Thousands turn out for PRS Experience
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.