2008 looks like a huge year for Paul Reed Smith. I’ve always liked their guitars (although they’re not quite my ‘type’ so I don’t know if I’ll ever own one), but this year they really seem to have knocked it up a notch. Here are the press releases. Hopefully I’ll be at NAMM next year so I can report on this sort of stuff in person.

First up is the Al Di Meola Prism.

The Al Di Meola Prism, world renowned Jazz guitarist Al Di Meola’s first signature model PRS guitar, will appear for the first time at NAMM during the winter trade show in Anaheim. The model, which unofficially debuted during Experience PRS 2008, features a stained top with a full spectrum of colors unlike any finish PRS has ever offered. The Prism prototype was completed just in time for Di Meola to play the new model on stage alongside legendary jazz band mates Chick Corea, Lenny White and Stanley Clark during the Return to Forever world tour in 2008.

The Al Di Meola Prism features a highly figured curly maple custom top with mahogany back, 25″ scale length, 22 fret Mexican rosewood fingerboard, custom Al Di Meola neck carve, grommet style locking tuners, standard abalone bird inlays, the new 1957/2008 pickups and a tremolo bridge.

When discussions about this new signature model began, Al and Paul Reed Smith were both adamant that the guitar maintained the highest quality and tonal integrity. Al also suggested a tie-dye like finish for the guitar to give it a truly unique look. Paul Smith and the PRS R&D team combined Al’s favorite guitar appointments and a full spectrum of colors to create a one of a kind PRS Guitar.

Al Di Meola was one of the very first artists featured on a magazine cover playing a PRS guitar and has supported PRS Guitars for more than 20 years. Not only is the Al Di Meola Prism one of the most striking guitars PRS has ever developed, it pays tribute to a legendary musician who helped lay the frame work for PRS Guitars as a company.

PRS has launched its acoustic brand, Angelus.

PRS Guitars is proud to officially announce the first in a series of acoustic guitars manufactured in its Stevensville, Maryland facility. Nearly four years of design and prototyping with acoustic artist Ricky Skaggs and luthier Steve Fischer have culminated in the Angelus Cutaway and the Tonare Grand models, which are appearing officially for the first time at Winter NAMM. Full production will commence in early 2009.

Newly designed with direct input from distinguished artists, PRS acoustic models come standard with features that are typically considered upgrades within the industry — German spruce tops, beautiful dark rosewood or curly mahogany backs and sides, rare Peruvian mahogany necks, red spruce and mahogany bracing, exotic inlays and rosettes, and thin shatter-hard all nitro finishes. Options include Celtic knot rosettes and inlays, Adirondack red spruce tops, and ebony fretboards and bridges. These instruments incorporate a proprietary hybrid bracing pattern designed to maximize volume, provide a musical balance between the bass, mid-range and warm high-end and give an articulate tonal response. Also uniquely PRS is a super high strength, high modulus graphite truss rod that enhances sonic vibration and an optional proprietary pickup system producing a natural acoustic sound that rivals vintage condenser microphones.

“After years of development, we have created a guitar with a truly unique voice. It is an honor to have these guitars so well-received by such gifted musicians,” said Steve Fischer, Senior Acoustic Guitar Luthier.

Endorser Tony McManus, nominated as “Musician of the Year” by the BBC Folk Awards and the Scottish Traditional Music Awards, will be demonstrating these remarkable instruments in a live setting that simulates a studio environment where recorded tones can be experienced. Tony McManus has also been called “the finest guitarist Scotland has ever produced” by the BBC.

The Paul Reed Smith Guitars Mira Maple Top is making its NAMM debut in Anaheim this January. First unveiled during the Experience PRS 2008 event in Maryland last fall, the instrument combines the retro vibe of the PRS Mira with the figured maple tops that PRS customers have come to expect. This new model is an evolutionary instrument stemming from the increasingly popular Mira. The maple top provides the guitar with both a distinctive visual and tonal identity.

New colors and optional gold hardware are also part of this new model’s offerings. The new finishes are all wrap-around and include Tri-Color Sunburst, Dark Cherry Sunburst, Whale Blue/Black Burst, Violin Amber Burst and Vintage Natural.

Like all PRS guitars, the Mira Maple Top is comprised of the finest woods and materials available. In addition to the mahogany and maple top body, the mahogany neck and East Indian rosewood fingerboard come with either moon inlays or optional bird inlays. This instrument is a 24-fret, 10″ radius, 25″ scale length guitar with either regular or wide-thin neck carve. Locking tuning pegs, Mira treble and bass pickups, volume, tone, 3-way blade, and a mini toggle coil tap round out the features.

PRS Guitars’ National Sales and Marketing Manager Larry Urie said, “It is a smoking guitar that appeals to a lot of players.”

