If you are a guitar player who has played for a while, you have certainly heard of Paul Reed Smith guitars. They are not as commonly known as Gibson, Fender, Ibanez and some others, but they are known among great guitar players, one notably being Carlos Santana who has used them for decades.
So what makes PRS guitars so great that you see people like Santana, Al Di Meoloa, Dweezil Zappa, and Dave Navarro playing them?
When PRS guitars first came into the market, they were cream of the crop hand-made guitars that were financially out of reach of most musicians. The price tag was several thousand dollars. This is probably the main reason as to why they are not as popular as other popular brands in the mainstream marketplace. However, now that they have become affordable for the average musician, more pickers are learning what makes a Paul Reed Smith guitar so great. And they really are great.
The biggest thing that makes a PRS guitar such a fantastic and distinctinve instrumnet is the same thing that has kept Santana playing them for so many years: SUSTAIN! Carlos Santana is the king of sustain. He is known for holding a single note for several minutes in his concerts. The Paul Reed Smith guitar helps him do that.
Paul Reed Smith builds guitars deliberately to provide more sustain. Of course, a Smith is the sum of all of its parts, but the mahogany back is what makes most of the difference. It allows more resonance than other woods commonly used in guitars. The mahogany back works in conjunction with the maple top to make a guitar whose strings practically keep sounding until you mute them.
An additional step that Smith takes to make his guitars resonate better is the addition of his “V12” finish. The V12 finish makes the guitar look and stay beautiful, and it provides a feeling that the guitar is not brand new, but already broken in. It feels like you have been playing the guitar for years.
But V12 does more than that: It provides a sealant that does not inhibit resonance. Many guitars have sealers that take away from the sound of the wood, but the V12 is strong enough to protect and still allow the guitar to resonate as it should. It keeps the axe looking and sounding great.
All of that would be enough, but Smith goes even further by helping a player get every variation of sound imaginable. Some PRS guitars have toggle switches not normally found on other guitars. In addition to the normal front, back and middle pickup 5-way toggle switch, some models have additional switches, volume controls and tone controls that offer enough sound variations to make the guitar virtually reproduce any other on the market, and then some.
One Paul Reed Smith guitar is all you need to cover the whole spectrum from Strat to Les Paul.