By Art Thompson
There’s no arguing that PRS makes superb guitars, but the high cost of these beauts has traditionally kept them well out of reach of younger players. Heck, even a PRS signature model such as the Tremonti—which is clearly aimed at young dudes— goes for a staggering $3,400! A few years ago, however, PRS launched its Korean-made SE series with the blessing of Carlos Santana. These guitars offer many of the endearing aspects of high-end PRSs, but are priced hundreds—oops, make that thousands—of dollars less. The SE line has moved into signature territory once again with the introduction of the Tremonti SE ($598 retail/$499 street), and now a lot more Creed-lovin’ kids might soon be rocking out with PRS guitars.
Construction Like its big brother, the Tremonti SE features all-mahogany construction and a set neck. The top is mildly arched, and the back and cutaway are contoured. The glossy black finish (platinum is also available) is mirror smooth, and the nicely rendered binding accents the appearance without looking overly glitzy. The control cavity is shielded on one surface with nickel paint, and the wire routing and soldering are neat.
The 22 medium-jumbo frets are lightly polished and carefully crowned and seated. Their smooth, tapered ends are set snugly into the binding, and, while some slight length inconsistencies were noticed, the fret leveling was quite respectable. The chunky nut could have been set a little more neatly—and its sharp corners removed—but you can’t fault the Tremonti SE’s setup, which provides for low, buzz-free action in all positions. Despite its cast-aluminum bridge/tailpiece (which has two end screws for intonation), the Tremonti SE sounded in tune and displayed surprisingly consistent readings when comparing the open strings to their 12th-fret counterparts using a Sabine MT9000 tuner.
Playability and Tones The lightweight Tremonti SE has an excellent neck that’s nice and wide and almost vintage-Gibson thick. It feels great in your hands, and it offers consistently superb playability right up to the end of the fretboard. Tested through a mid-’70s Marshall half-stack, the Tremonti SE kicked out thick, meaty distortion tones that were balanced in the bass and mids, and not at all too high-endy. The treble rolls off slightly when you turn down the volume, and the tone controls are well voiced to provide increasingly creamier shades. Even when they’re turned to zero, the sound is more “womany” than muddy.
Plugged into a Fender Vibro-King, the Tremonti SE assumed a bluesy attitude, delivering bright, fat tones on the bridge pickup and lots of upper-midrange bite. The dual-pickup setting yielded a cool spectrum of rhythm and lead tones (thanks to the two volume controls), and the neck pickup sounded warm and articulate. Through a Matchless Chieftain combo, the Tremonti SE kicked out massive grind with shimmering highs and deep, thick bottom. The guitar’s lively resonance allows for great feedback at even modest volumes, yet you can stick the Korean-made, PRS-designed pickups right up to a cranked speaker without hearing any nasty squeals.
End Zone I think it would be difficult to find a guitarist who couldn’t appreciate what the Tremonti SE has to offer. This is an insanely fun guitar to play, it looks sharp, and it can field anything from mammoth modern-rock tones to low-down bluesy grind. The term “budget guitar” hardly comes to mind when you strap this thing on. Though it might be interesting to pit the U.S. and Korean versions against each other, the Tremonti SE would likely stand its ground as a professional ax that just happens to be a hellacious bargain.
Cloud Microphones Releases The Cloudlifter Zi Vari-Z Instrument DI
Watch Metallica Perform “One” with Lang Lang Live in Beijing
Ashdown Releases Funk Face – Stuart Zender Signature Twin Dynamic Filter Pedal
TASCAM Announces Additions to Professional Rackmount Line
NAMM 2017 Highlights From Tracktion Corp
Cloud Microphones Unveils Cloudlifter Zi Vari-Z Instrument DI and Mic Activator
Top Keyboard Gear Picks for NAMM 2017, Day 2
Sennheiser Launches New Frequency Variants for Evolution Wireless 300 and 500 Series Microphone Systems
Ibanez Celebrates the JEM with 30th Anniversary Model
Watch Nita Straussâ€™ Shred in New Video for â€œPandemoniumâ€
Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 10 Greatest Guitar Moments
Hellyeah Premiere New Music Video, "Love Falls"
Thy Art Is Murder Announce the Return of Vocalist C.J. McMahon, Premiere New Single, "No Absolution"
Falling In Reverse Premiere New Song, "Loser," Announce New Album Details
NAMM 2017: Jackson Guitars Releases New Dinky Models
NAMM 2017: Taylor Guitars Unveils Academy Series and 800 Deluxe Series
NAMM 2017: EVH Announces New EVH Striped Series 5150 Guitar Based on the Original
Copyright ©2017 by NewBay Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 28 East 28th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY 10016 T (212) 378-0400 F (212) 378-0470