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This article was originally published in issue #59
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It’s clear that this is not an instrument designed to cover all bases: it’s a focussed rock and blues machine with a very clear sonic identity. What a sound it is too!
Punchy and warm tones
Great feeling satin neck
Available in three gorgeous finishes
No coil splits
PRS has brought back its Limited-Edition SE Bernie Marsden model for one final limited run, and Nick Jennison is here to give us the rundown. The 2018 Bernie Marsden Limited Edition SE offers the same sublime playability and high-quality finish of previous signature models of the Whitesnake and UFO legend while providing an enhanced feel across the neck thanks to a smooth satin finish. As this is a limited-edition model with only 100 of each finish available in Europe, you'll have to be quick on the draw if you want one in your collection.
When it was released way back in 2012, the Bernie Marsden signature PRS was an overnight hit, and with excellent reason. The former Whitesnake axeman is perhaps best known for owning one of the most storied ’59 Les Pauls, “The Beast”, and his signature PRS is an attempt to capture some of that magic for less than 0.1% of The Beast’s market value. How did they do? Well enough for Bernie to play it on tour and in the studio, that’s for sure.
Fast forward to 2018 and the demand for the now discontinued Bernie Marsden SE is so high that PRS have reissued it as a European exclusive limited edition in three gorgeous finishes that evoke the “bursts” that inspired it: Vintage Sunburst, Dark Cherry Sunburst and Tobacco Sunburst. The latter is available on this model for the first time, while our review model is resplendent in the former.
Taking the guitar from its rugged PRS SE gig bag, I was instantly struck by how classy it looks and feels in hand. The finish is thick and rich, and the feel is one of sturdiness and solidity. Often Korean and Indonesian made guitars can feel a little insubstantial compared to their American and Japanese counterparts, but that’s certianly not the case here. That’s not to say that it’s a heavy guitar - far from it - but the feeling of quality is very reassuring.
A noticeable change from the original 2012 model is the satin nitro finish on the Wide Fat neck. It’s a very welcome addition, making for a super smooth playing feel. Nitro is also a significantly more labour intensive finish than poly, so its inclusion on a guitar at this price point is a very nice surprise.
The juice is provided courtesy of PRS’s SE 245 humbuckers, a prevalent model in both USA and SE incarnations for their fat and plummy vintage voice. They don’t sparkle like authentic PAFs (which can sound almost single coil-esque in their openness), but there’s a great midrange authority and punch that’s just made for classic rock and blues lines through a dirty amp. The mahogany and maple construction and 24.5” scale length serve to double down on the mid-dominant tonal qualities.
It’s clear that this is not an instrument designed to cover all bases: it’s a focussed rock and blues machine with a very clear sonic identity. What a sound it is too! The neck pickup has an extraordinary throaty “clonk” when you dig in and is smooth and refined when you don’t. Likewise, the bridge pickup is fat and snarling but without even a hint of brashness or ice-pick high end. The two volume controls allow for a variety of blends in the middle position, although there’s only a single master tone.
The PRS SE Bernie Marsden LTD is a great sounding guitar with a classic voice and a real sense of class and quality that belies its price. They’re strictly limited to 100 units in each finish, so if you want one, get in fast!
Mahogany Body & Neck
Bound Rosewood Fingerboard
Wide Fat Neck Profile
245 Treble and Bass Pickups