PRS continues to expand its guitar concepts with the introduction of the Mira X, the first 22-fret, 24-1/2″ scale-length guitar in the Mira series of PRS guitar models. Appearing for the first time at this year’s Winter NAMM in Anaheim, the Mira X’s retro inspired design and appointments compliment others in the Mira series, but the flatter, streamlined Mira X top and lighter weight body gives new options to players in search of instruments with PRS craftsmanship, but with subtle and understated style.

The unique X wood palette includes a solid African basswood body, a Sipo mahogany neck and a Pau Ferro fretboard that contribute to the light-weight understated look and feel of this guitar, as do the dot inlays, vintage style tuning pegs and nickel hardware. Mira X Treble and Bass pickups, volume and tone controls and a three-way pick up selector on a black pickguard round out the electronics package. Color packages are Vintage Cherry, Black and Sepia Burst.

“It’s simple. It’s light. It’s classic, and it’s powerful. We’re happy that after many years of discussing concepts like this, we are finally able to bring them to market and give people new options,” said Joe Knaggs, Director of Research and Development. “It’s definitely a ‘less is more’ statement, but quality is still the most important feature of this guitar.”

Paul Reed Smith Guitars’ Modern Eagle II officially debuts at Winter NAMM 2008 after making its initial appearance during Experience PRS 2008. The newly updated Modern Eagle II builds on the tradition of the original Modern Eagle with premium grade wood, classic Modern Eagle frets and a Modern Eagle wide fat neck carve and adds to that an all new exclusive pickup system, updated finishing techniques, new colors and a Modern Eagle case.

The 1957/2008 pickups offered standard on the Modern Eagle II allow players to achieve both vintage and modern sounds. PRS obtained exclusive rights to the original pickup wire used in the most revered pickups in the 50’s. PRS obtained an exclusive to the wire in 2008, and 1957 was the year the humbucker was first commercially available, giving rise to the 1957/2008 name. “We’ve found a new kind of black rosewood that we’re using for the necks and fretboards,” said Paul Smith. “We’ve come up with a way of finishing the neck and fingerboard where it goes down into the grain, and you actually buff out the wood.” This buffed out neck finish is achieved using a finishing process developed by PRS and only available currently on the Modern Eagle II.

Curly Modern Eagle grade maple tops with premium mahogany backs and select Dalbergia wide fat necks are standard on all Modern Eagle II guitars. Other features include 22 frets, 25″ scale length, custom Modern Eagle II birds with select green abalone bird outlines and iridescent Paua heart filled centers, tremolo or stoptail bridge and a special paisley case with a maroon crushed velvet interior. The high gloss nitro finish is available in four special high-contrast colors: Faded Blue Jean, Charcoal, Red Tiger and Yellow Tiger.

Underscoring the notion that quality guitars need not be prohibitively costly PRS adds to its highly successful SE series with the introduction of the SE Custom 24 electric guitar.

Featuring mahogany body, maple top and neck, plain maple veneer, three-piece wide-thin neck, rosewood fretboard and moon inlays, the SE Custom 24 provides utility and quality at a reasonable price.

Incorporating PRS designed HFS Treble & Vintage Bass pickups, the SE Custom 24 produces a wide range of tonal possibilities enhanced by a variety of switching options including master volume, master tone, and 3-way toggle pickup selector. The SE Custom 24 is only available with a tremolo bridge.

“The SE line continues to provide players worldwide with an affordable guitar of excellent quality,” said Doug Shive, SE Line Business Manager. “The SE Custom 24 is yet another great value guitar in a wide range of the PRS SE series instruments.”

The SE Custom 24 is available in Black Cherry, Grey Black and Whale Blue.

Incorporating the highly acclaimed 1957/2008 pickups and finished in never before offered PRS proprietary nitro-cellulose burst colors, the Sunburst 22, Sunburst 245 and Smokeburst McCarty make their debut at NAMM 2009. The guitars feature custom grade curly maple tops, wide/fat mahogany necks, mahogany backs, 22-fret East Indian Rosewood fretboards and abalone bird inlays.

The Sunburst 22 is a 25″ scale-length double-cutaway model with PRS Tremolo bridge and phase II low mass locking tuners. The Sunburst 245 features a 24-1/2″ scale length with single-cutaway body, stoptail bridge and vintage style tuners. The Smokeburst™ McCarty incorporates a 25″ scale-length with double-cutaway body, stoptail bridge and vintage style tuners. The Sunburst 22 and Smokeburst™ McCarty each have a 3-way toggle pickup selector, volume knob and push/pull coil splitting tone control; while the Sunburst 245 utilizes a re-configured volume and tone control per pickup and three-way pickup selector. “The PRS team wanted to make a guitar using 1957/2008 pickups but with a totally new PRS style sunburst,” said Paul Smith. “The finish team developed new burst colors that really bring the curly tops to life and the nitro-cellulose gives a new look, sound and feel to PRS.”

For more information, visit www.prsguitars.com.