Observations using a Suhr at a gig

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by Dana, Mar 14, 2006.


  1. Dana

    Dana Guest

    Before I start I should say that these are my observations and opinions only. Your mileage may vary and blah blah blah.....

    The other night I took my new Suhr S Classic to a local blues jam. General specs of the guitar are: Ash body, maple neck, V60's Single coils. The club was a medium sized room in an old inn dating back to the 1850's. Wood floors, plaster walls, and wood ceiling. I plugged into a 70's Fender Deluxe Reverb. I've used this amp before with an Ash/Maple Tele with good results. I set the Volume on the DR around 4-5, Treble and Bass between 5-6, and Verb between 2-3. I prefer to use the guitar's tone and volume controls to shape the sound. No pedals were used, just guitar, chord, and amp.

    Let me first say that I love the way my Suhr plays and looks. The Slim C profile fits my hand perfectly, and the overall fit and finish and vibe of the guitar is excellent. I'd buy another in an instant, and probably will when funds allow....

    However, I was disappointed at the tone. For rhythm playing I used mostly the 4th and 5th pickup positions (neck, neck/middle). I found the neck/middle pickups a bit dark and weak for my tastes.

    When the time came to solo I used the neck pickup, and in this case I again found I was unable to obtain a good strong tone that was distinct from the group (Bass, Drums, another guitar). Normally I keep the volume around 7-8 for rhythm playing, then flip it to 10 for leads. In this case it didn't give me the type of boost I can expect from my other strats. I quickly switched to the bridge pickup. The effect was similar to turning on a spotlight in a dark room. While the bridge pickup allowed me to cut through the mix, it was incredibly bright, almost an ice-pick sound similar to a telecaster neck pickup. I quickly switched to the bridge/middle position, but found it similar to the neck position in terms of lacking definition and sounding too dark. I was very surprised by such a huge difference between the bridge pickup only, and the other 4 pickup selections. I also find that the 60 cycle hum seems louder on this guitar than on my EJ Strat, 98 American Standard Strat, and Warmoth Strat with Frailin Pickups.

    In summary, I love the way the guitar feels and plays, but I'm not digging the pickups. It lacks the punch of other strats I've owned. I also don't like the drastic change from dark sounding neck/middle positions to the super trebly bridge pickup. In my personal opinion there should be more of a smooth transition when going from neck to middle to bridge, as with my other guitars. At some point I will probably swap out the pickups to see what changes, if any that will make.

    If anyone has any comments I'd be interested in hearing them. Again this was just my observation and YMMV.
     
  2. Telecaster

    Telecaster Member

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    Maybe you should adjust the pickup-height a bit. I've played a couple of Strats with Suhr pickups (Suhr and Haar guitars) and they all sounded very punchy.
     
  3. suhr_rodney

    suhr_rodney Supporting Member

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    You might try a set of Fralin Vintage Hots with an SP43 in the bridge. That combination really works for me in one of my Suhr Classics.
     
  4. zekmoe

    zekmoe Member

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    Yea, If the guitar plays like you want and sounds good acoustically, just playing on the couch, I'd try different pickups. It's a reasonable thing to do with a custom guitar.
     
  5. Den

    Den Member

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    Contact John Suhr ... there's something wrong with your guitar.
     
  6. dbeeman

    dbeeman Gold Supporting Member

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    I have the V60 Low Peaks on mine - no such troubles.
    but, Also have Alder body and braz board .....
     
  7. EelEye

    EelEye Gold Supporting Member

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    Well, I own 5 Suhr strats and I've replaced the pickups in all of them. Love how the guitars play, absolutely hate the sound of the V60 pickups (Fralin Vintage Hots and Lollar Blondes all the way). That great strat airy sound is completely missing in the V60s. They are dark pickups.

    Change the pickups--you'll be glad you did.
     
  8. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    WCR Broadcaster Set#1-best sounding Tele set in 35 years of pro and semi-pro playing-makes you sound like Roy Buchanan...they are extremely toneful.
     
