Maryland Guitar Factory Produces Instruments for Rock Stars and - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Guitar Factory Produces Instruments for Rock Stars and Enthusiasts Alike

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In Queen Anne's County, there's a guitar factory that manufactures instruments for musicians ranging from rock stars to amateur enthusiasts.

PRS Guitars was started more than three decades ago by Paul Reed Smith in Annapolis. It's now headquartered in Stevensville and has produced guitars over the years that are used or endorsed by a list of musicians like Carlos Santana, Mark Tremonti, and Dave Navarro. The factory produces electric and acoustic guitars as well as amplifiers.

"My experience is that they demand a high level of excellence," Smith said of the musicians who use the company's products. "It's part of their DNA. It's the way they're made. It's great. I've never met a rock star who never deserved to be there. Ever."

PRS features a workshop abuzz with about 240 full-time employees hailing from Maryland, Delaware, and Washington D.C., making it the largest private employer in Queen Anne's County.

Acting as a wholesaler, PRS produces several different versions of their guitars that range in price from hundreds of dollars to upwards of $10,000.

The bodies of most PRS guitars are cut from mahogany and have maple tops, frequently featuring a distinctive appearance and dyed to give it a colorful look.


"Ninety percent of it is prep work. It's getting your tape, all your lines correct. It's kind of a talent in itself," said Trampas Ferree, a PRS worker who dyes guitars.

Guitars usually feature birds, a PRS signature, or moons inlayed onto the fretboards. 

Further down the assembly line, workers like Steve Sherman do what's called "pre-assembly" before they're eventually passed on for quality checks with actual play-testing.

"Putting all the parts of the guitar, the pickups, the tuner, the drop-ins, all the stuff that makes it work electronically and firing it up and making sure it works," said Steve Sherman, one of the workers in the pre-assembly area, as he described the process.

Later the guitars are dusted down and cleaned of fingerprints before they're packed up and shipped out from Stevensville to stores and other locations, many of them ending up in the hands of musicians across the globe.

Smith, a Maryland native from Bowie, said the Eastern Shore has been a good home for PRS Guitars and doesn't see that changing any time soon.

"Every time I land at BWI, I'm home. I like it here. I've always liked it here," he said. "Why would I want to do it anywhere else?"

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