Last year at Winter NAMM 2015 we talked to Mark Holcomb about his then-new limited-edition signature guitar from PRS. It was built to his exact specifications, of course, and because Mark is a man of excellent taste, that meant the finest appointments – which in turn meant a hefty price tag. Nothing so much higher than many domestic PRS, and they are quite the guitars to behold, but out of reach for many consumers.
Fast forward to today, and fans of Mark and his deft guitar work in Periphery and Haunted Shores can now get their grubbies on a signature model of his for a small fraction of the price. The PRS SE Mark Holcomb signature guitar retails for $899 and at first glance, doesn’t look much different from its predecessor. It comes in the same finish – aptly titled Holcomb Burst (although the original comes in other optional finishes) and features the same pickups (Mark’s signature Alpha and Omega set from Seymour Duncan). The most obvious difference right off the bat is the gloss finish, and a slightly different body contour (more akin to the other in the SE line – it has bevels rather than a carved top) with no countersunk knobs.
The guitar features a 25.5″ scale and a 20″ radius fingerboard, much more suited for modern metal than the PRS of days gone by, and the pickups have a satisfying snarl to them that makes it easier to achieve a tight, heavy tone with your rig. My review unit was set up very well, in drop C tuning from the factory. It plays very well with no further set up needed, although I would probably take it down a bit lower on the treble side if I’m being picky.
One thing to consider is this – many of these features might seem standard fare for some guitar brands, but this marks a very different path for Paul Reed Smith. Even their 7 string guitars have a 25″ scale, and most of their guitars have a 10″ radius fretboard. The hardtail bridge is also a pretty recent thing for them. I don’t think any of those things are bad – just old school. This guitar represents a modern twist on their classic design, and maybe I’m reading too much into it, but possibly a new way of thinking at the company. I’ve always liked their guitars a lot, but this gives me something that I can really use for the music I play.
The only thing I think could be improved about this guitar would be the addition of locking tuners. I encountered some small tuning stability issues that could have been a result of the nut or other setup, but I find that if the bridge is a hardtail, the usual culprit is the tuners.
So if you’re intrigued by this guitar, and/or you’re a fan of Periphery and Haunted Shores, I can tell you that it’s is definitely worth their asking price, and I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed by the quality.
IF you don’t want to spend the money to buy one, we’re giving you a chance to win one with your guitar skills – just click here to see how.