Meet The Model: Crossroads Pre-Factory Santana I Limited

Posted Aug 20, 2019

Behind The Gear

If you told a young Paul Reed Smith that one day he would build a guitar for Carlos Santana, he probably wouldn't believe you - but his dream came true.

In the fall of 1980 and at the youthful age of 24, Paul made his way backstage at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland to meet Santana before a gig. That night Santana tried his first PRS instrument, an all-mahogany prototype. By the end of their conversation, Paul went home with a smile on his face and an order from Carlos for a new guitar. Santana choose maple as the top wood of his instrument after looking through a scrapbook Paul had with him.

^ The maple top guitar Paul built for Carlos Santana. Archive courtesy of Dave Burrluck's wonderful work in the PRS Guitars Book: A Complete History of Paul Reed Smith Guitars.

Paul built Carlos' instrument in thirty days' time and delivered it in November of 1980 - it was only Paul's third maple-top guitar. The historical signifigance of this instrument was likely unknown by Paul at the time, but the guitar inspired a life-long relationship between Carlos and Paul that would prove critical to our company's success.

This year, we built a model to celebrate this pivotal partnership and the beginnings of PRS Guitars, the Crossroads Pre-Factory Santana I Limited Edition.


There are a few unique features on the Crossroads Pre-Factory Santana I Limited Edition, including the body shape, inlays, pickups, and electronics.

  • The pre-factory body shape was the predecessor to the current PRS Santana body shape.
  • The fretboard inlays are fashioned after PRS “pre-factory” style birds and are made from solid-shell abalone. There is a pre-factory eagle on the headstock veneer, an “OM” symbol on the truss rod cover (which would become a hallmark of PRS Santana models), and a green ripple abalone purfling strip on the guitar’s top.
  • The pickups include an HFS treble and Santana bass pickup. Both pickups have been through PRS’s TCI (tuned capacitance and inductance) methodology, which essentially fine-tunes pickup specs and voicing to the exact desired tone and musicality.
  • The electronics set up, one volume control and two mini-toggles, was fashioned after a guitar that featured soapbar pickups, so the mini-toggles functionally turn the humbuckers on and off (instead of coil-splitting, which is more common on modern PRS guitars). Santana requested this layout even though a 3-way toggle would have essentially done the same job.
  • Only six of the instruments will be made.


If you haven't heard, Eric Clapton has brought back the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas, TX for 2019! The event will take place Friday, September 20th and Saturday, September 21st.

Guitar Center will be The Presenting Sponsor of the Guitar Center Village where these limited-edition instruments will be on display along with the complete Guitar Center Crossroads collection. PRS is a premier sponsor of the Guitar Center Village, and if you'll be attending this year's Crossroads Festival, stop by to view the collection between 12PM - 8PM at Victory Plaza on the south side of the American Airlines Center. Please note, access to the Guitar Center Village is strictly limited to Crossroads ticket holders only, on the date of their concert ticket.

A substantial portion of the proceeds from the sale of each of the guitars in the collection will be donated to benefit Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Centre Antigua. The Crossroads Centre was created to provide treatment and education to chemically dependent persons. Treatment is provided through residential care, family and aftercare programs. The pathway to recovery is founded on the movement toward a change in lifestyle.


Below are a few photos of our Private Stock team building this new limited run: