Why PRS Guitars Are So Expensive

Why PRS Guitars Are So Expensive

If you’ve been looking for a new guitar and you’ve noticed the prices of some of the models available you’ve probably noticed a few surprises. Many of you will have been left wondering why PRS guitars cost quite so much. That’s exactly what this article intends to find out, why are PRS guitars so pricey?

Paul Reed Smith guitars have a great international following, with many artists lining up on the  PRS official artist list. From Al Di Meola, Carlos Santana, Orianthi, and Alex Lifeson the list is endless. The reason so many artists want to be associated with PRS is obvious the first time you walk into their workshops.

Over 80% of the workforce at the PRS state of the art factory in Maryland actually play the guitar. Each one acts as their own quality control and before they pass the instrument on to the next work station they test their workmanship out to be sure it’s up to standard.

Are All PRS Guitars Expensive?

PRS produce a variety of guitar models and any with the letters SE in their name are lower priced models. For instance a PRS Custom 22 guitar has a retail price somewhere in the region of $3.5K, whereas the PRS SE Custom 22 has a retail price somewhere around $1K. Similarly the Custom 24 guitar is priced at around $5K with a Custom SE 24 costing around $1K.

Why Do Some Models Cost So Much More?

The extra price is due to a number of factors all of which can be summed up by saying it’s because they’re made in the USA. The top PRS guitars are built in the USA which incurs extra costs on materials, labour, and location. It costs more to operate a factory in the mainland USA than it does to outsource to one of the far Eastern countries.

PRS SE Parlor P20E Acoustic-electric Guitar - Tobacco Sunburst
3 Reviews
PRS SE Parlor P20E Acoustic-electric Guitar - Tobacco Sunburst
  • 6-string Acoustic-electric Guitar with Mahogany Top
  • Ebony Fingerboard - Tobacco Sunburst
  • Mahogany Neck
  • Sides
  • Back
PRS S2 Custom 24 Electric Guitar Black Cherry
  • Body Wood: Mahogany
  • Top Wood: Asymmetric Beveled, Bookmatched Figured Maple
  • Back Wood: Mahogany
  • Number of Frets: 24
  • Scale Length: 25"

Out Sourcing

Years ago almost all of the top guitar manufacturers built their instruments in the US. But in an effort to cut costs, many moved some of their manufacture abroad. To countries where workforce costs are lower, material costs are lower and even energy costs are lower. These lower costing models are then made available to the public at lower prices than the American hand-built models.

Even with the inevitable taxes and import duties, these imported models are still able to be sold at a fraction of the price of American made models. This trend inevitably made American made models more collectible and therefore, more expensive. This trend is true of all American guitar manufacturers and PRS are no exception.

Material Costs

In addition to the costs of production, better quality materials cost more to purchase and PRS never skimp on quality. The wood they use for their high end models is of an exceptional quality.To maintain this high quality much of the wood chosen is discarded which increases costs even further.

Selected Hardware

It’s not just the wood that affects the prices, all of the electrical components, pick-ups, and tuners are all top quality which all adds to the quality of the build of the instrument. Along with the tone and overall sound and added production costs. 

Skilled Craftsmanship

The overall design of an American PRS guitar with features like a curved top, tilted headstock and fret inlays take time to create. And have to be produced by skilled luthiers, not just factory technicians. This hands on attention to detail is desirable in the end product but expensive to produce.

Market Forces

A few years back, all at one time, all of the guitar manufacturers increased their prices by a considerable amount. There was much speculation at the time over what caused this dramatic price increase with no real conclusions being drawn. All that was known was that not all materials etc jumped in price overnight in such a way as to cause major price hikes throughout the industry.

Many believe that the prices of American made guitars are being artificially inflated by manufacturers due to the unbelievable differences in the prices of foreign made guitars and American made equivalents. Whether there’s any truth in these speculations or not, it does appear that all guitar prices increased at around the same time, including those made by PRS.

Business Overheads

The costs of producing a guitar are not limited by labour costs and the costs of parts and raw materials. There are other more general costs that every business is subject to. Increased costs for business rates, building costs, electricity, water, tax not forgetting advertising, customer support, personnel costs and staff benefits etc. All of these costs factor into the cost and retail price of the guitars.


Are PRS Guitars Worth Their Price Tag?

This is a question that only you can answer, playing any guitar and what you’re prepared to pay for the privilege is your personal choice. Many guitarists will only play guitars from certain companies, some will only play one particular guitar. However, PRS guitars are quality, yes, the top models carry a heavy price tag, but what you’re paying for is virtually a hand-built guitar.

Even their SE range that are made overseas are imported to their own factory where they are set up in situe before being sent out to the general public. Every guitar is set up in the factory before being distributed anywhere else. Just for their attention to detail, PRS guitars are worth the purchase price.

Which PRS Guitar Is Right For You?

With such a large range of guitars to choose from, PRS guitars will have a model to suit every budget and every guitar playing style. The right one for you is out there, enjoy finding it. Let us know in the comments which model you chose and why.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are PRS guitars worth it?

PRS makes some of the best guitars available for the price. They are definitely worth the price.

What does CE mean on PRS guitars?

The CE on PRS guitars means “Classic Electric”. The CE range was first released in 1988 and were the first PRS guitars to have a bolt on neck.

Are PRS guitars high quality?

All PRS guitars whether US made or overseas imports are all high quality guitars. Each one is hand checked before being allowed out of the factory.

Disclosure: We are a professional review site that receives compensation from the companies whose products we review.

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