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Recent Acquisition: PRS Guitar

Jayson Dobney, Associate Curator and Administrator, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Monday, January 13, 2014

Electric guitar

Electric Guitar. PRS Guitars (American). Stevensville, Maryland, United States. 2013. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Warren and Kateryna Esanu, 2013 (2013.974)

«I first met the guitar manufacturer Paul Reed Smith at a NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention in Anaheim, California, several years ago. I had the opportunity to visit with him about his guitars and the company he founded. He began building electric guitars in the 1970s, when he was in college, and showed his instruments to many of the top guitarists of the day, who appreciated his work. In 1985, he founded PRS guitars, and has gone on to have a major influence in the music world.»

Electric guitar

The Museum was recently able to accept into its collection of musical instruments a custom-made electric guitar made by PRS Guitars. Like all of PRS guitars, it is made of beautiful wood, in this case a curly red maple top with an African ribbon mahogany back. It is also decorated with beautiful inlaid birds, made of mammoth ivory, for fret markers; and the entire body has paua heart abalone purfling. The instrument has an attractive gold finish, which Paul calls a "Light Tiger Eye Micro Burst" finish.

In the last few decades of the twentieth century, Paul Reed Smith was introducing new models, aesthetic designs, and finishes to electric guitars, even as other large manufacturers such as Gibson and Fender were still building guitars on their traditional—and famed—models dating to the middle of the twentieth century. PRS was pushing forward, and has found success through continuing to introduce new electric guitars for contemporary players of all genres.

The custom electric guitar was given to the Museum by Warren and Kateryna Esanu, supporters of the Museum and friends of Paul Reed Smith. To celebrate the gift, the legendary guitarist John McLaughlin played a short demonstration of the guitar in the Temple of Dendur, accompanied by Gary Husband on the piano. We are extremely pleased to be able to welcome this guitar into the collection.

John McLaughlin demonstrates a custom-made electric guitar by PRS Guitars. Accompanied by Gary Husband.

Department(s): Musical Instruments
Tag(s): guitar


  • Jesse says:

    That, ladies and gents, is a work of art. And for those of you that don't sling a six-string.....it plays just as well as it looks.

    Posted: April 5, 2015, 5:49 p.m.

  • Dan Goldstein says:

    I should have known better than to imagine the Museum's musical instrument collection concentrated exclusively on the old. Nevertheless it was with surprise and delight that I discovered this article which welcomes a contemporary guitar into the family! Celebrating the addition with a demonstration by John McLaughlin was a wonderful touch. Letting the instruments sing whenever possible, even as we appreciate them for physical beauty, is such an important enhancement to the experience of the Met's awesome collection. Your readers might enjoy this similar experience of music enhancing the experience of the guitar as visual art at this page. <a href="http://audiosparksforart.com/project/black-guitar/">Black Guitar by Holly Jackson</a> Congratulations again on the exciting addition of the PRS Custom Electric Guitar.

    Posted: April 5, 2015, 8:02 p.m.

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About the Author

Jayson Dobney is an associate curator and administrator in the Department of Musical Instruments.

Follow Jayson on Twitter: @JayKerrDobney

About this Blog

The Museum's collection of musical instruments includes approximately five thousand examples from six continents and the Pacific Islands, dating from about 300 B.C. to the present. It illustrates the development of musical instruments from all cultures and eras. On this blog, curators and guests will share information about this extraordinary collection, its storied history, the department's public activities, and some of the audio and video recordings from our archives.