PRS Employee Spotlight - Michael Cimba // Senior Project Engineer

Posted Feb 15, 2024

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PRS Employee Spotlight - Michael Cimba // Senior Project Engineer


In our latest Employee Spotlight get to know Senior Project Engineer Michael Cimba! As a member of the New Product Engineering team, Michael plays a key role in creating and implementing all kinds of exciting new PRS models.

We sat down with Michael to chat about what his day-to-day looks like, along with some of the challenges that come with a role that deals in thousandths of an inch. Enjoy our Q&A with him below!


How long have you been at PRS, tell us the story of how you landed here?

Michael: I started in 2007, so I will celebrate 17 years here later this year. I actually interned at PRS for two summers when I was in college studying to get my mechanical engineering degree. When I was ready to graduate they wanted to hire me, so this is the first place I worked at right out of college!

If someone asked you "what do you do for a living" how would you explain it in a few sentences?

Michael: I’m on the new products development team, so my main responsibilities are modeling the new guitars brought to me by Paul and his team, or even working with signature artists to create and refine their models. My specialty has been neck carves/neck modeling. Jon, one of our other engineers, typically handles body modeling, and I usually handle the necks. After the modeling side is complete, I program all the guitar parts including fingerboards, necks and bodies on the CNC machines. I run the first prototype parts to make sure the physical parts are accurate and correctly reflect the computer design. Once we’re happy with how everything looks, I design and assemble the jigs, fixtures and tooling necessary for us to implement that product on the shop floor. It’s full circle from design to implementation. A combination between design work on my computer and manufacturing work on the shop floor actually running parts.

Do you prefer working upstairs in your office or downstairs on the shop floor?

Michael: I like the balance, the variety. I certainly like working with my hands and actually getting to run the parts. It’s nice to have a combination of both things and not be locked all day at my computer screen or all day on the shop floor. What I love about my job is the variety of different things I get to do and how fortunate I am to be able to mix my passion for music with my mechanical engineering degree.

What are some of the largest challenges you face in the ’new guitar development process’?

Michael: We deal with such tight tolerances on everything, on the necks especially, so it can be difficult to make sure we're able to physically achieve what Paul and the team want. A lot of times with our parts we deal with tolerances of +/- 5 thousandths of an inch--about the width of a human hair. So Paul will say, "hey I want you to change this neck carve 10 thousandths of an inch, and then I want to feel it," so we have to make sure that the machines and our process is consistently able to produce those results.

Tell us about some of your favorite past projects. What made those unique or exciting?

Michael: I have been a part of a bunch of different projects, but of course anything working with artists is cool. The John Mayer Silver Sky model for example: developing that neck carve and having John Mayer sitting in my cube--talking with me and giving feedback on the neck is pretty memorable. Overall, one of the more enviable things I get to do as part of developing neck carves is getting to hold vintage instruments that were the icons of the day, 50's and 60's Gibsons and Fenders that Paul has. Getting to experience them to try to improve upon them, or put our spin on those iconic guitar shapes. But as a whole project, I am very proud of the development of the S2 Series and that whole product line. That was the first time we were able to go from the ground up and not start with something that already existed. We were able to develop that entire process and design a guitar that was manufacturable at the price that we wanted, so it was very fulfilling.

What are a few of your hobbies outside of work?

Michael: My main hobby is "O" Scale model railroading. I have been into that since I was young, and now it’s kind of turned into a more extensive thing. I have an entire layout I’m working on in my basement! In addition to that, I love spending time with my family. I have three kids, and I love being involved in what they’re interested in. I'm very active with my local church, helping out with the music and tech ministry there. I fill my free time with lots of interests from music, photography, and of course many tinkering and building projects.

What do you love most about working at PRS, and what’s the most memorable experience you’ve had here?

Michael: I love the atmosphere. I love the feel. A lot of times you don’t get the opportunity to work at a company where even as big as we are it still feels like a family--you still have those connections with all the people. I love doing what I get to do. Interacting with the people and seeing all the creativity and talent in this place. There’s this passion everyone has for the product, starting with Paul at the top, it just filters down through the whole factory. Getting to then see the finished product out in the world, you can go to a music store and see our products on the wall and you know you had a part in that. The attention to detail and passion people have for making the best product we can that’s an amazing thing to be a part of. You don’t get that at every job!