I had seen a flyer at school for a 1992 PRS CE24 in whale blue. The flyer showed a picture of the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. With smooth curves covered in a whale blue finish, an ample but less aggressive whammy bar, and a tone which I was sure would put me in harmony with the greats, I had a feeling that this guitar must be mine.
With money I had saved and some help from home, I took the plunge and made a purchase that promised joy, dedication, and a responsibility to excel. There’s something about buying a new guitar that inspires exploration, to find the hidden pinch harmonics and quirks that are just waiting to be exploited. At the same time, with an instrument as beautiful as a USA PRS, one tends to feel beholden to the instrument, feeling that it deserves to be played beautifully, and to have a life full of inspiration with someone who cares about its beauty, personality, and spirit.
Previous to the Paul Reed Smith, I had always treated my guitars with little care, occasionally knocking over my $200 Strat, “Just to remind it who it works for.” But my appreciation of the PRS demanded more care, this instrument was noble, and a deserved more respect than your average guitar. Because of this, when I gave it a name, It couldn’t be “woody” or “The Red Menace”. I addressed my new Paul Reed Smith only as “Mr. Smith.”
Years later, I built my custom shop Brian Moore Guitar from the wood gotten from a great friend who had passed away. The Brian Moore was a beautiful guitar which has been my number one for the last 10 years. I still loved my PRS, but with worn frets and crunchy electronics which I had already replaced once, it had become my number two guitar, and even Mr. Smith did not contain as much emotional history as the Brian Moore.
At a fiscally challenging time in my life, I had to sell Mr. Smith. It was a sad day, but I still had my main guitar to rely on.
In recent years, my Brian Moore, which has provided thousands of practice and performance hours, has now also shown serious signs of ware. There are several dings and cracks, and the frets are worn almost all the way down to the point that only a complete refret will restore the intonation and playability. It’s still got some miles left, but it’s getting tired.
I decided it was time for a new guitar. I spent weeks trying to figure out which to choose, looking at all the features and photos online, and spending a lot of time at my local music store. At one point I bought a USA Strat Deluxe, but decided it was too heavy and didn’t give me the warm neck Humbucker sound that I love so much. It was an amazing guitar, but it wasn’t me.
It had been a while since I had played a PRS, but when I did I remembered all the sounds of my past, and the comfort and feel that I only now realized I had missed. The macro search had ended, I was buying a PRS.
I studied the PRS website with a studious intensity that I rarely apply to even my business life. I struggled with the price, as it seemed all the things that were important to me happened to be on the more expensive models. Still, I have been playing guitar forever, so I propped up my ego and my budget, and decided on a 30th Anniversary Custom 24… with a 10 top.
Since I had already played one and knew it was a lock, my last challenge was to find “The One.” I looked through the online inventory of every major distributor. I once again went to the PRS website and found every dealer within 100 miles from me. I looked at every PRS Custom24 10 top I could find, but as luck would have it, my guitar wasn’t one of the 50 Guitar Center had, or the other 150 held at Sweetwater, Sam Ash, or Musician's Friend. I found mine at a small music store 97 miles from my house. The color was unique, and understated. The guitar played perfectly, and the top was as good as any I have seen. Consistent, heavy waves of flamed maple, the scred sanded perfectly to highlight the one in a million figured wood. Behold! My new guitar:
Mr. Smith is back! And with only a few hundred hours of playing so far, I can confidently say, he’s here to stay.