PRS S2 Series: American Made Value
PRS is one of the most well-respected names in the guitar industry. Since the late 80s, this company has been producing reliable great sounding instruments. Initially starting out as an exclusively American made brand, PRS expanded their reach in 2000 with the release of their SE line of guitars. While fans of the brand where concerned this could negatively impact the brand as a whole, quite the opposite happened. There was clearly a lot of time and effort that went into making these overseas guitars as good as can be. In no time they became a popular choice in their price range.
Over the years PRS has managed to keep innovating, leading to a reputation as one of the most consistent brands out there. This legacy had an added boost back in 2013 when PRS first came out with their S2 series. These guitars brought the value of the SE line and combined it with the ever so sought-after USA made stamp. This line also granted consumers some models never before seen at this price point. Models like the Mira and Starla came at a much lower price tag than that of the past Core versions. While we now have SE version of both these, there have also been many changes to the S2 line up as well. Here is an overview of the current standings for these American made guitars.
As with most PRS series, the general way they get dived is by the customs and standards. Starting with the customs, PRS currently has four in production models to choose from. However, to Keep things simple we will group them all under the 22 or 24 fret offerings. When looking at these keep in mind that the main difference from the standards is that these all have maple tops. While there are also some QA and finishing alterations, the top is the main feature that separates the two.
- Custom 22 -
- The S2 Custom 22 is a fantastic tribute to its Core counterpart. Loaded with 85/15 “S” pickups, you will not be disappointed by the way these sing. Additionally, these pickups can be split with the push-pull tone pot to give you a very versatile pallet. PRS currently offers this model in a semi-hollow option as well, so you have a choice if you prefer the characteristics of either. All together this is just a rock-solid six string.
- Custom 24 -
- As with its 22-fret brother the Custom 24 lives up to its Maryland makers name. Sharing the same pickups, woods, and shape the only major difference here is the added two frets. However, this model is currently offered in a special 35th anniversary edition that does differ. This special edition keeps what makes this guitar great and adds some of the electronics from Paul’s Guitar. If your thinking about picking one of these up, get it while you can!
S2 Standards actually have some elements make them differ from the Custom models. There are three major things to note when looking at these Standards. First off, there are actually no bird inlays on any of these guitars. This trademark feature of the brand is exchanged with the simpler dot inlays that come standard with many other manufacturers. The second thing about the Standards is that each model has a gloss and satin version. This offers a very different feel to the body and neck than that of the Customs. Lastly, the S2 Standards is home the rather unique Vela model. With there not even being a Core version of this one, it is a very interesting Easter egg in the S2 line.
- Standard 22 -
- Doing away with the birds, this one is even more focused on what’s important. The S2 Standard 22 has a solid mahogany body with beautifully paired PRS 58/15 “S” pickups. These are super well balanced and give a fat but dynamic tone all at the same time. Moreover, you still have that ever so useful coil split accessible via the tone knob. This one is as reliable as they come.
- Standard 24 -
- Just like the Customs, the Standard 22 and 24 are very much parallels aside from the extra twelve notes. All the quality described in the 22 apply here as well. Thanks to the locking tuners and PRS Patented Tremolo (on all S2s) all your notes are insured on this neck. Furthermore, if you are looking for less glamor, both have stain choices that look and feel great.
- S2 Vela -
- As the odd one out in this series, the Vela might be one of the most underrated here. Equipped with a PRS DS-01 in the bridge and a Type-D single coil in the neck, this is a brilliant design. Often getting single coils and humbuckers to play nicely is like putting out a fire with gasoline. This is not the case on the Vela. A wonderfully well-balanced pairing makes these pickups feel like they belong together. Aside from that you can get this model satin or semi-hollow so your able to really narrow it down to “your” guitar. This one is truly a worthy companion to any player.
That is a brief break down of the S2 series from PRS. All of the models in this group are well done and clearly thought out. While you do pay more than you would for an SE, these are nothing compared to Core prices. It’s hard enough to make an excellent high-end (feeling) guitar in the $1200 to $1500 range, but to do so in the US? Well done indeed PRS.