Over the last 20 years, but especially in the last 10, Paul Reed Smith guitars have developed a really solid reputation as a trusted brand that manufactures really high-quality guitars. And they can be used in a lot of genres.
You can see anyone using a PRS, including blues, jazz, metal, and rock guitarists. There are a few reasons why this is the case, but I digress. What people tend to ask the most in terms of genre is whether the PRS SE Custom 24 can play metal.
Generally speaking, the PRS SE Custom 24 is a great guitar for metal because it has fast action, a mahogany body, 24 frets for additional range, a vibrato, and it’s lightweight for live performances. Adding high-output active pickups will also make it a great metal guitar.
That last part is important because pickups play a huge role in a guitar’s sound. Right out of the box, the PRS SE Custom 24 works great for metal but it can really be made to shine with active pickups like EMG 81/85s. Although, the truth is this can be said about any guitar which we’ll discuss in a moment.
7 Reasons Why The PRS SE Custom 24 Is Great For Metal
As the caption says, I got my PRS SE Custom 24 around 2012 or 2013 because I was trying to learn how to play Wes Hauch’s guitar solo on the song “Mile Zero” from Periphery’s second album, PII, which is probably one of my favorites.
I played the PRS just as much as I played by ESP Eclipse which I also had at the time and I never had any problems getting metal tones out of the guitar.
One thing I never did to it for reasons that are unknown to me though replaces the pickups. Sure, it works great for metal straight out of the box, but with some active pickups, this thing could really shine.
Also, it’s my personal opinion that the stock pickups in this guitar aren’t as good as they could be, which is one of my main criticisms of the guitar, other than that the one knob is too close to the bridge.
But all that said, what’s important is that it does have dual humbuckers which we can talk about a bit now.
1) SE Custom 24s Have Dual Humbuckers
In simple terms, humbuckers are basically just two single-coil pickups working together as one pickup. The result of this unified relationship is you get a much warmer, deeper, richer, and full-bodied sound.
Or at least this is what’s common knowledge in the guitar player’s world. The full-bodied sound of humbuckers sounds pretty good covered in distortion and overdrive, which is why people like them so much for metal.
In the metal guitar-playing world, humbuckers are practically the norm and almost no one uses single-coil pickups, with probably just a few exceptions.
That all said, that doesn’t mean you can’t use single-coil pickups. It’s just that humbuckers are the most common to the point where it appears to be the rule when really it’s just the general trend.
2) It Has A Mahogany Body Like Many Metal Guitars
It’s true that many guitars, including my Epiphone Les Paul Custom (my set-up guide here), are made out of mahogany.
However, I think it’s worth pointing out that some of the most quality guitars made specifically for metal are also made out of mahogany.
And a great example of that is the ESP Eclipse E-II and the ESP Eclipse Standard Series which I have on the right-hand side. ESP is branded primarily as a company that creates awesome guitars for metal guitarists.
The PRS SE Custom 24 also uses a mahogany body, in case you haven’t been able to figure that out. Ultimately, I don’t think the wood type makes a huge difference in the sound, but maybe I’m wrong about that.
You would have to ask a guitar manufacturer that question to get a more conclusive answer. The next thing I want to talk about is the versatility of the PRS aesthetic.
3) They Are Aesthetically Versatile
Like most guitar manufacturers, Paul Reed Smith has a ton of finishes that you can get, and some of them can look extremely metal. If you care a lot about achieving that aesthetic, PRS definitely has you covered in that regard.
I think one of the more “metal” PRS guitars I’ve seen is the Paul Allender model which I first saw in a Long and McQuade in Stratford, Ontario, about 12-15 years ago.
In case you didn’t notice, the model shown above also has a Floyd Rose tremolo system which brings me to my next point.
4) Some SE Custom 24s Have Floyd Rose Tremolos
While the inclusion of a Floyd Rose Tremolo system isn’t totally necessary for a guitar to be metal, I think having one is definitely a nice touch.
I always used to regret not having one, but ultimately, you don’t really need one to play your favourite metal riffs. One of the greatest whammy bar/tremolo system users is Dimebag which I’ve talked about extensively in this article.
There is a lot you can do with a tremolo system, and I feel that Dimebag really took it to the next level, and he’s the last one to innovate on the tremolo in a really significant way, with the first being Eddie Van Halen.
5) There Are Signature PRS SE Models Used By Metal Guitarists
Paul Reed Smith has their feet in the metal world in a fairly significant way. They’ve got a signature model with Mark Holcomb from Periphery, they’ve got one for Mark Tremonti, and another really popular one is the Paul Allender model.
In case you don’t know, Paul Allender is the guitarist of the black metal band, Cradle of Filth. There are some other cool signature guitars too that are worth mentioning, for instance, I believe Emil Werstler from Daath has one.
6) The SE Custom 24 Has 24 Frets
Having 24 frets isn’t super important for playing metal, but I definitely think it’s worth stating. As I explained to you earlier, I actually bought this guitar for this very reason.
I was trying to learn how to play a guitar solo that used the 24th fret and I didn’t have access to it on my ESP Eclipse or my Epiphone Les Paul Custom.
The SE Custom 24 seemed like the best option for the money, and it didn’t kill my bank account. You can see why I think the PRS SE Custom 24 is a great guitar for music on my other site, Producer Society.
7) The PRS SE Custom 24 Has A Fast Action
If you’re playing super fast guitar riffs and you need to do a lot of hammer-ons and pull-offs, having a guitar with solid action is important. And I find the PRS SE Custom 24 does a great job in this regard.
If you’ll recall my article on how to set up a PRS guitar which I’ve linked to down below, you can get the action pretty low on it, down to about 3/64″ and with a 0.008″ truss relief.
All that means is that you’re getting the strings pretty close to the frets without any annoying or obvious buzzing.
Other Articles You May Be Interested In
- How Much Does A PRS SE Custom 24 Weigh? [The REAL Answer]
- How To Set Up A PRS Guitar (Step-By-Step)
- What Makes A Guitar Good for Shredding? [Shred Explained]
Important Things to Note About PRS and Metal
1) Almost Any Guitar Can Be Used For Metal
While it may or may not be a popular opinion, I honestly think any guitar can be used for metal, especially if you do as I said earlier, and swap out the pick-ups for high-output pickups.
There are guitarists who use Gibson Les Pauls, Fender Stratocasters, PRS Custom 24s, Fender Stratocasters, or even semi-hollow body guitars. The pickups play a big role so ultimately you can make it work for almost any guitar.
That said, you could be looking for a very specific sound – the sound of the dual humbuckers. For instance, if you’re trying to get your guitar playing to sound like Metallica, you would probably do your best to avoid single-coil pickups.
Although, single-coil pickups can also be made to sound awesome in the metal genre. Ultimately, it’s all about the player and how good you are at matching that style. The gear isn’t quite as important with a few exceptions.