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PRS SE Nick Catanese Electric Guitar

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Product H85608
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Nick Catanese of Black Label Society and PRS got together to renovate his signature SE. The 2012 model will have a straightforward, sleek look with a...Click To Read More About This Product

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A rocking guitar from the epic "Evil Twin."

Nick Catanese of Black Label Society and PRS got together to renovate his signature SE. The 2012 model will have a straightforward, sleek look with a mahogany body with a flame maple veneer, ebony fingerboard with no inlays, and a Scarlet Red finish with black binding. The SE Nick Catanese features chrome EMG Chrome 81/85 pickups and Tone Pros adjustable stoptail. This guitar is a shredder's delight with a PRS neck design for comfort. Case Sold Separately.

Body Wood: Beveled Thick Single-Cutaway Mahogany, Flame Maple Veneer and Black Binding
Number of Frets: 22
Scale Length: 25"
Neck Woo:d Maple
Fretboard Wood: Ebony
Neck Shape: Wide Fat
Fretboard Inlays: No Inlays
Bridge: TonePros Adjustable Stoptail
Tuners: PRS Designed Tuners
Truss Rod Cover: "PRS"
Hardware Type: Nickel
Treble Pickup: EMG Chrome 81
Bass Pickup: EMG Chrome 85
Pickup Switching: Volume and Tone Controls with 3-Way Toggle Pickup Selector on Upper Bout
Case Sold Separately

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Review Snapshot

by PowerReviews
PRSSE Nick Catanese Electric Guitar

(based on 1 review)

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Reviewed by 1 customer

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(4 of 6 customers found this review helpful)


Strong LP Studio Alternative

By aj0206

from Southern man

About Me Experienced

See all my reviews

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  • Fun To Play
  • Good Feel
  • Good Pick Up
  • Good Tone
  • Lp Altern Not Replacent
  • Solid Electronics


  • None

Best Uses

  • Wherever You Want To Play

Comments about PRS SE Nick Catanese Electric Guitar:

I've been a fan of PRS SE Guitars since they first came out. My girlfriend gifted me an original SE Soapbar {thinner body, P90s, same basic LP shape,} for Christmas around '03, I think. I mentioned how I wanted that P90 growl, and she went back in the next day and put it on lay-a-way. She made payments for five months and shocked me on Christmas morning.

Next year it was a Martin acoustic. I got to where I had to be careful what I said around this girl. She'd make you look bad on Christmas morning. Since she made me look bad everywhere we went, I just got used to it and kept her around.

I had purchased a Wine Red Gibson LP Studio in '02, and was blessed with a free flamed top, which I assumed, since it had a dark spot, was a rejected top for a more expensive model. It came with a non-stock translucent finish, and is something to behold for what was invested. The gold hardware just set everything off. The dealer was surprised, and had a waiting list of people at the store just in case I rejected it for this barely-noticeable defect--huh! The Studio Plus, etc., weren't available yet in ''02. It confused a lot of people for a while, and I had plenty of offers to take it off of my hands.

It just so happened to be a player too, so no thanks. This is also why I'll use it as a comparison for the PRS SE Nick Catanese model in this review. A lot of people will be looking for the same things in either guitar, and there's about a 5 hundred premium for that name on the headstock.

Regardless, this SE is a MAJOR alternative to a true LP Studio-priced instrument, regardless of the maker. Actually, the Catanese SE is far superior to a lot of instruments, including other PRS SE models, and others costing hundreds more--not just LP Studios, but higher-end models regardless of the brand.

Don't get me wrong, nothing will ever replace a true LP, properly set up for your playing style and genre of music, but this SE will cover the vast majority of that same ground, and some the LP can't touch, and visa versa. The 490R & 490T PU combo, tone woods, and heritage produce a magic that is hard to beat in certain instances. However, this PRS SE has the LP flat up against the wall and trembling in a lot of playing situations as well.

The ebony fretboard, with only side-dot position markers, is a dream to play on compared to the Rosewood board of the LP. The lack of markers won't be much of an issue to experienced players, but might cause a beginner to get lost as they get into a scale and never before relied on side-dot position markers.

