Carlos Santana Explains Why He Left Gibson for PRS Guitars, Believes He Saved the Company With Advice He Gave Paul Reed Smith

singlecutarmy

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1,430
I didn't know PRS needed saving.

I understand Santana's logic on the student model. But all the same, no kid aspires to have that. No kid wants to be playing the guitar that the market might label as being a 'fisher-price kiddie guitar'. Kids aspire to be good enough to one day be worthy of the expensive flagship model and they won't settle for the student model until they get there.
That's not really how it works IMO. As someone who totally aspires more towards having the far-east version of guitars. I simply feel far more comfortable with a $700 guitar than that $4000 guitar it looks like from a financial safety standpoint.

Having to be realistic with my budget, I would choose epi customs over a gibson custom because unless I was slamming in the dough every paycheck, the extra money I save by going epi over a gibson goes SO MUCH further in my life than just having a nicer guitar. For students, that's a downpayment on a car, that's a semester of college, that's 3 months rent. It's like being a car enthusiest and setting my goal on a ferrari or lamborgini when I make <$50k / year.

Believe me or not but I don't aspire to have the Gibson version of my guitars. I aspire to play in such a way that people don't care.
 

Morpeli

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412
I think this is a video where Paul Reed Smith talks about how he basically kept stalking Carlos Santana to get a PRS in his hands and how Santana took one that John had borrowed one he had made for a friend and didn't want to give it back or pay him for it... :)

 
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LTE

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2,185
I was under the impression that Derek St. Holmes was the first big name for PRS. Here's the story as Derek tells it.

 

A_F

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116
I only own one PRS - it's an SE One (their take on a LP Jr.), but I've played many over the years and they have their own feel and sound. I love my guitar but generally don't bond with the aesthetics of most of their stuff - not a big flamed top fan. They're pretty, but not my thing. Now, something like the gold top McCarty with P-90s - that's more my speed.

PRS quality is absolutely top notch at all price points. I don't know that I've ever played one that didn't play well. To my ear, in general, their pickups are on the darker side of things. As a single coil guy, that's not my thing.

I think when the SE line came out, PRS made the right choice in making sure they're still top quality. Their entry-level models are still relatively expensive - which is commensurate with their build quality, IMO.
 

derekd

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41,435
Kids don't buy guitars, parents buy guitars.

And parents have to worry that their kids might be going through a phase with a new expensive hobby right round the corner.

For all they know their kid might end up preferring basket weaving as a hobby.

Entry level guitars sell well for good reason.
Yep, you nailed it.

Whether or not PRS needed saving, there's no doubt the SE series exposed the company to a new market. They were excellent bang for the buck guitars when they came out and still are.

I imagine quite a few SE players wound up buying core PRS models once they were old enough to have their own cash.
 

maxnew40

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941
Kids don't buy guitars, parents buy guitars.

And parents have to worry that their kids might be going through a phase with a new expensive hobby right round the corner.

For all they know their kid might end up preferring basket weaving as a hobby.

Entry level guitars sell well for good reason.
That is so true. I was the last of 4 kids. When I asked for a guitar it was a tough sell because of my older siblings getting a guitar and abandoning it in a few months.
 

Golem

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455
I don't know enough to say that he saved PRS, but I think the SE models brought in more players. My first PRS was an SE.
 

VintagePlayerStrat

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2,030
I don't want my guitar arriving in tune from halfway across the world. Please tune it down a step for shipment. :)

Other than that, Carlos is a cool cat. I liked him most with that SG at Woodstock though. Killer playing and "tone."

Loved this: "the greatest compliment that anybody can give you as a guitar player - that you sound like Aretha [Franklin] or Billie Holiday or Dionne Warwick."
 

ToneDeVille

Supporting Member
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4,665
I'm somewhat confused about this. First that's a pic of Santana from Woodstock. Second Santana stopped using Gibson and started using the Yamaha SG-175 which he helped design around 1975 till around 1982 when he switched to PRS.

https://www.ultimatesantana.com/gear-tone/yamaha-sg/yamaha-and-carlossantana/

https://www.groundguitar.com/carlos-santana-guitars-and-gear/

So Santana is confused (old age maybe?) He left Yamaha for PRS.
How could he have played a PRS in 1982 when Paul founded the company in 1985?
 




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