PRS Guitars is an American guitar manufacturer, based in Stevensville, Maryland. PRS Guitars was founded by guitarist and luthier Paul Reed Smith in 1985. Paul Reed Smith Guitars is a leading manufacturer of high-end electric-acoustic guitars. PRS guitars were originally crafted for local musicians and have since become highly prized by musicians and collectors across the world. Through innovative design and quality of workmanship, PRS has a worldwide reputation for building premier quality products, as each guitar is handcrafted with attention to detail from the finest materials available. The company employs just over 200 people and builds approximately 13,000 guitars per year. PRS sells its products through exclusive domestic dealers and international distributors across the world. PRS guitars are used by a veritable "who's who" of top musicians.


File:Rood's PRS.jpg


Template:Unreferencedsection Wood selection plays a major role in crafting a PRS guitar. The bodies are crafted of mahogany, with a maple top on some models; their maple tops are graded according to their "figure", referring to the visual character of the wood. PRS guitars often feature highly figured tops, including flame maple and quilt maple. PRS necks are usually made from mahogany, although some models feature maple or Indian or Brazilian rosewood necks; fingerboards are made of rosewood. PRS's signature fret markers, are the lower end moons, and the higher end birds. The moons appear similar to standard dot inlays, but have a crescent more prominent than the rest of the dot. The bird inlays feature nine or ten different birds inlayed at the appropriate frets. Inlay materials have included semiprecious stones; all sorts of iridescent shells, including abalone and abalone laminates; gold; and even such exotic and costly materials as unearthed ivory from the (extinct) woolly mammoth.


File:Prs birds.jpg

Nuts are synthetic; tuners are of PRS' own design, although some models feature Korean-made Kluson-style tuners. PRS guitars feature three original bridge designs: a one-piece pre-intonated stoptail, an intonatable stoptail, and a six-saddle tremolo with the saddles enclosed in to a chromed frame. The pre-intonated stoptail is unique to PRS and can be used because PRS manufacturing tolerances are so tight, guaranteeing that the distance between witness points will be within a few thousandths of an inch from guitar to guitar. This is a result of PRS.' CNC (robot-assisted) manufacturing process.


Pickups are designed and wound in-house; PRS is more secretive about magnet and wire type and construction than some aftermarket pickup manufacturers. PRS humbucking pickups have gone by many names, including 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) and Soapbar. Further adding to the obscurity, many of the above pickup types are actually a pair of pickups wound in opposing directions, one intended for the neck and one for the bridge position.


PRS is known for "popping the grain" on their figured maple topped instruments, a process that accents the '3D' quality of the maple through a multistep staining process. Finishes are transparent, translucent (often with bursts), or opaque and are automotive-grade polyurethane or satin nitrocellulose, meaning that in some instances, the paints were intended for automotive use.

Current Manufacturing MethodsEdit

As demand grew during the mid 1990s, PRS had to switch from partially hand manufactured and assembled guitars (they still used duplicarvers in the old days) to partially automated manufacture and assembly. Bodies and neck blanks are now CNC (computer numerically controlled) routed, though sanding, assembly, and finishing are still done by hand. CNC machines are more accurate than the previously used duplicarvers. The main line of PRS guitars are designed and constructed wholly in the United States of America. This and the exacting standards of the PRS factory contribute to their price.

Non-American PRS (Student Edition or SE Models)Edit

       Main article: PRS SE Guitars

To keep up with demand, PRS introduced a new low-end budget line in the late 1990s. The Student Edition line, is manufactured in Korea and is notable for opaque finishes and lower quality tone-woods though some models also include figured maple veneers such as the Soapbar II. The PRS SE models are increasing in popularity among hobbyists, whereas the higher-end PRS models tend to be geared towards professional musicians.

