Live: Paul Reed Smith gives a masterclass on the art of guitar-building

The master luthier also expressed his hopes that guitarists will treasure their instruments more. Live: Master luthier and all-around guitar legend Paul Reed Smith took guitar-makers and players alike through a back-to-basics masterclass on the art of guitar-building. The video tutorial premiered on the opening day of the virtual guitar show.

In his masterclass, Smith discussed different guitar types and their parts; the art of making guitar necks, his personal guitar-making philosophy, and much more.

Speaking on the art of neck-making – and its significance in the guitar-building craft as a whole – Smith asserted, “real guitar-makers make necks”.

“I’ve always said that making guitars starts with the neck; if you’re a neck-maker, you’re a guitar-maker,” he said. “Somebody that makes the body, but buys the neck is more of a parts-guitar maker.”

Elsewhere in the masterclass, Smith also expressed his deep appreciation of inlay work – calling it a “real distinction about who made the guitar”. He also related PRS’ iconic bird-shaped inlays to his mother being an avid birdwatcher.

Towards the end of the masterclass, the master luthier reflected on modern ‘throw-away’ culture, sharing his hopes that guitar players will treasure their instruments and look on them as tools to be loved and cared for.

“It used to be that guitars were brought into the repair shops all the time and worked on – and we got into a ‘throw-away world’ […] where if your TV’s broken, you throw it out and get a new one,” Smith said.

“I think it’s important that you just don’t see it as a throw-away world, [that] you see it as ‘these instruments are meant to be taken care of and loved and made sure that they have the upkeep that they need’. I think that’s really, really important.”

Watch Paul Reed Smith’s entire masterclass above.

Check out more videos from the virtual guitar show at


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