There's no variation of feel underneath your fingers, or nails, as you play (or hang on for dear life at times) like there is on the LP with it's man-made trapezoid inlay material. The SE has a classy and glassy feel to it that the LP can't even begin to compete with concerning necks. While the Catanese's ebony board is most probably stained to get it that evenly and deeply black (just check the fingertips after a session,} it is just a thing of beauty to the eye and the touch. Only the ebony board of a custom, for another 3K+, (good grief,) comes close, and you still have to deal with inlays, even if they are MOP at that price.

The SE neck feels rich, natural, tight, even, and smooth-as-glass while playing chords, notes, bends, or any other manipulation of the strings your style might include. There is no grit or grain of a Rosewood board to keep things from being as smooth as glass as the strings go about their business.

The extra half-inch of scale gives a tad more snap to the notes as well, without adding much tension to bends. It's a livable compromise between the "scale" issue between Pauls and Strats, the pros and cons, and macho-man arguments. All three, and others, have there advantages, which is why we all have more than one guitar anyway, right?

While the back of the LP neck, after 12 years, still has the finish gumming up underneath the web and pad of my thumb, slowing down movement, and irritating the heck out of me. There isn't even a hint of that going on with the finish on this SE's neck, or the previously-mentioned Soapbar or Custom 22 also owned.

Neck wise, I would love to have the characteristics of the SE in my LP. I dare say it's like the difference between a fine-leather seat in a sports car versus cheap vinyl in a sub-compact import. Even though the SE has the Wide-Fat profile, which I like just fine, the LP has the fat end of a Louisville Slugger feel to it. It blends away, but what a shock when jumping between a Jackson SL3 Soloist or Ibanez Wizard III neck. Now I understand what Ted Nugent was talking about when he had to play a Les Paul with Les Paul instead of his usual neck profile of the Byrdland he usually plays. He said it felt like a ball bat.

Btw, the guitar-buying girlfriend was acquired from one of Ted's cousins in Oklahoma when they moved to this part of the Midwest to follow her Mom. Good trade, since I didn't have to give up a thing!

The fit and finish of the SE Catanese guitar is flawless. The veneered top on my particular instrument actually looks better than the pictured one on the site. It looks to be truly book-matched and more highly figured, even though it is a veneer over the mahogany body. The black binding effect gives the impression you're getting a true maple top. The savings has to come into play somewhere. However, the guitar is truly resonant, during both unplugged, and plugged-in playing.

It's always a wise move to just sit and play a guitar unplugged first. You can "feel" the resonance in your chest, sternum, or anywhere else the guitar comes into contact with your body as you sit and strum an open E chord, or any other you choose. I like checking the sound and feel of an open G5 chord; one most players rely on a lot in that key, and others. If any guitar has pleasing sound qualities unplugged, they're only going to be amplified when you amplify them--right?

Like EVH once said, he'd walk around the house a lot of times unplugged and noodling. You don't always have to be plugged in and squealing. Actually, I find that you learn to play a lot cleaner if you spend some time practicing unplugged. You really can hear if all the notes of chords are ringing clearly, if there's a buzz that needs fixing, a vibration in the bridge, just lots of things. It'll make a better player out of you, plus you can just stroll along within, or outside of your home, unencumbered by a cable and having deficiencies in your style covered up by effects or distortion. Try it; you'll like it.

Try semi-hollows too. I love my ASAT Deluxe II Bluesboy G&L for just that. It sounds wonderful unplugged, as does the new Ibanez Artcore AM93 and older Artstar AS120, another Christmas present from the girlfriend in '05, after production ended. The wholesaler just happened to have one sitting around when she called dealer after dealer once I'd thrown a fit when I thought I couldn't get one. Anyway, she snagged it for Christmas, again, and made me look bad. For 2K less than the 335, there really isn't any comparison in that guitar either. The Super 58's cook, but the stopbar cuts and dices you. How that got past QC, I'll never know. It's all of them, not just mine.

