The S2 series by PRS was introduced in 2013. Some of these guitars were more inexpensive versions of their core line, and some were wild departures. The PRS S2 Vela definitely fits into the latter category. However, all S2s are built in the same factory as core line PRS guitars to high quality standards.

Maybe you like weird shapes. Maybe you like 22 frets. Maybe you just like PRS. This seems like it’s up your alley, but is it a good guitar? Read more to find out!


The S2 Vela I checked out for this review featured:

  • Mahogany Body w/ Carved Top
  • Transparent McCarty Tobacco Sunburst
  • Rosewood Fretboard with PRS Bird Inlays
  • Set Mahogany Pattern Regular Neck
  • Nickel Hardware
  • 25” Scale Length with 22 Frets
  • PRS S2 Locking Tuners
  • PRS Plate-Style Bridge
  • PRS S2 Starla Humbucker & Type-D Singlecoil
  • 3 Way Toggle
  • 1 Vol & 1 Push/Pull Tone

Unlike some other S2 models, the Vela is a bit of a radical departure on many fronts. It’s interesting how a lot of small changes can add up to a guitar that feels very different.

The bridge is very interesting, because it’s essentially a more flexible vintage Telecaster bridge, minus the large plate. It does use brass barrel saddles, and this does contribute greatly to the vintage tone of the instrument. It allows for better intonation adjustment than a classic tele 3-saddle bridge.

It would be easy to just say this feels like a PRS Telecaster, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. The carve is very comfortable, and the offset body feels very balanced.

Pattern Regular is a modern take on the classic PRS profile, and the locking tuners are a nice addition.


PRS are famous for being tonally versatile, but are generally rooted in traditional thick, short scale mahogany tone, albeit much more refined. The PRS S2 Vela is a departure from that in some ways, primarily due to the voicing of the pickups and the electronics layout.

The tone is honestly very bell-like in all positions, even the humbuckers. It’s a guitar that jumps out at you. The neck single is one of PRS’s recent developments, and it sounds like a very wide take on a normal strat pickup, almost in the direction of a classic mini humbucker. This stratty nature is obviously augmented by the 22 fret design.

My honest recommendation with this guitar is to not force it to be anything it’s not. If you embrace the piano-esque nature, you will find beautiful unique tones for all genres, but it’s not going to do full on extreme metal. I lost myself for hours playing wet shoegaze-y melodies and (poor attempts at) classic jazz.

Build Quality:

Every time I play an S2 I’m pleasantly surprised. It just feels like more corners have to be cut somewhere to get the guitars in at this pricepoint… but they aren’t! The frets especially are fantastic, and I really like all the cuts of wood on the instrument.

The instrument really feels great from the factory, and lacks flaws common on “boutique” guitars 3-4 times the price. While it obviously lacks the highest end PRS hardware and electronics, the fit and finish is fantastic.

Especially due to the lack of figured tops (PRS uses higher quality ones on core lines than S2s, like the CU24 S2), you can’t even look at this and readily tell, “Oh, that’s a cheaper PRS.” It’s more of an “Oh my god please I need to play this right now why hasn’t PRS been doing this for years.”

Final Verdict:

The PRS S2 Vela is more than just an American-made PRS, it’s a really unique guitar that definitely appeals to those with non-traditional tastes. It’s honestly just a blast to play.

The overall tone of the guitar is honestly just spanky, and it has a wonderful sparkly chime that is great for blues and alternative styles. I could play post rock on this all day.

There are better options for both all out metal guitars and archetypal PRS tone, but what the Vela is is a wonderful American-quality instrument that just wants to be itself.

P.S. It’s also available with birds and I 10000% want to order one right now.

This is a guitar for someone who likes musical tone and alternative aesthetics rooted in classic feel.  If you’re curious about what we think of some other PRS models, you can read more of our reviews here.


Do you want a PRS S2?  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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