Best PRS Guitar

Paul Reed Smith (often abbreviated as PRS) is a guitar company that comes from humble beginnings. Founder Paul Reed Smith initially sold his guitar designs by showing them to roadies backstage at concerts. Now, PRS guitars are endorsed by major musicians including Santana and John Mayer.

Now, there are PRS guitars out there for just about every budget, making it possible for players around the globe to have their very own PRS. We've gathered together our choices for the best PRS guitar.

Table of Contents

Our Top Choices for the Best PRS Guitar

Make

Model

Rating

Price

Full Review

PRS

SE Custom 24-08

Cell

PRS

SE Parlor P20

Cell

PRS

Silver Sky

Cell

PRS

SE Angelus A40E

Cell

PRS

SE Santana Singlecut Trem

Cell

PRS

S2 Vela

Cell

PRS

SE Custom 24

Cell

PRS

CE 24

Cell

PRS

SE Standard 24

Cell

PRS

SE Paul's Guitar

Cell

PRS

SE Custom 22

Cell

PRS

SE Mark Holcomb SVN

Cell

PRS SE Custom 24-08 -- Best Value

Important Features

  • Beveled cutaways and a thin neck make it highly playable
  • Flame maple top with Eriza Verde finish makes it visually distinctive
  • Versatile pickups with a tremolo system make this PRS guitar excellent for expressive playing
  • Synthetic bronze/powder blend nut and PRS tuners preserve tuning stability

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's an excellent value as PRS guitars go
  • Special design lets you switch between eight different tones
  • Striking flame maple top makes it a standout on stage
  • Doublecut body gives you great fret access

Cons

  • The neck isn't as thin as that on some similar PRS guitars
  • It doesn't come with locking tuners, which is somewhat surprising for a guitar with a tremolo

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Despite the "custom" in the name, this PRS guitar is a fairly affordable instrument. And while it looks like it just has two humbuckers, unique switching options make it stunningly versatile. Each pickup has a toggle switch that works as a coil tap, so you can switch between humbucker and single-coil tones. Plus, this guitar has a rare dual single-coil mode. Both pickups are PRS's own Tuned Capacitance and Inductance models, which are designed for excellent tonal balance.

This doublecut body is all mahogany for a warm, rich tone with plenty of sustain. The stunning PRS custom flame maple top gives you both a tonal bite and good looks. And with the PRS Pattern Wide Thin neck, you can play as quickly as you need to.

Our Star Rating

We think this electric guitar is the best value on the list. We give it five out of five stars.

PRS SE Parlor P20 -- Best for Fingerstyle Players

Important Features

  • The wide fat mahogany neck is comfortable to play with and warms up the tone
  • The slick ebony fingerboard is fast-playing
  • Beautiful appointments and sunburst finish make this PRS guitar a visual standout
  • Solid mahogany top offers a warm and responsive tone

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Smaller body makes it highly portable
  • Hybrid bracing gives you both resonance and clarity
  • It's an excellent value for the price
  • High-end appointments make it a remarkable-looking guitar

Cons

  • It doesn't come with electronics, which may be an issue for some players
  • Some players have noticed that it arrived with high action

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Paul Reed Smith makes some of the best electric guitars on the market, but they also make high-quality acoustics that are great for performing with or just for having a high-quality couch guitar. This little parlor guitar has a solid mahogany top for a rich, warm tone. And while the back and sides are laminated, the unique bracing on this PRS guitar gives it a surprisingly full yet clear sound. It's made with hybrid X/classical bracing. This bracing style shows off every nuance of your playing, making it an ideal choice for fingerstyle players.

High-end appointments include a beautiful ebony bridge, an ebony fingerboard with the PRS signature bird inlays, and herringbone binding and rosette. And a genuine bone nut and saddle give you an incredible vintage-style tone.

Our Star Rating

We think this well-made PRS is the best for fingerstyle players. We give it four out of five stars.

