If you’re in the market for a Paul Reed Smith guitar, then knowing where it is made is essential because it’ll influence the overall price and quality of the guitar itself.
Paul Reed Smith has several different types of guitar offerings that are manufactured all over the world.
In this article, we’ll explore where each of the different PRS guitar models are made and compare the differences between them to determine if it really matters.
So Where Are PRS Guitars Made?
In short, PRS Guitars are made in the United States, South Korea, and Indonesia. PRS Core, PRS Private Stock, PRS CE, and PRS S2 guitars are made in Stevensville, Maryland. PRS SE guitars are made in South Korea or Indonesia.
PRS (Paul Reed Smith): Some Background Information
Paul Reed Smith Guitars, or PRS Guitars for short, is one of the most renowned guitar manufacturers in the entire world.
Founded in 1985 by Paul Reed Smith in Stevensville, MD, PRS Guitars has been top guitar, bass, and amplifier manufacturer for over 35 years.
Their guitars feature one of the most iconic designs, up there with the Les Paul and Stratocaster, featuring bird inlays and a carved top resembling a violin.
Today, some of the most well-known musicians including Carlos Santana, John Mayer, Mark Holcomb, and Mark Tremonti exclusively use PRS Guitars.
PRS Guitar Models Explained
Paul Reed Smith Guitars originally started in Stevensville, Maryland and this is where all of their guitars were manufactured.
To this day, all of the high-end, American made PRS Guitars are still made in Maryland.
However, American made guitars are VERY expensive due to the materials and labor costs.
As a result, Paul Reed Smith decided to branch out in the more affordable markets to make PRS guitars more accessible to those on a budget.
Today, PRS has several different models of guitars at various price points with their top of the line guitars being made in America and their budget guitars being produced overseas where the material and labor costs are cheaper.
Here is a summary of the different PRS Guitar models and where they are made.
Where are PRS Core Guitars Made?
PRS Core guitars are made in the United States in their Stevensville, Maryland factory.
The PRS Core line of guitars is the highest-end consumer model that PRS offers.
Aside from their Private Stock guitars, PRS Core guitars are pretty much as good as you can get in terms of quality.
As previously mentioned, these guitars are handcrafted in their Maryland factories, so no expense spared.
In addition, all of the parts of the guitar including the hardware and pickups are custom designed and crafted in America.
As such, the PRS Core guitars are the most expensive models PRS has to offer, typically costing anywhere from $3,000 – $5,000.
Like you would expect from a handcrafted American made guitar, the attention to detail and quality control is top-notch.
You’re paying for quality. There will be absolutely no imperfections with the finish, professionally set up, and built to last a lifetime.
While the PRS Core guitars aren’t for everyone simply due to the price, if you’re after the best the industry has to offer, you can’t go wrong.
Where are PRS CE Guitars Made?
PRS CE guitars are also made in the United States in Paul Reed Smith’s Maryland factory.
The PRS CE line guitar is one step down from the PRS Core guitars.
In terms of overall build quality, they are definitely on par with the PRS Core, since they are made in the same factories.
However, with PRS CE guitars, there are some minor compromises in order to cut costs.
The main difference between a PRS CE and a PRS Core guitar is the fact that the PRS CE has a bolt-on neck rather than a set neck.
In general, bolt-on necks don’t require as much time and labor since there is no need to glue the joint. As a result, it cost as much to produce a PRS CE guitar.
In addition, the neck itself is made from maple rather than mahogany. This doesn’t really affect the overall quality of the guitar at all, but it’s still a notable difference as it can have a minor effect on how the guitar sounds.
Finally, the PRS CE line of guitars doesn’t have nearly as many options as the PRS Core guitars. It’s basically just a CE24 and a CE22, counterparts to the Core Custom 24 and Custom 22. No options for a single cut or semi-hollow body option. There are also fewer finish options and no 10-top versions.
Other than that, these guitars are pretty much identical in terms of quality.
The hardware and pickups are all top of the line American made. None of the parts of these guitars are made overseas, so you’re still getting the best of the best.
If you’re someone who wants an American made PRS, but can’t afford to get a PRS Core, then PRS CE is an excellent option coming in at around $2,000.
Where are PRS S2 Guitars Made?
PRS S2 guitars are made in the United States in the PRS Maryland factory as well but do have some components that are made overseas in Korea or Indonesia.
The PRS S2 line of guitars is one of the more interesting offerings by Paul Reed Smith.
Their purpose is really to serve as a middle ground between the PRS Core/ PRS CE guitars and the more affordable PRS SE guitars.
As mentioned, these guitars are fully constructed and professionally set up in PRS’s Maryland factory.
In terms of quality and build construction, they are definitely an American made guitars in every sense of the word.
However, there are some caveats.
The PRS S2 guitar actually uses the same hardware and pickups as the cheaper PRS SE line of guitars.
This cheaper hardware is mass-produced overseas in either Indonesia or South Korea to cut costs. These components are designed to be similar to the American made counterparts but use cheaper quality material.
And while they aren’t bad by any means, I would definitely consider it a significant compromise.
You probably won’t notice too much difference in terms of the hardware. But the real difference lies in the “S” version pickups. These are meant to be clones of the American made PRS pickups, but can’t really compete at all.
