Difference between PRS Silver Sky and SE Silver Sky

Published : - Author : Dan Kopilovic
Posted under: Comparisons

PRS SE Silver presents an amazing value at just $850 for a brand-new instrument. At a first glance, it’s the exact same guitar as the more expensive PRS Silver Sky model, so many people wonder – what’s the catch? Is someone playing a joke on me, or does all this somehow makes sense?

The Main Difference between Silver Sky and SE Silver Sky

The Main Difference between Silver Sky and SE Silver Sky is the fact that the more premium model is produced in the US, while the cheaper “SE” version is outsourced to Asia.

As far as the differences in the specs – the SE model is made of poplar, while the premium model has an alder body. The SE model has a synthetic bone nut with a 41.8mm width, while the US model has a bone nut with a 42.35mm width. Also, the SE model has a 184mm (7.25”) fretboard radius, while the US model has a flatter 216mm (8.5”) radius.

Furthermore, the US model has locking tuners, while the SE has basic non-locking tuners, and the US model has a six-point tremolo bridge, while the SE model has a two-point one.

What does SE stand for on PRS Silver Sky SE?

SE stands for “Student Edition”. This is basically PRS’s way of saying to its customers “hey, this is a cheap guitar for people who are learning to play guitar, so don’t expect too much from it”. They are playing it smart – limiting our expectations.

Where is the PRS SE Silver Sky made?

The cheaper SE Silver Sky model is built in Indonesia. The company that builds the guitar is called Cor-Tek Musical Instruments Co., and they basically just produce the instruments based on PRS’s specifications.

Labour is a lot cheaper in Indonesia than in the US. The minimum wage there, as of January 2022, is just $298, while in the US is $1,256. So, it’s exactly 4.21 times cheaper to pay someone to make a guitar in Indonesia, than it is in the US.

When you compare that to the guitars’ prices – PRS SE is $849, while the premium Silver Sky is $2,649. So the SE is around 3.12 times cheaper than the US model.

Conclusion – most of the cost difference between the models lies in the fact that they are produced in different countries.

Does “Made in Indonesia” means less quality?

The fact that the SE Silver Sky is not produced by highly skilled PRS luthiers in the US, means that the SE guitar is probably less refined. You might expect more imperfections and less attention to detail on an SE model.

But, in reality – in 2022, manufacturing a guitar is really not rocket science, especially when you basically have a blueprint provided by the PRS, and all you have to do is follow the instructions.

Overall, the reviews have been positive regarding the SE model, and people have not encountered too many imperfections on the guitars.

Alder vs Poplar, is wood important?

According to woodworkerssource.com, a board of poplar is $5.29, while a comparable board of alder is $7.99. This is a difference of around 50%. Looks like a pretty big deal, but it’s really not – when you look at just how little wood it takes to make one single guitar.

But, more importantly, alder is a material that has been traditionally used in electric guitars. Specifically, all of the vintage Stratocasters (which let’s be honest is the basis for this guitar), had alder bodies. So, it’s not just the price, it’s tradition, and it’s the sonic differences in the wood.

Realistically, this is the least important difference, because not a single person on this earth could tell a specific type of wood that an electric guitar was made of just by playing it through an amplifier.

Visual Differences between PRS Silver Sky and PRS SE Silver Sky

There are some differences between the Silver Sky and the SE Silver Sky that you can spot with your eye. Most of them are around the headstock area – starting with the truss rod cover. On the US-made model, the cover is actually a metal plate inlaid so it sits in the exact same plane as the surrounding wood. On the SE model, there’s a basic plastic cover sitting on top of the truss rod hole.

Aside from that, the nut on the US-made model is also different. While on the SE model the nut sits at the end of the fretboard, like on most of the PRS models, on the US model it’s actually inlaid. This was likely inspired by how it’s done on a Fender Stratocaster.

Looking at the headstock, the last thing you’ll notice is the tuners. On the US-made PRS Silver Sky model, you’re getting locking tuners, while on the SE model you’re getting basic non-locking tuners.

A look at the headstocks of the PRS Silver Sky and the PRS SE Silver Sky.
A look at the headstocks of the PRS Silver Sky and the PRS SE Silver Sky.

Looking at the guitar’s body, you’ll notice one last visual difference. The SE model has a two-point bridge, while the US Silver Sky has a six-point tremolo bridge. The difference between these is just in how they are mounted to the body – whether it’s with two screws, or with six.

Difference between the six-point tremolo bridge on the PRS Silver Sky vs the two-point bridge on the PRS SE Silver Sky.
Difference between the six-point tremolo bridge on the PRS Silver Sky vs the two-point bridge on the PRS SE Silver Sky.

The Sound difference between a PRS Silver Sky and a Silver Sky SE

Obviously, the difference in the sound between the PRS Silver Sky and the PRS Se Silver Sky cannot be described in words. At least not in a way that would be completely objective and for the reader to judge freely. For that reason, we’ll include a video of Mary Spender doing a comparison between the two guitars. She played the guitars in the exact same scenarios, so if there’s any difference in the way how they sound, it should be easy to hear.

But, before you listen to the comparison please note that the pickups in the US-made Siver Sky and the SE Silver Sky are not exactly the same.

What pickups are on the PRS silver sky SE?

The pickups that are in the PRS Silver Sky SE are the PRS 635JM “S” single-coil pickups.

What’s the difference between the PRS Silver Sky SE pickups and the Silver Sky pickups?

Based on this wonderful comparison by PRS Forum member “gpdb”, there’s not much of a difference between these pickups. Both pickups use Alnico 5 magnets, and PRS 635JM “S” (SE pickups) measures around 7.45kOhm of DC Resistance, while the PRS 635JM measures 6.43kOhm.

They are both great-sounding pickups, and it really comes down to preference. Pay close attention to the video clip below of Mary Spender playing the guitars, and see whether you can even hear a difference.

Verdict – Is PRS Silver Sky SE worth it?

PRS Silver Sky SE is absolutely worth every penny it costs. It’s definitively comparable to its more expensive cousin (remember – it’s three times more expensive), and if you’re willing to overlook a few imperfections and settle for less attention to detail, you’ll definitely love the guitar.

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