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

Brent Mason

PRS Brent Mason Signature.

PRS Brent Mason Signature. (Image credit: Future / Philip Sowels)

• MODEL: PRS Brent Mason Signature
• SONG: Storm In A Shot Glass – from Reba McEntire's Stranger Than The Truth (2019)

“I am extremely grateful to Paul for supplying me with guitars after I lost most of my instruments during Nashville’s 2010 flood,” says the first-call Nashville session guitarist. “I lost my main utility guitars, but before my next session Paul came to the rescue with a 12-string, baritone, DGT and more. 

“I’ve used my PRS guitars on many recordings. I played an SE Mike Mushok baritone on This One’s for You by Luke Combs and my Brent Mason Signature model for the guitar solo on Ronnie Dunn’s cover of How Long Has This Been Going On and Storm in a Shot Glass by Reba McEntire.”

John Mayer

• MODEL: PRS McCarty Hollowbody
• SONG: Wheel – from Heavier Things (2003)

“Back in 2003 while I was working on my second album, I realized it was time to get a hollowbody guitar. I was living in New York City at the time, so I headed to Rudy’s Music on 48th Street to get my hands on as many jazz-centric guitars as I could. 

“I played everything they had, including all the big-body Gibsons, new and old. Then, [owner] Rudy Pensa handed me a PRS McCarty Hollowbody – that was the sound I was looking for. I was blown away, not just by the guitar, but by the fact that after playing all the usual suspects, the PRS became the one that lit up in my hands. The guitar solo for Wheel on Heavier Things is that hollowbody.

“I have used dozens of my signature Silver Sky guitars over the past few years, but it feels like there’s only been one. Each time Paul makes an incremental improvement, I put it to the test, and if it’s better than the one I already had in my hands, it becomes Number 1. 

“That Number 1 crown jumps from guitar to guitar, kind of like king of the hill. I actually think the one I have now is going to be Number 1 for a real long time, but I’ve said that before!”

John McLaughlin

• MODEL: PRS McCarty Violin
• SONG: Guitar Love – from Now Here This (2012)

“The first PRS guitar I ever played was one of Carlos Santana’s guitars,” recalls McLaughlin.

“He loaned it to me when we played in a jam a long time ago. I loved the instrument right off. I’ve lost count of how many tunes I’ve recorded with my PRS’s, but one that immediately springs to mind is Guitar Love.

“At the end of my US tour in 2017, I put the wonderful Turquoise doubleneck that Paul made for me especially for the tour on auction to raise funds for the NGO [Non-Governmental Organization] for traumatized kids in Ramallah, Palestine that we support.”

Tony McManus

• MODEL: PRS Private Stock Tony McManus Signature Acoustic
• SONG: Gnossienne #1 – from Mysterious Boundaries (2013)

“I recorded the whole Mysterious Boundaries album with my first PRS Signature acoustic guitar,” McManus says. “It’s that one guitar on every track, solo, except the final piece, which was played on a baritone guitar. The first piece to be recorded was the Bach E major prelude for solo violin. 

“Paul was so encouraging of that whole project, and had me record in his studio with Peter Denenberg engineering – fantastic experience. 

"I was very excited to get back home from NAMM in 2011 with my signature guitar to show off. When I landed at Toronto airport, having changed in Denver, my guitar was missing so I went to the baggage claim desk and gave a description of my missing McManus guitar to the attendant. Her first question made me chuckle: ‘Is your name on it?’ ‘Oh yes, madam, it took me 38 years of playing, but my name is definitely on that guitar.’ It appeared the next day.”

Mike Mushok – Staind

• MODEL: PRS SE Mike Mushok Signature
• SONG: Failing – from Staind (2011)

“I’ve recorded pretty much everything with my PRS baritones,” Mushok says. “One track I really love that stands out is Failing off the last Staind record. I have a signature model tobacco sunburst that for some reason sounds just a little better than some of my other baritones. 

“I use that guitar a lot. It’s on the Saint Asonia record and Flawed Design as well. It’s just a stock, off-the-shelf SE signature model, but it’s really a special guitar. PRS has become a huge part of my sound, from my signature baritone to a beautiful hollow body that I’ve used on a ton of records. I just know which guitar to go for which sound and they never let me down. They really are great crafted instruments.”

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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.