Contrary to the PRS 25th Anniversary Santana model introduced at the same time, the PRS Carlos Santana SE One Abraxas guitar is substantially different from any previous model issued. A radical new look has been combined with some vastly changed specifications to create an instruments unlike any others in the line.
Saluting Santana’s Early Days
Named “Abraxas” after what is arguably Carlos Santana’s most widely known and critically-acclaimed album to date, this model is patterned after the Les Paul Special which was the guitar played by Santana during the first few years of the band’s history. As such, it has a single-cutaway, single-cut mahogany body, with no binding at all.
Further cementing the “vintage” feel of this guitar is the standard “stop tail” bridge, as well as the “soap bar” pickup in the bridge position. Similar to the P-90 pickups boasted by the Gibson Les Paul Special, it has a plain plastic cover with a row of screws running through the center.
It should be noted that while Gibson Les Paul Specials had two pickups (bridge and neck), the SE One Abraxas has only a single pickup. Evidently, Paul Reed Smith and Santana were shooting for minimalism on this guitar, as the only control is a single volume knob, placed fairly close to the bridge.
Very ’60s Graphics
Even more striking than the configuration of this Abraxas guitar is its appearance. It is available in only one color: an off-white, semi-opaque finish called “Whitewash.” The oblong, organically-shaped pickguard (tortoise shell) begins at the neck, wraps around the pickup and bridge, and ends up just below the Volume control.
On the body of the guitar is an iconic graphic from the Abraxas album cover: a winged woman straddling a conga drum. Marking the 12th fret is an abalone inlay of a peace sign; the other fret markers are abalone dots which are formulated to mimic the moon in a “waxing crescent” phase. The whitewash finished is carried up to the headstock.
Feel and Playability
Due to the smooth, well-shaped jumbo frets on the Rosewood fretboard, the PRS Carlos Santana SE One Abraxas is actually a very playable instrument. While it’s pickup will not deliver the saturated distortion which forms the basis of Santana’s current tone, it delivers a creditable simulation of his early sound (from Santana by Santana, Abraxas, Santana III, et al).
With a street price of $600 – $700, it’s a bit pricey for an entry level guitar, but die-hard Santana fans may want to own one just due to the nostalgia factor. Not to mention the fact that, since this guitar was issued for only a few months and produced in very limited quantities, it may be difficult to find!