The Music Experience | Innovation Icon – Paul Reed Smith
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Innovation Icon

Paul Reed Smith

prsPaul Reed Smith – musician, songwriter, and the founder and Managing General Partner of PRS Guitars – was born in Bethesda, Maryland on February 18, 1958. Paul grew up in a household filled with music and made his first guitar for extra credit at St. Mary’s College. In 1985, he turned that positive experience into PRS Guitars.


“The road from my workshop in a haunted historic Annapolis garret to a state-of-the-art factory was a tough one. Fact is I always loved working with my hands. Why else would a high school kid sign up for three or four shop classes at a time? My first guitar was built as a challenge to my college music professor for some credits. I got an “A” and decided to pursue my dream of making guitars for a living.


I remember hanging out at the local concert arenas for six or seven hours before a show to make friends with the roadies. With a backstage pass in hand, I’d peddle my guitars to the stars. One night in ten I’d make a sale. Carlos Santana, Al Di Meola, Howard Leese, and other well-known players agreed to check one out. I made deals. If someone gave me an order, made a deposit, and then didn’t love the finished guitar, I’d give them their deposit back even if I couldn’t make my rent the next day.”


Today PRS Guitars is the third largest electric guitar manufacturer in America, and the list of artist endorsers playing continues to grow. Paul Reed Smith comes into work every day (every day he is not on the road visiting dealers, artists, and events) and presides over Artist Relations and Research and Development at PRS. Paul holds almost 100 registered and pending trademarks, several copyrights, and nearly two dozen patents. He serves as a mentor through motivational lectures to Maryland high school students, cherishes his role as husband and parent, and is an accomplished guitarist who, despite his schedule, has played with Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti, Chuck Brown, and a host of other notable artists. He continues to write, perform, and record music with The Paul Reed Smith Band.


“We’ve come a long way, and we’re not stopping here. Every inch of your PRS guitar is based on decades of testing, rethinking, and reinventing.”


The goal for Paul and PRS is to manufacture great instruments, period. To build guitars whose tone inspires you to be a better player, whose durability will get you through a thousand gigs, whose elegance makes it a piece of art in its own right. Build a guitar that players can’t put down.


That’s the story so far. The moral? Believe in your dreams.