PRS Silver Sky -- Best Single-Coil Electric

Important Features

  • Special single-coil pickups sound great when played through a tube amp
  • The unique, eye-catching gold color makes it a standout
  • Slim maple neck plays incredibly quickly
  • Pickups have a higher signal-to-noise ratio than their vintage equivalents

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Rosewood fretboard is highly playable and adds some warmth to the tone
  • The contoured, lightweight alder body is ideal for playing long sets
  • Bone nut supports tuning stability
  • Custom wound pickups reduce unwanted noise in your signal chain

Cons

  • It's somewhat expensive, putting it out of reach for some players
  • Some players might prefer the quieter sound of humbucker pickups

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

The Silver Sky is the signature guitar of John Mayer, and at first glance, you might think it was an early 60s Stratocaster. This electric guitar's three custom-wound single-coil pickups deliver vintage chiming tones, and the tremolo bridge lets you play expressively. The lightweight alder body delivers a perfectly balanced tone, and the slim maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard is incredibly playable.

The Silver Sky has a unique inverted headstock that helps keep intonation rock-solid, and its contoured body and beveled cutaways are optimized for playing comfort. It's a guitar that has to be heard to be believed, and some players even say this PRS guitar outperforms their Custom Shop Strats.

Our Star Rating

This PRS guitar has the look and feels of a vintage Stratocaster, and we think it's the best single-coil-equipped electric guitar on the list. We give it four out of five stars.

PRS SE Angelus A40E -- Best for Acoustic Performers

Important Features

  • The unique bracing pattern gives it amazingly full yet detailed sound
  • Wide fat neck and ebony fingerboard are highly playable
  • A bone nut and saddle support full, rich tone
  • Fishman electronics with in-soundhole controls don't disturb the look of the guitar

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Mahogany neck adds some warmth to the tone
  • Comfortable body shape combines both resonances and focused sound
  • Ebony fingerboard and bridge give it classic good looks
  • Given its top notch build, it's very affordable

Cons

  • The laminated back and sides may be a disadvantage for some players
  • The wide fat neck may be tough to play for players with small hands

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Paul Reed Smith is one of the guitar brands known for innovation, and this guitar from the Angelus line is certainly an innovative choice. It's made with the PRS hybrid of X bracing and classical bracing. This pattern gives you a resonant soundboard with a highly reflective back and sides. And even though the A40E is a fairly affordable choice as PRS SE guitars go, its excellent tone makes it an ideal option for performers.

This guitar's Angelus body is a bit like Taylor's Grand Auditorium in that it combines the best tonal qualities of dreadnoughts and grand concert acoustics. A cutaway gives you great fret access. The A40E has a solid spruce top for responsive, bright sound, and the laminated ovangkol back and sides add considerable warmth. A Fishman GT1 pickup gives you high-fidelity live sound.

Our Star Rating

We think this PRS guitar is the best one for acoustic performers on the list. We give it four out of five stars.

PRS SE Santana Singlecut Trem -- Best Single Cutaway

Important Features

  • Special engineered pickups are modeled after Santana's signature sound
  • Stunning Egyptian Gold finish makes it a visual standout
  • Beveled single Les Paul-style cutaway gives you great fret access
  • PRS tremolo system makes trying bends a breeze

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's a very affordable signature model
  • All-mahogany build supports thick tone with plenty of sustain
  • A wide fat neck profile is comfortable for most players
  • It comes with a tremolo system

Cons

  • It doesn't come with locking tuners
  • The neck is not especially slim, which may be an issue for some players

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Santana is one of the music legends who has been impressed with the guitars Paul Reed Smith makes, and this is one of his more affordable signature guitar models. Its mahogany body and dual humbucker design deliver a powerful, biting tone. Carlos Santana himself worked with PRS to design the "S" humbuckers on this guitar. The bridge pickup emphasizes treble, while the neck pickup emphasizes bass. A three-way toggle selector lets you effortlessly shape your tone.

This guitar features a mahogany set neck. Compared to the bolt-on necks on many PRS guitars, the set neck optimizes the transfer of string vibrations to the body, resulting in a much richer tone. The highly playable rosewood fretboard is graced with the classic PRS bird inlays.

Our Star Rating

We think this is the best single-cut PRS guitar on the list. We give it 3.5 out of five stars.

