This is a guest post by Cailyn Lloyd.
PRS Custom 24 Review
As guitars go, the Custom 24 is virtually perfect. This guitar, introduced in 1985, is Paul Reed Smith’s signature guitar now available in a 30th anniversary model that does not differ much from the original. The only problem with the Custom 24 is the price tag, which for most players represents a major investment or is simply out of reach. However, if you are serious about your craft, your tone, your sound, a guitar like the Custom 24 is an essential element of your gear line-up. If your budget is limited, the good news is that PRS has now made the Custom 24 available in their SE series. I haven’t played one but the reviews online are very positive and emphasize this is not a cheap Korean guitar and that no shortcuts have been taken in production.
The Custom 24 as the name implies is a 24 fret model spanning two full octaves (they also make a Custom 22). The neck comes in two shapes, pattern thin and pattern regular and the difference between the two is something you really must feel with the guitar in hand. (I really don’t know how people buy guitars online!) I play a pattern thin, which fits my hand size perfectly and is very conducive to faster play and shredding. For rough comparison, the pattern thin is narrower than a Les Paul but a shade thicker than a R-series Ibanez.
The Custom 24 comes with a choice of pickups, either the classic HFS bridge/Vintage bass pickups or the 59/09 pickups. There are single volume and tone controls and a five-way blade switch that allows the following configurations: bridge humbucker, bridge humbucker with neck singlecoil (in parallel), bridge and neck humbuckers, neck singlecoil with bridge singlecoil (in parallel), neck humbucker. I like all of the positions but gravitate often to the bridge humbucker for the hot fat tone the HFS pickup puts out. One of the great features of this guitar is the ability to dial the volume down a notch or two and still have the bite of full volume. On the other hand, I’ve seen some reviews that compare the neck singlecoil to a strat and while they sound similar, I wouldn’t call it a strat sound. For that tone, I have a maple neck strat! Just a note, the Custom 24s built prior to 2011 have a 5-way rotary switch not a blade switch–probably the only design flaw in the earlier models–I find it awkward to use on stage.
The guitar is fitted with a single piece bridge and whammy bar (with a simple handle that can be inserted or removed in seconds) that is very functional and unremarkable except that it works very well. The bridge is also fitted with multiple fine tuning elements to adjust string height and intonation.
Besides the stunning craftsmanship, there is another brilliant feature exclusive to Paul Reed Smith guitars and that is the “locking tuner” machine heads. Changing strings with these tuners is a two minute breeze, not ten minutes of tedium. You pull a string through the post, tighten the set screw and tune the guitar. Slippage is zero and the tuning is very stable once the strings have stretched. String breakage with this guitar is exceptionally low, even with rough live play.
Nothing is spared in wood, color, and finish–this guitar is beautiful to behold. Without fear of exaggeration, the Custom 24 is really the best factory-made guitar in the world, in looks, in sound, in playability. This has been my go-to guitar for ten years and I do not see that changing. Hope this PRS Custom 24 review is useful to you!
View the PRS Custom 24 on Musician’s Friend.