This November, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix Arizona is celebrating the unparalleled combination of imagination and artistry in inlaid guitars. Opening November 5, 2016, the exhibit “Dragons and Vines: Inlaid Guitar Masterpieces” will present a collection of instruments featuring stunning inlay design created by the greatest contemporary North American inlay artists, luthiers and collaborators and highlighting the works and private collection of Larry Sifel (1948-2006), Pearl Works founder and PRS Guitars’ longtime inlay partner.
This never-before-seen special exhibition showcases more than thirty exquisite instruments, including one of every PRS Dragon made including two Dragon guitars from PRS Guitars’ archives, Paul Reed Smith’s personal “1st Dragon” which he made in 1979 and six Dragons from Larry Sifel’s private collection. Each Dragon celebrates in intricate detail the creative union of Pearl Works’ inlay expertise with the craftsmanship of PRS Guitars.
The mutual respect and appreciation between Paul Reed Smith and Larry Sifel ran deep as did their drive to push their crafts to outer limits while creating highly decorated instruments. When asked about Larry’s influence, Paul responded, “Larry Sifel was a visionary in the music industry. I remember very clearly the day he came to our factory, took me to lunch, and carefully explained that he was going to take inlay into the 21st century. There was a lot of detail to his plan, but at its core was the intention for inlay to be cut by a CNC machine instead of by hand. I said, "OK, I'm in," and we started business with him. It played out almost exactly as he envisioned, and there's not a month that goes by that we don't take for granted something he did.”
Highlights of MIM’s “Dragons and Vines: Inlaid Guitar Masterpieces” exhibition include:
The PRS Dragon 2002 Electric Guitar – Designed by Dungeons and Dragons illustrator, Jeff Easley. Inlay work by Pearl Works. This guitar depicts a close-up view of a dragon's head covering almost 90 percent of the single-cut body and extends onto the upper frets of the neck. The deeply carved recurve of the guitar body’s top added complexity to the computer numerical control (CNC) operation and programming, making it one of the most complex inlay projects ever attempted at the time. The materials used include shells, mammoth ivory, and other exotic elements. Once the design was installed on the guitar, the surface was airbrushed by Paul Boyd, a longtime PRS employee.
The PRS 25th Anniversary Dragon – Designed for PRS Guitars’ 25th Anniversary, the guitar features an intricate dragon inlay covering most of the 24-fret neck. The Dragon’s elaborate fretboard work is more complex that its predecessors and provides an intimate view of a snarling dragon.
Paul Reed Smith 1st Dragon guitar – This pre-factory, one-of-a-kind guitar built by Paul Reed Smith himself in 1979 features an intricate dragon inlay on the body of the guitar. Rarely shown publically, this guitar was instrumental in starting PRS’s Dragon series of highly-collectable guitars.
Additional Larry Sifel PRS Guitars on display include the Artist III “scrimshaw Birds” prototype (1994), a Private Stock 10th Anniversary guitar (2007), and a Rosewood Ltd. guitar (1996).
"The exhibition is a celebration of contemporary guitar inlay and the talented artists who make it possible. That story simply isn't complete without highlighting PRS Guitars and the stunning instruments they have created over the years. We are honored that Paul Reed Smith and his team have opened up their insights, memories, and archive of historic guitars to help MIM create this unforgettable experience for our museum guests," said Richard D. Walter, PhD, MIM’s Curator for United States / Canada
The exhibition will be on display in MIM's Target Gallery from November 5, 2016, through September 4, 2017. Information about supplemental programing will be announced in the coming months. Admission: $10 for Dragons and Vines: Inlaid Guitar Masterpieces exhibition only, $7 when purchased with general museum admission.
MIM is the only location in the world hosting this exhibition and is the only exhibit in history that features all of the PRS Dragons.
The Musical Instrument Museum is located at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix (corner of Tatum and Mayo Boulevards, just south of Loop 101). For general museum information and a full schedule of events, visit MIM.org or call 480.478.6000.
To learn more about PRS Guitars’ Dragons, please visit: www.prsguitars.com/30
For additional information about the MIM’s Dragons & Vines Exhibit, click here!