The PRS S2 Custom 24 is a stunning electric guitar that has captured the hearts of many guitarists since its release in 2013.
Designed and built by the legendary guitar manufacturer Paul Reed Smith, the S2 Custom 24 offers an American-made instrument at a more affordable price point, while still maintaining the craftsmanship and quality that PRS is known for.
In this article, we’ll dive into the different aspects of the S2 Custom 24, including its build quality, playability, sound, and overall value, to help you determine whether this guitar is the right fit for your needs.
Whether you’re a professional guitarist or a beginner, the PRS S2 Custom 24 has a lot to offer, so let’s take a closer look at what makes this guitar so special.
About The PRS S2 Line
S2 guitars are made in PRS’s Maryland factory. While more reliant on production line construction, they are high-performance instruments. S2s are the cheapest route to owning a genuine USA-made PRS.
Originally, the S2 range comprised only two brand new designs, the Mira and Starla. The latest addition is the Custom 24, which bears striking resemblance to their flagship model.
All the S2 guitars feature the familiar PRS quality. They have a more basic design but with all the PRS signature features.
Check out our full guide on the Best PRS Guitars
PRS S2 Custom 24 Highlights:
With its Custom 24 like classic shape and a tone for every genre, the PRS S2 Custom 24 is a superb guitar. There’s a wealth of features that make it an excellent guitar, but it’s not perfect. Here are various pros and cons of the S2 Custom 24.
What We Liked
- Playability. Built at PRS’s Maryland facility, the S2 Custom 24 has the playability you’d expect of a US-made PRS.
- Tone. The S2 Custom 24 has coil-splitting options. There’s a variety of tones available, and whatever pickup configuration you use, the sound is high quality.
- Looks. The S2 Custom 24 is every bit a PRS with its timeless shape and signature bird inlays. It doesn’t have the bling of more upscale models, but many guitarists love the back to basics body.
What We Didn’t Like
- The pickups are clear and articulate. For most, this tonal character is a huge positive, but for beginners, it’s an unforgiving instrument. You won’t be able to hide missed notes on the PRS S2 Custom 24.
- The body on the S2 Custom 24 has basic bevels. Sanded by hand, more expensive PRS Core guitars have more body contours.
- PRS hasn’t leveled the plastic coverings on the back of the body. Not plush to the wood like on Core models, they stick out, so this can cause discomfort.
PRS S2 Custom 24 Review: Features & Specifications
- The PRS 85/15 “S” pickups deliver pure clarity with plenty of tonal variety.
- Pattern Regular neck carve on the mahogany neck. Based on the original PRS neck design in the late 80s.
- PRS S2 locking tuners for added tuning stability.
- Iconic Custom 24 body shape with the PRS signature bird inlays.
PRS S2 Custom 24 Review: Our Insights
Now you’ve established that the PRS S2 Custom is a great guitar but what else is there to know? Let’s dive deeper into everything from materials, sound, value, and more.
Materials and Build Quality
The S2 Custom 24 is an American-made guitar built in PRS’s Maryland facility. So you can expect the build quality to be top drawer.
Hardware aside, all the materials come from the USA. The mahogany body has a carved figured maple veneer placed on top. Sourced, treated, and cut with care, these woods offer an excellent foundation for tone and durability.
The mahogany neck is durable to touch and the set neck shows signs of top workmanship with its sturdy connection.
With a more leveled body than premium PRS guitars, it has a more production line feel. More expensive PRS guitars are meticulous when sculpting the contours, but the S2 is more basic.
The plastic covers that protect the electronics aren’t set into the body. Again, more expensive guitars have the plastic covering plush with the body.
Besides these few discrepancies, the S2 Custom 24 has a solid build quality. The tonewoods are of great stock and constructed in superb PRS fashion.
Hardware and Electronics
Although the most affordable American-made PRS, the S2 Series is home to some top PRS-designed hardware.
Some S2 Series guitars have a hardtail bridge, this is American-made. The S2 Custom 24 has a tremolo system bridge, which is a product of Korea.
This PRS Patented Tremolo withstands heavy whammy bar use. If you’re a guitar player who doesn’t like or use a whammy, it’s easy to unscrew.
If you do use the whammy, the PRS locking tuners will keep the S2 Custom 24 in tune. It’s simple, screw the top of the tuning pegs to keep strings locked in and stable. Regardless of whammy use or not, you can expect an in-tune guitar even with heavy strumming or big string bends.
The inner electronics are a product of China. But there’s little to complain about, the soldering is precise and there are no loose connections.
A proprietary nut isn’t the best quality, but this is an affordable upgrade.
Overall, there’s some top hardware on the S2 Custom 24. Made of nickel, it all feels of good quality.
PRS Custom 24 guitars excel with versatility, and true to form, this is a feature of the S2.
Its adaptability is thanks to the 85/15 “S” pickups. Furthermore, there’s push and pull tone knobs and a 3-way blade switch.
