Strat-type Question: Tom Anderson, Suhr, Fender

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by RocknPop, May 4, 2015.

  1. RocknPop

    RocknPop Supporting Member

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    I have read several threads where the OP asks about the difference between the guitars and the people responding provide zero value with responses like the history of the manufacturers or respond with one word, "quality".

    Could someone provide input in a fact-based manner to compare an S-S-S stratocaster? In particular, I'm looking at my 2012 Fender Strat (with the Fender Custom Shop Fat ’50s pickups), and used Suhr and Tom Anderson models that are comparable (please chime in if I'm missing another strat-type in the mix).

    Thanks!
     
  2. Flash6969

    Flash6969 Member

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    Quality


    (Sorry - someone had to!)
     
  3. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

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    Fender - made, for the most part, the way they always were, with a few exceptions. Not so many technological innovations as others.

    Suhr and Anderson - you CAN get them basically the way Fender has always made them, but in many cases you can get "upgrades ("better" neck heel, hum cancelling pickups or system, improved tremolo, better tuners).

    But, the biggest difference, imho, is that Suhr and Anderson pay more attention to the details of construction, so the finish might be more perfect, the neck-to-body connection will be tighter and more polished, the wood selection is done with much much more care, the drying process for the wood is more intense, and the quality (sorry) of the finish is more carefully overseen.

    Fender can make a great guitar. in my experience, Suhr and Anderson make one that is better because of the above every time.
     
  4. atquinn

    atquinn Supporting Member

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    Never played an Anderson or a 2012 Fender strat, but I do have a Suhr Classic Pro which would probably be the closest comparable. Pickups are subjective and can be swapped, so who cares? The Suhr has stainless steel frets that are taller than the Fender (both advantages in my book) and the Silent Single Coil II system which allows you to use any single coils you want and get noiseless performance. It also has the Gotoh 510 trem which is better than anything Fender uses (IMO). But all this is stuff you can look up online. Is there something you find lacking in your Fender that you are trying to remedy by looking at a Suhr or Anderson? If so, you might get better information from phrasing a post in those terms.
    -
    Austin
     
  5. RocknPop

    RocknPop Supporting Member

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    Austin, thanks for seeking clarification. I am in an exploratory phase right now seeking to understand if there are any substantial differences that may justify the premium. I realize that this will best gauged in person, but since I have very limited time, I thought I would explore via open questions that have fact-based responses.
     
  6. harritone

    harritone Supporting Member

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    Nothing will ever sound like a good Strat to me... Other than a good Strat. I've had 30 Andersons with ridiculously good Strat type tones... 15ish Tylers, a few suhrs. They're all great in their own right...hard to beat a good tyler, my personal fav. Suhr and tyler can come super close to a Strat, but not EXACTLY.

    choice woods, meticulous attention to detail, Perfect fret work, lighter in weight, set up/playability, feel and consistency make these 3 sub-top dogs great. The easiest guitar I've played is my old 97 Anderson drop top.
    I will buy a good spec'd out Tyler or Anderson online (at the right price)... Rarely will I buy a Strat online
     
  7. Defendant

    Defendant Member

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    I'll go out on a limb and suggest that the only things that may truly justify the premium are things that are unavailable on a Fender Am std strat. Like stainless frets, shaved neck heel, the Suhr noiseless system or custom neck shapes.

    Overall by most measureable standards, Suhr and TA will make a better instrument than a production line Fender. But fender also make very nice instruments these days, so the gap in quality may be less than you think.

    As a result, it comes down to whether you want something Fender doesn't offer outside a custom shop guitar.
     
  8. GGinMP

    GGinMP Supporting Member

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    I'd throw G&L into the mix as well. Kind of a middle ground (Leo's own ideas for improving on his original designs). I could love a guitar from any of those lines mentioned.
     
  9. snowdog650

    snowdog650 Member

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    Don Grosh gets nearly unanimously positive feedback ... although I've never played one.
     
  10. 59Bassman

    59Bassman Plank Cranker Silver Supporting Member

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    It really depends on what you want in a Strat. If you're looking for as close to vintage as possible, I don't think Suhr or Anderson are the correct path. You're better off in that case with a Fender Am Vintage, or one of the Danocaster-type recreations.

