A little over a week ago, David Grissom played and demonstrated his signature guitar at a Paul Reed Smith clinic here in Nashville. If you don’t know, Grissom is a guitarist who has played with Joe Ely, John Mellencamp, the Dixie Chicks, and Storyville, among others. He’s also a well-respected studio musician both here in Nashville and in Austin. In addition to his sideman work, he’s also released two solo albums and a blues/rock guitar instruction book.
Prior to seeing the clinic, I had never played the DGT guitar. However, Grissom’s PRS guitar is widely considered to be one of the best signature guitars PRS makes, and it was nice to be able to hear both Grissom and Paul Reed Smith discuss the thought process that went into making the guitar. For example, while the guitar is based on Grissom’s McCarty model that he’s played for many years, there were a few features that he was adamant about including on his guitar. One such feature is the inclusion of two volume controls, one for each pickup. This allows him to blend the two pickups together in various ways when both pickups are selected. The guitar also features coil-taps, which split the humbuckers into single-coil pickups adding even more tones that this guitar can achieve. Grissom likes to use heavy-gauge strings, so he wanted big frets on the guitar; this makes the heavy strings a little easier to bend. The DGT guitar also features a tremolo bar, which he explained helps the strings reverberate more than a stop-tail does.
Of course, in addition to discussing the guitar, Grissom played the guitar. And, what a great player and what a great sounding guitar! He played the guitar through a PRS Sweet 16 amp, which also sounded fantastic. I’ve always been impressed with the quality of craftsmanship that goes into a PRS guitar, and the DGT exemplifies this. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into the design of the guitar and the pickups, and the payoff is an excellent looking and sounding guitar. After seeing the clinic, I spent some time playing a DGT model and I’m very impressed. I think a DGT model is going to be in my future!
Paul Reed Smith also spoke at the clinic, talking about not just the DGT guitar but PRS in general. He’s a pretty funny guy with some very interesting stories. Specifically, it was interesting to hear his take on the music instrument business and the tough year that it seems that all the manufacturers have faced. Unfortunately, he’s had to do some layoffs this year and reduce the workforce to a four-day workweek. He’s also had to cut out extras like bonuses. He mentioned how difficult it is for a non-traditional guitar manufacturer in an environment where everyone seems to want vintage-style instruments. He said that dealers are always looking for the Next Big Thing, even when the current inventory is almost brand new. For example, in Europe shorty after the release of the DGT guitar, the guitar received numerous accolades in the guitar press. However, even while these accolades were just coming out, the dealers were calling asking about new stuff. As a result, PRS has had to constantly evolve their guitar line, leading to them to discontinue a large amount of guitars over the past year or so.
If you get a chance to see a PRS clinic, I recommend going. It’s a fun night of guitar geekery!