The story of Paul Reed Smith takes us back to the early 1970’s. Paul at the time was a budding musician and a struggling college student. Back at that time money was short for the Smith family, while many students had their parents paying for expensive guitars, amps and PA systems, Paul did not share this luxury. Instead, he set out to build a guitar for himself from spare pieces of wood found in the basement of his college art department.
For Paul it was a case of function over form. Paul constructed his first solid body guitar in 1975 with the guidance of his music instructor. He took on board the lessons he had learnt from his tutor and soon dropped out of college altogether to pursue a career in music and guitar building.
After dropping out of college Paul began performing in various bands and opened up his first small workshop repairing guitars in Annapolis Maryland, USA. From 1976 right until 1985 Paul was producing just a single guitar each month. Back then one of Pauls marketing methods consisted of approaching roadies at gigs and demanding the guitars be given to the bands backstage to showcase.
Early customers of Smith’s custom builds, some costing $2,000, included Peter Frampton, Ted Nugent, Al Di Meola and Howard Leese of the band Heart. Carlos Santana, now one of PRS’s long-time endorsers, was a tougher sell. Santana had Smith build him four guitars before he was willing to endorse Smith as a gifted guitar maker.
While Gibson and Fender struggled to compete with the likes of Kramer, Jackson, Ibanez and other guitar importers, Paul and his small group of employees saw an opportunity to expand and went for it. In late 1984 Paul began approaching retails to showcase his guitars in the hopes of building enough pre-orders to expand his operation. Through pre-orders and a hefty investment from businessman and investor Warren Esanu, PRS raised $500,000 and moved production to a larger factory in Annapolis.
Smith took a page from Gibson’s book and focused on the instruments playability but also aesthetics. Even from his early days as a builder, Paul used superior woods and even added beautiful touches such as the ‘bird’ inlays which would later become a defining feature of PRS guitars.
Smith met former Gibson president and CEO Ted McCarty in the mid-’80s, and the elder man would serve as a mentor to Smith and a consultant to PRS. The company debuted its popular McCarty model in 1994. It wasn’t long after that PRS began producing all of their hardware in the shop such as locking tuners, bridges and more. In 1991 PRS released its first ‘Dragon’. An expertly inlayed guitar which looked arguably more beautiful than any other guitar on the planet. If people were ignoring PRS until then, they weren’t now.
In 2013 PRS introduced their mid-priced, US-made S2 line of guitars. Built in the USA with the affordability closer to the range of the satin finished, Korean-made SE line. Smith becomes passionate when talking about the current state of the guitar-making business, where there’s more competition than ever. Buyers need to decide what guitar makers they will trust, he says.
“Trust that it stays in tune, plays in tune, the frets are in the right place, things are sticking, that it’s easy to play, you can get a huge variety of gorgeous tones out of it, it’s comfortable, it doesn’t weigh too much, it doesn’t smell bad, it holds up over time, it doesn’t need a repairman next week, that stuff is really important."
PRS now produce over 1000 guitars every month plus a few dozen amps, acoustic guitars and imports. The Korean SE line produce roughly 2000 guitars per month and are a best seller for PRS due to their uncompromising sound and impressive price point.
Today PRS stand toe to toe with the biggest names in the guitar manufacturing business. Artists who use PRS guitars today include Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti, Alex Lifeson, Dave Navarro, Zach Myers, Orianthi and Brent Mason.
Here at PMT House of Rock we offer the largest selection of PRS guitars in the UK. All of which are offered with a 0% finance option or buy now pay later scheme. If you’re looking for a world class, high-end electric guitar but want to avoid the nor, be sure to check out PRS guitars. Once you play one, you may struggle to choose anything else!
PRS guitars started life as the obsession of one Paul Reed Smith, seeing a gap in the market for quality instruments that took their cues from vintage vibe but built to the highest modern standards. Helping raise the bar for electric guitars and putting awesome tone back on the agenda in the 80's.
The Custom range are still built in much the same way as Paul's very first solid bodies that he took to NAMM looking for his first customers. Jaw dropping finishes, patterned fretboards and a distinctive balance of retro flavour and power in the pickup voicing. PMT carry a huge range of Custom 22 and custom 24 guitars in our stores and you really need to see these beauties in the flesh, plugged into a nice crunchy valve amp. For those who want a taste of PRS but don't quite have the budget for a Custom we also stock lots of S2 and SE range for a more wallet-friendly option.
Starting out with such professional standards it's no surprise that many artists have chosen PRS over the years. Mark Tremonti, Paul Allender, Carlos Santana, Dave Navarro and countless guitarists in the hard rock/metal scene have adopted them for their speed, looks and power.
As one of the main PRS stockists in the UK and with stores all around the country PMT are the top choice to make a visit and try some high-end guitar goodness.