Made by G&B Pickup Co. in Korea, these pickups are a more affordable version of the 85/15. That said, the 85/15 “S” pickups are crystalline, clear, and articulate. If you’re prone to miss notes, there’s no hiding with this guitar. There’s a drop in the low mid frequencies to rid of muddiness.
By splitting the humbuckers, you have access to single-coil tones. These offer a Hendrix Strat-like spank. Engaging some overdrive, you’ll find a biting blues-like tone.
The humbuckers are vintage-tinged for a more Les Paul timbre. They have enough output for more drastic overdrives, like distortion.
When flicking between humbucker and single-coil, there’s no loss of volume. This is a frequent problem with coil splits on many guitars. PRS have identified the issue and sorted it.
The dials on the PRS S2 Custom 24 are very responsive. By rolling back the tone dials you can achieve jazzy subtleness. Simply roll the dial up to 10 for a heavy rock wall of sound.
Not only versatile, whatever tone you desire from the PRS Custom 24 it’ll do it with outstanding sound quality.
This is an area where PRS guitars are one of the best. Recognized for excellent playability, the PRS S2 Custom 24 won’t disappoint.
The Pattern Regular-profile mahogany neck is key to excellent playability. Based on the PRS neck designs of the late 80s, it has since gone through a period of development to reach top performance.
It’s like an updated PRS Wide Fat neck and somewhere between a C and D profile. Flatter on the back and wider at the shoulders, it’s comfy and will ensure you can play at speed.
As expected from a guitar built in the PRS Maryland factory, the fretwork is excellent. Polished with no sharp edges, you’ll hit no snags when maneuvering along the rosewood fingerboard. Furthermore, installed with accuracy, the signature bird inlays are level to the fingerboard.
When in high-pressure recording or live scenarios, you can have in the locking tuners to keep the guitar in tune. So you can focus on the job at hand.
The action is low for enhanced performance while the PRS Signature 10-46 gauge strings didn’t need replacing. Should you prefer a different gauge, it’s a quick change.
The S2 Custom 24 plays like a true American-made PRS whatever techniques you play. From chords to shredding to riffs, it does it all.
For under $2000 new, the PRS S2 Custom 24 offers great value for the money. Sure, it’s a lot of money but all things considered, it’s a great buy.
It’s an American-made PRS, for this you can pay over double the price. And when considering it does the job of two guitars, it seems of great value.
The build quality makes this a workhorse of a guitar capable of hitting the road. It has the attention to detail in production and raw materials to make sure it’s in your collection for some time. Considering it won’t need replacing any time soon, it’s good value.
PRS S2 Custom 24 Review: Buying Experience
PRS have faith in the built quality of their guitars. So much so, they offer a non-transferable limited lifetime warranty.
But for peace of mind, it’s worth checking the store policies wherever you buy the S2 Custom 24 from. If you’re shopping at your local guitar shop, ask for their details as each store differs.
If buying online, Sweetwater is by far our favorite online guitar store. For every guitar they sell, Sweetwater will do their 55-point inspection to ensure that your guitar is in pristine condition before it is delivered to you. In this next section, we’ll cover the benefits you’ll get when shopping with Sweetwater.
Sweetwater ships all instruments for free if you’re in the contiguous United States. If you’re eager, you can also get Next-Day Delivery for an extra fee.
The PRS S2 Custom 24 goes through stringent quality control before leaving their Maryland factory. But mistakes happen. This is where the 55-point inspection comes in handy.
On the rare occurrence a dud leaves the PRS factory, Sweetwater should pick it out. The S2 Custom 24 qualifies for a playtest and careful examination to pick up on any issues.
While they take care when packaging, if you’re planning on heavy road use, a hardshell case is worth it. If you buy alongside the guitar, Sweetwater will ship in the case.
PRS have their own lifetime warranty. It’s important to register the S2 Custom 24 on their website. This will protect the original owner for a lifetime against defects in materials and workmanship.
The S2 Custom 24 is one of those true workhorses. Even so, it’s worth registering so you have protection. If mistakes have happened, you’re covered.
Sweetwater also has a free 2-year warranty, so you have two forms of protection against any mistakes made in manufacturing.
The Sweetwater return policy is a massive factor in choosing them. Every guitarist is different. What some like, others don’t.
The S2 Custom 24 is a fantastic guitar, but it might not be for you. Sometimes, you don’t know if it isn’t for you until you’ve played it. Whatever the reason, you can send it back. It’s that simple.
If you’re not satisfied. As long as you decide within 30 days of the shipping date, you’ll have options. If you send it back, you can get a refund, in-house credit, or an exchange for another product.
Should You Buy the PRS S2 Custom 24?
Stating the obvious, this is up to you. But here are some scenarios where you should consider the S2 Custom 24.
