Paul Reed Smith's Custom 24

Paul Reed Smith's Custom 24

Daniel Odle

Few guitar companies are as prominent as Paul Reed Smith Guitars. Collectors and musicians across the globe can spot a PRS across the room with their glowing tops and unique bird inlays. It’s hard to believe that their wide, high-end selection of guitars, basses and amplifiers all started with one guitar: The amazing Paul Reed Smith Custom 24.


Paul Reed Smith started making guitars in the 1970’s and wasted no time figuring out he had an eye for quality and style. In just a few years time, Paul had turned his interest into business and opened up his first guitar work shop. It was at his first Winter NAMM show of 1985 that Smith introduced the very first PRS Custom 24 after moving into a small factory space in Annapolis. His proper introduction of PRS Guitars to the world may have been a result of his abrupt sales technique. Instead of depending on word of mouth or displaying his guitars in shop windows, Paul hand delivered guitars himself to roadies before concerts and convinced them to take his guitar back stage. As “shot in the dark” as this may seem, landing Peter Frampton, Ted Nugent, Al Di Meola, Howard Leese and Carlos Santana might prove otherwise. The combination of Paul’s up front sales approach and quality merchandise is what helped PRS to their early success in a time when many witnessed the battle between Fender and Gibson lead the industry. While many of the big names were sporting custom made PRS guitars, nearly all of them can be traced back to the design of the Custom 24. There have been some significant updates to the original design, but the current (2018) version of the PRS Custom 24 is as noteworthy as it was in ‘85. Let’s take a closer look at a current design. 

This is a PRS Custom 24 with a Tiger Patterned Flamed Maple 10 Top. Each time I find myself with a guitar that is as beautiful as one like this, I have to stop and pause to keep from over-selling how stunning it is. It’s true, many guitar companies have featured a flamed-maple top, have a double cutaway, and are designed very well, but it’s impossible not to acknowledge the amount of time spent on every, tiny detail of this guitar. I can’t wait until the end, I have to point it out now. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the process of how PRS marries the layers of their guitars, but the end result blows me away. The front of this guitar is made of a 10 top graded wood, which Paul considers his highest quality, and the way its bound to the body is nothing short of fascinating. Take a closer look at this.


The combination of hardware and tiger pattern with this neapolitan-like layering is my favorite aesthetic of this instrument. The body is made of Mahogany with the carved, figured Maple on top. Mahogany continues up the neck which is covered with a Rosewood fretboard where you’ll find the famous PRS shell bird inlays. The 24 frets have a 10 inch radius and a scale length of 25 inches. The modern Custom 24 features PRS made Phase III locking tuners, an in house made patented generation III tremolo with nickel hardware. In between you’ll find PRS 85/15 pickups (The first number referencing the year the factory was introduced – in this case 1985 – and the latter number being the year the pickup were introduced themselves – 2015), separate volume and tone control knobs and a 5-way blade switch.

 The 5 way switch gives this guitar it’s incredible versatility and sounds capable of satisfying both the bluegrass picker to the death metal slayer. For those interested, the pickup switching positions are as follows:


Position One: Bridge humbucker

Position Two: Bridge humbucker with neck singlecoil, in parallel

Position Three: Bridge and neck humbuckers

Position Four: Neck singlecoil with bridge singlecoil, in parallel

Position Five: Neck humbucker


Paul’s initial inspiration for the building of this model was to create a guitar that could have the weight and playability of Fender’s Stratocaster while at the same time having the tone and versatility of Gibson’s Les Paul. Improving upon their designs as well was his decision to marry their uses of the bridge. While one uses a two screw blade technique and the other a 6 screw setup, PRS combines the efforts and gives the player full control over the bridge with their unique, patented tremolo and bridge system.


In addition to the standard Custom 24 format, Paul Reed Smith offers variations to the model. One of the more notable is the PRS Custom 24-08. All features of the 08 mimic that of the Custom 24 but with additional sound switching capability. The custom 24-08 has eight different pickup settings, all reachable through the combination of a three-way blade switch and two mini-toggle switches. In addition to the 08, Paul also has models with even more versatility such ass this beautiful PRS Custom 24 with Piezo 10 Top 2018 Faded Whale Blue Pattern Thin. This guitar has two output jacks, allowing players to utilize both their electric or acoustic amps with the built in Piezo control. With it’s own separate blend control knob, the 5/15 pickups can be combined with the Piezo acoustic sounds through a single output.






The PRS Custom 24 remains Paul Reed Smith’s best selling model. Several models are available at Heartbreaker Guitars in Las Vegas, a proud Paul Reed Smith dealer. Visit them in person or online to see these amazing guitars! Among some of the available models are the PRS Custom 24-08 with 10 Top Gold Wrap Pattern Thin, PRS Custom 24 with Piezo 10 Top 2018 Faded Whale Blue Pattern Thin, PRS Custom 24 Charcoal with Natural Back Pattern Thin, PRS Custom 24 10 Top Flamed Maple Orange Tiger Pattern Regular and More!  Visit Heartbreaker Guitars to see their entire collection of Paul Reed Smith products.


Daniel Odle

Heartbreaker Guitars Contributor

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