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PRS or, Paul Reed Smith, guitars are considered one of the heavyweights in the world of electric guitars even though they only really gained popularity in the 1990s. Paul began building guitars in the ‘70s, one at a time and with fanatical perfectionism. In fact he has reportedly sawed in two instruments created by his luthiers in half, which he felt weren’t up to par.
Still a much smaller company than giants such as Fender and Gibson, PRS guitars are sought after by professionals. Their cheapest models sell for around $800 and are manufactured in Korea, while custom models have been produced for over $60,000.
Artists Who Play PRS
Paul may be the only master luthier (at least that I am aware of) who plays in his own band – the Paul Reed Smith Band. He got his first break as a guitar builder in 1975 when he got backstage at a Ted Nugent concert and offered Ted a guitar, which Ted has and plays to this day. Paul tried the same thing with Carlos Santana and we never see Carlos play any other electric guitar on stage. The list of artists who love their PRS guitars grows every year and includes Mike Oldfield, Steven Wilson, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Al DiMeola and Orianthi.
Materials Used in Manufacture
Only the finest, kiln-dried maple and mahogany goes into the body of a PRS electric, which is then hand-sanded five times and finished with eight thin coats. Fret markers, made of pearl or abalone (or, paua), are most often in the shape of birds, though some are moon-shaped. The types of woods, finishes and other options available for the custom and very expensive Private Stock PTS guitars is enough to make you drool. Pickups are designed and built in-house for that trademark PRS tone and sustain.
Though known primarily as a producer of high-end, electric guitars, PRS also produces top-quality acoustic guitars as well. Alex Lifeson, Tony McManus and Cody Kilby all play and endorse PRS acoustics.
Even the relatively low-cost SE series (which does not stand for Student Edition) offer an exquisite playing experience. Should you be in the market for a guitar that costs a few thousand dollars and you have not played a PRS, you owe it to yourself to do so.