Manufacturer: PRS Guitars (SE)
Model: Tremonti Custom
RRP: Around $1,000 (US)
If you’re at all familiar with Paul Reed Smith Guitars, you’d be aware of their SE range of instruments. These are PRS guitars built under license by World Musical Instrument Co. (they also produce LTD and Chapman guitars), and are quite a fair bit cheaper than the US models. For example, if you were to buy a US made Tremonti, you’d be shelling out $4,000 to $5,000 at a minimum. The Tremonti SE Custom is of the higher end SE range, costing around the $800 mark (on average). PRS already produce a Tremonti SE guitar that retails for significantly less, so what makes this worth the additional cash?
First off, this is one of the few SE guitars that has a full PRS spec body thickness (usually they are substantially thinner, therefore lighter and cheaper to produce), a set neck construction, and it also has a proper tremolo system which allows you to dive down and pull up. On the visual side of things, you also get a rather nice maple veneer top and some natural body binding. The finish is also close to looking like Mark Tremonti’s favoured PRS Custom Shop guitar that he has owned for many years, and was exclusive to this guitar at the time of release. It of course includes the famous PRS bird inlays (love them or hate them), and the pickups are straight out of the 245 SE guitar. PRS include a gig bag, a tremolo bar, and some Allen keys.
This guitar, quite frankly, sounds awesome. It combines everything I love about playing Les Paul-style guitars, such as the amazing sustain and body comfort, with a slightly thinner and wider neck profile that you’d expect more from, say, a Fender instrument. With a good clean tone dialled in on my EVH 5150iii and some really light reverb, this guitar fits right in. The stock pickups tend to work really well without a lot of gain, but they do tend to cause a little bit of breakup. Once you start to crank the gain a bit, you really start to see what this guitar is about. If you’re a fan of Alter Bridge, Mark Tremonti’s solo band, or (God forbid) Creed, combining the guitar with a thick, saturated gain channel on an amp like my 5150 will get you a great sound reminiscent of those bands, as well as some more straightforward metal/hardcore kind of tones. Flipping over to the neck pickup allows for some really nice lead tones, and having independent volume and tone pots for each pickup allows you to mess around with your tone controls to really get this guitar sounding great. The pickups aren’t perfect, but they will definitely get the job done. Upgrading to some Seymour Duncans, Dimarzios, Bare Knuckles or even the USA PRS Tremonti set would be a worthwhile upgrade.
In terms of the quality, there were a couple of really minor issues. There’s a small dot in the body binding on top of the guitar, however it didn’t really bother me too much. The only other real issue that I will put down to quality is the nut. PRS SE nuts are renowned for being pretty much useless. They’re not cut particularly well and, combined with this guitar’s tremolo system, provide a few tuning stability issues, which become apparent if you even touch the bar. The lack of locking tuners could also play a part in this. A set of locking tuners and a new nut would go a long way into improving this, as would a good setup and a fret level. Personally, I haven’t upgraded to new tuners, but I’ve added a bone nut, got a setup and had a tremolo block made (I don’t use it too much), and the difference was substantial.
Overall, this is a great instrument. As I’ve mentioned above, it sounds great, feels amazing, and represents great value at under a grand. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but if you are willing to make some of the aforementioned changes, it’ll become a lot better.
Clean Tone: 7.5/10
Distorted/Overdriven Tone: 9/10
Fit and Finish: 8/10
Tuning Stability: 6/10
Modification Potential: 8/10
Bang For Buck: 8/10
Overall Playability: 9.5/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8.5/10
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