Haven’t you always dreamt of having a high-end guitar? Expensive instruments are nice, but not everyone has the budget to spend thousands of dollars on a quality instrument.
Luckily, Paul Reed Smith Guitars are here to save the day. They have built on the quality and uniqueness of the John Mayer signature guitar, the Silver Sky, and now offer it in a more affordable package.
While the PRS SE Silver Sky costs far less than the original model, there are no corners cut here. This is a quality instrument for gigging performers everywhere.
Let’s dig into what makes the PRS SE Silver Sky such an awesome instrument, and why you should add it to your guitar arsenal today. Read on to learn more!
1. Who Is Paul Reed Smith (PRS)?
Paul Reed Smith started building guitars in the 70s as a teenager in Annapolis Maryland. Eventually, this blossomed into a growing guitar building and repair business.
Throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s, the business grew steadily. Paul focused on making aesthetically pleasing instruments with interesting wood grains, finishes, and the now-ubiquitous flying bird fretboard inlays.
After a few years of hustling guitars, major players started to take notice. Perhaps the most famous early adopter of PRS guitars was Carlos Santana, who used his custom PRS as his main guitar for many years.
During the late ’80s when major players such as Fender and Gibson were beginning to lose their stranglehold on the market, PRS decided to move in on their turf. With some cash infusions, they opened their first factory.
Over the past few decades, PRS has become synonymous with high-end instruments that include custom shop models as well as factory-produced guitars. PRS instruments grace stages and studios all over the world.
2. History of the Paul Reed Smith Silver Sky
While the Silver Sky is now regarded as one of the most desirable guitar models in recent history, it did not start out as such a hot ticket item.
Guitarist John Mayer, of solo and Grateful Dead fame, went looking for a company to design his perfect daily player guitar. He found his match with Paul Reed Smith Guitars, who were eager to work with him.
John designed the Silver Sky from the ground up, taking the familiar shape of the Fender Stratocaster and then modifying nearly everything about the guitar until it became an entirely different instrument.
When the Silver Sky was first announced in 2018, the guitar world was a bit dismissive. Many felt it looked like a bastardized Stratocaster and did not feel it brought anything new to the table.
However, internet talk is one thing. Having the instrument in hand is another. Magazine reviews for the PRS Silver Sky were glowing, pointing out the comfortable ergonomics, incredible tone, and effortless playing.
Eventually, lay guitarists started to try the Silver Sky for themselves, and word spread about just how great the guitar was. Many players describe it as a “goldilocks” guitar, sitting between a Fender and a Gibson in terms of feel.
As with other PRS guitars, players praise the fit and finish, as well as the incredible tones available on tap. The Silver Sky has been released in many different finishes and configurations, making a model for just about every taste.
Now, Silver Sky guitars hold their value on the used market, sometimes even selling for above MSRP. New colors and models consistently sell out, and guitar stores can barely keep them on the shelves.
While the quality of the Silver Sky is certainly not up for debate, not every musician can afford a $2500+ guitar. Luckily, Paul Reed Smith recognizes this and offers the SE lineup of guitars for working musicians.
3. PRS SE and S2 Guitars
Following the success and demand for PRS guitars, PRS created the SE lineup. This line of guitars outsources the production to either World Musical Instruments or Cor-Tek, both of which are renowned and experienced overseas guitar makers.
PRS SE guitars still adhere to strict quality controls and often feature specs that match their US-made counterparts. These guitars are still highly regarded but usually come in at prices around or under a thousand dollars.
This makes them a much more attractive option for working musicians who may balk at taking out a several-thousand-dollar guitar to bar gigs.
It should be stated that these are not “beginner” guitars; the PRS SE range is still professional-level instruments that perform to high demands. If a beginner were to start with this guitar, it would grow with them for decades to come.
In addition to the SE lineup, PRS also offers the S2 line. These are American-made guitars that tone down the aesthetic flourishes of the PRS Core lineup, making them a great halfway point between the SE and Core lines.
Comparing the PRS SE Silver Sky and PRS Silver Sky
The aim of the PRS SE line of guitars is to offer more affordable guitars that play, feel, and look almost identical to their more expensive US-made siblings. The PRS SE Silver Sky is no exception.
The first major difference is where the guitars are made. The PRS Core Silver Sky is made in the PRS factory in Maryland. The SE Silver sky is produced by Cor-Tek in Indonesia.
Both guitars have a polyester finish, but under the paint job, the SE Silver Sky uses a poplar wood body as opposed to the alder used in the Core series. This makes it slightly more lightweight and a bit softer.
The Core Silver Sky also features a real bone nut and a 6-point tremolo bridge. The SE model has a synthetic bone nut and a 2-point tremolo bridge.
One major difference between the two guitars is that the original Silver Sky has a relatively round vintage radius of 7.25″. The SE model is slightly more flat at 8.25″. But for contrast, most Fender guitars start at 9.25″ these days.