Artists who use PRS GuitarsEdit

Ted Nugent was the first big-name guitar player whom Paul Reed Smith persuaded to play one of his guitars.[citation needed] Nugent has continued to play PRS guitars ever since.[citation needed] Carlos Santana was another recipient of some of Paul Reed Smith's early instruments. Santana's unusual 24-fret, 24½"-scale signature model was one of PRS' earliest special models. Alex Lifeson of Rush has used PRS guitars since 1990 and continues to use them today, in addition to other brands. Mike Oldfield has also used a Custom 24. Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth uses Custom 24s and Custom 22s. Marco Principe also endorses PRS. Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree uses a Custom 22. Chris Henderson of 3 Doors Down is known for using single cut PRS guitars. Jimmy Buffet, Daniel Johns of Silverchair, Paul Allender of Cradle of Filth, Larry LaLonde of Primus, and former Cradle of Filth guitarist, Gian Pyres also use PRS guitars. Brad Delson, guitarist of Linkin Park, claims his favorite guitar is his own custom made PRS with the Hybrid Theory butterfly soldier on the frame. Craig Boon and Luke Barker of Terrorbite are known to use matching PRS guitars exclusively and were subsequently supported by PRS. Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge uses PRS guitars almost exclusively, and currently has two signature models (one a PRS and the other a PRS SE). Chad Kroeger of Nickelback also uses PRS guitars almost exclusively. Tommy Angarano of The Tempests uses PRS guitars exclusively since the mid 1990s. His favorites are his Whale Blue, one of a kind, Custom 22 Artist with Ghost System and his Scarlett Red Custom 22 10 Top with Ghost System.

Legal IssuesEdit

In 1998 PRS released their "Singlecut" guitar, which bore some resemblance to the venerable Les Paul, Gibson Guitar Corp filed a trademark infringement against Paul Reed Smith. An injunction was ordered[1] and PRS stopped manufacture of the Singlecut in 2000. Federal District Court Judge William J. Haynes, in a 57-page decision ruled "that PRS [Paul Reed Smith] was imitating the Les Paul" and gave the parties ninety days "to complete any discovery on damages or disgorgement of PRS's profits on the sales of its offending Singlecut guitar."[1]

In 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court decision and ordered the dismissal of Gibson's suit against PRS.[2] The decision also immediately vacated the injunction prohibiting the sale and production of PRS’s Singlecut Guitar. Paul Reed Smith Guitars announced that it would immediately resume production of its Singlecut guitars.

Paul Smith, the founder of PRS, stated "We are delighted that the appellate court affirmed what we and the industry have long known: the PRS Singlecuts are musical instruments of the highest quality that would never be confused with a competitor’s product."

Gibson tried and failed to have the case reheard by all twenty-four Sixth Circuit judges (denied in December 2005)[3] and then by the United States Supreme Court (denied June 2006),[4] which was their last chance to have their original injunction upheld.

In the litigation, Gibson alleged that concert goers in a smoky concert hall might not be able to differentiate a PRS Singlecut from a Gibson Les Paul. The appellate court rejected that trademark theory out-of-hand, emphasizing Gibson’s concession in court arguments that “only an idiot” would confuse the two products at the point of sale.

While no changes to the design of the Singlecut occurred as a result of the lawsuit (given that Gibson lost), some Singlecut owners and sellers have erroneously adopted the term 'pre-lawsuit' to differentiate their Singlecut from others. [5][6][7]

Partial List of PRS Guitar ModelsEdit

A more extensive list is available at the PRS website. Many of the listed guitars are available with an option of stoptail or tremolo bridge; the finish options are complicated and depend on the model.

  • The PRS Guitar (1985 and 1986 -- all mahogany - optional bird inlays -- now known as the pre-standard)
  • PRS Custom (PRS Guitar with maple top - optional bird inlays - name changed to 'Custom 24' after the 22 fret model was introduced in the mid-nineties)
  • Metal Model (VERY rare solid mahogany 24-fret PRS with pinstripe top)
  • Custom 22
  • Custom 22/12 (a 22 fret 12 string)
  • Custom 24 (the same as the PRS Custom - just renamed CU24 after the CU22 was introduced)
  • SC245 (24.5" scale 22 fret single cut)
  • SC250 (25" scale 22 fret single cut)
  • SC250 Satin
  • McCarty (22 fret neck -- thicker body than the CU22 - thinner headstock set at a different angle)
  • McCarty II
  • McCarty Korina
  • McCarty Soapbar
  • Mira
  • Santana 1, II, III, Brazilian, and the new Santana MD
  • Johnny Hiland Model
  • Dave Navarro Model
  • Mark Tremonti Model
  • 513 (mahogany neck)
  • CE22
  • CE24
  • CE22 Alder body
  • CE24 Alder body
  • Standard 22
  • Standard 24
  • Standard 22 Satin
  • Standard 24 Satin
  • Corvette Standard 22
  • Hollowbody I, II and Spruce
  • Hollowbody I Singlecut
  • Hollowbody Singlecut Standard (all mahogany body)
  • Singlecut Trem
  • Singlecut Trem Satin
  • Singlecut Trem Modern Eagle
  • Swamp Ash Special
  • Santana SE II
  • Soapbar SE II
  • Soapbar SE II Maple
  • SE Custom
  • Singlecut SE
  • SE EG
  • Tremonti SE
  • SE One

