Something untoward happened this year at the NAMM show. Want to know what it is? Well if you don’t already know, Suhr guitars hit us right in the chops with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR signature guitars. If you know the endorsers of Suhr guitars, you might think it had been coming.
First off, Jazz fusion/blues guitarist Scott Henderson released his signature Strat-style guitar. It features a quarter-sawn Maple neck, Indian Rosewood finger board and an Alder body. The neck shape is Suhr’s classic D-shape neck which, in Scott’s opinion, makes the neck very comfortable to play with both chords and solo lines. The real magic though, is in the hardware and the electronics. The tone controls are completely bypassed when in positions 2 and 4 on the pickup selector. This allows for your tone to be rolled off slightly on the bridge position (which in my opinion every Strat-style guitar should have as standard) then, when you switch to the 4th or 2nd position you have that classic inbetween Strat sound with no tonal compromise. Pretty cool eh? The bridge is a highly modified Fender tremolo system. It’s modified in the sense that the tremolo arm is shorter and thicker and the mounting screw holes are drilled bigger. This means that the screws can be mounted in a way that results in maximum tuning stability. The paint is removed off the steel block of the tremolo to “make the guitar sound clearer”, in Scott’s words. Scott has had the bridge angled off the body so that he can pull up a major 3rd. Wood has been removed from inside the tremolo cavity to allow you to dive bomb as low as an octave below the A string. Scott’s guitar comes with Suhr’s proprietary SSCII system. This reduces the annoying 60s cycle hum and has no impact on the tone.
Overall, I believe this guitar solves the inherent issues with classic Strat-style guitars and if you’re a Strat lover, you should definitely check one out.
We now move onto sideman guitarist and YouTuber Pete Thorn’s take on the Suhr Standard. This guitar oozes class and is very sleek in design. It features a Mahogany neck and body, Indian Rosewood fingerboard, and a Maple top. The neck is Suhr’s Even C Slim profile and the fingerboard has compound radius. Optimum for both chords in the lower register and crazy licks and bends at the dusty end. The body is a downsized take on the Standard and, also features longer horns and a sharper radius on the edges. Suhr says this makes the guitar look modern and classy and I agree. Pickup rings have also been included for the first time on a Suhr guitar. This adds to the class of the guitar and gives it a more vintage vibe compared to similar designs. The pickups themselves are Pete’s signature Thornbucker Humbuckers. These are designed to have all the beloved aspects of the highly regarded 50’s PAF pickups but, without the downsides. The electronics consist of a volume and tone control with a push/pull on the tone control for a parralel bridge pickup wiring. A personal favourite wiring choice of mine. A 5-way switch is provided to give you some extra versatility with positions 2 and 4 being coil splits. The bridge is a Gotoh 510 tremolo system and functions with dual steel knife edge pivot points to improve performance.
The Pete Thorn signature guitar is a true tone machine. It’s the kind of guitar you would choose if you had to take one guitar out on the road with you. The modern and classy design coupled with great playability and versatility makes this a players dream. What’s not to like?
Up next is Big Wreck frontman and guitar player extrordinair, Ian Thornley’s signature. This features a classic offset body design made of Roasted Alder, a quarter-sawn Roasted Maple neck and an Indian Rosewood fingerboard. The neck profile is a custom V shape. It is essentially Suhr’s soft medium V but more pronounced to take on more vintage feel. The fingerboard is a flat 16″ radius which marries the vintage neck with a modern touch. The classic JM body shape has been tweaked to be slightly downsized, which is more comfortable and ergonomic. The electronics are where this guitar really comes into its own. Ian’s guitar features a HSH pickup configuration including a SSV Neck Humbucker, a V70 Middle Single Coil and a SSH+ Bridge Humbucker. These pickups are controlled via a 5-way switch and two slider switches on the upper horn. The 5-way switch works differently to a standard one in the sense that positions 2 and 4 split the humbuckers when paired with the middle single coil pickup and, position 3 is both humbuckers together. The two slider switches allow you to independently switch each humbucker between series or parralel. However, the split positions on the 5-way override the slider switches to easily switch to the split humbucker tones. With all these tonal options, the control layout needs to be comfortable, quick and easy to use. Suhr has achieved this by having the 5-way switch inbetween the volume and tone controls to make sure you don’t accidentally change the position whilst playing. The two slider switches are low profile and conveniently located on the upper horn. With the Ian Thornley signature, you get a choice of two different bridges. Option one is the Gotoh 510 tremolo system which provides excellent functionality. Option two is the TonePros TP6 Tune-O-Matic bridge which is built of steel and plated brass saddles. It is a string through body design which adds more resonance and sustain to the tone. The TP6 is recessed into the body to create the same low profile and super comfortable feel as the Gotoh tremolo.
The Ian Thornley signature is another tone monster. It’s a modern take on a JM-style design and those of you who aren’t familiar with that body shape, would feel right at home.
Last but certainly not least is the Andy Wood signature. This T-style guitar features a Roasted Maple neck and fingerboard, a Swamp Ash body and is available with two different pickup options. The body is torched by hand which burns away part of the wood grain. This, coupled with a satin finish, creates a unique feeling guitar. The neck profile is Suhr’s Modern Elliptical profile and has 24 frets instead of the standard 21 or 22. Andy’s guitar is available with two humbuckers or a more traditional two single coil configuration. The humbucker model is complete with Pete Thorn’s Thornbucker pickups, a 5-way switch that splits the humbuckers in positions 2 and 4 and a push/pull tone control for a parralel bridge wiring. The bridge is a Gotoh 510 tremolo system like on the Pete Thorn and Ian Thornley models. The twin single coil version is loaded with Andy Wood’s signature Woodshed single coil pickups, which offer all the classic Tele tones that you would expect. The SSCII system is also installed to remove the hum without compromising tone. A Wilkinson compensated bridge with brass saddles completes the look which, improves sustain, tone and intonation while maintaining vintage cosmetics.
If you’re into classic T-style guitars but want a more range in the upper register, then check out the single coil model. Prefer more beefier tones but want versatility too? Then check out the humbucker version. The Andy Wood signature guitars offer something for everyone.
All guitars feature a contoured heel for easier access to the upper register. Suhr’s staggered locking tuners also come as standard with each guitar. No need for a string tree and adds extra tuning stability.
Here’s a link to Suhr’s website that shows you more specs and finish options: http://www.suhr.com/instruments/signature-guitars/
So there you have it. Four great guitars designed by four great players. I know of people are put off by signature instruments but, these are just great guitars regardless of the name on the headstock.