Thou­sands turn out for PRS Ex­pe­ri­ence

Record Observer - - Business - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­

STEVENSVILLE — The fac­tory was opened to the pub­lic, stages were as­sem­bled through­out the park­ing lots and ven­dors were set up through­out the Paul Reed Smith Gui­tars cam­pus as the in­ter­na­tional gui­tar com­pany held its eighth open house Fri­day, June 3, and Satur­day, June 4.

Ex­pe­ri­ence PRS 2016, the an­nual event hosted by the com­pany, brought about 2,000 mu­sic lovers to the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Busi­ness Park for a week­end of high­qual­ity gui­tars, spon­sored PRS mu­si­cians and in­for­ma­tion about the cre­ation of their stringed-in­stru­ments. At­ten­dees had the op­por­tu­nity to take tours of the gui­tar fac­tory, lo­cated at 380 Log Ca­noe Cir­cle, led by PRS em­ploy­ees, as well be­ing able to walk freely through­out the cam­pus.

For those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the un­guided tours, PRS em­ploy­ees were lo­cated at var­i­ous sta­tions to answer ques­tions about cer­tain gui­tar cre­ation pro­cesses. Tours stopped in the laser, Pri­vate Stock, wood­shop, acous­tics, sales floor, amps, pri­vate stock stain­ing and luthier cor­ner, fin­ish hall, elec­tron­ics and fi­nal assem­bly work ar­eas of the fac­tory.

As guests walked through the doors to the fac­tory, Danny Cruise with PRS told them about the de­signs on cer­tain gui­tar necks and how they are cre­ated; An­drew Jor­dan, a PRS em­ployee for nine years, talked about how the gui­tar bod­ies are smoothed with or­bital san­ders; and Wal­ter Jimenez ex­plained the steps in stain­ing, smooth­ing and fi­nal­iz­ing the color­ing for the gui­tar bod­ies.

“We are so grate­ful that when we open our doors so many peo­ple come out to sup­port PRS ... man­u­fac­tur­ing and mu­sic,” said Judy Schaefer, PRS mar­ket­ing man­ager. “We love putting this event to­gether and get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to rub el­bows with all the fans, play­ers, neigh­bors, deal­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, press and artists who at­tend. I heard a lot of pos­i­tive com­ments and had a lot of great con­ver­sa­tions over two days. It’s amaz­ing what we have all been able to cre­ate here.”

The event be­gan on Fri­day night with its Sig­na­ture Club cock­tail hour in the fac­tory with an open bar and light hors d’oeu­vres fol­lowed by an evening con­cert with PRS artists Boscoe France Band and Black Stone Cherry.

On Satur­day morn­ing when at­ten­dees ap­proached the reg­is­tra­tion ta­ble to re­ceive their Ex­pe­ri­ence pass, they could hear artists mak­ing mu­sic on the nearby Jam Stage. Guests could to sign up to get on stage and play a song of their choos­ing with bass player Si­mon McBride, gui­tarist Emil Wer­stler and drum­mer Blues Webb. One of the first per­form­ers, Peter Kelly, who said he had per­formed on the stage for mul­ti­ple years, played “Sab­o­tage,” by The Beastie Boys. Other per­form­ers, such as Max Ven­detti and Grant Ste­wart, played blues-style mu­sic. The Jam Stage was open for use through­out the day.

Spread through­out the park­ing lot were var­i­ous other tents and stages where bands were sched­uled to play. Per­for­mances on the East Stage in­cluded Todd Bauch spies and Larry Mel­ton, the Boscoe France Band and RDGLDGRN. Bands per­form­ing at the West Stage through­out the day in­cluded Hot Tub Limo, Kelly Bell Band and Love­bet­tie.

The Clinic Stage in­cluded Bryan Ewald teach­ing play­ing tips as well as the dif­fer­ence be­tween 58/15 and 85/15 gui­tar pick­ups, a Mas­ter Class with David Gris­som as well as slide tech­niques taught by Wer­stler and the Boscoe France Band.

The event con­cluded with a con­cert on the Main Stage per­formed by John Hi­att, who gave a solo acous­tic per­for­mance, The Paul Reed Smith Band and Liv­ing Colour. Dur­ing the PRS Band per­for­mance, Bernie Mars­den from Whites­nake band, Gris­som, Wer­stler, Si­mon McBride and Mike Scott did a ren­di­tion of “Pur­ple Rain” by Prince.

In ad­di­tion to the Jam Stage, vis­i­tors had the op­por­tu­nity to play PRS acous­tic, elec­tric and bass gui­tars, as well as mess around with var­i­ous am­pli­fiers the com­pany pro­duces, un­der the In­ter­ac­tive Tent. They were among the first peo­ple to view the new McCarty 594 elec­tric gui­tar, a fea­tured dis­play. At­ten­dees also could learn the ba­sics of stain­ing a piece of gui­tar wood as would be com­pleted on a full gui­tar body.

The two-day event event raised more than $8,000 for the Johns Hop­kins Kim­mel Cancer Cen­ter. Since 2000, PRS Gui­tars has raised more than $2.5 mil­lion for the Liv­ing with Cancer Re­source Pro­gram.

Paul Reed Smith Gui­tars has been man­u­fac­tur­ing high qual­ity in­stru­ments in Stevensville since 1985, pro­vid­ing elec­tric, acous­tic and bass gui­tars to artists such as Car­los San­tana, Neal Schon, John McLaugh­lin, John Mayer, Linkin Park, Ori­anthi, Blake Shel­ton, Mark McManus, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks. The gui­tar com­pany also cre­ates am­pli­fiers.

Dur­ing the win­ter when the re­gion was hit with more than a foot of snow, part of the PRS fac­tory’s roof col­lapsed. Dur­ing the 2016 Ex­pe­ri­ence, that same por­tion of the fac­tory was used for the wood-dy­ing ex­er­cise as well as the sales floor where re­tail­ers that sell PRS gui­tars had the op­por­tu­nity to sell its prod­ucts.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.


Wal­ter Jimenez, a PRS em­ployee, talks about the process of dye­ing the gui­tars dur­ing the 2016 Ex­pe­ri­ence PRS event on Satur­day, June 4.


Un­fin­ished gui­tars were on dis­play dur­ing the Ex­pe­ri­ence PRS event held on Satur­day, June 4.


Bran­dan Lamb plays one of the acous­tic Paul Reed Smith gui­tars dur­ing the Ex­pe­ri­ence PRS event on Satur­day, June 4.


At­ten­dees of the 2016 Ex­pe­ri­ence PRS event, held June 4, had the op­por­tu­nity to dye gui­tar wood.

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