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.
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.