PRS SE Standard 24 BK
You might expect PRS' SE Standard to pale in comparison to the recently reviewed S2 Standard 24, but on first impression, that certainly isn't the case.
Considering the price, this is one impressively put-together instrument; we scoured our review model for signs of the guitar's price tag, and all we could find was a slightly loose vibrato arm fitting - a minor point.
"The tones are here: searing solos, toasty rhythms and coil-split quack are all within reach"
Like the traditional USA-made Custom 24 design, there's no scratchplate, so the SE Standard 24's electronics are installed in a cavity.
As a result, the SE is lighter than the S2, and its plain-looking Vintage Cherry-finished top does make it look a little bit cheaper, although unlike the S2, it comes with bird inlays as standard.
But while the hardware also differs, the non-locking SE-level tuners are smooth-handling, and visually, you'd struggle to distinguish the vibrato from the S2's.
The SE Standard isn't quite as refined or sleek a playing experience as the S2, courtesy of the chunkier Wide Thin profile, higher action and slightly creaky vibrato response, but a more player-personal setup helps to rectify that.
The tones are here, though: searing solos, toasty rhythms and coil-split quack are all within reach, and while they don't quite have the shimmering top-end of the S2's pickups, at this price it's an impressive performance.