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Paul Reed Smith

Paul Reed Smith
Paul Reed Smith playing one of his guitars at the annual Guitar Festival, Dallas, Texas.
Born (1956-02-18) February 18, 1956
Stevensville, Maryland, U.S.
Occupation luthier

Paul Reed Smith (born February 18, 1956), is a master luthier and the founder and owner of PRS Guitars, which is considered one of the top makers of high quality guitars in the United States. Smith is considered to be one of the preeminent master guitar makers in the world.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Career beginnings 2
  • Mentorship under Ted McCarty 3
  • Musicians who use PRS guitars 4
  • Current work 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Smith graduated from Bowie High School in 1974.[2] He also attended St. Mary's College of Maryland where he began his guitar making career.[1]

Career beginnings

He made his first guitar while a student at St. Mary's College of Maryland, and continued to build guitars after he finished college,[1] making them one at a time, one a month. Together with another local, John "Orkie" Ingram, they formed the nucleus of what would become Paul Reed Smith Guitars.

Smith would often bring his guitars backstage at concerts, and eventually got his break when Derek St. Holmes, of the Ted Nugent Band, agreed to try out #2, the second guitar Smith had ever made. St. Holmes played the guitar for the first few songs of his set, and Smith told him that after he showed it to some other musicians, he would fly out to Detroit and give it to him. St. Holmes eventually sold the guitar for $200. Another artist who grew loyal to him through this method of salesmanship was Carlos Santana. Santana now has several signature guitars with PRS and endorses them as his only supplier.

Mentorship under Ted McCarty

Smith then contacted Ted McCarty, former president of Gibson and creator of the Explorer, ES-335 and Flying V guitars, and McCarty became his mentor and adviser.[1] The result of their collaboration was the current line of PRS Guitars, which include solid- and hollow-body guitars. The Private Stock line of PRS guitars are made utilizing a vast range of exotic materials including various stones, elaborately figured tone woods, and intricate shells for inlays.

Unlike Ted McCarty and Leo Fender, Paul plays the guitar in his own band, The Paul Reed Smith band.

Musicians who use PRS guitars

Carlos Santana, Tim Mahoney of 311 (band), Jimmy Herring, Orianthi, Steven Wilson and Jimmy Buffett all claim their PRS guitars are their favorite instruments. Ted Nugent has owned a PRS guitar for decades.[1] Mike Oldfield, Larry LaLonde, Alex Lifeson, Al Di Meola, Clint Lowery, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Fredrik Åkesson, Dave Navarro, Ben Burnley, Gustavo Cerati, Seth Morrison, Mark Tremonti, Toru Yamashita and John Mayer have also used PRS guitars in public performances.

Current work

Today PRS Guitars is one of the top guitar making companies in the United States and is known for the very high quality of its guitars. PRS guitars are also highly sought after in Europe.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Strauss, Karsten (April 15, 2013). "PRS Guitars -- Chasing Perfection".  
  2. ^ Virginia, Terhune (January 3, 2013). "Bowie High grad, guitar maker and band perform at scholarship fundraiser Saturday".  

External links

  • Paul Reed Smith Talks Guitars - Guitar Jam Daily
  • Paul Reed Smith Interview at Modern Guitars Magazine
  • "Innovative Lives" at the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation
  • Interview With Paul Reed Smith at Sweetwater Sound
  • Paul Reed Smith Music Musician Paul Reed Smith Recorded Music/CD's

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