PRS Santana SE ll

sammysabersammysaber Frets: 688
edited July 2020 in Guitar Reviews

Hi folks,

First post here though have been a long time lurker and just to give a quick bio I'm now in the 50's club - first started playing around 15 in the mid 80's and have been playing on and off since (work, more work, wife, etc.).

Between then and now have gone through quite a lot of guitars such as Ibanez Roadstar, Ibanez  Destroyer, PRS CE, Les Paul Studios, Alex Lifeson Axcess, Japanese Les Pauls, Charvel Fusion Custom, Peavey USA Wolfgangs, Gibson V, 60's Gibson SG,  Antoria Strat, Pacifica, G&L US Tele, various Fender & Squier Strats, Kramer Barettas, and a few others.

Despite all the above guitars, needless to say I am still a crap guitarist.

So we went to lock down and realised I had some time to play and learn some music, and as my only remaining electric at the time was stored at my mom's which required social distancing procedures, decided to pick up a cheap electric. I saw a PRS SE Santana on ebay in good condition and bid just over £200 and here we are a month or two later.

I bid on it because it was a classy looking understated PRS SE rather than me being a Santana fanboy, which is just as well as to my eye it looks nothing like the guitars that I'd seen Santana actually play. 

It is actually an SE ll, which is very similiar to the original SE with some very small changes such as neck binding, a pick guard, open coil pick ups, and a bit of contouring. This guitar was advertised as an SE, and I only found out it was an SE ll when doing some research to write this review. 

Body is still mahagony (thankfully light), the neck is 22 frets on a rosewood neck with a 10" radius (with "Santana Wide Fat" shape , 25" scale from what I can best decipher - there is some confusion here due to cross references between the next generation SEs and the US Santana models, with different combinations of 22 or 24 frets, 24.5" scale, and 10 or 11.5" radii depending on the model. The SE and SEll have pearloid  inlays, so any bird people will need to get later versions lol.

We've got a tone and a volume knob, along with a 3 way selector switch for the two humbuckers. Mine comes with a tremolo, but a hard tail version was also available. The tuners are non locking.

The following is my brief and very subjective review :

Tone and sounds : Surprisingly beefy and clear for a low budget guitar with stock pick ups. A tiny fiddle with the volume and tone control will work wonders.

General feel and vibe : Feels extremely solid and very well put together. In terms of quality, definitely punches well above its weight. Very impressed indeed. In terms of vibe, it doesn't do much for me - I pick it up to play or learn rather than it having that X Factor which makes you want to pick up a particular guitar and play just for the fun of it.

Playability : Very easy to get used to, super comfortable,  easy to set up with good action, no dead notes - from metal to strumming chords, all easy to play. This is a 22 fret model only (which I personally prefer) but some will want or need a 24 fret guitar for their purposes.

Special mention to : What a great multi strapped well padded gig bag with large spaces for storing cables and accessories.

Negatives : I don't use the trem much but with these non locking tuners, I would not be surprised if heavy trem use would affect the tuning  - fine in normal use though.Only other negative from my point of view is playing barre chords with a sliding finger between the 10th and 12th frets - I really feel I'm going over the frets when sliding on the top 3 strings - almost a case of a Spinal Tapish  "Too much Fret". Having said that, users with stronger fingers will probably not even notice this. Also the looks may not appeal to some.

Conclusion : Amazing guitar for the money. Feels like a proper guitar. If given one, you would have no excuse not to play music well on it. With this and various other SE models hovering between £200-300, I really cannot recommend these guitars highly enough for the price. 

Best,
Sammy
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