The S2 Custom 24-08 carries forth the legacy of the Custom 24, delivering a similar level of performance, and then some.
Excellent playability and tones
Quiet single-coil operation
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Evolution is the name of the game at PRS, so it’s not surprising that the new-for-’22 S2 Custom 24-08 (which is an advancement on the previous S2 Custom 24) carries things forward with a switching system that puts a range of tones intuitively at your fingertips.
The model on review here is a beautiful electric guitar with its Lake Blue finish, an iridescent-blue color that showcases the figuring of the maple like you’re seeing it through the waters of a pristine tropical reef.
The blue-planet theme is continued on the back, neck and headstock, and cool as this package is, if that’s not exactly what you’re looking for, you can choose from five other sumptuous shades.
Hardware consists of a PRS Patented Gen III Tremolo bridge with a push-in bar, a pair of 85/15 S uncovered humbuckers with a complement of volume and tone controls featuring easy-grip fluted knobs, a three-way selector and a pair of mini-toggle switches for activating the pickups in coil-split mode.
The Pattern Thin neck on our review model is set into the body and features a rounded heel that, along with the contoured lower cutaway, makes it easy to grab notes as high up the neck as you want.
The rosewood fingerboard has 24 well-finished frets, and the chunky synthetic nut is smooth on the edges and provides straight string-pull to the Low Mass tuners, each of which has a thumbscrew to lock the strings and prevent any slippage. (The thumbscrews aren’t “captured,” but an extra is included in case you lose one.)
The factory setup was excellent, providing low action with no fret buzz, along with sweet intonation in all positions. The trem is adjusted to float, and pitch up and down maneuvers felt very silky, while tuning remained stable throughout.
Perhaps because the bridge doesn’t rest on the body, you can hear a little more natural “reverb” coming from the springs, which seems to enhance the acoustic airiness of this guitar and makes it enjoyable to play unplugged.
Tested with a Fender Deluxe Reverb and a Line 6 Catalyst 100 1x12 combo, the S2 Custom 24-08 delivered balanced tones in all settings.
The 85/15 S pickups don’t present exaggerated midrange or bass frequencies, and they stay very smooth on the top, even when digging in on the bridge setting.
Activating the single-coil mode on the rear pickup reduces output a bit and brightens the response, but without causing spikiness or requiring undue attention to the amp EQ.
The noise is nil in split-coil mode too, which is another benefit of the 85/15 S design.
Using the mini-toggles to select split-coil on the neck pickup and full humbucker on the bridge yielded tones that cover everything from crisp, funky cleans to ballsy dirty-rhythm tones when driving a tube amp that’s on the cusp of breakup, and a flick of the switch yields smooth, singing leads as you floor the rear pickup into a high-gain input, in this case the drive channel on the Catalyst.
By itself, the neck pickup’s rich sound proves to be spot-on for clean jazz guitar sounds, and it’s the bomb for blues guitar, delivering touch-responsive grind in humbucking mode when hitting the Deluxe Reverb with its volume at around five or so, and becoming more aggressive and wailing when played through an OD pedal with the gain set on the low side and the volume cranked to give the amp more overdrive muscle.
Paul Smith changed the game in 1985 by creating the Custom 24, which introduced players to a sleek, offset double-cutaway axe that improved on just about everything, and looked terrific to boot.
The S2 Custom 24-08 carries forth the legacy, delivering a similar level of performance, and then some, in a U.S.-made guitar at a price that puts it within reach of those who play for a living. It earns an Editors’ Pick Award for doing so.
- NUT WIDTH: 1 11/16”
- NECK: Mahogany with Pattern Thin profile
- FRETBOARD: Rosewood, 25”-scale, 10” radius. Birds inlays
- FRETS: 24 medium jumbo
- TUNERS: PRS Low Mass locking
- BODY: Mahogany with beveled, book-matched figured-maple top
- BRIDGE: PRS Patented Tremolo, Molded
- PICKUPS: PRS 85/15 S humbuckers
- CONTROLS: Volume, tone three-way selector. Two mini-toggle coil-tap switches
- FACTORY STRINGS: PRS Signature .010-.046
- WEIGHT: 7.4 lbs (as tested)
- BUILT: USA
For more information head on over to the PRS Guitars website.
Art Thompson is Senior Editor of Guitar Player magazine. He has authored stories with numerous guitar greats including B.B. King, Prince and Scotty Moore and interviewed gear innovators such as Paul Reed Smith, Randall Smith and Gary Kramer. He also wrote the first book on vintage effects pedals, Stompbox. Art's busy performance schedule with three stylistically diverse groups provides ample opportunity to test-drive new guitars, amps and effects, many of which are featured in the pages of GP.