35 players - including John Mayer, Alex Lifeson, Dave Navarro and Carlos Santana - on why they love PRS guitars

Howard Leese – Heart

• MODEL: PRS Golden Eagle
• SONG: The Wolf – from Heart (1985)

“The first PRS guitar I ever played was my Number One, the Golden Eagle,” says Leese, who bought the guitar from Smith in 1980.

“I bought it on the virtue of a Polaroid photo that Paul passed to one of my techs. I was blown away by the flame on the top. When the guitar arrived, it was so amazing that I called Paul and ordered a backup guitar, a single-pickup model that I call the Golden Eagle II. 

I played the Golden Eagle on every Heart record and every Heart concert from when I got it in 1980 until I left the group in 1998

Howard Leese

“I never played it as the Golden Eagle never needed backup. The Golden Eagle II is still mint! I played the Golden Eagle on every Heart record and every Heart concert from when I got it in 1980 until I left the group in 1998. I believe it is the first PRS to be on a Platinum record, and the first to appear on a Number One record.

“Paul has been my guitar builder since we met in 1980, and we have fun with the instruments. In the Eighties, I would send Paul swatches of material that was being used to make my stage outfits, and Paul would stain the guitars to match. The first purple PRS came about in this way. I believe that PRS makes the finest instruments being built today.”

Alex Lifeson – Rush

• MODEL: PRS CE24 Bolt-on
• SONG: Dreamline – from Roll The Bones (1991)

“I received a CE Bolt-On from PRS in early 1990, and I immediately became partial to that model for most of the Nineties,” Lifeson says. “I recorded Dreamline from Roll the Bones with a black CE Bolt-On that was my main guitar during that entire period. 

“More recently, I’ve done a lot of recording with my PRS Alex Lifeson Private Stock Thinline Signature Acoustic model. It is very easy to record and sounds great in any application. It is an everyday guitar for me that sits proudly on its stand in my living room where we happily meet each day for our special workout, and I don’t mean pushups!”

Clint Lowery – Sevendust

• MODEL: PRS Custom 22
• SONG: Denial – from Home (1999)

“I’ve used an amazing custom black charcoal burst beauty Custom 22 that I affectionately call ‘Bruce Lee’ on every record I’ve done since 2000,” Lowery says. “It’s my favorite guitar, hands down. 

“Once when I was on tour with Dark New Day supporting Seether, I was joking around and did an old-school guitar spin around my neck. It flew off the strap and the neck was cracked. I finished it off with a few more slams since the damage was done. 

“Everyone on the tour signed it. I decided to save it for memory’s sake and sent it to PRS to see if they could put it back together. A few months later it showed up at my house completely restored with all the signatures intact. The PRS folks put it back together better than ever.”

Tim Mahoney – 311

• MODEL: PRS Standard 24
• SONG: Down – from 311 (1995)

“I’ve recorded with PRS guitars on every 311 record and performed probably every 311 performance with a PRS since 1992,” Mahoney says.

“One of my favorite PRS guitars is ‘Ol’ Red,’ a Standard 24 I’ve had since its birth in 1993. I used it to record on every song on our self-titled ‘Blue’ album, which contains some of our most popular songs like Down and All Mixed Up. When the Thomas Fire tore through my property in 2017, I kept ‘Ol’ Blue’ (a light blue 1999 Standard 24 with custom Bob Vessells tiki inlay) in my vehicle for preservation.”

Bernie Marsden

• MODEL: PRS Modern Eagle
• SONG: Kinda Wish She Would – from Shine (2014)

“I used my blue Modern Eagle a lot on my 2014 album Shine, which I recorded at Abbey Road,” Marsden says. “It’s a really great guitar. I have fond memories of visiting the PRS factory and talking to the staff in every department. The community spirit to produce fabulous quality guitars was tangible. 

“I also always had a great time at the PRS Experience each year I attended. The atmosphere and vibe were always terrific. The achievements that Paul and his staff have attained over the last 35 years are impressive. I am very proud to have been involved in a small way.”

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.