  9. justicetones

    justicetones Member

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    I have 3 strats and one has the BPSSC and a set of the V60LP's. I would say that the neck is a shade darker than the other handwound pickups that came out of the guitar. I purchased 3 neck pickups to get the vibe of when fender placed 3 similar pickups in all positions. All 3 measure in around 6.3-6.5K. The Bridge position is brighter than the others but not ice-picky at all. The strat is a 1993 with an all maple neck and very light resonant body. I played with pickup hiegt and it helped a quite a bit.

    Hope this helps. I have a set of Lindy Fralin SP43's in another strat and those are not really any brighter of course there is the different guitar and neck wood factor which is huge.
     
  10. Dana

    Dana Guest

    Hi everyone,

    First, thank you for all the replies. I think I'll probably swap out the pickups for a set of Lindy Frailin Vintage Hots or Blues Specials.
     
  11. Gordon

    Gordon Silver Supporting Member

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    The only other thing that I could add to what has been said is that hardware matters. My observations using the 2-pivot point trems is that they do not conduct the sonic vibrations to the body nearly as well as the vintage type, even when a steel block is used. I have had several guitars with the new 2-point trems and they all sounded weak and lacked dynamics. I'm sure that pickups can make a big difference in your case but I wonder just how much is the result of hardware. I have assumed that your guitar has the 2-point type of trem, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Gordon
     
  12. Mike Dresch

    Mike Dresch Silver Supporting Member

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    With regards to thinking a 2k+ guitar should not have to have the pickups changed, I have to say, I understand where you are coming from, even if I might not agree. Pickups are a taste kind of thing. If they don't sound good to you, chances are, they are someone else's tonal nirvana and vice versa. The important thing is how does the guitar sound acoustically? If it's anything like my Suhr, it rings out like crazy unplugged (and mine even has one of those nasty Floyds on it :D ).

    A pickup swap isn't the end of the world and may just get you to where you want to be with that guitar. I'm lucky in that I absolutely love the pickups in my Suhr, but in just about every other guitar I own, including a rather high end boutique guitar, I've had to change pickups to find a tone that worked for me. Heck, you could probably sell those Suhr pickups and make up for the cost of a new set of pickups.
     
  13. Dana

    Dana Guest

    Hi Gordon. You make a good point. However, I have an American Standard strat that sings well with a 2 point trem. It's also Alder with a Rosewood board. There's so many different factors involved. I think the first thing I'll do is try different pickups in it.
     
  14. Gordon

    Gordon Silver Supporting Member

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    Great idea Dana. Pickups sound like a great place to start especially since you have the fender that's working well for you.
     
  15. GTRJoe

    GTRJoe Supporting Member

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    I think you should contact Suhr before changing pickups. I have a Classic that is similar to yours. I don't have the same pickups as you but it is ash and maple. I had a couple of issues that I discussed with Suhr when I first got my Classic. They were extremely helpful. I thought my Classic sounded a little on the lifeless side when I first got it. I loved how it played. It had the lowest action of any guitar I've ever owned and no buzzing. In reality the action was too low. I raised up to a more normal height. It still played very comfortabley but it sounded much better. I also tinkered with the pickup heights. That seemed to do it. I've been a happy Suhr owner since.
    Anyway give them a call or email. Give them a chance to help. If that doesn't do it then on to new pickups.
     
  16. JamonGrande

    JamonGrande Member

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    Wow! Not to hijack here, but...

    This is one of the most classy gestures I've seen/read/heard. While I'm not a Suhr owner, it is a real pleasure to have you here John.

    joe
     
  17. duffyguitarman

    duffyguitarman Member

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    Can't beat that for customer service. :AOK :AOK
    I would take John up on his gracious offer and I bet you will end up very happy.

    Peace,
    duffy
     
  18. ChazMania

    ChazMania Silver Supporting Member

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    Wow....I'm inspired by this generosity.....now I'm even MORE Happy that my Suhr Std is almost done and ready for pickup!! Steve and John are the best. I'm afraid I will love my Std so much I will have to buy a Classic:)
     
  19. Tone Disciple

    Tone Disciple Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm new to Suhr having purchased a Classic T in the last two months, but this makes me proud to be among the Suhr owners here! Super response!
     
  20. Tim

    Tim Silver Supporting Member

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    John, you rock.....

    I love my Suhrs.... I almost wish I had a complaint about one so I could get the same service!! ;)
     

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