PRS SE 245 Review: Better than a Les Paul?

PRS SE 245 Review
Recommended Pick
PRS SE 245

The PRS SE 245 is an affordable version of Paul Reed Smith's Core SC 245 model. If you're someone who loves the traditional feel of a Les Paul, but want some upgrades to make it more modern, then the PRS SE 245 could be a great fit for you.

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PSR guitars are known for their high-quality premium guitars and versatility across all series.

Following the high demand, PRS introduced the new mid-range SE series of instruments, As with all PRS’s this series models keep the great quality build and design but at a much more affordable price.

The guitar we are reviewing today is one of the brand’s best mid-range models, the SE 245. A modern guitar with a vintage look and feel.

In this article, we are reviewing in detail all the features of the SE 245 and will take you through everything you need to judge if this guitar is right for you.

About Paul Reed Smith Guitars

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Paul Reed Smith Guitars

Paul Reed Smith Guitars is a premier guitar manufacture based in Maryland known for producing some of the most stunning, high-quality guitars out there.

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In the mid-’70s when the guitar market was taken by Fender and Gibson, Paul Reed Smith, a self-taught musician and guitar builder stepped in with his prototype guitar, the PRS Custom 24.

At first PRS guitars were known to incorporate the best elements from Fender and Gibson in quality build guitars. Now they are still known to offer premium, easy to play, and uniquely designed models that can adapt to most playing styles and genres. 

PRS was known to the public at first for its collaboration with Santana, who was using PRS models since 1982. Nowadays many guitar greats such as John Mayer, Alex Lifeson, Marke Lettieri, and many others have switched from another big brand to their signature PRS models. 

The wide artists and diverse group of artists that switched to PRS tell a lot about the brand’s quality and versatility.

What makes PRS remarkable is the ability to expand from a single person’s vision to a leading force in the industry and still keep the original goal intact, striving to build the best guitars and guitar products possible.

Their mid-range line of instruments manufactured overseas, the SE series or “Student edition” offers both the standard and custom models, and retains the signature traits of the original models but at a way more budget-friendly price.

Check out our guide on the Best PRS Guitars

PRS SE 245 Review Highlights: 

The short-scale single-cutaway SE 245 has all the typical elements you would expect from a PRS along with the quality built.

Below we will list some things we liked and didn’t like about this guitar.

What We Liked

  •  Playability. The short scale and wide fretboard make it very comfortable and easy to play.
  •  Versatility. The 2 humbucker pickups, individual tone and volume controls, and the 3-way switch make the guitar great for getting a multitude of tones.
  • Tuning stability. The quality of the parts used for the bridge and tuners make the guitar very reliable.

What We Didn’t Like

  • A bit heavier compared to other core models with similar features
  • Only gig bag included with the price
  • The SE series is not made in the US

PRS SE 245 Review: Features & Specifications

Recommended Pick
PRS SE 245

The PRS SE 245 is an affordable version of Paul Reed Smith's Core SC 245 model. If you're someone who loves the traditional feel of a Les Paul, but want some upgrades to make it more modern, then the PRS SE 245 could be a great fit for you.

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  • Single cut all-mahogany body and neck for a fat tone
  • Comfortable short-scale 24.5″ wide fat neck with easy to access 22 frets on a rosewood fingerboard
  • Reliable PRS-designed tuners and wraparound tailpieces 
  • Versatile 2 x 245 “S” humbucking pickups with individual tone controls

PRS SE 245 Review: Our Insights

From the parts used you can already tell the guitar is well worth its value.

Now let’s break down all the features of the guitar.

Materials and Build Quality

PRS does not settle for guitar-built quality, being them core models or from the SE series. 

The body is all made out of Mahogany including the neck.

You can expect a bit of weight in your shoulders but the warm fat sustained tone of mahogany makes up for that. The maple top is beautiful on the eye as you can choose from a vintage sunburst or tobacco sunburst to a more modern-looking Charcoal burst.

The design is heavily inspired by classic single-cutaway Les Paul models. The design of the PSR 245 though feels a bit more compact and modern.

The looks of this guitar fit great on every stage. The neck joint that comes with this design let’s you easily access all 22 frets on the rosewood fretboard.

The gloss finish of the guitar feels high end and is very durable, the fretwork is detailed with no rough edges and the typical conic birds in flight inlays and Paul’s signature are added to the guitar.

Hardware and Electronics

Even though the US Made core models use more high-end parts, overseas PRS models like the SE 245 still use quality hardware and electronics.