This is what separates a PRS S2 from a PRS CE guitar. While the PRS CE is still meant to be a lower-cost version compared to the core, the CE models still have the American made pickups.
If you’re someone who wants an American made guitar, but don’t want the price tag of an American made guitar, then the PRS S2 could be a right fit for you.
PRS S2 guitars are essentially one step above the PRS SE line.
Where are PRS SE Guitars Made?
PRS SE guitars are either made in South Korea or Indonesia depending on the model.
These are Paul Reed Smith’s budget line of guitars that are mass-produced in factories overseas.
Their designs are essentially comparable to the original PRS Core guitars but use cheaper woods, hardware, and pickups to cut costs and pass them onto the consumers.
There are actually two different lines of PRS SE guitars; The PRS SE Custom and PRS SE Standard
PRS SE Custom guitars used to be exclusively made in South Korea. In 2019, PRS decided to switch production over Indonesia for select PRS SE Custom guitars.
The PRS SE Custom is the higher-end version. These guitars are probably the best value in terms of price vs performance that you can get in a guitar.
I have owned several PRS SE guitars including a PRS SE Custom 24 and a PRS SE Mark Holcomb Signature.
In terms of overall quality, performance, and consistency, PRS SE Custom guitars are top of the line. They’re suitable for all levels of play from beginner to professional, so there’s really no need to ever upgrade if you get one.
PRS SE Standard guitars are exclusively made in Indonesia. These are the entry-level PRS guitars.
But just because they’re cheap, doesn’t mean they’re bad by any means.
When you buy a PRS, you’re paying for quality whether you get the highest-end PRS Core guitar or the lowest end PRS SE Standard guitar.
These are best suited for beginner to intermediate level players. Advanced players can definitely use them too, but at that point, you’d probably want to upgrade to a PRS SE Custom or higher to get better sounding pickups and build quality.
Does it Matter Where PRS Guitars are Made?
So we’ve established that each of the different models of PRS Guitars are made in various countries around the world.
But does it really matter where PRS guitars are made? What’s the difference?
In short, where the PRS guitar is made is typically indicative of its overall build quality, fit and finish, hardware, and electronics.
The top of the line PRS guitars are made in the United States, with their core models being the top of the line.
In terms of quality, American made guitars are the best of the best. As previously mentioned, the American made Paul Reed Smith guitars include the PRS Core, PRS CE, PRS S2 and PRS Private Stock Guitars.
The lower end PRS SE guitars are mass-produced overseas in either South Korea or Indonesia.
Typically, PRS SE Custom guitars that were made in South Korea are seen as superior compared to the PRS SE Standard guitars that are made in Indonesia.
However, Indonesian guitars have really improved their quality in recent years, while still being cheaper to produce than South Korean guitars due to the lower labor costs.
And as a result, in 2019 Paul Reed Smith actually moved production of their PRS SE Custom line of guitars from South Korea over to Indonesia as well.
So in summary, yes it does matter where PRS Guitars are made. The best of the best are the American made models in Maryland. The budget models are mass-produced in factories overseas in South Korea and Indonesia.
Why Are PRS Guitars So Expensive?
Paul Reed Smith Guitars are notoriously known for being very expensive.
Some would even argue that PRS Guitars are overpriced for what you’re getting relative to the competition.
So, what’s the big idea! Why are PRS Guitars so expensive?
Paul Reed Smith guitars are so expensive because of their reputation that they have built up over the years.
They are known as one of the premier guitar brands alongside Gibson and Fender.
Many famous musicians exclusively partner with PRS Guitars including John Mayor, Carlos Santana, Mark Holcomb, Mark Tremonti, and more.
Since PRS Guitars are proven in the industry, they are able to charge a premium for their products.
In addition, Paul Reed Smith guitars are known for their quality and consistency across all of their product lines.
They use high-quality materials, woods, hardware, pickups, and finishes which ultimately make the guitars cost more to produce.
Are PRS Guitars Good?
Okay, so we’ve established that on average, PRS Guitars are definitely expensive relative the rest of the competition out there.
But are PRS Guitars actually good? Are PRS Guitars worth the extra money?
Well, the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
PRS Guitars are indeed very good. In fact, they are probably one of the best guitar brands out there in terms of quality, sound, versatility, and overall experience.
The thing that stands out to me about PRS Guitars is the consistency.
I can confidently say that I have never played a bad PRS Guitar whether it’s a top of the line PRS Core model or a low-end PRS SE. They almost always offer a better experience than other guitars in their same price range.
The quality control and attention to detail on them really make for an excellent experience. If you buy a PRS Guitar, then you can bet on it lasting for years to come.
I have owned over 5 different PRS Guitars and loved every single one of them.
Here is a video of me playing on my PRS Core Custom 24.
In summary, PRS Guitars are made all over the world. Their top guitars are still American made in their Maryland factory. The lower end guitars are made overseas in either South Korea or Indonesia.
While there is definitely a difference between the American made PRS guitars and the overseas models, PRS has a reputation of providing excellent guitars regardless of where they’re made.
If you’re in the market for a PRS guitar, you’ll surely be able to find one in your price range that you’ll be happy with.
So, which PRS Guitar is right for you?