Review: PRS Guitars SE Angelus AX20E and SE Tonare T40E

(Image credit: PRS Guitars)

Back in the “Golden Era” of the acoustic guitar — I'm talking about the 1930s here, folks — the differences between “budget” models, like a Gibson L-00 or Martin OOO-18, and high-end models, such as the Gibson Nick Lucas Special or Martin OOO-45, were mainly a matter of wood quality and cosmetic embellishments like pearl inlays. In terms of tone, all of the models sounded excellent, with only subtle differences in the expanded tonal complexity of the more expensive guitars.

In more recent times, the schism has widened and the difference between a sub-$1,000 acoustic and a boutique guitar that costs thousands of dollars is much more dramatic. However, PRS acoustics have much more in common with the Golden Era philosophy. Their affordable SE series instruments perform well beyond the usual standards of other acoustics in their price range, delivering tone that’s comparable to their Private Stock acoustics. While these days it’s not difficult to find a good-sounding acoustic for less than $1,000, PRS SE acoustics offer guitarists sound and playability that are elevated to an entirely different league.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.