A great example of this is the PRS-designed tuners and bridges used in both SE and core models. The tuners look and feel solid. The fixed PRS Designed Stoptail bridge along with the tuners make the guitar stay in tune and help with the intonation. 

The hardware is mostly nickel and the nut is made out of plastic.

The tone and volume control nob along with the 3-way switch work perfectly and feel tight and solid like in all high-end models. There are no loose ends or parts that feel cheap on this guitar.

The pickups are both 245 “S” humbucking pickups in the neck and bridge. The pickups are mid-output, great for adapting to multiple styles.

There are no single coil push/pull pots that usually come with a core model, but still, the S humbuckers are very versatile for both rhythm and lead playing.

Overall the hardware and electronics on this guitar are great and feel like they belong to a more expensive model.


Even though the price difference with the core models is huge, all SE models still sound great and have the tone you would expect from a PRS of this design.

The SE 245 was built with guitar students and casual players in mind, but it sounds and plays so well that professional guitarists play them on recording sessions and arena shows. A great example is a band Opeth.

The “S” humbuckers are generally clear and punchy with a nice attack. These combined with tonewoods used and other features of the guitar produce a generally fat sustained tone.

Since the pickups are mid-output they are very versatile and you can get crisp clean tones from them using the bridge pickup and some aggressive biting distorted tones for both lead and rhythm.

The neck pickup is warmer and is the closest you can get to the typical PAF Les Paul tone with this guitar. There is some “wood” feel in there but not as distinct as you would feel on a strat-type guitar.

The low mids in general are not as hyped as they are on a Les Paul standard and this makes for a more aggressive tone when playing rock or metal. 

The guitar is very versatile, great for rock, funk, blues, and pop, and also some heavier genres. Keep in mind though that if you need to play heavy low tuned chugs and get the warmer side of heavy distortion, the medium-output pickups might be the best choice.


PRS made a name in the guitar world for offering very easy to play and comfortable guitars.

The SE 245 keeps up the good name of the brand with the fat vintage neck and short neck scale of only 24.5″.  A short scale helps play fast and keep the action on this guitar extremely low if you prefer that kind of setup.

The SE 245 design is thought out to help playability. The neck cutaway makes it easy to play and bend strings high up the neck.

Whether you play arpeggios, down-picked riff, or alternate picking and sweep picking patterns – the SE 245 will help make them easier way more than your average mid-range guitar.

The great playability of the model makes it a great fit for many styles for both rhythm and lead players on live shows or studio work. 

The fact that many greats switched from Fender or Gibson to a PRS tells a lot about the playability of the brand. Both the core models and the SE series ones are true to that.

If you are considering buying a new guitar for its playability then the SE 245 is one of the best quality guitars in this price range.

PRS SE 245 Review: Buying Experience

Recommended Pick
PRS SE 245

The PRS SE 245 is an affordable version of Paul Reed Smith's Core SC 245 model. If you're someone who loves the traditional feel of a Les Paul, but want some upgrades to make it more modern, then the PRS SE 245 could be a great fit for you.

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PRS guitars come with their warranty policies. However, depending on where you buy the guitar, shipping costs, conditions, and return policies can change.

If you are buying your guitar online it’s normal to feel anxious and a bit worried. Horror stories of smashed necks and poor customer service are common amongst guitarists. 

To make sure that your PRS arrives in perfect condition and ready we highly recommend you buy it from Sweetwater. Overall, it’s the best place to get your new guitar online and feel confident in doing so.

To explain why we recommend Sweetwater so much, we will list the information on their policies.

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The most delicate part of the whole buying experience is receiving your guitar in time, intact and ready to play. Just as you saw it on the website.

The 55 point inspection is a procedure that all guitars above 299$ go through before shipping. Your new PRS will be checked and tested by pros to make sure it’s in perfect condition and ready to be played right out of the box.

Ground shipping is Free inside the continental USA and there is also the option of getting next-day shipping for an extra if you can’t wait to play your new guitar. 

Sweetwater knows how to make the packaging safe and secure, so no need to worry about any damage to your guitar.


A great thing about PRS is that all guitars come with a lifetime warranty, as long as you return the warranty card within 30 days.

The warranty covers only manufacturer defects and not damage that can happen to the guitar from accidents. The finish on the guitars though is tough and helps avoid scratches and scars from minor bumps. 

PRS guitars are all very solid and built to last. Over time it’s always good to have the warranty if the guitar has a major issue that falls into the policy.

