I bought my blue PRS CE24 used from guitar center about 6 months ago. New, this guitar runs around $2,300 new and $1,500-1,800 used. I absolutely love this guitar for four reasons.
A new PRS custom 24 runs for around $4,000-5000. The CE24 costs half the price of top tier models, but you get numerous top tier features at half the price. Built in the USA, the build quality is top notch. It is built in a factory that only makes top tier guitars and specializes in getting the details right every single time. Whether that’s the frets feeling smooth or electronics that are accurate and never fail. The craftsmanship gets a standing ovation from me. This guitar is meant to be taken with you on a lifelong journey of musical endeavors, whether that’s playing live or recording at home.
This modern style guitar can handle a wide range of genres and sounds. The body is mahogany and provides a warm, balanced sustain. The 85/15 pickups are the same pickups found in top tier models, and sound exceptional as clean, overdriven, or completely distorted. They are split coils meaning by popping the tone knob in/out you have either humbuckers or single coils.
If a stratocaster and les paul came together to have a baby, you would have a PRS such as the CE24. With a 3 way pickup selector you get 6 pickup variations. With versatile pickup sound, a 3 way pickup switch, a tone knob, a split coil toggle, and a whammy bar with locking tuners, the tonal range is impressive. I am confident I can use this guitar to record any and all genres, and stand by the recording’s quality. Versatility is the most important thing I look for because I don’t want to buy a guitar for each song I want to play.
The bolt-on maple neck on this guitar feels amazing. Out of all guitars I’ve ever played, this one feels the best. The neck is thin, but not too thin. It has enough meat on the bone to be able to play blues rhythm guitar for hours without getting hand cramps, but is thin enough to blaze through the most technical prog metal solos. Sporting medium-jumbo frets on a rosewood fretboard, laying down a deep bend with singing vibrato is a breeze while maintaining comfort. The double cutaways on the body allow for seemless access all the way up to the double octave at the 24th fret.
This guitar has standout visual appeal, mine being blue. The finish on the body highlights the grain of the wood and shimmers with deep color in the light. The classic flying bird inlays give the iconic PRS fretboard look that I have come to love, and the expressive headstock shape brings the PRS look full circle. With a body shape with a big wide round bottom and double cutaways on the top, this guitar resembles a hybrid of a strat and les paul. It is the best of both worlds. Tone knobs are sleek, there aren’t too many knobs that make you wonder what they all do, and the bridge is both simple and modern.
The one downfall to the construction of this guitar is it is made from multiple pieces of wood glued together. This is the core difference which the top tier models have over the CE24. To my understanding, after the top tier guitars are made, the leftover wood is reused and glued together to make the guitars such as the CE24. This isn’t a dealbreaker for me because it does not diminish the quality, durability, sound, or feel. The wood is of high quality, and their method of connecting multiple chunks of wood is seemless. If I didn’t tell you, you would never know.
While I describe this guitar as a cross between a strat and les paul, those are two different guitars with their own sound and feel. Split coil doesn’t mean you have a strat and a les paul in one. A CE24 can sound just as good in similar situations, but it is different and shouldn’t be used as an exact substitute. It is a modern guitar and doesn’t have vintage aspects to it, which is why I haven’t sold my ‘57 reissue strat. If you are looking for a vintage sound or feel, buy a guitar built back then or a guitar with exact specs from that time. There is no exact replacement for that.
My last gripe is the body has a 90 degree edge all the way around the side of it. I prefer the beveled edge of a strat, but this isn’t a deal breaker for me because the back is contoured similar to a strat. The body is overall comfortable to play, but not as comfortable as a strat body.
If you want a high quality guitar at a fair price, I recommend a used PRS CE24 listed as great or mint condition. This model looks, sounds, and feels exceptional. It adhears to the build quality of the PRS USA factory and has the right features to provide a wide range of professional quality sound. As a musician who writes a wide range of music spanning numerous genres, I recommend this guitar for it’s versatility. There isn’t anything like it, and if $4,500 sounds like too much for a PRS, check out the CE24 with most of the same features at half the price.