Swiss Miss

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Chino, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    BD635B45-3116-409C-9E8B-FBED13F901D1.jpeg Voilà, my Levinson Blade hand made Swiss Strat. I’m guessing she’s an R3 from ‘89 or ‘90. I’m the original owner - at least 25 years now. I walked into a music store in Indiana and asked to try out an amp. They gave me this guitar to play. So I’m trying the amp (a Marshall) and wasn’t feeling the love but the more I played, the more I realized what a great guitar this was. Nobody had heard of these guitars in America, so it had sat around the store for quite some time. The guys at the store said they knew that someday, someone would fall in love with this guitar. I walked out with her that very day. She had a very 80s sound, which was cool back then, and active electronics that let you sound like a Tele, blah blah blah. Never been a fan of active pickups so many years ago, I had the active stuff taken out and put a Duncan JB jr in the bridge, which sounded awesome. However, the Levinson pickups still had that 80s sound. A couple of months ago, I made a thread to ask for advice about replacement pickups. I got all sorts of great suggestions (thanks, guys) but the eventual winners were a set of 1993 American Standard Strat pups from eBay (thanks to DougM for the suggestion). I had 920D make me a loaded pick guard and wanted to share the before and after pics with you guys. It sounds amazing. This guitar, oddly enough, has a maple body. Ebony fingerboard, too. Sounds definitely brighter than a RW board Strat, but not as much “spank” as a maple board. Sounds very Stratty though and I’m in love with her all over again. Still plays like a dream. Used to be alpine white, now mellowed with age to a beautiful, creamy antique white.
     
  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Great guitars, IMO!
    They are extremely well made, and sound great.
    Congratulations!
     
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  3. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, glad you’re familiar with them so you know what I’m talkin about. :) She sounds better than ever.
     
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  4. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Didn't Mark Knopfler play one of those ???
     
  5. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    Wow, really?? Not surprised that he would, just think it’s pretty cool if he did. :) The R4 is stunningly beautiful. The guy in the store where I bought mine kept an R4 for himself. Judging from this old post I found, I’d say mine is an R3. Mine says “hand made in Switzerland.”

    910AB5C6-D30D-46F5-B463-0A2BCAFD8FB8.jpeg
     
  6. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    1300C5AC-D895-49FA-B694-F7D4A23E34F3.jpeg



    Well dang! It does NOT say “hand made in Switzerland” and does not say where it was built. However, I bought it in the early 90s, it had lain around the store for quite some time, and they told me it was hand made in Switz. So, even if they lied, it’s MIJ. I know it’s not Korean because I recommended one to a friend and when she got it, it was a lot crappier than mine and it said S Korea. She loved it though, lol. I also know this is the early headstock they used.
     
  7. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    OK in case anybody cares, I’m pretty sure she’s MIJ, thanks to another thread about Blades. The headstock came about after a lawsuit from Fender because Blade was using Fender’s headstock design. At this point, they were already MIJ. Nothing wrong with that, though.
     
  8. lost sailor

    lost sailor TDPRI Member

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    And I thought it was going to have holes in it like the cheese
     
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  9. Ducerro

    Ducerro Tele-Meister

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    I like the design of that headstock. Nice looking strat!
     
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  10. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    LOL I always wondered where they were!
     
  11. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, I always liked it, too. Looks a lot like a Suhr headstock.
     
  12. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Also the early Kramer headstock, and even a bit like the current Anderson headstock. There really there are only so many ways to cut the headstock and not violate Fender's trademarks on the original shapes. That might be where someone thought Knopfler had one of these - the headstock is very similar to Suhr's, and Knopfler of course had a lot of the Pensa-Suhr guitars in the 80s and early 90s (Pensa also uses the same headstock design even though John and Rudy split in 1991; Rudy was the store owner, he now has other luthiers on staff building the Pensa models).

    I am not sure if any of the Swiss ones were ever sold in the USA; I think they might have been only the MIJ ones. You mentioned getting it in Indiana - it wasn't at Far Out Music right outside of Louisville, was it? If so, they were a very cool shop in terms of the product lines they sold, but their guitar guys were pretty clueless about the origins of some of their products (compared to their keyboard guys who really knew their stuff) so it wouldn't surprise me if they told you it was Swiss instead of MIJ.
     
