Suhr Guitars

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A tobacco sunburst Suhr Classic from the late 1990s with a maple neck and EMG pickups.

Suhr Guitars (officially JS Technologies Inc) is an American company that manufactures electric guitars and basses, guitar amplifiers, and effect units. The company is based in Lake Elsinore, California and was founded in 1997 by John Suhr, who "has a reputation for building exquisitely crafted guitars",[1] and Steve Smith.[2]


Prior to founding JS Technologies Inc, John Suhr had worked at Rudy's Music Stop in New York City doing guitar repair. He also created the first Suhr Custom guitar in 1984.[3] Teaming up with Rudy Pensa they started selling guitars under the Pensa-Suhr brand, and the signature model they built for former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler is perhaps their most famous guitar.

Around 1991, Suhr moved from NYC to Los Angeles to work with guitar rig builder Bob Bradshaw. Before leaving NYC they had collaborated on the design of a preamplifier, the Custom Audio Electronics (CAE) 3+, used for instance by Steve Lukather.[4][5] They also designed a 100 watt amplifier head, the Custom Audio Amplifiers (CAA) OD-100.[3] During this period 1991-1994, John Suhr built about 50 custom guitars and focused mainly on building amplifiers. Guitars from this period are more rare than guitars from the Pensa-Suhr era and can be identified by the 'built for" information handwritten by Suhr in the neck socket. From 1995 to 1997, John Suhr worked as Senior Master Builder at Fender's Custom Shop. In 1997 Suhr left Fender to form his own company with Steve Smith. Suhr had the knowledge about building guitars, Smith knew about management, software and CNC programming.[6] Combining their efforts, they had total control of the manufacturing process and used the CNC routers to efficiently produce guitar necks and bodies, rather than doing it completely by hand.[7] In the 1990s Suhr also made a name for himself making pickups, such as the custom-made single coils for Scott Henderson[8] (Bill Frisell also uses Suhr pickups[9]).

During their first years the company built high-end guitars to customer specifications, introducing a new model about once a year.[2] In 2004 they expanded into guitar amplifiers when they re-introduced the CAA OD-100, which had earlier only been available in very limited numbers.[10] In addition to the OD-100, which still bears the Custom Audio Amplifiers brand, they now also manufacture the Badger line of amplifiers bearing the Suhr name. 2005 saw the introduction of the Silent Single Coil system, which uses a secondary coil for noise cancellation[11] to enable guitars with single coil pickups to function without picking up noise. Later years have also seen introduction of various other electronic accessories like single-coil, humbucker and electric bass pickups, mixers, and now also effect pedals. This included a collaboration with Doug Aldrich to create high-output humbucking pickups for an aggressive rock style of playing. In addition to receiving attention for their instruments, the company has also received some attention for their usage of modern technology in the design and manufacturing process[12] in what might be regarded as a hand-craft niche of the guitar industry.

At the 2010 winter NAMM show, the company introduced a new line of guitars with a new brand, Rasmus Guitars.[13] These guitars are manufactured in Asia but have the final setup performed at the Suhr factory in Lake Elsinore, California. Moving production to Asia enabled the company to lower costs, and these guitars are therefore priced a tier below the Suhr Pro line.[14]


A tobacco sunburst Suhr Classic T with a maple neck featuring their optional hybrid headstock.

Electric guitars[edit]

Their guitar models are based on the below mentioned four distinct body shapes, and different series are available.[15] All guitars are built to customer specifications, with the exception of the Pro Series, which are a limited option series of guitars based on the four available body shapes.[16]

  • Classic
  • Classic T
  • Classic TS
  • Modern
  • Standard

Bass guitars[edit]

  • Classic J


  • Badger 18
  • Badger 30
  • Badger 35
  • OD-100
  • PT-100
  • SH-100
  • ML-100
  • SE-100
  • SL-67
  • SL-68
  • Corso
  • Hedgehog

Effects Pedals[edit]

  • Jack Rabbit
  • Koji Comp
  • Riot
  • Shiba Drive
  • KokoBoost
  • Rufus

Artists who use Suhr guitars[edit]


  1. ^ Ellis, Andy (May 1999). "The Well-Tempered 6-String; Three Buzz Feiten Turning System-Equipped High-End Axes". Guitar Player 33 (5): 96–100, 136–37. 
  2. ^ a b Suhr Guitars. "Suhr Guitars and Amps History Page". Retrieved 2009-10-31. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b Salter, Trent (September 2003). "Interview with John Suhr of Suhr Guitars". Musicians Hotline. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  4. ^ " - Gear". Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  5. ^ "The Tone Zone - Steve Lukather". Guitar Buyer. Feb 2007. 
  6. ^ Egolf, James (January 2008), "Ten Years After: celebrating a decade of Suhr Guitars", Premier Guitar: 17–21, retrieved 2009-10-31 
  7. ^ Heuchemer, Bernd (2000-05-01). "CNC's Help Custom Guitar Maker Rock the House.". Wood & Wood Products. Retrieved 2009-10-31. 
  8. ^ Ellis, Andy (September 1997). "Scott Henderson: Hot-Rod R&B". Guitar Player 31 (9): 33–34. 
  9. ^ Cleveland, Barry (September 2009). "Bill Frisell: Features Jazz". Guitar Player 43 (9): 38–41. 
  10. ^ Guppy, Nick (August 2005), "Custom Audio Amplifiers OD100 head", Guitarist: 143–144 
  11. ^ US 7259318, Chiliachki, Ilitch S, "Magnetic pickup device for a stringed musical instrument with large free shape low impedance coil for noise cancelation", issued 2007-08-21 
  12. ^ Apple Inc. "Suhr Guitars. Old-World Craftsmanship, Modern Technology.". Retrieved 2009-10-31. 
  13. ^ Guitar World. "Rasmus Guitars by Suhr". Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  14. ^ Rasmus Guitars by Suhr. "Rasmus Guitars Price List". Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  15. ^ "Suhr Custom Guitars". Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  16. ^ "Suhr Pro Series Guitars". Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  17. ^ "Reb's Suhr Signature Model Stage Guitars". Reb Beach. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  18. ^ Santiago, James (February 2001). "Live Wires: Scott Henderson". Guitar Player 35 (2): 23. 
  19. ^ Santiago, James (September 2000). "Pickups: Scott Henderson". Guitar Player 34 (9): 51–52. 
  20. ^ Schmidt, Martin (April 2003). "Interview: Scott Henderson". Guitar Nine Records. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  21. ^ Jordan, Oscar (March 2010). "Guthrie Govan... So Far". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  22. ^ Matera, Joe (November 2008). "Michael Landau - Session Star". Performing Musician. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  23. ^ "2014 Suhr Party". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 

External links[edit]