Jeff Marolda’s alarm buzzes at 6:00 AM each work day. After a cup of coffee, he leaves his home in Easton, MD and drives 30 minutes to our headquarters located in Stevensville, MD - just a few hundred yards from the Chesapeake Bay.
Here at PRS, Jeff is responsible for a task we take very seriously - quality inspection. From 8AM - 4:30PM, Jeff diligently checks every electric guitar coming through the shop, and when we say every, we mean every!
On any given day, Jeff will inspect between 50-65 guitars. His workspace, located next to the final assembly room, is neat and tidy and contains all the tools he needs for measuring and making small adjustments to our instruments.
His official title, “Quality Control Specialist,” was given to him in 2007 after he had been at PRS for 7 years. Before quality control, Jeff spent his time at PRS as a finish hall sander, stainer, and later a final assembly employee, all of which made him a great fit for his current job. He was so skilled at his previous jobs that he was often chosen to train the new hires!
Today Jeff inspects our Core and S2 products only. We have a seperate team in our Maryland Factory inspecting SE guitars, (we will spotlight one of those guys in the future)!
Jeff says, “When people ask what I do for a living, they usually think I just play guitar all day, I wish it were that simple! There are about 25 things I look for on each guitar before I even play a note..and then 25 things I look for after I play a note.”
It’s important to mention that before a guitar reaches Jeff’s room, it has actually been inspected dozens of times by the individual teams responsible for the guitar’s construction at different phases.
In the pickup cavities below you can see the initials of employees who worked on and inspected that guitar before it could be passed on through production.
If the guitar has made it to Jeff, it has already been thoroughly evaluated so we look at Jeff as the fine-tooth comb, so to speak. He is very close to the last stage in our production before the guitar leaves the shop.
So what are a few of the things Jeff looks for during quality inspection?
It would be overkill to list all 50+ things Jeff checks so we’ll briefly mention a few:
-aesthetic overview of the whole guitar (does it have the right truss rod cover and hardware/parts for that specific model)
-testing that all the electronics in the guitar are functioning properly
-intonation, set up and straightness of the neck
-evenness of tension across all tuner buttons
-no gaps between nut and fretboard.
-frets are topped properly and feel good when you are bending strings.
-does the guitar sound awesome.
We asked Jeff about this last bullet point - what kind of riffs does he play when he’s testing? He mentioned that he and other employees avoid playing well known songs or riffs when testing a guitar. He doesn’t want to over play them and ruin the songs for himself (or other employees in ear shot).
So what happens when the guitar isn’t right?
Jeff says, “First I’ll make a judgement whether to fix it myself or send back to final assembly.” If its a simple issue, Jeff will fix it himself. If it’s something more substantial or a minor error that he is seeing repeatedly, he will take it back to the final assemblers and discuss the issue.
In regards to this aspect of his job Jeff mentioned, “Without our employees’ committment to quality my job could be a lot more challenging - rejecting guitars left and right. But our reject rate is pretty low. Don’t get me wrong, guitar building is still a difficult art form and things can and do go wrong from time to time, but we are serious about finding those inconsistencies before our guitars ever leave the building.”
Jeff even has a global spreadsheet that he and other managers use to keep an eye on quality across specific aspects of the guitar’s assembly. If there are red flags, they get addressed immediately.
For most of the guitars Jeff checks, they will smoothly pass his tests and he will sign the instrument’s hang tag with his approval. Once he signs the tag, the guitar goes to the next phase of quality inspection where its given a thorough look-over for any finish issues. After its checked for finish, it is handed over to casing where they will do a second finish inspection. Once all is good they will case it up and send it to one of our authorized dealers.
Next step, your home!
Check below for a few more scenes from the shop and around Jeff’s work area!