PRS S2 Vela -- Best Vintage Design

Important Features

  • Unique, vintage-inspired pickups give it a distinctive tone
  • Contoured, double-cutaway, offset body is very comfortable to play
  • All-mahogany build delivers powerful sustain
  • Vintage White finish with contrasting black pickguard gives it great vintage appeal

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Locking tuners support tuning stability
  • Set neck joint increases sustain and adds stability
  • The combination of a humbucker and single coil gives you excellent tonal versatility
  • Rosewood fingerboard is comfortable to play with and adds some tonal warmth

Cons

  • The price may be too high for some players
  • Despite the price, this PRS guitar doesn't come with a hard case -- only a gig bag

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

The Vela is part of the PRS S2 Series. "S2" stands for "Stevensville 2" because S2 guitars are made in Maryland at the PRS Stevensville factory. S2 guitars are at a higher price point than the SE Series, but they are often of higher quality. The Vela is the first offset design that PRS has made, and its tone is decidedly different from most other PRS guitars. The neck pickup is a vintage-inspired Type D single coil, and the Starla bridge humbucker has push-pull tone coil tap capability that lets you reach new heights of tonal versatility. Two adjustable brass saddles give the tone an even greater vintage edge you don't usually see on PRS guitars.

The Vela has an all-mahogany contoured body that's exceptionally comfortable to play. And the Pattern Regular neck is a nice departure from the wide necks that PRS guitars are known for.

Our Star Rating

We think this PRS guitar has the best vintage design on the list, and we give it 4.5 out of five stars.

PRS SE Custom 24 -- Most Affordable Custom

Important Features

  • PRS designed tremolo system lets you play as expressively as you want to
  • Flamed maple top with Black Gold Sunburst finish makes it a truly stunning instrument
  • A wide thin neck with a rosewood fretboard is comfortable to play
  • Given its top-notch features, it's an excellent value

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Set neck joint improves its tonal quality
  • Flamed maple veneer adds a visual and sonic edge
  • You get PRS Custom features at a great price
  • Coil tap lets you access sparkling single-coil tone when you need to

Cons

  • Like most PRS SE guitars, it doesn't come with a hard case
  • Some players have noted that the frets are a bit high off the neck

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

This upgrade from the PRS SE Standard 24 has some incredible features at budget-friendly price. Its "S" humbuckers are designed to sound almost just like the US-made pickups on higher-end PRS guitars, and each one has a push-pull coil tap, too. A three-way blade selector switch gives you plenty of tonal options to choose from. The SE guitars PRS makes may be designed for budget-minded performers, but the features on this one make it a high quality instrument regardless.

The doublecut mahogany body of the PRS SE Custom 24 has a beautiful flamed maple veneer for that extra bit of sonic bite, and a wide thin set neck lets you play quickly when you need to.

Our Star Rating

We think the PRS SE Custom 24 is the most affordable PRS custom guitar on the list, and we give it four out of five stars.

PRS CE 24 -- Best Semi-Hollow Guitar

Important Features

  • Pattern Thin neck is fast and playable
  • Semi-hollow design gives you impressive resonance that doesn't cause feedback issues
  • Tremolo system gives you plenty of opportunity for string bending
  • Mahogany back and sides add some warmth to the tone

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Low mass locking tuners maintain balance and tuning stability
  • Doublecut electric guitar body gives you plenty of fret access
  • Rosewood fingerboard with bird inlays is distinctive and playable
  • Stunning Dark Cherry Sunburst over a figured maple top makes it a visual standout

Cons

  • Despite its high price, this PRS guitar comes with a gig bag and not a hardshell case
  • Rock or metal players might prefer a solidbody electric guitar

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Many of the PRS SE models that we've covered thus far are solidbody electric guitars. But the PRS CE 24 is a well-made semi-hollow guitar that's perfect for players who prefer the warmer resonance of hollow and semi-hollow guitars. This one has a stunning figured maple top over a mahogany body, so you get an excellent balance of warmth and crispness.

For a semi-hollow, this PRS guitar is remarkably sleek. It's not too boxy, and the single f-hole sets it apart from most similar models. A pair of PRS 85/15 humbuckers with coil tap let you access a range of tones that sound great played clean or through effects.

