PRS Kestrel SE Bass

Published 3 years ago on September 14, 2020

By Jonathan Graham

Gi71...Bassment....PRS Kestrel SE Bass

PRS Kestrel SE Bass

Vid Count: 1 Native

Guitar Interactive star rating: 4


A modern take on an old classic that is not to be passed up.

Beautiful neck playability.




No left-hand models and no 5 strings (yet!)

Some may want more colour choices

PRS Kestrel SE Bass

MSRP (UK) £TBC (US) $750


Alder Body

5-Ply Maple Neck with Walnut Strips.

PRS-Designed Singlecoil Bass & Treble Pickups 



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The SE Kestrel takes a traditional single-coil bass platform and adds PRS's fit, finish, and attention to detail, delivering a new take on a classic instrument. Pitched as the total all-rounder, no matter the style or decade, PRS claim the Kestrel can achieve every bass part needed, but just how good is it? Dan Veall tells us more. 


PRS is well known around these here parts down in the Guitar Interactive studios! I know a few of my fellow staff members are rocking the electric guitar models! You will have recently seen me jamming with the fine Nick Jennison and his well-gigged fine example.


It's the turn of us bassists though! Enter the 2019 versions of the PRS SE models, the Kingfisher and Kestrel basses. We are taking a closer investigation of the Kestrel bass here, a modern take on a well known classic. (We will take a look at the Kingfisher in another review) But does it come up to scratch? Hopefully my video will tell you all you need to know.


Paul Reed Smith announced back in 2014 that we were to expect two basses to appear in the SE line-up and sure enough they did and had certainly been enjoying interest since. 


Five years later and having played both the Kingfisher and Kestrel basses in their current form, I have to say that they are still great basses. The models are not entry-level budget model quality, we are treated to a whole lot more than that.


Out of the pair, the Kestrel bass is my favourite. The super slim 22 fret neck is made of a 5-ply laminate of Maple with Walnut strips and is beautifully finished, so much so that the binding hides any feel of fret edges and is very comfortable indeed. This is one of the nicest bass necks I have played in this budget range. The set up on this particular example was super fast with a low, low, low action. 

One thing that immediately struck me is that both basses are so well balanced. They sat perfectly still on my lap with not even a hint of neck dive. This, of course, translates well to any bass that is going to hang from the shoulder for lengthy performances; the headstock is small and features quality lightweight Hipshot tuners keeping the weight down.

On the subject of hardware, it's Hipshot for the bridge too, and it's a chunky monkey! At the same time though. Being as the whole bass has a modern vibe to it, the bridge to my eye doesn't look out of place at all. It's a rear-loader so the strings come up through the body. Colour choices are limited, the current models come in this tasty Tri-Colour sunburst or solid black. Good job, they are two of my favourites!


On to the Alder body are mountain two single coil pickups and a BWB pickguard. I am afraid I can't tell you a great deal about the PRS SE pickups, suffice to say that they sounded brilliant through our studio amplifier. Today, an EBS HD360 30th Anniversary head and NeoLine210. I mention these as I found the pairing to be particularly good. 

Both pickups provide a good tone and I am pleased the rear pickup doesn't sound nasal or thin. Both on and we are treated to everything I want to hear in a J-bass tone. Just lovely.


Being a neck-thru instrument, upper fret access is unhindered further helped by the deep scoop of the lower horn. A joy to play "up the dusty end". 



I very much enjoyed reviewing both the Kingfisher and Kestrel basses. I love what both had to offer, but this example of the Kestrel bass was a real gem. Now, all I have to do is convince Paul Reed Smith that they should also do a five-string model with a 17mm string spacing!












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