The AM93 covers the ES339 for 1500+ less. Still, no comparison there either. Back on target now.

The hardware of the Catanese SE is on par, if not exceeding, a LP studio at hundreds less investment. Personally, I'd rather have two Vols and two Tone pots, rather than the one each on the SE. I guess that's the way Nick Catanese wants his, and it is an Artist Model. Enough said about that.

Not many need to hear me comment on the active EMG 81/85 pickups, but the Tone Pros stopbar tailpiece is a welcomed and much-appreciated addition. While the compensated, wrap-a-round tailpieces with allen screw adjustments against the body studs for fine-tuning intonation, it's still a compromise. Not to mention, once there's just a tiny allen screw touching the stud versus the whole tailpiece resting against the stud reaching down into the body, sustain has to suffer, as well as tone and everything else that the Tone Pros bridge rectifies. It's free of sharp edges, sexy looking, comfortable to rest your hand on, and easy to palm mute notes. It's a wonderful bridge with completely adjustable intonation, string height, and mass to aid in sustain and resonance. It truly is a work of art, and an improvement over the adjust-o-matic bridge and stopbar tailpiece, unless you just want the traditional aesthetics of the original. To each his own, again. I like it, and it's basically a freebie. Who could complain?

As with the EMGs, this too is partly responsible for this SE costing a couple hundred more. Throw in the thicker body, brilliant finish, ebony fingerboard, Artist-model, EMGs, AND the Tone Pros bridge, and it is like getting freebies over what you pay for an average SE of the same type.

You couldn't even add the Chrome Active EMGs and required accessories and electronics for 200, while doing all of the work yourself. Figure your wants and desires and pony up if it fits your bill.

As far as setup goes, it is rare to get an instrument out of a box that's crossed time zones, oceans, differences in temps and humidity, and expect even a perfect setup (for who?) that left one side of the world to wind up at your door in what would be the perfect setup for you. For my style, using heavy picks, and heavy-handed playing at times, I experienced some fret buzz as delivered. Simply by stepping up to the next level of strings, enough tension was added to the neck to bring it right into the ballpark for my style.

That's exactly why Leo went nuts when 9s came out. He didn't want people putting them on his longer-scale Strats with 10s and all of a sudden have a bunch of buzzing going on all over the world. Same principle, opposite side of the coin. Sure, when I find the time, a thorough setup might reap even more benefits. For right now, I'm a happy camper.

If the active PUPs are your cup of tea, then you should seriously consider this beast. It's heavier on the shoulder than you might expect, but still a couple of pounds lighter than my LP, which can really wear on you if you like to play as long as I do. Especially if standing, but seated, the body digs into your bones and becomes uncomfortable after awhile as well.

My '02 Studio isn't weight-relieved in the back. Seated or standing, the LP's weight will wear on you, but that's the price for that classic sound. The PRS has a newer classic sound all its own, to a point, and is a real contender for anyone that can live without that "other" name plastered on the headstock.

I don't know if it's just the lighter weight, or some of the shaping, but the PRS just feels better, is more comfortable to play, and doesn't wear on you as the night wears on. That's just one of the intangibles you have to put your own price on, but it is worth considering.

As far as overall sound goes: through a BOSS GP-100 into a pair of Bogner Alchemist 40w/20w heads and two Alchemist 2x12 cabs loaded each with one each Celestion Vintage 30 and Greenback 25, the things sings, screams, wails, and cries when front-ended with a Dunlop Crybaby 535-Q.

It gets nice cleans through my Fender SE Cyber-Twin with 2 Celestion GT12T-100s. Also, running the outputs to two Ampeg 1x12 cabinets loaded with Vintage 30's gives you a lot wider stereo image and slapback effects on clean and overdriven sounds. Just don't dime the amp because the speakers are only rated at 60-wt each, and the SE Cyber-Twin has 2 65-wt power amps. Close, but no banana, maybe.

