Editor's Note - A couple of corrections have been brought to our attention by John Gruber. The original review listed the fretboard radius as 9.5 inches but it is actually 10 inches. Also, the original review stated intonation was non-adjustable however the bridge does offer two set screws to adjust the overall angle of the bridge. Thanks John!
Every once in a while you pick up a guitar that just feels right. The way the weight balances on your shoulder...how your palm cups the neck...the body is contoured to snuggle up to you just right...such was the case when I strapped on Paul Reed Smith (PRS) Singlecut SE.
PRS has been making high end custom guitars for just over 20 years and the Korean made SE line has expanded their products to those of us without rock star credit limits.
The mahogany body has a maple cap and flame maple veneer which in combination with the sunburst finish and faux binding (exposed strip of the maple top) add up to a beautiful instrument. I'm being a little picky, but if they put a little more care book matching the veneer, this guitar would be absolutely stunning. Half moon inlays add a touch of flash without coming off gaudy. I actually like their understated beauty much more than the flamboyant bird inlays of PRS American production models.
The Singlecut features a mahogany, 25" scale set neck with a wide/fat profile which is chunky enough to feel substantial, but not so big to tire your hands out needlessly. Coupled with the 10" radius, rosewood fretboard and perfectly dressed medium frets, the neck is absolutely one of the most comfortable I've ever played. The factory setup was a little low on the high strings which was causing some slight buzz. While the intonation can't be individually adjusted for each string, the bridge does offer two set screws to adjust the overall angle of the bridge. Fortunately after raising the bridge, the neck played perfectly with no buzz to be found and intonation was spot on. The feel was liquid up and down the neck and the beveled cut away provides slightly easier access to the highest frets. My single gripe regarding the neck is the over sized rather clunky heel. With a little more care, the joint could have been seemless which would really put this instrument in a whole other class. While the nut is well cut, a little more detail could have been spent rounding the corners off as they were just a touch sharp. Again, I'm being a bit picky. The tuners hold with no hint of slippage.
PRS was able to deliver a snappier response from the Singlecut SE than one would expect from a dual humbucker mahogany guitar. The sound definitely leans to Les Paul side of the tonal spectrum yet with a little more bite. The bridge pickup is extremely well balanced, offering enough low mids to chunk through palm muted power chords, yet enough sparkle to deliver convincing spanky country riffs. I was additionally impressed with the neck pickup's voicing and how perfectly it complements the bridge tones with the perfect amount of high end roll off without sounding dull or muddy. The pickups are wired to an awkwardly placed, three way switch. Additional controls include a master volume and nicely voiced tone knob which are both useable across the pots entire sweep.
While the price of the SE is at the higher end of what I would qualify as frugal, this is a great guitar. Minor quibbles aside; the PRS Singlecut SE is a fabulous player and an absolute beauty.