    If you're looking for a more modern strat (by that I mean potentially flatter board, different neck shape, stainless frets, enhanced bridge/tuners/electronics) then I think you're more in the Suhr or Anderson ballpark. Fender makes guitars like this as well, but they're not going to sound like a classic Strat, either (and I'd lump the Am Std in with this as well).

    I ordered a Suhr because after playing a number of Fender "modern" strats I couldn't find what I wanted in terms of neck dimensions, body routing, bridge, and electronics. With the Suhr I could get what I wanted (including stainless frets) with the details *I* chose.

    If the Pro Series works for you, I think you would be hard pressed to blind pick a Fender that would match it. Fender makes great guitars, but I find you have to sift through a number of them to find the one that speaks to you. My last Strat search I played several dozen before finding the one that fit. I've yet to play a Suhr that wasn't really good. If you look at it like a bell curve, I'd say that Fender Am Stds range from a 5 to a 10. You're as likely to find a 10 as a 5, and most of them will come in around 7 or 8. Suhr seems to range between 8 and 10. The worst of them will be as good or better than the average Fender, and you're more likely to find a really good one, IMHO.
     
  11. Dave Wakely

    Dave Wakely Member

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    All no doubt true, but I can't get away from another truism: the best guitar for any individual is the one whose feel and tone works for them. That might not always be the best-constructed/fanciest/most-upgraded choice out there (although, of course, it might). The fanciest guitar I've ever owned was a PRS = and it did nothing for me. (Disclosure: I now also own an old PRS EG4, which I love.) The best guitar for any one person is as variable as one person to the next.
     
  12. cardinal

    cardinal Member

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    Suhr and Anderson etc. offer much better consistency in fit, finish, and playability. They offer options not readily available on Fenders (stainless steel frets, Floyd Rose, fancy tops, binding, etc), and more selection of neck shapes, colors, and electronic options.

    You certainly can find Fenders that play and sound just as nice. Really depends on what you want.
     
  13. 2016aug29

    2016aug29 Member

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    As Dave said: Just because a guitar is perfectly built doesn't mean it's perfect for you. A lot of the high-end guitars I've tried have left me cold. They felt and sounded a bit sterile.
     
  14. straycat113

    straycat113 Member

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    If you are looking for that vintage 50's- 60's tone I would say go with a Fender CS guitar. If you are into a more modern sounding and playing guitar I would go with a Suhr (I never played an Anderson) but only heard great things about them. I believe John wants his guitars to be identified by their own merit and tone. Vintage fanatics or whatever I still believe todays players would rather have at least a 9.5"radius- locking tuners- and a more modern trem.
     
  15. phel21

    phel21 Member

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    What Strat? The difference between variations and vintages of strats from Fender is no less than the difference between strats from Fender and a variety of other brands.
     
  16. mslugano

    mslugano Supporting Member

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    I'll second everyone's suggestions that Suhr and Anderson consistently deliver superior quality and, important to me, guitars built to MY specs rather than some random guy at Fender but the individualized customer service you get from Tom and John will never be matched by Fender.
     
  17. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

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    Yup.

    And the wood selection, drying, and finishing are very very different between Fender and Anderson/Suhr/etc., too...

    And the hardware? Not sure about Suhr, but I know that Anderson is FAR more picky about what hardware goes on his guitars.
     
  18. andyk

    andyk Supporting Member

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    The Suhr and Andersons are killer guitars - but they are NOT Fender Stratocasters! I appreciate the history of Fender, and the assembly line process. The now-$10k 60's Strats were not choice wood, or put together in a magical way! But they have a certain something only a Fender has.

    Also, take a decent Strat, refret with stainless, have it set up by a pro - and it will be a killer guitar too!
     
  19. stucker

    stucker Member

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    I own 3 Don Grosh guitars and they are right up there with Suhr and Anderson (and most Fenders are hanging in there well below them).

    I think Suhr and Anderson generally have a little more modern twist to the Fender sound. But my Grosh guitars have more of that old-school tone like some of those good 50's and 60's Fenders I have played/owned before.
     
  20. BudLite

    BudLite Supporting Member

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    If you must play a strat, buy a Suhr, the playability is as good as any guitar I had ever owned. Play a fender and a Suhr and see what you think, I could not find a fender strat in the whole store that was on par w/ the Suhr strat.
     

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