Guitar innovator, master luthier, celebrity and entrepreneur, Paul Reed Smith is owner and creator of PRS Guitars. Smith made his first guitar while he was a student at St. Mary’s College in Maryland, and continued to build guitars after college. After he would complete one, he would bring it to concerts and convince the musicians to try it out and give him feedback.
Smith eventually encountered Carlos Santana. The end result of this meeting was that Santana ended up trying out three of his guitars. Santana was impressed, and this ultimately changed the direction of Smith’s life. Santana put Smith in touch with Ted McCarty, who was president of Gibson for a number of years and created the Gibson Explorer, the ES-335, and the Gibson Flying V. Like Santana, McCarty also realized that Smith had talent and took him under his wing. The two collaborated and developed a series of guitars together, and the rest is history.
In Part One of this exclusive interview, Smith shares his thoughts on the uniqueness of individual instruments, and tells us how and why he gave Al Di Meola his own guitar. We also get a glimpse of the meticulous process involved in the manufacture of a PRS guitar, directly from the factory floor.