The Custom 24 gets a lot of attention. We all know it, most of us love it. But what about the PRS Custom 22?

It’s more than a matter of just two less frets (though that is important and we will touch on that later) that sets this model apart.

It is worth noting that the current version of the PRS Custom 22 that this review is covering is slightly different than older ones, so keep that in mind when reading!

Is the PRS Custom 22 the guitar for you? Let’s find out!


The full specifications of this guitar are as follows:

  • Carved Figured Maple Top
  • Natural Body Binding
  • Mahogany Body
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Classic PRS Bird Inlays
  • PRS Pattern Neck Profile
  • PRS Tremolo & Phase III Locking Tuners
  • 22 Frets
  • 25” Scale Length
  • Nickel Hardware
  • 58/15 Humbuckers
  • Transparent Fire Red Burst

I really, really like the Fire Red Burst, and as always the cuts of maple PRS chooses are killer.

It’s worth noting that both Pattern and Pattern Thin profiles are available on CU22s, as opposed to the Pattern Regular and Pattern Thin that are offered on CU24s. Pattern is very wide and fat, similar to pre-factory designs. Pattern Thin is obviously a bit thinner, and Pattern Regular is somewhere inbetween: most similar to their late ‘80s production guitars.

As always: the PRS trim and locking tuners are very stable!


Obviously the primary thing we need to talk about here is the neck pickup placement.

Placing a neck pickup directly under the harmonic (where the 24th fret goes, you know how that’s a fret that can produce an octave natural harmonic?) produces a very sweet and organic tone. This is the reason that most Strats have retained a 21/22 fret design over the years: they don’t want that tone to be compromised. Some players won’t care, but the difference is there, and many consider the neck pickup tone on sub-24 fret guitars to be superior.

I’d say the second biggest factor here is the larger neck heel on the Custom 22. Paul himself argues that this improves tone, and I’d tend to agree. The more wood at an important point of contact like a neck joint, the better. Especially for sustain! This is a topic that comes up often when discussing the merits of large traditional plate bolt-on necks vs. more shaved down designs as well.

The PRS Custom 22 used to be equipped with Dragon pickups, but now they have a pair of 58/15 pickups. These are the result of a lot of R&D on classic ‘50s-era pickup wire and Paul Reed Smith’s efforts to really dial in and control that classic sound with modern refinement. They’re really focused on clarity, and even have some lower-mids pulled out. So while these are a bit lower in output, this actually does render them rather good for modern metal (even though they obviously excel at tamer tones).

Build Quality:

PRS are one of our favorite brands that we carry. These really are an industry standard and outperform most USA production guitars, and many “boutique” luthiers as well.

The finish work in particular is stunning, and you can read more in depth about Paul Reed Smith’s process in this article we published on high end guitar features! The color is very even, and the finish does a great job of highlighting the natural grain of the top.

As always, general fit and finish is superb, with great nut filing and fretwork. The cut of rosewood for the board is amazing as well.

There’s a reason PRS (and their Private Stock guitars) are popular with collectors. Sure you can get a better guitar… for $15,000. So considering a nice Core Line PRS is 1/5 of that price, I think you’re getting some killer value on a high end instrument.

Final Verdict:

While it would be easy to write off the distinction between the PRS Custom 22 & 24 as “well, the 22 is more vintage” I don’t think it’s that simple. Lots ofoldschool players want 24 frets, lots of modern players are very concerned with their neck pickup tone, etc.

It really comes down to weighing a few key things against each other:

  • “Better” (to some people) neck pickup tone vs. two octaves per string.
  • More sustain (from the large neck heel) vs. better fret access
  • Pattern profile vs. Pattern regular profile

Personally I’d take the 22. I do strongly prefer the sound of a neck pickup in that position, and I think the tonal difference from the neck heel is noticeable (perhaps you won’t).

If stock pickups matter to you in a guitar at this price point (they don’t to me, can always swap), I do prefer the covered look, and I find the sound of the guitar really balanced with two 58/15 pickups.

You’re obviously getting top-tier Paul Reed Smith craftsmanship either way, and if we’re being honest: both guitars can work for most players unless you’re exceptionally particular. Give it a try!


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

This article was written by Kyle Karich, our editor located in Florida.

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