Our Star Rating

We think the PRS CE 24 is the best semi-hollow electric guitar on the list. We give it 4.5 out of five stars.

PRS SE Standard 24 -- Best Budget Option

Important Features

  • Dual humbuckers with coil tap give this PRS guitar ton of tonal versatility
  • Carved mahogany body is understated yet beautiful
  • PRS designed pickups have remarkable power and clarity
  • Wide thin neck with rosewood fingerboard is incredibly playable

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's an excellent value with the great build quality for the price
  • Black-and-white pickups and signature bird inlays add visual interest
  • The thinner neck makes it faster-playing than some other Paul Reed Smith models
  • Synthetic/bronze powder blend nut is a surprising high-end touch

Cons

  • Some players might prefer the flashier looks of some of the more expensive Paul Reed Smith guitars
  • Some players have reported issues with tuning stability

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

The "SE" in the name of the PRS SE Standard 24 stands for "Student Edition," but these well-made PRS instruments give you a lot more than you get with most student guitars. This one doesn't have the maple veneer that some higher-end models have, and these affordable PRS guitars are made overseas. But you get impressive build quality for a low price tag.

An understated yet comfortable mahogany body holds two PRS 85/15 humbuckers. It's truly remarkable that, just like some of the best PRS guitars out there, this one comes equipped with a coil tap. It also has a tremolo bridge, which you don't always see on more affordable models. The maple neck has the PRS Pattern Wide Thin profile, so you have plenty of fingerboard space without sacrificing speed. Paul Reed Smith is a company known for value, and we think the Standard 24 really delivers.

Our Star Rating

We think this remarkable PRS guitar is the best budget option on the list, and we give it four out of five stars.

PRS SE Paul's Guitar -- Best Hardtail Guitar

Important Features

  • A set of PRS designed Tuned Capacitance and Inductance pickups come with individual coil-tap switches
  • Maple and mahogany combination delivers an ideal balance of sparkle and warmth
  • The wide fat neck fills your hand and offers great playability
  • A stunning finish sets it apart from many guitars on the market

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • You get features often only seen on PRS Custom models
  • Hardtail bridge helps you maintain perfect intonation
  • Rosewood fingerboard is comfortable and playable
  • The mahogany neck gives its tone some additional warmth

Cons

  • Some players might prefer a tremolo bridge
  • In some cases, one side of the aqua top is lighter than the other

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

As a luthier, Paul Reed Smith has a collection of some of the best PRS guitars ever made. In the PRS SE Paul's Guitar, he combines some of his favorite playability features in an electric guitar that still manages to be wallet-friendly. This guitar also has an important feature that you only otherwise see on PRS Custom and Private Stock instruments -- independent coil tap toggles for each pickup. This feature grants you access to a dizzying array of humbucker and single-coil tones.

Like many of the higher-end Paul Reed Smith guitars, this one has a mahogany body with a figured maple top. With the stunning aqua finish, the figuring looks like water --a distinctive and beautiful look for an electric guitar.

Our Star Rating

We think that this one is the best hardtail PRS guitar on the list, and we give it four out of five stars.

PRS SE Custom 22 -- Best for Multiple Genres

Important Features

  • Classic mahogany and maple build offers a balanced tone
  • The neck strikes a balance between playability and preserving sustain
  • Tremolo bridge allows for expressive playing
  • Beautiful flamed maple top makes this PRS guitar look more expensive than it is

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's one of the more affordable Paul Reed Smith SE Custom models
  • The combination of bird inlays and flamed maple top gives it an incredible look
  • Contoured body with beveled edges is very comfortable to play
  • Push-pull coil tap gives you plenty of tonal versatility

Cons

  • Some players may prefer a 24-fret guitar to a 22-fret
  • Lack of locking tuners can cause some tuning stability issues

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

One of the challenges of being a multi-genre artist is finding a guitar that sounds equally good across all genres that you play. The PRS SE Custom 22 is a worthy choice. To start, its pair of PRS 85/15 humbuckers is designed to handle the rigors of just about every genre, whether you're playing through high-gain effects or delicately fingerpicking. Its classic combination of a mahogany body and maple top means that your tone is just snappy enough without sacrificing sustain. And the wide thin neck plays fast but still is substantial enough to further support sustain.

