Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 S2 Review

The S2 series by PRS was introduced in 2013. These are full-blown PRS guitars, built in the same Maryland factory as the core line to the same standards, with slightly stripped down aesthetics, and some cool new features, at a much lower pricepoint. Let’s see how they stack up to the CU24, shall we? 



The full specs of this Cu24 S2 used for the review are as follows:

  • Mahogany Body
  • Carved Bookmatched Maple Top
  • Set Mahogany Neck with Pattern Profile
  • White Bird Inlays
  • 25” Scale Length with 24 Frets
  • PRS S2 Locking Tuners
  • PRS Non Locking Tremolo
  • HFS & Vintage Bass Pickups
  • 3 Way Blade
  • 1 Vol & 1 Push/Pull Tone

As you can see this is very similar to the core line, with some small aesthetics toned down a bit, and different electronics/hardware. Like the new pickups, and white birds, for example.

The body carve is a bit more aggressive on these than on the core line. It’s really comfortable, and a nice change of pace. The Locking Tuners also work great!



So, PRS’ trademark is thick, short scale and mahogany rock & roll tone, with a little mud pulled out from the extra .25” on the scale length, and a bit more balance from the maple tops. The CU24 S2 delivers that in spades. The bridge pickup is actually ceramic, which is great because it does deliver the saturation required for everything up through old school metal. However, for modern styles, it may be worth considering replacing. It has enough drive to get the job done, but isn’t quite enough for a super tight tone, and lacks a bit of low end chunk as well. It’s capable of everything, but not as good at modern metal as it is, well, everything else.  That being said, these S2s were not built for metal, so it isn’t a huge deal, and replacing the pickups on these is kind of something you might expect going into it if you’re after ultra tight metal tones.

I really love the push/pull on this, because the split sounds are super percussive, and I really like that tone with some gain on it for fast licks. Even better, because it is a push/pull as opposed to a 5 way, you can get the split tone from both pickups simultaneously: AKA pure tele goodness. All the split positions offer nice woody tones that are at home in all genres.

It’s worth noting that I normally play PRS in drop C, because I like the tension from the 25” scale. I highly recommend trying it downtuned because it thickens up the stock pickups a bit, and the resonance from the all mahogany set-neck construction is really useful in that situation. Again though, for modern metal and prog tones I would prefer something tighter; I’ve had great results from a lot of the contemporary-voiced Bare Knuckle Pickups in these guitars.


Build Quality:

To put it simply, there are no flaws on this guitar. It is built to the same standards as the core line. So time would be better spent comparing this to other similar US-made guitars.

These are better than US Gibsons. Every one I’ve played has been better than many US Custom shops as well. The nuts come well-cut, the fretwork is fantastic, and there are no finish flaws. The only notable things I could find is that while the electronics sounded super clean, the actual wiring when I opened it up was a little less neat than in a core series (as well as a non-recessed plate that sits slightly atop the back of the body), which is funny because that still puts it squarely above the aforementioned competition, whose pots regularly fail from the factory. These are things I’d prefer were done differently, but I don’t really mind because they are very minute design differences as opposed to an actual quality difference.

A regular CU24 will simply have small design and component differences. Better tops, more finish variety, different hardware and pickups, and the original top-carving.


Final Verdict:

The PRS Custom 24 S2 is a fantastic way to get a real-deal PRS on a budget. The quality is no-compromise. The small changes to the iconic Cu24 make this ideal both for someone looking to get their first PRS, or a long-time player who wants to try something fresh and new.

As I said, the pickups are very versatile, thanks in no small part to the switching, but a swap would be recommend for very heavy styles.

PRS did nicely with the features on these, between the locking tuners, nice trem, push/pull, etc., but didn’t do anything totally above and beyond like stainless frets or new wood choices. That’s probably because they were trying to keep it as traditional and inexpensive as possible though, to be fair.

This is the guitar for someone who loves vintage stylings with modern improvements, and genuine PRS quality.  If you’re curious about what we think of the classic CU24, you can read our review of the CU24 here.


Do you want a PRS S2?  Check out our current inventory of PRS by clicking here!

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