IN ONE OF THE LARGEST GUITAR-ORIENTED
gatherings in the U.S., over 2,200 fans flocked to
Experience PRS 2010 at the company’s headquarters
in Stevensville, Maryland, last September.
The event kicked off with an invitation-only party
at the home of Paul Smith on Thursday evening,
and by the time I arrived at the PRS factory on
Friday morning things were already in full swing
as the crowd gathered for breakfast and an orientation
before setting about to see the sights. And
whether you chose to do an interactive tour of the
factory to see how the electric guitars, amplifiers,
and acoustic instruments are made (all of which
are built in separate areas of the factory); try your
hand at carving a maple top, installing frets, or
staining woods; or drop in on some of the clinics
and product demonstrations; there were lots of
fun and interesting things to do.
On both days the event also featured performances
by such artists as David Grissom, Cody
Kilby, Bugs Henderson, Derek St. Holmes, Ricky
Skaggs, Orianthi, Zach Myers, Howard Leese,
Davy Knowles, Martin Simpson, and Paul Smith
himself—a guy who definitely walks it like he
talks it when it comes to playing guitar. The fact
that the founder of this hugely successful company
is still so involved in creating music says a
lot about why PRS guitars deliver such consistent
performance, and why they remain so
popular with players of many different styles.
If you haven’t attended an Experience PRS
event yet, consider putting it on your things-todo
list. You’ll come away with a deep appreciation
for all the hand craftsmanship that goes
into a PRS, and probably be as impressed as I
was by how this company’s inspired and motivated
team of workers manages to produce
modern classic guitars on such a grand scale.
Crowds of Experience PRS attendees packed in to
watch clinics and live performances in one of several
tents like this one that were equipped to serve
as outdoor theaters.
In this production stage a technician
does the final sanding on
the guitars before they are sent
to the finishing area where they
will be stained to one of the
many gorgeous shades that PRS
offers and finally be given a
high-gloss clear coat.
Here’s how the color process begins: Note how the
guitar is masked before stain is applied to prevent
any bleeding of color onto the fretboard surface.
The guitars in
ready to have
The “Archives” section of the PRS
factory included original instruments
made for Carlos Santana and David
Grissom (center left and right respectively),
and early Dragon models with
their amazing fretboard inlays.
One of the many great players at Experience
PRS was David Grissom, seen here
doing his ripping roots-rock thing through
a Dallas II rig. Between songs, Grissom
graciously answered questions from the
audience about his technique and tones.