The PRS Custom has been the flagship instrument of the Paul Reed Smith company since the 1980’s. The guitar’s price point approximately averages between $2000-$3000. Obviously, this isn’t a price point that every guitarist can manage. The wonderful people at Paul Reed Smith created the PRS SE Custom 22 (and 24) to bring the PRS Custom look and feel to the hands of guitarists on a tighter budget. (We actually did a review on the 24-fret “Floyd” model a while back!)

At the comfortable price point of $749, does the PRS SE Custom 22 hold up to the PRS name?

Let’s find out!


-Mahogany Body-Maple Top w/ Flamed Maple Veneer

-Vintage Sunburst/Whale Blue Finish

-22 Frets

-25” Scale Wide Thin neck

-Mahogany Neck

-Rosewood Fretboard

-1xVolume, 1xTone with 3-Way Toggle Pickup Switch

-PRS Bird Inlays

-PRS Designed Stoptail Bridge

-PRS Tone Furnace Pickups

-Nickel Hardware

While the guitar isn’t exactly a 10-Top Private Stock PRS, the look of the SE is very true to the classic PRS Custom 22 aesthetic. The fretboard features the famous bird inlays, and the flamed maple veneer top has some nice overall figuring.

It’s worth noting that even though this guitar is crafted by World Musical Instruments in South Korea, the PRS SE models still must pass PRS American quality-control checks before being shipped out. Also, I should mention that when it comes to factory model quality control for guitars such as these, PRS is second to none.


Unlike the 24 fret counterpart, the SE Custom 22 features a mahogany neck. While it doesn’t offer the same stability as maple, the mahogany neck paired with a mahogany body brings a warm, mellow sound with a greater presence in the mids.

The SE’s “Tone Furnace” pups are unique and fairly responsive. They have excellent attack and great highs to help balance the mahogany wood. The medium output deliver a satisfying “crunchy” tone that contains a nice thick mid-range and handles the realm of classic rock quite well.

With that being said, in terms of versatility, the pickups do fall short of the higher end PRS by a great deal. Although the medium output humbucker does shine when playing in the realm of classic rock, it falls short when playing metal or jazz styles. Playing single note parts such as leads tend to sound a bit thin, which can mostly be fixed with a nice boost in front, and cleaner parts are missing some of the depth and resonance that make the USA Custom models so praised.

(If you’re looking for a metal tone, maybe check out the PRS Holcomb SE!)

Build Quality

Something that separates PRS Korean models with a lot of other outsourced models is the quality of the top wood. Instead of just throwing a veneer on, PRS actually uses a thick piece of maple as a top and then adds a flamed maple veneer to that. It’s nice to see that even on their cheaper instruments that they don’t cheap out.

The electronics are put together quite well. No cold solder joints, fairly clean wiring, and the pots functioned well without any noise.

The frets were outstanding, as expected with PRS quality control. Maybe a few small scratches, but no sharp ends or dings to be found.

Overall, the SE is by far one of the best made Korean guitars I’ve touched. PRS does a standup job making sure these go out with flaws.

Final Verdict

The PRS SE Custom 22 manages to deliver the feel and look of a high-end PRS guitar at an affordable price.

The guitar is very comfortable to hold and the neck will feel at home in the hands of modern or classic players.

Although it sounds great for a crunch tone, I would probably suggest a pickup swap if you’re looking to use this guitar for metal or cleaner sounds.

(If you need help picking out some pickups, we have a sweet article on Alnico vs. Ceramic to get you started! Or if you just want to contact us for some more personalized help, check out our Seymour Duncan Custom Order option and we can help find the right pickup for you!)

All in all, at $749, the PRS SE Custom 22 is a killer guitar for the price.


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This article was written by Zac Buras, our editor located in Louisiana.

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