Unless you have been living in a cave for the last decade, you know that PRS is Paul Reed Smith, one of the most innovative and successful of the “new” electric guitar man-ufacturers. Smith is the only manufacturer so far to successfully blend the design characteristics of the Les Paul and Stratocaster guitars into a wholly new and different model that borrows from both, but copies neither.
This large-format book showcases the stunning designs, technical innovations, and craftsmanship and portrays every facet of this cutting-edge comp-any’s evolution. Beginning with the early handmade instruments of the ’70s, through the standardization of design in the ’80s and the new products of the ’90s, the story is told with a minimum of words and a focus on the instruments.
Large color photos and a number of fold-out pages reveal why the “10 top with birds,” dragon inlay, and clear maple binding have become hallmarks of Paul Reed Smith and have even inspired their own copies. There are over 300 full-color photos, quotes from artist endorsers, and many never-before-seen prototypes.
The book concludes with an absorbing photo essay detailing the making of a new PRS guitar, from wood selection to final finishing and setup. Also included is a model key to help players and collectors identify and date PRS instruments. Limited to 6,000 copies (individually serial numbered), this new book is hardbound with dust jacket and comes in a custom slipcase. It’s a fitting tribute to a company which has, in a short time, come to symbolize a quality alternative to the “big two” American electric guitar manufacturers.
San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books 1999, Hardbound in slipcase 125 pages, ISBN 0-87930-593-2, $75.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’00 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.