Paul Reed Smith is an almost mythical name in the world of guitars, and most associate the brand with those exclusive high-end guitars that make guitar enthusiasts drool. This PRS SE Angelus A40E review will familiarize you with an affordable option.
While the components differ somewhat from their more famous models, it has the same general design, complete with the familiar bird inlays. These are still fine quality components, and PRS promises good results.
Let’s see how it holds up.
- Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
- Back and Sides: Ovangkol
- Neck: 20-fret Mahogany
- Nut Width: 1 11/16"
- Nut & Saddle: Bone
- Body Shape: Angelus Cutaway
- Electronics: Fishman GT1
What’s special about the PRS SE A40E is the PRS Hybrid bracing. It’s essentially like a modern X-bracing design with additional fan bracing down the belly.
Other than that, it’s a pretty straightforward western guitar with an elegant Angelus cutaway body that resonates with a rich tone. The solid spruce top retains an unusually rich character due to the elaborate bracing.
What I like most is the use of high-quality components and materials throughout the design. They’ve used real bone for the nut and saddle, and the bridge and fretboard are ebony.
The mahogany neck is a “wide fat” design with a width of 2.28 inches by the body and 1.69 inches at the nut. It has a scale length of 25.3 inches, and there’s a convenient truss rod in case you want to adjust the string action.
Also, the PRS SE Angelus A40E comes with a high-quality hard case.
The PRS SE Angelus A40E has a Fishman GT1 preamp system with an under-saddle pickup. Its sound is dynamic and transparent, letting you bring the natural sound onto the stage.
As for controls, you can set the volume and tone. You find these knobs on the preamp in the soundhole.
A strong gloss finish makes the PRS SE Angelus both visually dazzling and durable. Plus, its luxurious details like the birds and the tiger lining along the body binding make it a real work of eye candy.
How the PRS SE Angelus A40E Plays
From the general body shape to the neck design, you can tell that comfort and performance are the main things you pay for when you buy a PRS SE Angelus A40E.
The so-called “wide fat” neck isn’t really that thick. In fact, it’s a lot like a classic Gibson Les Paul neck, except that it’s silky smooth for better fretting speed and comfort. This is great news if you’re used to electric guitars and want to get a good acoustic guitar.
Plus, you’ve got to love the low action and 2.22-inch string spacing. If you like barre chords or fast licks with bent notes, this is an ideal design that’ll reduce left-hand strain.
The PRS Angelus A40E is also excellent for fingerpicking, and the string spacing means this works well both with and without long nails.
This thing is pretty loud. The high-quality build with elaborate bracing gives it good projection power and a rich low end. In fact, it could possibly get a bit too boomy for some ears if you strike a loud open chord.
Compared to a typical mahogany or rosewood body, the ovangkol is somewhat mellow. It’s sweet and punchy without too much shimmer.
You get long, bright notes with or without a pick, and this is why we love bone saddles and nuts. Fingerstyle and flatpicking runs sound clear yet smooth and buttery on the PRS SE Angelus A40E.
With its powerful yet balanced sound, it’s perfect for use with a band or on a busy street.
Click this link for pricing on the PRS SE A40E. Considering how you get a hard case and shoulder strap from PRS, it's quite a deal.
PRS SE Angelus A40E VS Taylor 114CE
To give you a better understanding of the PRS SE Angelus A40E, let’s compare it to a popular competitor. The Taylor 114CE is similar in most regards, but it has a slightly longer scale length.
Also, it’s a different shape known as Grand Auditorium with a Venetian cutaway that aims to provide extra comfort. As for materials, the body is walnut and the neck is sapele. On the other hand, it has a micarta saddle and a tusq nut, which may dampen the sound a bit.
If you’re interested, you can learn more about the Taylor 114ce here.
Pros & Cons
Now, that’s a lot of information to take in. Let’s summarize the key insights of this PRS SE Angelus A40E review.
- Smooth, versatile tone
- Comfortable playability
- Loud with long sustain
- High-quality electronics
There’s no doubt about the quality of the PRS SE A40E. Everything’s there, and it comes together into sweet harmony.
- Only one style
- Mid-range bias
While these are matters of preference, it may matter to some guitarists. If a warm, even tone isn’t what you need, it may not be the best guitar. As for the style, there are other options in this product line that use different woods and thus look different, but they also sound different.
PRS SE ANGELUS A40E – To Buy or Not to Buy?
The PRS SE Angelus A40E is a perfect example of the creative designs that make PRS so popular.
The build quality, tone, and visual style won’t disappoint. And thanks to the material choices, it’s a pretty affordable PRS guitar that I can recommend to any guitarist looking for a sweet acoustic companion.
PRS SE Angelus A40E John Holloway Rating: 5 out of 5