With its super thick body depth, single cutaway and short scale length, the PRS SE 245 clearly invites comparisons with the Gibson Les Paul which are hard not to mention, let alone ignore. The set-neck construction, pick-up layout and Mahogany/Maple/Rosewood combo is identical, but there are some interesting differences on the SE 245 which aim to offer the prospective buyer a credible – and cheaper – alternative to the market leader.
The SE 245 is a light and resonant guitar, with a slightly less dense tonality than a LP, while still retaining a good low-end response from the neck pick-up. It features a PRS Designed compensated ‘wrapover’ bridge/tailpiece bolted straight into the body – which increases the sustain characteristics – and a ‘straight-through’ string pull design from the bridge to machine heads for more stable tuning. Black, Scarlet Red or Tobacco Sunburst are the available finishes and the SE 245 comes complete with a PRS heavy-duty gigbag.
The guitar features a Maple top on a thick mahogany body, a Mahogany Wide Fat neck and a Rosewood fretboard with birds inlays. The red and sunburst finishes benefit from a flamed Maple veneer while the Black finish is opaque. As mentioned, the scale length is a very short 24.5” (622 mm), which allows for easier fretting of ‘stretched’ chords, effortless riffing and a painless transition for anyone crossing over from the LP world.
The SE 245 is loaded with two powerful humbuckers; a PRS designed SE 245 Treble in the bridge position and a PRS designed SE 245 Bass in the neck. These double-black units are mounted in black surrounds and give the guitar a really meaty appearance. Clean, the neck position pick-up has a lot of depth but can be a bit woolly if, for instance, the bass is loaded on the amp. However, when cranked, it exudes a bluesy warmth and classic front humbucker character. The guitar cleans up in the middle position with the volumes rolled off a tad, but hit the selector for the Treble pick-up, turn the volume back up and we get full-on rock tones, with tons of mid and treble that will easily slice through anything in its way. Further comparisons with the LP definitely fall away when it comes to the control layout, which sees the volume and tone knobs in completely different positions which again, if you’re crossing over, may well feel a bit odd at first. The thinking behind PRS’s rearrangement of the time-honoured placement of the four controls is not known but we can only guess that the reasoning must embrace some kind of logic.
The PRS SE 245 is a bit of a (nice) surprise. To some extent it’s been guilty of lurking for some time in the shadows of its more famous siblings, and should really be better known. It has a big sound, the neck is a nice handful and it sustains like demon. More than that, the guitar offers a truly serious alternative to a LP. Forget about the Korean vs. American made issue – it’s irrelevant these days – and judge the guitar on its own merits, you may be surprised yourself.