As the youngest of the big three guitar manufacturers, PRS Guitars has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1985. Known for radiant tones, playability, and lofty MSRPs, the company expanded its product line to include lower-priced models. One of the latest is the S2 Custom 24-08.
Launched in 2013, S2 guitars are made on a secondary line at the company’s factory in Stevensville, Maryland, and dressed with as many features as possible for the money.
The S2 Custom is a solidbody with a two-piece/flame-maple top, mahogany back, and set mahogany neck with Pattern Thin shape. Its 10″-radius rosewood fretboard has bird inlays, 24 medium nickel frets, 25″ scale, and measures 111/16″ wide at the nut. Other features include a PRS vibrato and Volume and Tone controls with a three-way toggle and mini-toggle coil-split switches for each pickup.
Straight out of its gig bag, our tester was light and resonant. Plugged into a combo amp, it quickly and easily dialed up textures adjacent to a Les Paul, Strat, and Tele, as well as its own sweet thing.
Switching between a Deluxe Reverb, tweed reissues, a high-gain Peavey head, and an old Marshall plexi, the S2 Custom shined in its ability to display the idiosyncrasies of each amp without burying the guitar’s personality. The pickups offered a nice bit of muscle compared to their vintage counterparts; the neck yielded proper warmth and stayed clean even turned up, while the bridge bit hard when overdriven. Splitting the coils brightened things with jangle and only a slight drop in volume. The nifty switching system allowed humbuckers and single-coils to mingle. Splitting the humbuckers and experimenting with pickup combinations yielded interesting but subtle tonal flavors, though bonafide Stratocaster sounds are just out of reach (which is a good thing as the S2 Custom marks its own sonic territory).
The guitar screamed through the amp’s distortion settings and stayed in tune even after obnoxious whammy-bar usage. Single-note Santana-ness morphed into chicken pickin’ chime when switched to brighter, tangy-er tones.
With its unique body shape and choice of colors, the PRS S2 Custom 24-08 is a super-bad shred machine worth the price tag – perfect for big rock solos, spanky cleans, or spiky rhythm parts dressed with a sinewy punch.
This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.