Limited editionsEdit

  • Signature model (about 1003 made - though only 1000 "officially" made - a few duplicate #'s - officially made from 1987-1991 but more than a few early sigs were made in 1986 like #'s 14, 19, and 30)
  • Signature 'Limited Edition' 1989, 1990 Semi-Hollow Body Tune-O-Matic (about 303 made. #300/300 was made twice - VERY rare with maple top since most had cedar or redwood tops - a few had tremolo instead of a TOM - this was also the first officially 'limited' run of guitars PRS ever did, the 1003 sigs were not originally intended to stop at 1000 guitars)
  • Mark Tremonti Tribal (Only 100 made - signed by Tremonti and numbered)
  • McCarty (first 100 signed by Ted McCarty and numbered)
  • Artist I, II, III, IV & the very rare Artist LTD (only 68 made)
  • Dragon I, II, III, 2000, 2002 and 2005 Double Dragon
  • Rosewood Limited (tree of life inlay on finished East Indian RW neck - 100 made - numbered - some were semi-hollow - a few had tremolo)
  • Golden Eagle (only 10 made)
  • 20th Anniversary (made though 2007 - special 20th anniversary bird inlays - thousands made)
  • Brazilian McCarty (Solid Brazilian necks - 250 signed and numbered - NOT a BLE)
  • Brazilian Singlecut (Solid Brazilian necks - 250 signed and numbered - NOT a BLE)
  • McCarty Brazilian Limited Edition (BLE) models (Brazilian Rosewood fretboards - 500 numbered)
  • CU22 Brazilian Limited Edition models (BLE)(Brazilian Rosewood fretboards - 500 numbered)
  • CU24 Brazilian Limited Edition models (BLE)(Brazilian Rosewood fretboards - 500 numbered)
  • Custom 22 semi-hollow body (not really a limited edition PRS - just hard to find)
  • Private Stock, one-off instruments (not really limited editions - just custom orders)
  • 1986 Single Pick-up 24 Fret Standard (3 made - 1 red and 2 blue - the EVH PRS - not really a limited edition, more like prototypes)
  • Singlecut Semi-Hollow (no f-holes - only 90 made - not numbered or signed)
  • SC-J Thinline(single cut, jumbo, hollowbody with optional Bigsby vibrato)
  • Archtop Artist
  • 2010 Left Handed McCarty LTD 'Lefty' (only 50 made)
  • 2010 Left Handed Custom 22 LTD 'Lefty' (only 50 made)

Discontinued modelsEdit

  • 513 Rosewood (Brazilian rosewood neck)
  • Custom 22 Soapbar
  • McCarty Standard
  • McCarty Soapbar Standard
  • Modern Eagle (ME)
  • Singlecut Tremolo Modern Eagle (SCT ME)
  • SE Soapbar
  • Santana I
  • Santana III
  • Santana SE
  • McCarty Archtop
  • Singlecut - replaced by SC 245 (a 24.5" scale Singlecut) and SC 250 (a 25" scale Singlecut) in 2007
  • All Left-handed models


  • Burrluck, Dave (2002) The PRS guitar book Backbeat Books, San Francisco, CA, ISBN 0-87930-712-9, originally published as The PRS Book in a limited edition of 6,000 by Balafon Books, London, in 2000.

External linksEdit

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