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In the mid-1970s, a college boy named Paul Reed Smith began to craft hand-built guitars. Paul was pretty good at it, as evidenced by the fact that early enthusiasts included Derek St. Holmes (of Ted Nugent’s band) and then Carlos Santana. By 1985, Paul had set up a small factory and produced twenty guitars for the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Show. The guitars were well-received, and thus began PRS’s foray into the niche market of high-quality upscale guitars. By the end of the 1990’s, PRS was producing 700 guitars a month and employed a staff of 110 people in Stevensville, Maryland.

Today, most PRS guitars are constructed of mahogany, with the majority of models featuring maple tops. The tops are often figured with flame maple, figured maple, or quilt maple creating a tiger-striped effect. The necks are generally made of mahogany, while the signature fret boards with their tiny moons or popular bird designs are made from abalone shell.

PRS enjoys a fine reputation as a maker of upscale electric guitars and custom-made shop instruments. Since the 90’s, they have also produced an affordable line of instruments in Asia, and since 2013 they began to make more budget-friendly guitars in the US, as well. PRS also manufactures amplifiers.

In addition to Carlos Santana, notable users include Ted Nugent, Mike Plafield, Dave Navarro, Clint Lowery, Al DiMeola and Orianthi.


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