Suhr Classic Electric Guitar
Original Author: Staffay
Weapon: Electric Guitar
John Suhr is a master luthier who has been in the business for 35 years, and his early success includes the Pensa-Suhr guitars used by Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton and Mark Knopfler amongst others. Nowadays he runs his own factory with craftsmen from Fender's customshop and they make about 150 instruments/month. The guitars come in all flavours, but they are all in the upper price segment since they are handcrafted. The model tested here is a "classic" strat type, but with a humbucker in bridge position. Nothing fancy here, except for the craftmanship and the components that are all top-notch.
When I first grabbed this guitar amongst dozens of Fenders, Gibsons and other guitars in the store, the first remarkable thing was the tone. Acoustically, it sounds a lot more than even a Fender Masterbuilt. The next thing was the neck, since it's not laquered it is very smooth and feels very good. This guitar has a C-shape neck and is pretty thin, maybe thinner than a Fender towards the head, and has a radius of 12, which is flatter than the original necks by Fender. This is really an advantage in my opinion since it's much easier to bend the strings without having "dead" notes and the action can be set lower.
I already said that this guitar sounds a lot even if not connected, which use to be a good sign for an electric instrument. Compared to the Fender Masterbuilt I'm reffering to, its a little bit darker and has a more "round" tone when connected to an amp. There is a very good tonal balance over the whole neck, and there is plenty of sustain for being a strat. But at the same time as it sounds Strat-like, I must also say that it doesn't sound very vintage, rather more modern since the color of the sound is a little bit more "fat". The pickups (Suhr's own) is not with heavy output like the Fender Texas Specials, they rather have a more clean output. I was originally looking for a real good vintage-like Fender Strat, but failed after testing about 20 pieces. (oki, the masterbuilt was good, but who wants to pay 6.000€ for a replica?) But the good thing here is that pickups can easily be changed - bad wood cannot...
Sound sample can be found HERE.
What can I say? This is just a marvellous instrument to play, it has a totally different feel than a regular Fender. The neck is just lovely, and with jumbo frets and the flatter radius it just plays as butter. The balance in the guitar is also very good, You can easily drop both hands from the instrument when standing, and it stays where it is. The weight is about the same as a Fender vintage. (it is actually the same wood - Alder) The whammy (2 post bent saddles with steelblock) is also far better than a vintage one, and stays in tune perfectly - with the help of lockable sperzel tuners. The feeling about this guitar is just great, and as I said before - only a masterbuilt or other custom made Strat can match this piece in my opinion.
Yeah, Im very impressed, I guess I'm a little bit lyrical in my comments since this is my guitar, but the fact remains the same - this IS a very good instrument! In my long and boring life, I have owned about some ten strats, and only regret that I sold my 64' back in the early eighties - but not for the quality of the guitar.... The price seems a little bit high, they have some cheaper ones, but not in this condition. For this money I guess it's impossible to find a better instrument - if You dont have any other luthier to build it for You. I also like the fact that the input jack is not on the body, and that it is a one-piece body. The craftmanship is superb and it looks gorgeous. In my opinion is Suhr the only guitars that succeeded in replace the Fender headstock with something else. This is simply a great instrument to play!!!
Fender Masterbuilt replicas
Other custom built guitars, eg. Tom Anderson and such.