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PRS Guitars is an Americanmarker guitar manufacturer headquartered in Stevensville, Marylandmarker. 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 guitars. PRS guitars, originally crafted for local guitar players, have become highly prized by musicians and collectors around the world.


PRS Custom


The bodies of PRS guitars are crafted of mahogany, with a maple top on most models. They often feature highly figured tops, including flame maple, quilt maple and figured maple creating the effect of tiger stripes. 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 include 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. Just to note,since 1995, most of there guitars have been CNC made guitars, noting that the guitars should be less expensive. Inlay materials have included semiprecious stones; iridescent shells, including abalone and abalone laminates; gold; and even unearthed ivory from the (extinct) woolly mammoth.


Close-up of the 3rd, 5th, and 7th fret bird inlays.

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 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 design does not however allow intonation to be adjusted to compensate for variations in string thickness or drop tuning. Two other designs are the PRS vibrato, which resembles a vintage Fender Stratocaster unit but with much better tonal stability due to less friction, and the more recent compensated wrapover tailpeice, which allows for height and intonation adjustment.


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, Ralph Perucci) 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.

Student Edition (SE) models

To keep up with demand, PRS introduced a new low-end budget line in the late 1990s. The Student Edition line, is manufactured in Koreamarker 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 Guitars

Legal issues

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 orderedGibson Guitar Corp. v. Paul Reed Smith Guitars, L.P., 325 F. Supp. 2d 841 (M.D. Tenn., 2004) and PRS stopped manufacture of the Singlecut at the end of 2001. 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."

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.Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Paul Reed Smith Guitars, LP, 423 F.3d 539 (6th Cir. 2005). 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)En banc rehearing denied by Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Paul Reed Smith Guitars, Ltd. P'ship, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 29220 (6th Cir., Dec. 30, 2005) and then by the United States Supreme Courtmarker (denied June 2006),Certiori denied by Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Paul Reed Smith Guitars, LP, 126 S. Ct. 2355 (June 5, 2006) 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. Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Paul Reed Smith Guitars, LP, 423 F.3d 539 (6th Cir. 2005), footnote 13.Marchisotto, Paul Anthony (2006) "Note: Gibson v. PRS: the Applicability of the Initial Interest Confusion Doctrine to Trademarked Product Shapes" Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal 24: pp. 883-917Haggerty, Thomas P. (2006) Note: "A Blue Note: The Sixth Circuit, Product Design and the Confusion Doctrines in Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Paul Reed Smith Guitars, LP" Tulane Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property 8: pp. 219-230

List of PRS guitar models

Many of the listed guitars are available with an option of stoptail or tremolo bridge.

  • Custom series:
    • Custom 22
    • Custom 22/12 (12 string version)
    • Custom 24 (previously the PRS Custom)
  • Hollowbody series:
    • Hollowbody I, II, and Spruce
    • Hollowbody I Singlecut
    • Hollowbody Singlecut Standard
  • McCarty series:
    • McCarty
    • McCarty II
    • McCarty Korina
    • Smokeburst McCarty
  • Mira series:
    • Mira
    • Mira Maple Top
    • Mira X
    • Mira Korina
  • Modern Eagle II
  • Singlecut ("SC") series:
    • SC245
    • SC250
    • SC250 Satin
  • SE series:
    • SE Custom
    • SE EG
    • SE One
    • SE Singlecut
    • SE Soapbar
  • Standard series:
    • Standard 22
    • Standard 24
    • Standard 22 Satin
    • Standard 24 Satin
  • Starla
  • Sunbust series:
    • Sunburst 22
    • Sunburst 245
  • Starla
  • Swamp Ash Special
  • 513

Signature models

Discontinued models

  • CE22
  • CE24
  • SE Standard
  • McCarty II


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