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PRS, Paul Red Smith: "Believe in your dreams"

06/09/2021

Paul Red Smith, during an interview:

The road from my workshop in a historic, haunted Annapolis attic to a state-of-the-art factory was tough. The fact is, I've always loved working with my hands. Why, then, would a high school kid enroll in three or four courses at a time? My first guitar was built for a challenge to my college music professor for some credits. I took an "A" and decided to pursue my dream of making guitars for a living.

paul red smith

paul red smith 1982

There was a lot of late night brainstorming. I was lucky if I could finish a guitar a month. Once a guitar was completed, I would play it at a concert, field testing in the purest sense. Each design change taught me something new. The next change was built on what I had learned or the feedback from other musicians testing my guitars. In ten years we have changed a lot, different versions of body shapes, many tremolo models and many experiments with woods and construction methods to get the right mix. I remember being in 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 offered my guitars to the musicians. Once in ten it worked! Carlos Santana, Al Di Meola, Howard Leese and other well-known musicians agreed to try one. I did business. If someone gave me an order, made a deposit, and then didn't like the finished guitar, I would return the deposit even if I couldn't pay the rent the next day.

paul red smith

paul red smith 1981

After getting a small following and orders for more than 50 guitars, we built two prototypes. I put them in the back seat of my truck and we drove around, calling guitar dealers up and down the east coast. After many days and many kilometers, I returned with enough orders to start a business. With the support of my wife, skilled assistants, engineers, lawyers, salespeople, artists, machinists and friends who have emptied their bank accounts to help me get started, we have built a strong team. We have come a long way, with steady growth in factory capacity, employees, distribution and the number of leading artists using our tools. We don't stop there. Every inch of your PRS guitar is based on decades of testing, rethinking and reinventing. We continue to push the curve beyond what others would consider perfection. With experts to make sure the technology is unsurpassed and dedicated craftsmen guaranteeing a finished product you can't keep your hands off of, we make no compromises. This is the story of the beginning of the journey. Not so short, but very sweet. The moral? Believe in your dreams. -Paul Reed Smith, 1992