The story behind our amp….
Guitar Players are notorious for “chasing the tone”. We’re
always looking for “perfection” in a guitar amp, think we’ve found it, then
hear something we think is better and buy another amp. On and on it goes,
the “chase cycle”. First it becomes an obsession, but oftentimes it evolves
into an all-out addiction.
Eventually, we have a knack for finding something wrong with
our current amp and its tone:
Great clean sounds, OK overdrive
Great overdrive, not enough clean headroom
Too big, heavy to move, or simply too loud for the venues we
I think it’s safe to say that every guitar amp, be it
Production Line or Boutique, has its share of pluses and minuses. I am one
of those addicted “tone chasers”.
And, that’s where the story of the Suncoast “Dick Bauerle”
Skyline Special - Custom 50 amplifier actually begins.
For the past 30 years or so, I have been guilty as charged as
being one of the most obsessive (addicted?) “tone chasers”. I’ve been
through dozens of amps thinking I had finally found the “answer”, only to
change my mind at some point because something wasn’t “quite sounding/
In my almost 50 years of playing professionally, I have at
one time or another owned or played through most of the iconic amps of my
era except that rare and “infamous” California “D” amp that has become so
But I have played through or owned many of its “clones” in
recent years. While these amps all sound nice in varying degrees, I always
got a sense after referring back to audio of the “real thing”- that there
was some missing ingredient in most of the clones.
I decided a long time ago that “my sound”, the one I was
chasing, was THE TONE of the original “D”. And since a $40K amp didn’t fit
too well into the family budget, I had to remain satisfied (?) with my
But that all changed in 2013.
Robbie Konikoff, both a business associate of mine and friend
going back to our High School days, told me about an exciting line of guitar
amps he had become involved with: Suncoast. I visited the website and my
initial impressions were favorable. But there are many, many independent amp
builders out there these days with established, known reputations, so I was
of course skeptical about pursuing things further at that time.
But Robbie continued to insist that Suncoast’s founder - Jim
Suchora, would and could build me the amp of my dreams. It would meet
both my exact specifications and lofty… expectations.
We finally all met face to face in January of 2014. Shortly
into our 4 ½ hour conversation, I realized that I had found the “cure” for
I also found out that Jim Suchora was no stranger to world
class music gear and the musicians who used it. He had been a
synthesizer service technician at Moog Music back in their glory days.
He has traveled as a personal tech to Keith Emerson, plus many other artists
too numerous to mention. Servicing and tuning Moog synthesizers for
many famous tours with some of the most illustrious musicians of all time.
But, Jim also final tested Lab Series Amplifiers for Moog
Music during the Norlin years. After Lab Series, Dan Pearce started his own
company and designed the G1 amplifier, which I have previously used and
endorsed. This amp is still highly sought after and coveted by some
players today. Robbie also worked at Pearce amplifiers after Moog Music.
Jim worked closely with Dan Pearce in the CAD design and development of its
predecessor the G2r amplifier. So although a “synth guy by trade”- Jim’s
real passion was guitar! The founding of Suncoast in 2011, allowed Jim to
follow his guitar amp muse.
Our meeting started with me playing through Jim’s existing
models, and I liked what I heard, a LOT! Then Jim, Robbie and I talked for
several hours more about creating another amp, one that could finally
satisfy my endless craving for tonal “perfection”. We talked about the pros
and cons of many amps and decided upon a possible road map for this new
creation. As its most basic criteria, it had to:
Sound great for both clean and overdrive tones
Be ergonomically friendly
We discussed many other detailed features as well, almost all
of which you will find on the Custom 50.
In the ensuing months, Jim and I did extensive research for
the amp we wanted to create. We exchanged volumes of information, sound
clips, and emails so that we would both always be on the same page. We
investigated a lot of things so that we could separate myth from reality
about that “D amp”, which was to be our basic tonal foundation. We also
came up with several initial drawings before arriving at what you see as the
Suffice it to say, we both feel no stone was left unturned.
And we both feel that we have achieved our goal in creating an awesome amp
that sounds fantastic and is extremely friendly for both the live stage and
Will this amp be perfect for everyone? Probably not. Nothing
ever is. But if you are a player who needs fabulous tone, extreme
versatility to cover most all playing styles, and incredible functionality,
you need to check this amp out.
My “tone chase” is finally over - Thank you Jim & Robbie!
Guitarist, Performer, Recording Artist