The affordable take on one of my highest rated guitars does not disappoint in any way, shape, or form.
Cost: $849 from PRSguitars.com, Sweetwater, or Reverb.com
Overview & Final Score: 8 out of 10
Today, January 11th, PRS Guitars and John Mayer are announcing their newest model, the SE Silver Sky. This affordable take on their beloved S-style features a Poplar body, Maple neck, and Rosewood fretboard. 22 frets sit on the 25.5″ scale length body, a more traditional length than the PRS Standard of 25″. The Silver Sky SE is powered by three 635JM “S” pickups, which are the import version of the 635JM proprietary single coils they first introduced in 2018. Four finishes are currently available; Dragon Fruit, Ever Green, Stone Blue, and Moon White. A two-point tremolo is matched to nickel hardware with PRS’s vintage-style tuners holding the strings on the other end.
PRS may have loaded the Silver Sky SE with an import version of their 635JM pickups, given an “S” designation, but they sound wonderfully similar to the proprietary USA-made pickups. Exact clones? No, but they provide a very smooth experience without any of the ice pick high frequencies as promised. And that isn’t just a tagline, even in the bridge position you can hear how smooth and focused the SE Silver Sky sounds. In the video, I think this is especially exhibited when you hear the Big Muff fuzz layered on top. Another fantastic observation is how touch sensitive this guitar is. With just the slightest boost from a BD-2, the pickups respond very differently depending on the pick attack. Slight plucks result in clean and beautiful sounds, until you dig in and are greeted with grit and sustain. The Silver Sky SE is an incredibly musical guitar, on par with its predecessor in many ways sonically.
I’ve been very impressed with the feel and performance of the SE Silver Sky since I first got it. The guitar has retained great tuning stability, only beginning to change if I really abuse that two-point trem arm. The neck is fast, smooth, and feels familiar to me as a long time Strat player. It offers no signs of major compromise, with great fretwork up and down the neck and a very smooth but minimal finish on the Maple neck. I personally prefer this, when well done as it is here, to a shinier (but thicker and slower) poly finish. PRS’s work with the Silver Sky SE checks in as well above average, and gig ready out of the box after my three weeks or so with the instrument.
Finish & Construction: 7
Of course PRS has to find some area to save money when designing an SE guitar. Aside from the obvious labor savings, I do think that the PRS SE Silver Sky is beautiful and well built, it just doesn’t have the same shine. Which is to be expected. This is not to say there is anything wrong with the SE Silver Sky, as the finish on the model I played was beautiful. But the finish options are more limited, a bit more matte in appearance, and cosmetic options will be limited compared to the original Silver Sky. However, the hardware is sturdy and the guitar is built rock solid. From fretwork to string height to comfortability, it checks a ton of boxes for me.
Another PRS SE comes across this website, and another PRS SE is highlighted as a superb value. This is a very satisfying alternative to forking over $2500 for a US PRS Silver Sky. I loved the domestic Silver Sky, and felt it was worth every penny. However, this SE Silver Sky will provide so much of what you could want, without requiring as heavy an investment. It’s gig or studio worthy as is, and is a treat to play. The most important thing a guitar can do is to be fun, which the SE Silver Sky nails with ease. For under $1000, PRS made another great guitar that will no doubt be considered a success. Despite all the flack the Silver Sky may have gotten, it has sold like crazy and held up for three years now without signs of slowing. The SE version will be a welcome addition to the market and will no doubt be favored by young players who will get their own signatures in years to come.
Good for: Stratocaster Players, Blues, Rock, Pop, John Mayer Fans On A Budget, Gigging Musicians
8 thoughts on “PRS and John Mayer Unveil The SE Silver Sky: Review & Demo”
Hey Matt, what thoughts do you have about the poplar body vs. the US Silver Sky? I am always a little wary of non-standard tone woods, having bought an Indonesian Basswood guitar that I hated in the past.
Honestly, I cannot tell a difference. I fully understand that tone woods can impact a guitar, but a well executed affordable guitar with really good pickups, electronics, and comfortable neck should not be limited by a Poplar or Basswood body. I’m delighted with the SE Silver Sky as is
Reviewing a guitar in a video and using pedals to alter the actual tone of the guitar is not helpful.
Maybe you didn’t wait long enough into the video to hear the clean tones! Either way, I showcased how would I use the guitar, not how I expect you to