PRS does it again with this brand new, just announced addition to their affordable lineup!
Cost: $1549.00 new, find out more on PRSguitars.com!
Check out my latest “guitar review in 60 seconds” episode for Ultimate-Guitar.com!
Overview & Final Score: 8.9/10
PRS took one of my top 10 favorite guitars released in 2019 and made it even better for 2020. Just announced by PRS this month, meet the SE Hollowbody II Piezo. This takes their beloved affordable line hollowbody II and adds a PRS and LR Baggs co-designed piezo underneath that wrap around bridge. This brand new SE Hollowbody II Piezo features 5-ply Laminated Maple top and back with Mahogany sides. On top of that Maple sits a Figured Maple veneer, mine came in this stunning Peacock Blue Burst finish.
The Mahogany neck is covered by an Ebony fretboard with their “Old School” bird inlays. This guitar features a 25″ scale length, 22 frets, and wide, fat neck profile that feels really solid and inviting. Nickel hardware includes the adjustable stop tail Piezo and PRS’s designed tuners. PRS 58/15 “S” humbucker grace the front of the guitar and are controlled by a 3-way selector switch and volume and tone pot. The SE Hollowbody II Piezo also features 2 input jacks, one for the magnetic pickups mentioned above labelled “mag”, and one that is labeled “mix/piezo”. That second input lets you blend in the piezo pickup using the third control knob, letting you go from full electric to full piezo, and everything in between both.
True to its SE Hollowbody II base, this Piezo version did not disappoint. While it is still on the pricey side, this guitar brings PRS custom shop feel and tone down to a much more appetizing price. The two humbuckers can go from a quiet growl to searing leads with ease, and the tones compliment the fast neck well, as this isn’t a shredder’s guitar and is better suited for blues, jazz, pop, and classic rock riffs. Chords ring out beautifully, and while it isn’t the most crystal clear when overdriven, it has an awesome “space-filling” quality that lets it go from rhythm to lead with ease. The neck pickup is particularly fun to play with a slide, while the bridge has more punch and sparkle that cuts right through the mix.
If the electric tones are everything you could want in a classic PRS guitar, the piezo is the icing on the cake. I don’t have too much experience with piezo pickups but the SE Hollowbody II Piezo quickly won me over with its snappy, articulate tones. It sounded like all kinds of acoustic tones I’d ever want to use on stage, and I love that this guitar does the job of two. Especially with that piezo volume control knob, you can go from electric to acoustic in the same song by just rolling off the volume. As you’ll hear in the UG shot, it has a crystal clean clear tone with that piezo that should leave little doubt about the utility of this guitar. Click the instagram video below for a sound demo!
The neck on this SE Hollowbody II Piezo model is thick but extremely comfortable. Maybe it felt bigger because I reviewed the Sabre’s ultra-slim neck at the same time, but I personally much preferred the feel of this PRS. The guitar had an amazing, worn-in feel, without any signs of distress or wear on the neck. The tuning stability was also excellent, even without locking tuners. The PRS SE Hollowbody II Piezo is no doubt a player’s guitar, and would make an excellent live instrument thanks to the comfort, versatility, and tuning stability.
Finish & Construction 8.5
The Peacock Blue Burst finish was gorgeous, and I was incredibly impressed when I opened the case, not knowing what I was being sent on loan. I noticed a few, very small spots in the finish around the f-holes, but couldn’t find any other flaw on this guitar. The feel, tuning stability, and sound quality was nuts, it’s really a very well made guitar top to bottom. One of the things that most impressed me most about this SE Hollowbody II Piezo was just how nice it felt to play. It is a guitar that in a lot of ways is better than the sum of all parts, what I mean is that if you didn’t look at the price tag, you might confuse this for a USA-made custom shop PRS.
While I think some may be correct in pointing out that $1500+ is a lot for a foreign made guitar, this PRS simply has the quality of a USA-made guitar. It’s an amazing guitar that’s very versatile, especially if you’re the type of player who uses both acoustic and electric tones live. As someone who prefers Strats and Teles, the feel and sound that came out of this PRS had me convinced this could have been my new main guitar. While Gibson/Fender may always have the legacy, there is no doubt that PRS is at the forefront of improving guitar engineering and design. This SE Hollowbody II Piezo is a testament to that idea, and I think it is genuinely worth every penny.
Good for: Gigging Players Who Use Both Electric and Acoustic Guitars, ES-335 Fans, Classic Rock, Pop