Private Stock Vault – Building a guitar with Paul Smith

Very seldom does a guitarist have the opportunity of taking the occasional stroll through the private stock vault at the PRS factory. As a musician, it’s very common to have your senses dulled over time due to large amounts of sacrifice or just seeing through the facade of perception that is required in this business to create the belief that a product is larger than what it truly is.

I came to this realization quite frequently in my youth as well as the earlier in my career. Some of the most pivotal moments in my life were working with people I idolized growing up, only to have them become the poster child of the type of person I swore I would never become. Breaking through the walls of perception of how you thought things would be in any profession is always a grounding experience. So grounding that it can turn a once ambitious person into a over-spent curmudgeon.

The polar opposite of this scenario in life is a situation like this. Not only is it the the closest it gets to the “Christmas morning” feeling that is replaced later in life with obligation, it is also a rare opportunity to learn and watch truly brilliant people collaborate and just be awesome at doing their thing. Working along side these types of people is not only a sign of encouragement, it makes you feel alive.

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Dave Weiner (Steve Vai), Emil Werstler, Paul Smith 2011 JA-15 Demo

Paul is always great at throwing ideas at you based on your character as a player. The model we are choosing wood for is the JA-15. Although we were brainstorming at the time, this is what we all wound up agreeing on:

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Full untitled performance from 2011

I take these annual trips to Stevensville, Maryland to perform a series of clinics and demonstrations at the PRS factory. This year in particular, I was asked to fill in for a gentleman that had a heart attack and could not travel to make the performance. At the time, I was the guy that was standing in front of my A&R when they received the news.

“Hey Emil.. can you go entertain for half an hour?”

I was completely out of planned material, but when I found out that Mike Ault and the Granger brothers were going to be filling in as well, I realized that something cool would most likely go down.

I can’t say enough about the Grangers and Mike. They are monster players and it goes to show that if you have a proper rhythm section, everything changes. Even if you are just making shit up, your ideas come out ten fold. You have added conviction because you know that these guys are pushing for something big to come out of you, while giving you the space required to make a statement.

This Video is from 2011. The music is improvised. The last thing said before we started playing was –

“What are we playing?”

Mike Ault – Guitar
Emil Werstler – Guitar
Greg Granger – Drums
Gary Granger – Bass
Filmed by Michael Corrigan

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