It’s taken PRS almost 30 years to generate a seven-string guitar, but they’ve done it – and what’s more, it’s part of the affordable SE series we love. Review by Hayden Hewitt
Description: Solidbody seven-string twin humbucking guitar. Made in Korea
Contact: PRS Guitars Europe – (44) 1223 874 301 – firstname.lastname@example.org
PRS guitars have, as we all know, been a dominant force in higher end guitars for more than a short while now. The Maryland powerhouse has crafted instruments ranging from ‘a bit pricey’ through to a ‘Oh my God, I thought I’d get more than that for a kidney, how much for a spleen’ kind of expensive. Alongside their mouthwatering USA-made instruments they have their Korean-built SE guitars which were certainly a game changer upon their launch and continue to represent a taste of PRS at a slightly more attainable price.
It’s into this range PRS have dropped their first-ever production seven-string.
The Custom 24 7-String unsurprisingly, appears very familiar. Looking for all the world like a slightly chubby six-string Custom model. PRS have done really rather well in preventing anything looking too out of balance with the addition of that extra string. If anything the wider board actually seems to suit the body shape convincingly and even the iconic headstock hasn’t been altered to the point it draws your eye in a bad way. But we’d expect that from the folks at Maryland given their legendary attention to detail.
The body is mahogany with a maple top which then has a flamed maple veneer placed over the top, giving you something very pretty to look at without risking a nasty letter from your credit card company. Some may find such frippery unnecessary but the fact is that if you’re after a PRS there’s a very good chance you’ll be wanting a little eye candy, and a veneer is the only way to make this happen. As with the rest of the SE Custom range you don’t get an arched carved top here, but the contouring is deep and attractive, giving at least some three-dimensional aspect and avoiding proceedings getting altogether too slab-like.
Interestingly, the neck follows the PRS standard 25″ scale – there aren’t many seven-strings out there with a less-than-Fender scale – and features the rosewood with bird inlays you’d expect, but there is a deviance from the standard recipe here with the neck wood being maple rather than mahogany. The neck carve is of the wide/thin variety and we have to give kudos to PRS here because the Custom 7 is one of the least intrusive necks we’ve tried, if you’re the sort of person who plays six-string necks more often.
Up on the headstock you will find some PRS-designed tuners and this is the one thing we’d gladly trade up for the US locking style, even at a small price increase. It’s not that the SE tuners are terrible, far from it – they just don’t exude the same sort of quality as the rest of the guitar, which is a real shame. Bridge-wise we have to forgo a vibrato bridge for a string-through model. Again, most folks might love this, but we do like a vibrato option on a seven-string.
As ever, the build quality of the SE range doesn’t fail to deliver. Since they first arrived they’ve offered up a normally faultless build and feel for the price, and the Custom is definitely no exception. And this time there’s not really any of that ‘settled for second best’ feel because you couldn’t quite stretch to the US version, because there simply isn’t one. Win win.
If really tight, brutal, djent-style riffage is your bag then the supplied pickups might not really give you what you’re looking for. Piling on the gain sees the bridge and, to a greater extent, the neck pickup losing quite a bit of clarity. Think grunge, then, rather than pinpoint precision. Choosing a clean setting presents some genuinely toothsome sounds, however. From funky little licks (particularly with the coil tap engaged) through to deep jazz tones – especially when you bring the low B into play to extend your chords – it all makes perfect sense. Dialing in a more hard rock tone suits this guitar too, and it handles itself with distinction with crisp chords and lush neck pickup noodlings.
Overdriven tones with the coil tap engaged also come across really well and that low B, with a decent crunch, adds a massive dimension to what might otherwise sound pretty standard. The SE Vintage Bass in the neck does deserve a little more attention here as well as it manages to retain quite a bit of ‘wood’ when you’re thumping around the lower end of the neck but still allows for plummy, fluid tones when you get adventurous.
So while you can’t get that super-tight, detuned tone going on, the Custom 7 is still capable of making some aggressive noises with aplomb. It’s all just a little more sledgehammer than scalpel, which is certainly no bad thing, and it sets the Custom 7 apart from where many other extended range guitars appear to be heading.
Overall this PRS seven-string delivers almost exactly what you’d expect –excellent build quality, that honed PRS feel ensuring nothing is rude or out of place, and it genuinely looks the part. As ever, though, there could be a fly in the ointment. For some players the lack of a super-tight output from the guitar might not be an issue, but those amongst you who are dedicated internetists (that’s the scientific term) might have noticed that not many of the people clamouring for a PRS seven-string over the years appear to be the sort of folks who enjoy music of the more brutal variety.
As was mentioned earlier this guitar can certainly present a fair amount of aggro but to our ears that isn’t where its strengths shine, given the pickups and the lack of an extended scale length. The Custom 7 displays an impressive versatility and is best suited to the player who wants that extra string because of the options it offers, rather than someone seeking a drop G tuned percussive beast for their technical death metal outfit.