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Carlos Santana has been a rock icon for decades, with his silky cool style and soulful riffs, he has a skill that hundreds of thousands try and imitate (I include myself in this statistic). With Santana’s Paul Reed Smith SE series, introduced back in 2001, Carlos is the only guitarist to have five SE models made under his name.


The SE series was originally made to offer a junior or student edition to the PRS range, but something strange happened. Many people think of “student edition” guitars as basic shells of their more expensive kin, but whilst the SE signature models may be very affordable, but they’re anything but stripped-down basic instruments. The PRS SE Santana offers nothing less than brilliance with much of the same vibe as the high-end PRS Santana model, from its old-school double-cutaway body shape to its extremely playable wide neck.


The PRS SE Santana looks almost identical to the PRS Santana model, though the main difference is the body. Whilst the SE does have an arched top, it somehow lacks the quality craftsmanship that you get in its bigger brother. The neck has a similar wide and fat profile, and the rosewood 22 fret fingerboard is decorated with bird inlays.


All of the hardware blows other guitars in this model’s price range out of the water in terms of quality. The tremolo, designed by PRS, feels exceptionally sturdy, and the individual saddles for the strings fit tight and are even smoothly polished to avoid any string breakage.


The pickups, master tone, volume knobs, and three-position pickup selector are firmly installed with a perfect alignment you would expect of a top end Paul Reed Smith. The PRS designed SE 245 Humbuckers perfectly complement the guitar’s vintage styling and timeless classic appeal.


While the SE Santana almost perfectly mimics Carlos Santana’s signature lead tone, it can also produce some crunchy hard rock rhythm tones and punchy funk chords. The real beauty in the SE Santana is when you start to solo. Somehow it seems like single notes magically become fatter, similar to the style of its namesake.


Even though the guitar is made overseas, it still maintains the vibe of any PRS guitar. From its impossibly stylish aesthetics and impeccable build to its incredible feel and soulful tone, everything about the PRS SE Santana screams quality.


With a measly high street price at around £500-600, the PRS SE Santana offers a high level of quality, from build to the playing tone, making it unbeatable value for a supposedly basic cheap guitar. Why not compare musical instruments here on Instrumania? You could save yourself a bundle!

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