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

Neal Schon – Journey

Neal Schon with his custom doubleneck.

Neal Schon with his custom doubleneck. (Image credit: PRS Guitars)

• MODEL: PRS Custom Doubleneck
• SONG: Only The Young – from Frontiers (1983)

“I’ve been playing PRS guitars since the very beginning,” Schon says. “I used to own one of the first three curly maple guitars that Paul ever made, but he talked me into giving it back to him so he could display it in his museum. I used that guitar on It’s Alright from the Neal Schon & Jan Hammer Untold Passion album. I also owned the first doubleneck that Paul ever made. 

“I used it on Only the Young, and Jonathan Cain used the 12-string neck for rhythm guitar on Stone In Love on our Escape album. I just acquired several new, amazing Private Stock guitars this year, so you’ll be seeing them on tour soon. I truly believe they are among the best guitars ever made.”

Martin Simpson

• MODEL: PRS Rosewood Martin Simpson Private Stock Acoustic
• SONG: Blues Run The Game – from Trails & Tribulations (2017)

“The first prototype of what became the Martin Simpson Model acoustic guitar arrived at my house in December 2009,” Simpson says. “Shortly after I opened the case and started to play it, my phone rang. It was Paul Smith who simply said, ‘You’re happy.’ It was not a question, but a statement of fact. I have used that guitar on numerous recordings, and I’ve lost count of the number of films and videos of live performances I’ve played a PRS on. 

“In 2012, Paul made me a guitar from Honduras Rosewood with an Adirondack spruce top and the thinnest of finishes. I equipped it with three different pickups: a Highlander IP2, a McIntyre Feather and a Fifties DeArmond soundhole pickup. I’ve played that guitar on so many gigs and so many recordings. It’s ready for anything!”

Pat Travers

• MODEL: PRS Singlecut Trem
• SONG: Black Dog Blues – from Blues On Fire (2012)

“I got my first PRS in 2004 – a beautiful Custom 22 that I called 'Crème Brûlée' because of the honey-colored ‘10’ top,” Travers says. “That guitar felt wonderful to hold and play and look at – a very sensuous experience. 

“In 2005 I acquired a ‘10 Top’ Singlecut with a tremolo. I later had it modified with the addition of PRS 57/08 pickups. It has been my number-one stage and studio guitar ever since. 

I have played ‘Blackie’ on almost every recording I’ve done in the last decade or so. It’s amazing that Paul Smith has created a guitar company that rivals and exceeds all of his competitors. Paul once told me that he had been in a cover band that covered a bunch of Pat Travers tunes. I think that’s pretty cool!”

Mark Tremonti 

• MODEL: PRS Mark Tremonti Signature
• SONG: Blackbird – from Blackbird (2007)

“The first PRS I ever played was an Artist Series model during the Nineties,” says Tremonti, who became the second guitarist honored with his own PRS signature model when the company introduced the Mark Tremonti model in 2001. 

“I recorded ‘Blackbird’ with my favorite charcoal burst signature model. The first video I filmed with a PRS guitar was the video for ‘Higher’ with Creed in 1999. One of the most recorded PRS guitars I’ve ever owned is a US-built baritone, which has been played on many other records produced by Michael Baskette.”

John Wesley – Porcupine Tree

• MODEL: PRS Singlecut
• SONG: Pointless Endeavors – from A Way You'll Never Be (2016)

“My favorite song that I recorded with a PRS guitar was ‘Pointless Endeavors,’” Wesley says. “In 2007, Paul and Winn Krozack had a Singlecut made for me that included one of the first tremolo piezo setups in a solidbody. That guitar has done hundreds of gigs and hours of recording, and it is still my main guitar to this day. 

“I used it for Pointless Endeavors, which has some tones, including the solo section, that were a pinnacle of all the elements I had been chasing since I was a kid guitarist coming up. 

“When Porcupine Tree did the Arriving Somewhere live DVD, I played a stellar Hollowbody II. Before I got it, I had been struggling to find a guitar that could cover the nuances of the Porcupine Tree sets, switching from piezo acoustic tones to super heavy and gutsy tones to a beautiful clean tone. Porcupine Tree was a demanding gig that required a ton of varied tones, and that guitar helped me keep that gig.”


Honorable mentions - 3 high-profile PRS performances

Gary Moore

• MODEL: PRS Custom 24
• SONG: Let It Be – from Ferry Aid (1987)

The highlight of this all-star single, recorded as a charity fundraiser and tribute to victims of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, is the guitar solo section where Gary Moore and Mark Knopfler trade lines. Moore’s appearance in the accompanying music video playing a brilliant Cherry Red Custom 24 played a major role in introducing British music fans to the PRS brand.

Jimmy Page

• MODEL: PRS McCarty
• SONG: Let It Be – from Ferry Aid (1987)

What started off as a one-off reunion between the two former Led Zeppelin members for MTV Unplugged turned into a triumphant comeback, with a pair of sold-out world tours and a Top 10 album of entirely new material called Walking Into Clarksdale. When performing the album’s title track live on the supporting tour, Page played a custom PRS McCarty, giving the tremolo a good workout.

Mike Oldfield

• MODEL: PRS Studio
• SONG: Tubular Bells / In Dulci Jublio – from London Olympics Opening Ceremony (2012)

Oldfield has played PRS guitars for nearly 30 years, but by far his highest-profile appearance with a PRS was his performance during the London Olympics opening ceremony in 2012, which was viewed by a global audience of almost 350 million people.

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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.