Return Policy

Suppose you receive your new PRS 245 in perfect condition. You play it for a while, but somehow it’s not your fit and it just doesn’t click with you.

The best guitar is the one that suits you best and Sweetwater knows that. That’s why if you’re not satisfied with your new guitar you can return it within 30 days of purchasing.

In this case, you will get a full refund and the cost of shipping will be deducted from that. If however, you want another piece of gear, sweetwater will apply the difference, based on the price difference.

Should You Buy the PRS SE 245?

Recommended Pick
PRS SE 245

The PRS SE 245 is an affordable version of Paul Reed Smith's Core SC 245 model. If you're someone who loves the traditional feel of a Les Paul, but want some upgrades to make it more modern, then the PRS SE 245 could be a great fit for you.

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The best guitar for you is the one that suits you better.

Different players look for different things from their new guitars. Some are after playability while some after a specific tone. 

Whether you find the qualities you are looking for in a value guitar or an expensive one it’s up to preferences and how much you want to spend.

If you are looking for a mid-range powerhouse solid-built guitar that can fit in most playing styles the PRS SE-245 is one of the best value guitars in the market. The quality of all PRS guitars, being them core models or SE series is undeniably great.

A PRS is still a PRS whatever the price. By buying the SE-245 you know that you are getting a highly playable, versatile, and solidy built guitar.

PRS SE 245 Alternatives

If you are still considering other options we can suggest some models that are similar to the PRS 24 in design and style.

3 of the best value guitars at a similar price range are the following.

PRS SE 245 Vs PRS SE 245 Standard

As you can tell by the name of the models these 2 guitars are very similar in design and tone. There are some minor differences though in some of the materials used and the price.

The SE 245 features a maple top while the SE 245 is made entirely out of bound mahogany. The nut of the Standard is out of  Synthetic Bone while the SE 245 nut is out of plastic.

There is a slight tone difference for some players which is dictated by the slight difference in Tonewoods. The difference though is very subtle where the SE standard for some players has more low-mids from the all-mahogany body.

These minor differences alone make for a price difference of around 100$ between the 2 models where the SE 245 Standard is the most expensive.

PRS SE 245 Vs Epiphone Les Paul 

Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s

The Epiphone Les Paul Standard captures the same look, feel, and sound like an original Gibson Les Paul at a fraction of the price.

Read our full Epiphone Les Paul Standard Review

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The 2 mid-range alternatives of PRS and Gibson, the SE series, and the Epiphone brand are both worthy to be considered as your new guitar.

The Epiphone Les Paul is the lower-cost alternative of the Legendary Les Paul Standard 60s model. The Epiphone series, like the SE, keeps the characteristics of the core models and still uses quality materials.

Tone-wise, the Epiphone insists more on the classic Les Paul PAF tone, warmer than the SE 245. In terms of playability, both guitars feature a short-scale rosewood neck great for lead playing.

The PRS though has some better features and the overall build feels more high-end than the Epiphone. Also, the PRS is a more versatile guitar that offers more tonal possibilities  and better tuning stability due to the PRS signature bridge and tuners

This is reflected in the price difference, where the SE 245 is more expensive.

If you however want a guitar with the warm tonal characteristics of a classic Les Pauls, great for classic rock and blues, the Epiphone Les Paul is great for you.

PRS SE 245 Vs PRS SE Mark Tremonti

PRS SE Mark Tremonti

The PRS SE Mark Tremonti is a signature electric guitar with humbucker pickups, mahogany body, and maple top, delivering rich sound and effortless playability, ideal for rock and metal genres.

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A similar guitar in design and price, but more into the heavier side, is the PRS SE Mark Tremonti Signature.

The guitar is a perfect blend of the PRS 245 with added features to match Mark Tremonti’s style. The humbuckers are the S as in the 245 but with some slight changes to make them better at high gains.

The neck is also Wide and comfy but made out of the 3 piece maple, while the body is out of mahogany and with a gloss finish like the SE 245

If you already like the SE 245 but want to play heavier music, you can get the SE Mark Tremonti for around the same price.

The Bottom Line

PRS never disappoints in the quality of its guitars. Being them core models or the SE series the quality of the built and parts used is great.

The PRS SE 245 is great modern guitar, very versatile, and easy to play due to its short scale, wide neck, and variety of tones you can achieve.

This is a value guitar that sounds and plays as you would expect from a much more expensive PRS model.

Even though SE means Student Edition, PRS has done such a great job with this series that it’s great for casual players and professionals alike.

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