When it comes to guitars, not all brands have the illustrious histories of a Martin (founded in 1833) or a Gibson (1894). Leo Fender introduced his first solid-body electric guitar in 1950, Guild didn’t get started until 1952, and Taylor has only been around since 1974.

PRS Guitars, though, is the real newbie on the block, founded a decade later, in the mid-1980s, by Paul Reed Smith. Prior to starting PRS, Smith had been making about one guitar a month since college, where he made his first six-stringed instrument. In his spare time, he played his handcrafted axes with local bands, which paid even less. But whenever a big-name act came to town, Smith would bring a couple of his guitars to concerts, ingratiate himself with the roadies, and try to get a pre- or post-show audience with one of his guitar heroes.

It was Carlos Santana who gave the young luthier his big break in 1976. Santana liked what Smith was doing (Smith had brought along a guitar he’d just built for Peter Frampton) and hooked him up with Ted McCarty, who was the president of Gibson when the Les Paul, Flying V, and other Kalamazoo classics were introduced.

McCarty became a trusted mentor, and thanks to his guidance and Smith’s talents, it wasn’t long before artists from Al Di Meola to Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) to Neil Schon (Journey) became fans of PRS Guitars.

Because PRS is still a young company, words like “vintage” don’t quite apply to used Paul Reed Smith instruments. Still, collectible models include the Custom 24, which was the first guitar that Smith took to a trade show in 1985. The 513 was so named because it featured five pickups and 13 distinct sounds. With its classic f-holes and natural finish, the PRS McCarty Hollowbody from the 1990s is considered another prize, as is the single-cutaway Modern Eagle.

Beyond the models and the exquisite sounds they deliver for some of the best guitarists on the planet, PRS Guitars are also gorgeous to look at. Woods such as quilted and curly maple are routinely used, as is korina and swamp ash. Snakewood, ebony, and rosewood are often found on PRS fretboards, which are frequently inlaid with everything from abalone to onyx to mother of pearl.

Then there are the finishes, which include a variety of “bursts” (charcoal and tobacco, to name but two) and eye-popping colors like aquamarine, raspberry, and emerald.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vintage Guitars Info

Vintage Guitars Info

This great reference site features detailed sections on vintage guitar makers, including Gibson, Fender, Martin, Gr… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Want to see all the old brochures and ads for your favorite vintage axe? Check out this great site, which showcases… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 30th Anniversary Top 10 Custom Charcoal / White BackPrs Custom 24 Employee Guitar, Quilt 10 Top, Signed By Paul Smith. Barely Used!Paul Reed Smith 25th Anniversary 513*10 Top*2009*prs*matteo Mist*no Reserve*2000 Paul Reed Smith Custom 22 Cum2f-hfi6t_cb_n6-6v Electric Guitar2004 Prs Mccarty 22 Fret Wraparound Flamed Maple Suburst Birds HscPrs Se Custom 24 30th Black Cherry Floyd Rose New!!! Never Played With Gig BagPrs Se Santana Electric Guitar With Hard Case Prs Se Santana Signature - Santana Orange W/ Prs Usa Pickups And ElectronicsPaul Reed Smith Prs Se Zach Myers, Upgraded Usa Seymour Duncan Pickups, Gig Bag2016 Tobacco Sunburst Prs Se 245 Electric Guitar W/ UpgradesPaul Reed Smith Prs Se Custom 24 - Amazing Flame - No Reserve Auction!!!Prs Se Custom 24 7 StringPaul Reed Smith Se Standard 24 With Gigbag...vintage Cherry Closet QueenPrs Se Mikael Akerfeldt Electric Guitar - Tortoise Shell - No ReservePrs Se Custom - BirdsPrs Se Singlecut 6 String Electric Guitar Sunburst *volume Knob Issue* No Rsv!!2014 Paul Reed Smith Se 245 Soapbar "mint" No Reserve!Paul Reed Smith Se Singlecut Electric Guitar2008 Tobacco Sunburst Prs Se One P90 Electric Guitar2013 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 GuitarSet Of 6 Paul Reed Smith Schaller Phase I Winged Locking Tuners Paul Reed Smith Original Hardshell Case Ohsc - No ReservePaul Reed Smith Artist 1 Guitar Birds Brazilian 24 BluePrs Usa Pickup Hfs Bridge Humbucker UncoveredPaul Reed Smith Wiring Harness 1997 MccartyPaul Reed Smith Sc JumboPrs Private Stock Santana Ii - Mega Quilt Front And Back! Madagascar & CocoboloPrs Dgt Private Stock Tiger Eye New W-casePrs Private Stock Sc 250 NewPrs Modern Eagle Brazilian Rosewood Killer Flame NosPrs 5310 Black Slate Private Stock Top Limited EditionPrs Se Nickel Guitar Tuner Chrome Paul Reed Smith 1989 Paul Reed Smith Custom 24 Guitar Birds BrazilianPaul Reed Smith Tremolo ArmOriginal Prs Se Guitar Wraparound Stop Tailpiece Black Bridge Fits Sg Junior NewPrs Custom 20 Combo Kruse Modded!