An affordable version of Paul Reed Smith’s innovative flattop acoustic design.
by Teja Gerken
March 14, 2016
Paul Reed Smith (PRS) guitars made a splash in the acoustic guitar market when it introduced its line of innovative, high-end, Maryland-built flattops in 2009, attracting an impressive roster of endorsers (including Peghead Nation’s Celtic Guitar instructor Tony McManus, who demonstrates his PRS Private Stock Signature Model here). PRS also has a more-affordable line of acoustics with similar designs (which it manufacturers in Korea), and we recently had the chance to check out the SE A30E, which was introduced earlier this year.
The SE A30E uses PRS’s Angelus Cutaway body shape, a midsize design that measures 15.5 inches across the lower bout. The guitar has a solid Sitka spruce top and laminated Indian rosewood back and sides. The most distinctive aspect of PRS’s acoustic design is its top bracing, which combines a typical X pattern with a fan-bracing pattern similar to a Torres-style classical guitar in the area behind the bridge. With its trademark bird inlay in the fingerboard and headstock shape, the SE A30E is immediately recognizable as a PRS, and the PRS electronics package, consisting of an undersaddle pickup, internal preamp, and unobtrusive, soundhole-mounted controls for volume and tone is standard equipment.
We found the SE A30E to have excellent playability, and appreciated the guitar’s fingerstyle-friendly string spacing. It had a relatively bright acoustic voice with nice tonal balance, and the guitar’s pickup amplified those qualities well when we plugged it into a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp.
SPECS: Angelus Cutaway body. Solid Sitka spruce top. Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.35-inch scale. 1²¹/₃₂-inch nut width. 2³/₁₆-inch string spacing at saddle. Enclosed tuning machines. PRS Undersaddle Volume and Tone electronics. Made in Korea. $829 street. prsguitars.com
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