PRS decided to go with the admittedly odd 8.25″ radius as a compromise between what most guitar players are used to (the Fender radius) and what John Mayer’s preferences are. It’s a good compromise that makes for a unique guitar.
The last difference between the two guitars is the pickups. The USA model pickups are hand-wound at the US factory, while the SE model pickups are made overseas to the same general specifications.
Other than a few fit-and-finish differences, both guitars are very similar to each other. If you desire a US-made instrument with more upscale appointments, the Silver Sky is for you.
However, if you are comfortable doing modifications or not too particular about a vintage radius and real bone nuts, the PRS SE Silver Sky is an incredible guitar for under $1000.
PRS SE Silver Sky Specifications and Options
The PRS SE Silver Sky was announced in 2021, and preorders filled up almost immediately. Guitar sellers have had a hard time keeping these guitars in stock, and many people have been flipping them online for more than MSRP.
It’s safe to say that the SE Silver Sky is a massive hit, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a high-quality, affordable instrument that offers something a little different from the usual Fender/Gibson fare.
One of the most notable things about the SE Silver Sky is that it comes in an array of off-the-beaten-path finish colors. There are four finish options for the SE Silver Sky.
The first is “Stone Blue,” which is an interesting blend of blue and grey. “Dragonfruit” offers up a dark magenta color, while “Evergreen” is a vibrant verdant green. Finally, “Moon White” is a nice faded white that evokes vintage guitar colors.
All of the SE Silver Sky guitars come with a white 3-ply pickguard and rosewood fretboard. Of course, they also have the famous PRS bird inlays.
As mentioned above, the SE guitars have an 8.5″ neck radius, synthetic bone nut, and 2-point tremolo bridge. They sport the same reverse PRS headstock as their “big brothers.”
The necks are maple with a smooth satin finish and come in at a 25.5″ scale (which is different from most PRS guitars at a 25″ scale). The neck contour is neutral and reminiscent of a vintage Stratocaster, and the neck pocket is also rounded for comfort.
There’s nothing fancy about the controls at first glance. A 5-way switch, volume knob, and two-tone knobs make up the face of the PRS SE Silver Sky. However, the in-between settings on the pickups are actually hum-canceling!
The tone knob on the bridge is noteworthy for taming the infamously shrill high end in S-style guitars, without sacrificing the low end. Some would even describe the pickups as P90-esque, with plenty of grunt and bark.
The pickups have also been designed to have a higher signal-to-noise ratio than their vintage-style counterparts. If you love single coils but hate how noisy they are, this is a huge boon.
All PRS guitars come with a nice padded and branded gig bag. This rounds off an incredible guitar package for well under $1000. If you can find one in stock anywhere, that is.
The Future of the PRS SE Silver Sky
With the absolute smashing success of the SE Silver Sky, it’s easy to wonder “what’s next” for the guitar model. At this point, we can only speculate.
However, based on the PRS Core Silver Sky, it is not unreasonable to expect an expanded lineup down the road. More body color options, maple or even roasted maple necks, and ebony fretboards could make an appearance.
It would also not be surprising to see a dual-humbucker, P90, or even more exotic pickup combination in the future Silver Sky models. Offering PRS Vela pickups would certainly be an enticing option.
PRS is also well-known for occasionally doing special limited runs of their guitars in the SE and S2 ranges, which offer unique finish colors, exotic woods, and configurations.
With the supply chain issues that are certainly preventing PRS from keeping these guitars stocked at the moment, they are certainly not going to be in a hurry to add more aesthetic options. They can’t even keep the four original colors in stock!
Given how high demand has been for these guitars, it’s pretty easy to say that the PRS SE Silver Sky is a modern classic, and will be a popular model for PRS for many years to come.
Why Should I Buy a PRS SE Silver Sky?
The PRS SE Silver Sky appeals to a broad range of players. If you gravitate towards S-style guitars and prefer a more modern single-coil sound, the SE Silver Sky is an excellent and affordable option.
The SE Silver Sky is a great modernized take on the Strat, but we’d argue it does things even better than the original. Bold words, but everything about this guitar is designed to elevate the S-style guitar into a new realm.
If you’ve been holding off on buying a PRS instrument because they’re a bit “out there” for your traditional tastes, the PRS SE Silver Sky might be a perfect PRS starter guitar for you.
With its familiar scale and radius, as well as its updated Strat-style body and neck, it will be just close enough to what you’re used to without feeling like you’ve already played one before.
Finally, the SE Silver Sky is a screaming bargain. A new guitar complete with a padded gig bag will come in under $1000 with taxes. For a high-quality players-grade instrument, this is a great price in these inflation-ridden times.
Shopping for Your Next Guitar
If you’re in the market for a new electric guitar, we’ve got you covered! We offer a wide array of musical instruments to meet any budget and need.
We also offer PRS SE Silver Sky preorders. We expect these to ship within 4-6 weeks, so get one now before they’re all gone again!
As always, feel free to contact us for online sales support at (844)798-0529. We’ll answer any of your questions and help you find the guitar of your dreams.