As you enter Maryland’s capital city from its landward side, through the relatively flat sandy coastal plain that runs along the Eastern Seaboard from New Jersey south, you’re immediately presented with the signs of a robust economy: fields sprouting brand new townhouse developments, busy strip malls and bustling industrial parks.All this shiny new Annapolis is wrapped around a core that consists of a small Eastern seaport city, dating from the 1600s, chock full of history. Naval Academy resonates with tradition, as does the charming, typically Mid-Atlantic open market on the harbor, or the magnificent open-water bridge spanning the mighty Chesapeake Bay.So I always told them that if they’d buy one of my guitars and didn’t like it for any reason, I’d give them their money back.” Slowly but surely Smith’s reputation began to grow. My schedule was going to my shop from noon to six, run home for a quick dinner, and start playing with the band from 7 pm ’til 2 am.Smith’s early guitars still reflected his attraction to Gibson, but he kept working on the idea of a Gibson-Fender compromise, and in 1983 he finally came up with the new body shape that now characterizes his instruments. My wife would go to bed, and I’d come in and wake her up to show her my latest design. When the prototypes were done, I made up a little brochure and hit the road trying to get orders.“A lot of manufacturers wouldn’t use this one because of this darker area here, but its still a gorgeous piece of wood,” Smith points out.“Instead, we developed a new finish combination which takes advantage of the natural coloration.” We stop at Smith’s new computer-controlled carving machine, where bodies are shaped with a variety of cutting points.It was actually in the Spring of 1975, while a sophomore math major at St. Beginning to have second thoughts about his math career path, Smith approached the head of the music department about doing an independent study project in which he would build a guitar.
Truth to tell, most of the technology employed at PRS is fairly similar to most other modern guitarmaking operations, a mix of time-honored jigs and gluing presses and fancy new computer equipment. At the start, Smith picks up a couple tops and shows them off.
“You have no idea how hard it is to come up with a new guitar shape,” says Smith. She’d always say, ‘No, that’s not it.’ Finally, one night I woke her up and she said, ‘Yeah, that’s it’ and rolled over and went back to sleep. That’s the Paul Reed Smith guitar.” “I tried to sell that guitar to everyone,” continues Smith. Yamaha was pretty interested at one point, but they didn’t want to pay enough of a royalty. It was November of ’84 and I managed to bring home 0,000 in orders!
I raised another half million and used that money to build a factory, and started shipping guitars in August of 1985.
All have different colors of paint on the ends, coded according to grade and earmarked for specific PRS models. We made a brief stop in a side room where PRS houses its growing accessories business.
In a telling event, a pickup truck sat in the doorway, its back full of small rough pieces of exotic woods. After some familiar, familial banter (“I told you you were going to have twins. ”), his accessories manager showed Paul a new jacket design.