Passionate about the luthier craft from the get-go, Paul Reed Smith claims that his first guitar was built as a challenge to get credits from a college music professor. Securing a solid "A" gave him the drive to pursue making guitars for a living. After college, Paul Reed Smith repaired, sold, and built guitars making them one at a time at the rate of about one guitar a month.
At the time, his marketing tactics included cornering artists backstage and asking them to audition his handmade electric guitars. Paul Reed Smith also sought out the legendary Ted McCarty, who as president of Gibson, had guided the creation of a number of classic guitars including the Gibson Explorer, ES-335, and Flying V guitars. McCarty became a mentor to Smith, helping him refine his designs, and PRS Guitars was founded in 1985. Read More>
Headquartered in Maryland, PRS is notable for their exquisite guitars made to extraordinarily exacting specs, with proprietary pickups that deliver world-class tone. Designed for musicians just starting out and professional guitarists alike, countless artists have fallen in love their guitars.
PRS solidbody guitars are usually crafted of mahogany and boast highly figured and beautifully stained maple tops. The guitar necks are usually made of mahogany. (More about the necks later.) The company's fretboards have signature fret markers that include moons on the more affordable guitars and stylized birds on the higher-end models.
Paul Reed Smith is probably the luthier most noted for popularizing modern 24-fret guitar necks. Until 1993, all guitars had 24 frets. A 24-fret neck gives you 2 full octaves and makes high notes easier to play. Some guitarists find the longer scale and extra frets more playable, and appreciate a difference in the overtones that they hear. 24-fret models include the Custom 24, the CE 24, the Santana MD 24, and others.
The guitars also stand out for their one-piece stop-tail bridge, made possible thanks to the extreme precision of the company's manufacturing processes. The vibrato bridge resembles a vintage Fender® Stratocaster® trem with an emphasis on tonal stability and a third bridge type has a compensated wrap-over tailpiece with adjustable height and intonation.
The company is equally well known for making their own proprietary pickups with materials and construction methods that remain closely guarded secrets. Humbucking pickups
include: HFS (Hot, Fat, and Screams); Vintage Bass; McCarty; Santana I, II, and III; Archtop; Dragon I and II; Artist I through IV; #6, #7, #8, #9, and #10; RP (after the initials of the designer, Ralph Perucci); and Soapbar.
PRS Guitars has collaborated with artists including Johnny Hiland, Mark Tremonti, Ted McCarty, Carlos Santana, Alex Lifeson, Chad Kroeger, and Chris Henderson.