want to spend $2,300 on a guitar, whos neck carve I have to "adjust" to .. PV is a chunky mutha ...;)
     
    #11 CrimesAgainstMusic, Nov 18, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2021
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  12. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob New Member for almost a year...

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    Tonally, yeah there might not be a lot in it, however it still isn’t going to be a core guitar and only we can decide for ourselves if that’s ok.

    IMO if we’re ever trying really hard to convince ourselves that we don’t want something it usually means we really do...
     
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  13. CrimesAgainstMusic

    CrimesAgainstMusic New Member

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    Duh ... That is not even a concern for me at least, maybe for the OP. I don't really want to spend $4k on a guitar. I do have other things to do with my $$$ . AND, I'm am finding that there are several , say $900 to $1500 guitars that can way more than satisfy my needs.

    And if the "tone" thing " is not paramount as to why we buy a guitar, then what else is ?

    I mean the SE Paul's Guitar shows how good a non core guitar can look . I think they do pretty well on the tone thing too.

    I do like the violin curve, but not to the point that I would spend $4K more just to have it ...
     
  14. Mvenuti1980

    Mvenuti1980 New Member

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    I’m a big believer in buying used guitars. I just got my Custom 22 10 Top for a new S2 price, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
     
  15. guitarforlife

    guitarforlife New Member

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    IMO the S2 is every bit as nice as the core guitars. The core guitars are beautiful guitars no question. I own 14 PRS guitars 3 of them are from the S2 line. The core guitars I own are all 10 tops I like the eye appeal of the contours of the Violin carve on the cores. But as far as playability they are equal.

    I am very fussy over the way my guitars play and I do spend sometimes hours setting up a guitar I want my action as low and fast as it can be sometimes it takes a lot of little tweaks to get it there. So far out of all my PRS Guitars there is only one SE that isn't were I like it but I haven't really dug into it.

    The S2 line is the best $$ value for an American built guitar. The only thing that comes close is if find a used Heritage LP or 335 style guitar. Made in the U.S. in the old Gibson factory in Kalamazoo Mi.
     

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