The genesis of the original PRS McCarty Model was a combination of input and acquired experience. We investigate…
The original McCarty Model’s advance product information document, dated 21 January 1994, paid tribute to Theodore ‘Ted’ McCarty and his landmark contributions to designs - such as Gibson’s Les Paul, the Jr, the Special, the ES-335, the SG, the Flying V, Explorer, the Firebird, the stopbar and tune-o-matic tailpiece and the humbucking PAF.
“When I got the guitar at NAMM - I want to say it was ’91 or ’92 - it was fantastic! Doug Chandler [who worked at PRS at the time] told me, ‘This is the best PRS, ever!’
“So that was the genesis of it. We talked about it and [PRS] said, ‘Do you want it to be the David Grissom model?’ It wasn’t modesty, they’d really been generous to me and I said, ‘Do whatever.’ At the time, I’ll admit, Paul was reticent about some of the suggestions. Bonnie Lloyd, who was the artist rep at PRS, was really instrumental in helping to get the guitar made.”
Had Ted McCarty himself had any specific design input? “I didn’t contribute any specific designs,” said Ted back in 1998. “By that time, my sight was so poor I couldn’t do it. Anyway, Paul was perfectly capable of doing that. The PRS McCarty is Paul’s design.”
On its launch, the McCarty Model was some $700 more expensive than the Custom and, aside from the limited-edition Artist and Dragon I, it was the highest-priced PRS you could buy. Both Grissom and Smith were after a different-sounding PRS guitar.
Leaving the Les
But why, we wonder, didn’t David just go and buy a really good Les Paul, since that was the original sonic template he’d had in mind when speccing the guitar? Innovation as well as familiarity were key.
“A Les Paul is a Les Paul. Great, you kinda know what’s going to happen, but for me, the PRS was like an empty canvas and I liked the idea of that. I felt I could coax something out of it that hadn’t necessarily been said before. I could pull what I might play on a Fender and what I could play on a Gibson out of it, but ultimately, it’d be its own unique thing.”