Suhr and Anderson

flicker180

Member
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778
ok, can someone please tell me whether or not John Suhr and Tom Anderson ever worked together?

was trying to get a perspective on this.

thanks,

dave
 

John C

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6,462
John and Tom have not formally worked together, although based on posts both have made on their own forums (and John on Tom's) they seem to have great mutual respect for each other. There are, however, some connections:

Tom Anderson, of course, worked for Schecter from, I believe, 1977 to 1984. He was eventually Schecter's head of R&D and was responsible for designing several of their pickup sets. At that time Schecter was primarily a parts supplier, but they built one-offs at their shop. Circa 1981 - 1983 Schecter authorized several of their dealers to build "factory" Schecters; eventually there were 12-14 of these so-called "Schecter Shops", mostly in the US. Some key ones I remember are Willcutt's in Lexington (KY), Rudy's Music Stop in NYC, Valley Arts Music in LA, and Strings & Things in Memphis. When Schecter decided to go into full production of finished guitars, they stopped the "Schecter Shop" program circa late 1983/early 1984. Some of the old Schecter shops essentially got out of the building business, like Willcutt's who only made a handfull of one-ffs from various parts through the mid-80s and now concentrates on retailing high-end guitars. Others, like Rudy's, Valley Arts, and Strings & Things found other sources and went into production on their own. At that time, circa late 1984, Tom left Schecter to start his own company, Tom Anderson Guitarworks, concentrating on woodwork and, later, pickups. Tom added full guitars circa 1987/88, and stopped selling parts circa 1989.

Of course, John Suhr was working at Rudy's during this time period; I'm sure he assembled at least one of the Schecters that Mark Knopfler used during the Schecter Shop era. After Schecter dropped the "Schecter Shop" program, Rudy Pensa and John went into business producing the Pensa-Suhr guitars. John said many times on his original forum that Pensa-Suhr didn't do their own woodword; John has said that some parts were sourced from Tom Anderson during the early days of Pensa-Suhr. They also used Warmoth and other sources for parts. John left Rudy's circa early 1991, worked on the Custom Audio amps with Bob Bradshaw, left that circa 1994 to join the Fender Custom Shop as a Master Builder, and finally left to start Suhr Guitars circa 1996-97. John now also builds the Custom Audio Amps (which went out of production for several years) in his shop.

So, while John and Tom never formally worked together, they do have the Schecter connection, plus Tom did supply bodies and necks to John in the early days of Pensa-Suhr before TAG started producing complete guitars.

By the way, Strings & Things made the St. Blues guitars from back in the 1980s, and of course Valley Arts had their own line of guitars as well. And, in the "I'll take small guitar builders for $2,000, Alex" category - Don Grosh worked at Valley Arts in the late 80s-early 90s, before he went full-time as an independent builder.
 

flicker180

Member
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778
reason why i ask is that i see some interesting similarities between suhr and anderson headstocks and some of their pickups.

dave
 

Kappy

Member
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14,032
Wow...interesting post John C. I knew they had mutual respect and shared ideas. I was also pretty sure they hadn't worked together, but I didn't know all that. Good stuff.
 

John C

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Originally posted by dkaplowitz
Wow...interesting post John C. I knew they had mutual respect and shared ideas. I was also pretty sure they hadn't worked together, but I didn't know all that. Good stuff.
Thanks. I did a bunch of research on the custom guitar industry a few years ago - there are a lot of misconceptions out there, and if you go back to the mid-1970's you will find a lot of relationships.

Unfortunately, I lost my main manuscript in a computer meltdown 18 months ago; I had a part of it posted on John Suhr's old discussion site - including some verification and much-welcomed corrections "straight from the source" - but that appears to have been lost when he upgraded software/server earlier this year.
 

