Help me bring my PRS CE-24 back to life


I could use some advice about my '93 PRS CE-24. I've owned it for about 18 years but I never did play it much. It plays well, of course, but I always disliked the stock (HFS and Vintage Bass, I think) pickups, which sound dull and compressed to me. I replaced the bridge pickup with an Anderson something-or-other many years ago, but it's too hot and harsh and doesn't balance well with the original neck pickup. Also, the original 5-way rotary switch is flaky and should be replaced. The guitar has mostly been living in the closet for the past decade.

A couple of months ago I liberated it from prison and have been enjoying playing it unplugged around the house, though I'm still unsatisfied with it's electrified sound. I'd like to resolve my issues with it and put it back into action.

I'd like to replace the pickups and I'd prefer something that enhances the Strat-like qualities of the guitar. It having an alder body, vibrato, and bolt-on maple neck, I can definitely hear some of the snap and bite of a Fender, and I'd like to bring that out. Can anyone offer some suggestions? A bright PAF style humbucker, perhaps?

I also need to replace the switch but I can't find one and I get the impression that they are no longer made. I see that PRS's current switch is different - it has a little circuit board attached. Is this new switch compatible with the wiring scheme in my old guitar? If not, can anyone point me toward a replacement for the original rotary switch?

(I'm also considering converting it to a toggle switch wiring scheme, similar to a Gibson, but if I go there I'll start another thread about it.)
I did the same with my 91 a couple months ago, including a SS refret!
I found Dimarzio Gravity Storm pups doing good in mine, and an Ernie Ball special 3 way switch replaced the 5 way. The eb switch gets one coil on each hb in parallel and is great as a clean sound.
The dimarzio 36th ann gets good reviews in CEs also.


i've just pulled the trigger on a free way switch for my SAS. switch

it hasn't arrived yet, so can't really comment. but it'l do more than the 5 way and it's a toggle - so would possibly be quicker to get access to all the tones.

has several options available too; some of which will be stratty in nature. the other option is hb sized p90's and a 3 way?


I'd bet the new 5-way rotary is compatible with the old, but I'd confirm before buying one. Replacing it with a 3-way toggle is fairly easy. The only thing you'll need to do is widen the hole just a tiny bit. With some sandpaper and a little patience, you can do it in about 10 minutes. I've done it to a couple of CE-24s with no problems. You can then replace the tone pot with a push-pull pot and that gives you 6 sounds.

I've had success with the DiMarzio 36th pickups in my CE-24. For the last few years though I've had a 59/09 in the bridge. Sounds great, though not exactly Strat-like.

Oh, and



Gold Supporting Member
I wouldn't discount the stock pickups just yet. With the five way switch the inbetween sounds sound very stratish and in the middle position if you roll your volume back a bit you'll get a very nice strat tone. I've been looking for an older ce24 because they are so versatile. The volume knob works so well on those guitars that just rolling down while on your amps drive channel you can get a lot of great humbucker to single tones. If your set on swapping, the dimarzio 36th anniversaries would be a good reasonable starting point.
I have a stock '93 CE-24, and I love the VB/HFS pickups in it. The key is the 5-way rotary switch. The split coil settings are very Strat-like. And the humbucker sounds are great for higher gain stuff. Personally, I think the early alder body CE-24s are some of the most versatile guitars that PRS has ever made. If you are primarily a Strat player (I am), then you will really like an alder CE-24. I will never modify mine. It's perfect. And to be honest, it's getting harder to find alder CE-24s in original form. I think that's why the prices are creeping upward. That, and the fact that the reissue CE-24 costs $2K, isn't alder, has less top carve, and just isn't as cool as the originals.

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