Since 1995, Paul Reed Smith has offered Private Stock guitars through authorized PRS dealers. Want a McCarty Soapbar with a Korina body? No problem. How about a Brazilian rosewood
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Describe the process that someone would go through if they were to order a Private Stock guitar.
The customer would contact a PRS dealer and describe to the dealer what they would like to have built. Usually the guitar that is going to be built is based off of an existing PRS model, but not always. There are hundreds of different options such as woods, shells, colors, gems, electronics and so on. Figuratively building a guitar to spec with a dealer can be a really exciting process where the sky is the limit.
Once the customer has put all of the options together for their perfect guitar and discussed them with the dealer, the dealer then directly submits a quote request to the PRS Private Stock department. The Private Stock department determines a price based on the options requested and also reviews the specs to make sure the customer’s wish list includes the elements necessary to make their dream guitar and to make sure the specs will work well together for the best possible instrument. PRS won’t build a Private Stock guitar that is a functional misfit unless that’s exactly what the customer is going for. In other words, PRS will let the dealer know if something just won’t work and will determine the best possible solution given the customer’s goal. Once all parties agree on price and specs, the building process begins.
About how long does it take to receive a Private Stock guitar, from the time it is ordered to when it arrives?
Approximately 9 – 12 months, depending on the complexity of the guitar.
How is the Private Stock wood chosen?
PRS regularly reviews and inspects thousands of board feet of maple, mahogany, Brazilian rosewood, etc. During this process, select pieces of wood with the best figure, depth in figure and quality of grain are selected for creating Private Stock guitars. PRS also chooses and combines woods for Private Stock guitars to best enhance the sound qualities of these unique one-off instruments.
What kind of equipment comes on one of these guitars? Can you customize the hardware?
Hardware can be customized depending on the particular model. For example, you have a choice of pick-ups, tuning pegs, bridges, electronics and fret wire within and outside of the PRS hardware offerings. Some of the many customization examples include mixing gold and nickel hardware, brushed pick-up covers, a Bigsby tailpiece and bridge, or single coil pickups.
Some equipment simply won’t work on certain models, such as a regular PRS tremolo system on a hollowbody. The Private Stock Director Joe Knaggs and the Private Stock team will always do everything they can to accommodate the customer’s requests and also advise the customer when choices may not compliment the guitar.
Can you describe the special technique that is used for staining the Private Stock, and how it is different from the usual staining techniques?
Most staining is a wipe on, wipe off process where one or two coats of stain are applied to the wood. The Private Stock staining process is much more involved, where multiple coats of stain are often applied, sometimes using various colors of stain and sometimes sanded between applications. Techniques like this enhance the natural contrast in the wood grain and create some of the richest colors available. New Private Stock stain techniques are currently in development.
Do the Private Stock builders work only on Private Stock guitars?
Artist guitars and new models and prototypes are built in the Private Stock department as well.
How are the Private Stock guitars built differently than a regular PRS guitar?
Many Private Stock guitars are “one off” instruments that require individualized care and technical attention in order to meet the unique and personalized specifications requested by the Private Stock customer.
Private Stock models typically require more handwork because there are certain features that do not have standardized machinery or programs dedicated to creating these features. Certain guitars, such as the SC-Js and mandolins are built almost completely by hand.
Core PRS models still require close attention, but the specifications of the core models do not require the intense Private Stock level of scrutiny because the configurations and specifications are standardized for each model.
The Private Stock program started in 1995 as a “guitar of the month” for each month of that year. Where are the original 12 guitars now?
The original 12 guitars are in the hands of private collectors all over the world.
Each finished guitar is hand-checked before it is sent out. What are you looking for, and what is done when if you find something?
First PRS looks over the specs to make sure they meet the customer’s request. Since each guitar is a one-off instrument, PRS must go over the details extremely carefully, making sure the guitar is everything it can be from a playing standpoint: sound, feel, etc. PRS wants the guitar to play and sound as good as the guitar looks. If anything is found to not match the order request or doesn’t meet the standards of PRS Guitars, the guitar is fixed.
These guitars are clearly made with the players in mind, but do you see them having a collector’s value also?
They absolutely have a collector’s value. The guitars are made with the highest quality wood, finishes, etc. and every single guitar is a one-off instrument. They are unique and collectable.
PRS Private Stock