Few instruments inspire as many "oohs" and "ahhs" as do Paul Reed Smith guitars. Famous for their "dipped in glass" finishes, PRS guitars are used everywhere from mosh pits to the Grand Ol' Opry. Originally made famous by such players as Carlos Santana and Howard Leese (Heart), PRS has gone from being a niche player to one of the top names in guitar manufacturing. Once you play one, it's easy to see why. In addition to their stunning finishes, PRS guitars have a wide range of sounds and incredible playability.
Paul Reed Smith got his start in the mid 1980s, making custom guitars
one at a time. He would often go to guitar shows looking for big name acts who would consider playing his guitars for free. His big break came when Santana was seen playing a Custom
24, the "original" PRS guitar adopted by everyone from Mark Tremonti to
Ted Nugent. It was easy for Paul Reed Smith's instruments to stand out from
the crowd during the 80s, since that was the era of pointy guitars,
Floyd Rose Trems, and wild (and now dated) paint jobs. The Gibson/Fender
hybrid instruments that PRS made were a welcome change for many.
Things have definitely come a long way for PRS. In addition to their "traditional" guitars such as the Custom 24, Custom 22, and McCarty, they offer numerous signature instruments (for players from Al Di Meola to David Grissom) as well as lower-priced instruments made in South Korea to the founder's exacting specifications.
Personally, I've owned five
different PRS guitars over the years, three of which I
currently still own - a 2002 McCarty (10 top), 2008 Custom 24 (10 top),
and 2012 DGT Goldtop. They are all exceptional guitars (the McCarty
being my favorite) and all have distinct "personalities," for lack of a
better word. Every time I play one at a show, I get comments from someone about the "guitar with the birds."
Of course, with all the success comes criticism. Some detractors claim that PRS instruments are for looking or collecting, not playing, or that they appeal to dentists more than working musicians (why do dentists always get the hate). As someone who has played and gigged with PRS guitars for years, I can say without hesitation that Paul Reed Smith guitars are for playing and for looking. Don't hate them because they're beautiful!