PRS was well known for their amazing hollowbody designs in the ‘90s, but unfortunately, they were simply out of reach for most players due to their rarity and the associated price tag. Thankfully, they have now incorporated these models into their attainably priced SE line, with the PRS SE Hollowbody II taking center stage.
This is a guitar that we named as our top pick in our roundup of the best hollow body electric guitars on the market. It represents incredible value for money with its dependable workhorse performance, at an attainable price for working musicians.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review we’re bringing you the full picture on this fantastic hollowbody. We put it through its paces for an extended period to really learn about its playability, tones, reliability, and overall performance – if you’re shopping for a premium hollow body, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading.
Who Is This For?
The PRS SE Hollowbody II is a great choice for serious players looking to unlock their potential with a supremely playable guitar. As briefly mentioned, it’s attainably priced at a little over $1000, making it a realistic option for working musicians looking for a real workhorse hollow body with a more modern aesthetic.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The Hollowbody II takes on a similar form factor to the iconic PRS double cut design, including the deep carve on the treble side cutaway, designed for unrestricted access to the upper frets. In fact, if it wasn’t for the beautifully bound F holes, you’d probably find it difficult to tell it apart from an SE 22 just by looking at it.
The body itself is very slim, and feels much like holding any regular solid body model – although it is ever so slightly larger. It was made with mahogany sides for a classic PRS tone, and featured a stunning figured maple back and top. Our test model came with the Faded Blue burst finish, which is arguably the best of the 4 available colors, although all of them do look great.
One of the most interesting elements of this guitar’s construction was the use of a small block to anchor the bridge. This enabled PRS to install their usual adjustable stoptail unit rather than a glued bridge like you’d find on most jazzbox style hollow body models. This makes it much more robust, and really provides improved tuning stability and intonation.
It had a set, solid mahogany neck, carved into the almost legendary PRS Wide Fat profile, which is one of the chunkier designs on the market. If you’re a fan of thick necks, you’ll likely love this, but it’s the primary reason that we don’t really recommend this model for newer players.
On top of the neck was a beautiful ebony fretboard which was, of course, inlaid with the famous PRS “Birds in Flight” fret markers. Ebony isn’t exactly commonly used on PRS models, so right away it felt different, and dare we say, more special. The fretwork was, as we’ve come to expect from PRS, all very nicely finished, with nice smooth edges, and a great polish on the crowns.
The pickups were PRS 58/15 S humbuckers, which suited the hollowbody sound perfectly. They are effectively the same design as the US made 58/15 humbuckers found on flagship models, but they’re made in Indonesia.
We found that the PRS SE Hollowbody II was an all round amazing guitar to play. It offered fantastic playability thanks to the amazing factory setup. The action was perfect – low, without fret buzz or choke out, just how we like it.
The neck, while thick, felt great in the hand. It wasn’t the world’s fastest, but then again, this is effectively the brand’s thickest profile.
While the design is quite radically different to that of an ES semi hollow, we actually found that it offered pretty similar tones, although it was noticeably more resonant. It had an exceptionally snappy response, too, which was no doubt a feature provided by the maple top and back.
With the tone and volume dimed, it was an extremely bright instrument, but thanks to its excellent dynamics, we were able to darken the tones quite significantly by rolling the tone back.
The pickups were particularly well suited to jazz and blues. A little crunch goes a long way here, as excessive distortion tends to lead to feedback – this isn’t a unique problem to the PRS, but if you’re looking for something for high gain styles, the PRS SE Zach Meyers Semi Hollow is probably a better choice.
Other Guitars to Consider
If any elements of the PRS SE Hollowbody II don’t necessarily appeal to you, you might want to take a look at some alternative options. There are some other fantastic hollow body guitars in this price range that might just pique your interest. TO give you a little inspiration, we’ve picked our favorite alternatives below.
The Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster is a really unique approach to the hollowbody electric. It puts similar emphasis on both electric and acoustic performance (as evidenced by the sound hole), and offers great overdriven performance, too. It’s a great option if you prefer a slimmer neck, and thanks to its combination of piezo and electromagnetic pickups, it allows for all electric tones, all acoustic tones, and even a blend of the 2 – it’s a versatile option that we’re sure a lot of players will like.
If you’re more of a traditionalist, you’ll probably love the Guild T-50 Slim. It has a classic hourglass shape, and a slimline body, making it incredibly comfortable to hold and play. Not only that, but the soft U shape neck is particularly forgiving. It’s better suited for rhythm guitar than it is for lead, and boy does the single Franz P90 pickup growl when pushed hard. It’s a beautifully equipped guitar with high end hardware, and will definitely appeal to those who prefer the vintage look.
Final Thoughts on the PRS SE Hollowbody II
We really loved getting to spend a bit of extra time with the PRS SE Hollowbody II. It was such a refreshing break from the usual jazzbox style hollow body guitars, both tonally and in terms of playability.
Build quality on this guitar was superlative, and in many respects felt at least equal to its US made counterpart, which is high praise indeed. Playability was excellent, and we got some fantastic tones with that thick resonant sound that only hollow body guitars can deliver.
While it’s not a cheap guitar, it still represents excellent value when you consider the fact that it’s essentially a pro level instrument, and is still attainably priced. It’s stage and studio ready, both in terms of durability and sound quality, and we would gladly recommend it to anybody looking for a modern hollow body.