Since 1985, Paul Reed Smith has been producing top-of-the-line guitars. The original CE, or “Classic Electric,” model was unveiled in 1988 and was the first of PRS guitars to have a traditional bolt-on neck design.
In 2008, production of the CE was halted. With a list of noteworthy updates, the CE 24 is back after almost ten years, accompanied by a PRS guarantee that it is “back and better than ever.”
With an immaculate ruby red finish on a flamed maple top, it is hard to keep your eyes off of this instrument. PRS went with very classic details such as vintage style control knobs and a cream selector switch. The white pickup rings transition nicely into the iconic bird fingerboard inlays. The original CE donned white dot fret markers, so seeing the birds in a rich indian rosewood on this model is definitely an improvement. Minor details on this guitar such as satin saddles resting on a polished chrome bridge make this guitar a uniquely aesthetic success.
To be completely honest, the price point of most PRS guitars deterred me from ever test-driving one. After giving this model a spin, I am happy to report that I feel like the price matches the quality. I absolutely love the feel of the hardware on this guitar. The locking tuners are particularly worthy of note. At close inspection, it is obvious that every component on this guitar, even down to each strap button, has been designed and manufactured to be highly functional as well as durable.
With a scale length of 25”, the CE 24 stands right in between its classic contemporaries, the longer Fender Stratocaster (25.5”) and the shorter Gibson Les Paul (24.75”). As someone who generally plays the longer Stratocaster or Telecaster, the CE 24 is surprisingly comfortable. The appropriately placed curves form to my body perfectly, and the cutaway makes for an easily accessible 24th fret. The PRS pattern thin neck shape really lends to fast fingering and mobility which seems to be the key reason why this guitar is so easily playable. Another pleasantly surprising feature is the PRS-designed tremolo. It is extremely responsive and easy to control. From ripping solos to finger picking, this instrument makes it easier to do it all.
With a total of six possible sounds, the CE 24 is equipped with two PRS 85/15 pickups (a treble at the bridge and bass at the neck), a 3-way toggle switch, and volume and push/pull tone control knobs. The most desirable aspect of these controls is that you can switch from double to single coil position. The 85/15s are capable of pulling out very clear and consistent tone with a lot of sustain. With a developed, multifaceted design, I highly doubt there is a style of music that this guitar could not produce.
As a newcomer to the world of PRS, I am completely sold on the versatility and quality of the CE 24. If you are on the hunt for endless tone options and value beautiful design, look no further; the CE 24 might just be your new favorite axe.