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  13. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    Yeah strangely enough, I ran across a mention of Knopfler having played Suhrs right after that comment was posted. Never heard of Pensa; you really know your history. I can’t remember the name of the store but it was somewhere between Indy and Bloomington. We’re talking many years ago of course, but I remember I called my good buddy after I bought it and asked him if he’d ever heard of Levinson Blades and he said he’d read they’re awesome guitars and now I’m thinking maybe he’s the one who mentioned Switzerland. I had a Jeff Beck Strat with Lace Sensors at the time and ended up selling it to his son, who owns it to this day.

    My Anderson is a ‘96 (made on Christmas Day :) ) and the headstock back then looked fairly similar, sorta kinda (see my pic).
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
  14. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    The store I was thinking of was just outside of Louisville; technically in Cementville Indiana which is just north of Jeffersonville, so that would be 30 or so miles south of Bloomington. Blade must have had a good sales rep going up I-65 in Indiana to be in 2 stores fairly close together.

    The history of Suhr is this:
    1. John Suhr works for a store in NYC called Rudy's Music Stop, owned by Rudy Pensa, as their luthier/tech. They sell Schecters so they also assemble guitars there from Schecter parts. Schecter cuts back on selling parts around 1984, when they move to Dallas and focus on the assembled instrument business.
    2. Suhr and Pensa decide to start their own line around 1985-ish, which they call Pensa-Suhr. In one of these "damn the guitar industry is in-bred" things Pensa-Suhr, who don't have their own routers/wood processing shop, get their parts from Tom Anderson - who had been a Schecter employee from 1977-1984. Tom had bought some equipment and had started up his own business selling bodies, necks and pickups. Knopfler's original carved top Strat-style is a Pensa-Suhr; John had built it for himself but Mark loved it and bought it; it was one of the last Pensa-Surhs to have wood cut by Tom Anderson.
    3. Circa 1988 Anderson stops selling parts so Pensa-Suhr now gets parts from Warmoth.
    4. Early 1991 Suhr leaves Pensa, but Pensa still uses the "Pensa-Suhr" name on the instruments although other luthiers are building them. Suhr moves to California and begins building amps with Bob Bradshaw (of the huge effects racks/switching fame) under the name "Custom Audio Electronics".
    5. Circa 1993-94 Suhr leaves Custom Audio Electronics and joins Fender as a Senior Master Builder in the Custom Shop.
    6. Early 1996 Suhr leaves Fender and starts the current Suhr company.
     
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  15. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    Amazing what you learn on this forum. That is really interesting stuff. Do you have any opinion on Suhr vs Schecter USA? This conversation is leading to a very dangerous place for me lol. Especially since I’m broke!
     
  16. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It's hard to find Schecter USA; for work I had to spend about 8 months in Charlotte NC (fall 2016 through spring 2017, only back to KC every few weekends) and found some current Schecters at a little mom & pop store. The ones I found were pretty much on par with Suhr and Anderson, but are probably still more hard rock oriented in terms of pickups available than Suhr or Anderson are these days - particularly the humbuckers you'll typically find on ones in stock at stores.
     
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  17. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    Wow I lived in Charlotte waaay back in ‘69. I’ve seen a couple of youtube vids of Schecters and they sounded really nice.
     
  18. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Since I wasn't there permanently I couldn't tell you the small town in the northern suburbs where this store was located any more; I found them online and found the place through the navigation app on my phone.

    One thing I should have mentioned is that Schecter USA doesn't have quite the selection of neck carves that Suhr or Anderson have; if you find one in stock somewhere it's likely going to have one of their thinner neck shapes. They are owned by one of the partners in ESP (run as separate companies - just that this guy is the 100% owner of Schecter and also 1/3 owner of ESP) so I suppose that's his wheelhouse for neck shapes.
     
  19. Chino

    Chino Tele-Meister

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    Well I have plenty of guitars so I guess I’ll just enjoy them and stop thinking about gear I can’t afford. :(
     
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