Paul Reed Smith (February 18, 1956) is one of the world's premier luthiers and the founder and owner of PRS Guitars. His electric guitars are played by the likes of Ted Nugent, Mike Shinoda, Brad Delson, Alex Lifeson, Carlos Santana, Al Di Meola, Dave Navarro, Mark Tremonti, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Peter Lindgren, Steven Wilson, Tim Mahoney, Marcos Curiel, Larry Lalonde, Pete Loeffler, Benjamin Burnley, Paul Allender, Chad Kroeger and Dan Spitz.
Smith is originally from Bowie, Maryland. He made his first guitar while at St. Mary's College of Maryland, and continued to build guitars after he finished college, making them one at a time, one a month. Together with another local, John "Orkie" Ingram, they formed the nucleus of what would become Paul Reed Smith Guitars.
Smith would often bring his guitars backstage at concerts, and eventually got his break when Derek St. Holmes, of the Ted Nugent Band, agreed to try out #2, the second guitar Smith had ever made. St. Holmes played the guitar for the first few songs of his set, and Smith told him that after he showed it to some other musicians, he would fly out to Detroit and give it to him. St. Holmes eventually sold the guitar for $200, not realizing how big Paul Reed Smith was going to get.
Smith then contacted Ted McCarty, former president of Gibson and creator of the Explorer, ES-335 and Flying V guitars, and McCarty became his mentor and adviser. The result of their collaboration was the current line of PRS Guitars, which include solid- and hollow-body guitars. The Private Stock line of PRS guitars are made utilizing a vast range of exotic materials including various stones, elaborately figured tone woods, and intricate shells for inlays.