John C

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6,462
Originally posted by Suhr
When Tom decided he would not offer OEM anymore I decided to move to CA, this was about the same time they started to swicth to Warmoth, also some of the earlier Pensa-Suhr NON Anderson parts were made by LASIDO (Godin) The Famous MK Knofler model Pensa-Suhr was a solid Chunk of Mahogany with a Solid block uncarved Maple Top that Tom cut the perimeter of but I hand carved the Carve top and fully carved the neck. I also Sprayed that guitar myself in a rush (I had 3 days to paint and ship it for a concert) It was Lacquer color and Polyester Top coat Fully bound neck as well.
Most of the other Pensa-Suhr guitars were painted by Pat Wilkens who also worked at Schecter and used to do paint for Tom as well.. Yes Tom and I are friends, he is a good man! very Helpful and makes a fine guitar:dude
John,

As always thanks for setting the record straight. I'm sorry - I thought you had mentioned on your old discussion site that you also used Warmoth at the very end of your tenure with Rudy; I didn't realize you were referring to Pensas from after you left.

Thanks - if I ever get around to really writing my research as a free-lance article I would love to be able to interview you (and Tom as well) to make sure I have the facts correct. I would love to get the unbiased story of this part of the guitar industry down on paper. While I'm sure I'll get straight info from you and Tom on the post-Schecter family tree, I think I'll be hard pressed to get everything down whenever I tackle the Wayne Charvel/Grover Jackson family tree. ;)

John C.
 

TNJ

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28,827
I think it's high time for a book on the evolution of luthiery since 1975. The "Second Golden Age of the Small Company Luthier" (If one considers Leo's company small in the beginning). In North America, Asia, and Europe...there are a ton of guys out there building some magical instruments. Their story needs to be told.

S.
j
 

Kappy

Member
Messages
14,032
Originally posted by TNJ
I think it's high time for a book on the evolution of luthiery since 1975. The "Second Golden Age of the Small Company Luthier" (If one considers Leo's company small in the beginning). In North America, Asia, and Europe...there are a ton of guys out there building some magical instruments. Their story needs to be told.

S.
j
Here here!

John C. I'd love to see such a book as well. Good luck with the project.

Dave
 

Kappy

Member
Messages
14,032
I linked this thread over on Tom Anderson's forum and he wrote to say that everything here was pretty much right on.

that all looks pretty right. we did lots of necks and bodies for small builders back in those days, with lots of different headstocks. we found it more rewarding to do the complete guitars so we stopped the oem stuff in 1990 or so. someone can tell john c that i was around for some of that early wayne and grover stuff, though i heard most of it from one side so it may be somewhat tainted. lots of finger pointing going on back then. there was an interesting plan for uniting several companies but of course that didn't work.
feel free to pass this on to the other forum if it is apprpriate. between work, family and playing i can't spend time there.
Here's the thread on his forum.

Cheers,

Dave
 

emjee

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,947
I have an early Schecter with the s* style head, and would really benefit from anyones expertise on the era from which it came,
and if you can tell me whether it was a "kit" guitar or not. The
back plate has the old plain Schecter lettering, same on the headstock, which is a pre-cbs strat shape.
It has a tremendous ebony fb, with mop dots, and the serial number#
90716. It has (I think) the Monstertone PUs, with the large polepieces, old Kluson deluxe tuners, and a push/pull tone control. Its a great axe, but Im thinking of putting a set of SR's
from WCR. Can anybody tell me when this axe was made?

Thanks

Matty
 

matt5150

Either U Know Or U Don't
Silver Supporting Member
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1,587
reason why i ask is that i see some interesting similarities between suhr and anderson headstocks and some of their pickups.
I think the similarity is between the old Schecter pickups, and the TA pickups.

Also, some of the Schecter headstocks are almost mirror images of Tom' guitars.

Both guys make great guitars, and are definitely in a small circle of great builders still building custom guitars.

Matt V.
 

Tom Gross

OG Forum Member
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6,161
Originally posted by matt5150
Both guys make great guitars, and are definitely in a small circle of great builders still building custom guitars.
For sure.
 

John C

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6,462
Originally posted by matt5150
I think the similarity is between the old Schecter pickups, and the TA pickups.

Matt V.
Without going back through some of Tom's posts on the Tom Anderson Forum I'm pretty sure Tom said that he designed some of the Schecter pickups when he was there - he was their head of R&D during his tenure. I would consider his current pickups to be an evolution/expansion of what Schecter offered in the late '70s-early '80s.
 

matt5150

Either U Know Or U Don't
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,587
Yeah, I should have qualified my statement by saying there is a visual not sonic similarity bewteen the two.

I have never cared for the sound of the older large pole Schecter pickups, but love the sound of the TA pickups (especially the H3).

Matt V.
 




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