If you’re looking for a professional American-made guitar, then the S2 Custom 24 ticks these boxes. Moreover, it’s an affordable way to do so with its under $2000 price point.
If you dream of owning a Core Custom 24, then the S2 is a more economical choice. The difference between the two isn’t huge.
All PRS Custom 24 have all-important versatility. Stratocasters have their authentic sound, as do Les Paul’s. If you’re set on one of these, you’ll struggle to beat the original tone. However, the S2 Custom 24 covers both tones, so if you’re undecided, this guitar gives you the best of both worlds.
The versatility of the S2 Custom 24 also makes them great for many genres, You have the pickup output for heavy rock, roll back the dial for jazz, and you can find a tone for everything between.
It has the build quality to go on tour and the sound quality for recordings. The S2 Custom 24 is a professional instrument for serious players.
PRS S2 Custom 24 Alternatives
What about other PRS guitars? They have a vast catalog, so let’s look at some superb alternatives to the S2 Custom 24.
PRS S2 Custom 24 Vs PRS SE Custom 24
‘SE’ is an abbreviation of “Student Edition”. SE line guitars offer Paul Reed Smith models at budget-friendly price points. The SE Custom 24 is an affordable version of the famed Custom 24.
Manufactured in Indonesia, the SE Custom 24 doesn’t have the prestige of the S2 Custom 24, but there’s a lot to like.
Both the S2 and SE have the same 85/15 “S” pickups. With the same coil-split and 3-blade switch, you’ll have the same versatility and sound quality.
The mahogany body with flamed maple top shares similar contours to the S2. While very similar, the contours are more emphasized on the S2 than the SE.
One standout difference is there are no locking tuners on the SE model. But priced under $900, this is a small sacrifice.
Both have 24 frets on a 25″ scale length and offer similar playability. So, all in all, if you can go without the esteem of American workmanship, the SE Custom 24 offers great value for money and the difference isn’t massive.
Another reason you may want the SE Custom 24 is the practical fact that you can get a left-handed version.
PRS S2 Custom 24 Vs PRS CE 24
The PRS CE 24, priced around $3000, is more expensive than both the SE and the S2.
Although similar neck construction and hardware, the CE 24 is an upgrade on the SE 24.
Unlike the S2 and SE, the CE has USA-made 85/15 pickups. These are the same as the pickups on the Core Custom 24.
The 85/15 ‘S’ pickups are Korean-made by G&B Pickup Co. So what’s the difference?
Made with more care and attention to detail, the US-made 85/15 pickups offer even more crystalline clarity and bite. But, some may even prefer the tone of the Korean-made models.
The bolt-on neck is another difference. Again, not that one is better than the other. But what a bolt-on neck will offer is more snap in the attack.
While many won’t notice the difference, there’s some cost-cutting on the body compared to a Core Custom. Upon close inspection, you’ll notice more carves on the Core such as around the dials. It’s a small, thus clever piece of cost-cutting.
The CE 24 is a great-looking guitar with its classic shape. Even the 3-way pickup switch has a subtle and tidy look with its vintage toggle.
Whether the added snap and clarity in tone is worth the price difference will decide if it’s the best alternative to the S2.
PRS S2 Custom 24 Vs PRS Core Custom 24
If you’ve got the funds. We’re talking about $4000. Then, the PRS Core Custom 24 is one of the best guitars around.
The PRS Core Custom 24 is the epitome of high-grade American craftsmanship. Once the CNC machines have cut the Core Custom 24 into shape, skilled luthiers fit and finish the Core Custom 24 to extra levels of quality.
Finished with high-gloss nitro over a cellulose basecoat, it has jaw-dropping good looks.
It’s a flagship PRS guitar, with all the signature features such as bird inlays, dual humbuckers, and ergonomic contours.
With a pattern thin neck, playing the Core Custom 24 is an experience in itself. You won’t find any cost-cutting. The PRS Gen III Tremolo bridge and PRS Phase III Locking Tuners are the highest grade hardware PRS offer.
You can’t deny the quality of the Core 24. But ultimately, it’ll be your budget that decides whether it’s within reach.
The Bottom Line
The PRS S2 Custom 24 is suitable for professional performance. A workhorse, it’s a road-ready guitar. Priced under $2000, it’s one of the more affordable American-built guitars.
The Korean-made 85/15 “S” humbucker pickups offer tonal versatility. With coil-split capabilities, you have both humbucker and single-coil tones at your fingertips. You can sculpt your own tonal identity, but this guitar offers scope for you to achieve sounds akin to a Strat or a Les Paul.
If an American-made PRS in the under $2000 price range is on your agenda, the S2 Custom 24 is a great call.
But if this is out of reach, the SE Custom 24 offers value for money and mimics the Custom 24 design and tone. On the other hand, if you have the means, the Core Custom 24 is one of the highest-level alternatives, it’s premium PRS.
But, whichever way you go, the S2 and its alternatives all have the workmanship to last a lifetime.