Better late than never, but if you haven't heard this guitar in his hands by now… it's probably not for you! Mark's playing into his new MT 100 signature amp head for this video so you're getting the full 'Monti!
The collaboration was so right from the beginning, very little has changed with Mark's model since its launch. "It's been my go-to guitar for over 20 years and I couldn't live without it," says Mark.
He details how he first encountered Paul Reed Smith guitars when he was working in a guitar shop during his college years. "PRS guitars were new to the store back then and we all coveted playing those guitars at the end of the day, we loved them. I never thought I'd own one at the time because I was just a college kid with no money in the bank."
Things changed fairly quickly and Creed became bigger and bigger as one of the 90s biggest-selling US acts. In the earlier days of the band Mark was playing a Gibson Les Paul, but he had a PRS kept safely at home at home.
"When PRS contacted me about playing their guitars, I kept on saying, 'Do you have one that does this or does that?'" recalls Mark. "Eventually they said, 'Why don't we just do exactly what you're asking for and create a signature model for you.' And at that time, the only other signature PRs artist was Carlos Santana so it was a huge honour for me. I felt like I was just a kid and it was a huge opportunity for me. One of the best days of my career was the day I opened up that case with that guitar and my name on the 12th fret."
Mark and the guitar have stayed the course through his evolution as a player and songwriter in Creed, Alter Bridge and Tremonti – interesting diversions aside that you can check out at the end. For Mark the recipe is clear.
"I loved the weight of the guitar – I wasn't into lighter model guitars that I'd played over the years," he says. "I was into single cutaway [body]. I wanted a guitar with a particular neck carve. So we worked it out over the years and got exactly the neck carve you play today.
"Pickup-wise, when I was playing the earlier PRS models, they sounded great but they fit more of a blues or rock n' roll player. I was doing more of the metal-influenced rock and it needed to cut a little harder for what I was doing. So what they did was send me ten pickups and each one was wound tighter than the next and we got through three or four of them until we came upon the pickup that we have in the guitar to this day, and the pickup became popular in its own right."
Tremonti adds that he prefers having the pickup selector on the upper bout so he can see exactly where he is; usually flipping to the neck pickup for fingerpicked cleans.
The PRS Tremonti is available in US-made and SE versions now, in tremolo and stoptail configurations – and Mark uses both, fully utilising the Trem-Up Route for dynamic fills live but the stoptail for very practical reasons. "I especially like to use the stoptail when I'm using alternate tunings," says Mark – and he uses them a lot in his writing. "Because the tuning will stay more solid when you have that fixed bridge."
Mark's signature models have now become just as much part of his prolific songwriting as his live and recording setup.
"It never holds me up creatively," he explains. "Sometimes when you're playing a guitar that's difficult to play, sometimes it will throw you off your game – you won't be creative, you won't feel confident. This guitar makes me feel creative and confident all at the same time, and I can rely on it night after night."