Like most Paul Reed Smith guitars, this one is also a standout in terms of looks. The figured maple top over the contrasting-color body makes this PRS guitar a work of art at an affordable price.

Our Star Rating

We think the PRS SE Custom 22 is the best electric guitar for multiple genres on the list, and we give it 3.5 out of five stars.

PRS SE Mark Holcomb SVN -- Best Extended-Range Guitar

Important Features

  • Push-pull coil tap on the signature Seymour Duncan pickups lets you access single coil tones
  • Seven string design is ideal for drop tunings
  • A longer 26.5" scale length is preferred by many metal players
  • Fixed bridge aids in tuning stability

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Set maple neck increases sustain and tonal power
  • Doublecut body maximizes fret access
  • Alpha and Omega pickups offer incredible power and clarity
  • The satin walnut finish gives it an understated yet beautiful look

Cons

  • Some players have said the nut gets in the way of tuning stability
  • Some players have complained that the finish is very rough

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Mark Holcomb of Periphery is a pioneer of progressive metal, and the PRS SE Mark Holcomb signature is an ideal electric guitar for aspiring or established metal players. This seven-string guitar gets a lot of its incredible tone from Holcomb's signature Seymour Duncan Alpha and Omega pickups. The Alpha and Omega have different functions -- the Alpha neck pickup emphasizes clarity and high end, while the Omega bridge pickup emphasizes aggressive mids and lows.

The PRS SE Mark Holcomb features a maple-capped mahogany body that's topped off with a beautiful walnut veneer, and the sleek ebony fretboard makes playing effortless.

Our Star Rating

We think that the Mark Holcomb Signature is the best extended-range PRS guitar on the list. We give it four out of five stars.

Buying Guide: What Should You Look for in a PRS Guitar?

Body Style

PRS is best known for their electric guitars, but they make acoustic guitars, too. Before beginning your search, decide whether you want an acoustic or an electric. If you choose an electric, you may want the distinctive, semi-acoustic sound of a semi-hollowbody, you might prefer the more traditional solidbody electric.

When it comes to body shape, PRS offers just about everything. As far as acoustic guitars go, PRS makes smaller parlor-style acoustics all the way through the full-bodied Angelus models. You can find electric guitars in both single-cut and doublecut bodies. The PRS SE Santana has a single-cut body that's reminiscent of a Les Paul, while the Strat-style Silver Sky is a doublecut.

Pickup Configuration

Many electric PRS guitars are made with two humbucker pickups, making them a great option for rock and pop. In most cases, pickups are custom-wound to ensure a unique voice for each guitar. Some models like the Silver Sky come with three single-coil pickups. In some cases, the unique, one-off models of the PRS Private Stock collection come with a trio of humbuckers, and an uncommon combination that's exceptionally tonally diverse.

Most of the acoustic guitars made by PRS also come with a pickup option. Typically, these PRS guitars come fitted with an undersaddle piezo that includes an onboard preamp.

Tonewoods

You can find the best PRS guitars on the market in just about any tonewood. Many come in mahogany, an excellent tonewood that offers impressive sustain when used for electric guitars. In some cases, PRS guitars also come with a maple top. This serves a couple of purposes. In terms of tone, a maple top gives you some extra tonal bite and crispness. Maple tops on PRS guitars are often figured, which adds some visual interest to the top, too.

Similarly, many of the PRS acoustic options have mahogany backs and sides. More affordable versions may have ovangkol backs and sides, and some have maple bodies for enhanced projection. Most have solid spruce tops.

In Conclusion

We think you'd likely be happy with any of the PRS guitars on the list. However, our top choice is the PRS SE Custom 24-08. This great-looking guitar is one of the most versatile on the list. Each pickup has its own coil tap switch, and you can even play in dual single-coil mode. Plus, since it has features often seen on much more expensive guitars, it's an outstanding value.

We think the PRS S2 Vela is a worthy runner-up thanks to its retro-inspired design and unique, vintage-inspired pickups. And if you're looking for a semi-hollow guitar, we think the beautiful and warm-sounding PRS CE 24 is a great choice, too.

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