Through Blackstars, VHT's, Blackhearts, V-8s, and Fender Champs as well as a host of other amps and cabinets, all in stereo, about 30 different preamps and 50 processors into several boards down into a Tascam Digital Recorder and burner, I can't find any real shortcomings in the sound of this guitar, or really any of the other 20 or more electrics I have, or the several acoustic/electric 6 and 12 strings. GIGO, and I won't keep garbage, especially with MF's generous return policy.

Even two 1-watt Blackstar heads played through a stereo 4x12 Randall cab loaded with the same Celestion GT75s in the Marshall 1960A, and miked up in the sweet spots with Shure SM-57s gives you a stereo wall of sound through the board, side fills, monitors, and your front-of-the-house system, and one through the cab you can play with for weeks when feeding the Blackstars with something like the new BOSS GT-100. The 5-watt Blackstars have a different sound. I'll only use the clean channel with preamps since the OD channel is sooo noisy, but God what a sound with a BOSS ME-70, Lexicon reverb, and a dash of delay into two of the Vintage 30-loaded new Ampeg cabinets for guitar.

It's a shame. I saw the 5-wt Ampeg heads and all the combos being given away over the holidays. If you can get hold of the single 12" cabs, grab them. They're a dream, fed by this guitar, or any guitar. Jesus, a company, although known for their bass gear, brings out a guitar line that kicks like this, and it just dies off because people won't give it a chance. I just hope that doesn't happen to this guitar, so I'll stay up late and write a review so long you won't read it, but it you do, and get it, you'll be well onto the way of saving a wad of cash, even though it takes money to save money.

I've spent years since I bought the first post-CBS New American Strat I purchased in 1986. There isn't a whole lot of guitar rigs I haven't tried in one way or another, and the PRS SE Nick Catanese Artist Model guitar will rip right through them all, or purr like a kitty when you roll off the volume, WAY off, that is, or just switch to a clean channel. Actually, I prefer a nice clean channel to play through with a floorboard, or rack, processor, as long as it has the correct impedance outputs to run into an amp. Otherwise I'll run the guitar into a pre/pro with digital connections on all the outboard gear and record that way.

The SE, any of them, has never let me down when I needed it to come through. When I need an active setup, I reach for the SE even though I have other guitars with the same exact pickup combination. I guess it's the comfort, combined with the sound, the look, and the bargain, along with the turned heads because I'm apparently the only person to buy one of these.

You have other options over an "SE" when you go to drop around .9K, but I never tire of the looks it gets for its sound, beauty, and how easy it looks to draw that tone out of it, although we all know it takes a lot more than a pretty guitar to make it cry and sing, don't we? It's the making it look easy that does it to them, and this guitar actually helps you do that, in spite of the single-cut body. It's that classy, glassy, neck that's the ticket.

Just trust me. I wrote this review because I can't believe no one else has written one either because they couldn't say something nice, were too lazy, or spent their money elsewhere. Maybe they wasted it. Try it. What's the most it could cost you? Shipping back on a return, or having saved possibly enough money to buy that nice new LED-LCD big-screen TV you could be watching for free?

You can't play guitar every hour of the day, or you'll lose that cool, guitar-buying fox of a girlfriend. Plus, playing the blues late at night has an effect on her that nothing we've ever watched on TV had. Go get it. You'll never regret it.

Just remember, if it's a LP you want, play both, if you can. Then decide where you want to spend your extra (really?) money. I doubt you'll be dissatisfied with the purchase of this guitar; especially if you buy it during a time you can get the 15% discount. When you take that additional amount off, it really is a no-brainer decision if the Catanese's sound falls within your needs.

It is versatile, no doubt, but maybe just a tad less than the real deal. Of course, it does things even the real deal can't do. Pick your poison; you won't regret either. Better yet, get both. I'm up to 20+ guitars, but that's a whole different problem on my part! A serious case of GAS! That's Gear Acquisition Syndrome, not the other kind. Good luck with whatever you decide on, and may you be happy and screaming through the rig of your choice soon. Good Luck!

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