My Sunburst Schecter Strat Copy

Following on from Ingo’s  excellent article on the stolen sunburst schecter used on Tunnel Of Love.  I (Dermot O’Reilly also known as strat61 on some forums) have been invited to write a piece on my Schecter come fender strat inspired by that guitar.


Although I followed Dire Straits from 1978 with Sultans it was only Christmas 1980 when I started to play the guitar myself that I really locked onto Knopfler’s style and really fell in love with the strat. Tunnel Of Love has and always will be a special song for me especially the breakdown part in the song with the lines ..

Girl it looks so pretty to me
Like it always did
Like The Spanish City to me
When we were kids

.. and the subsequent play out. As a kid living in Doncaster in Northern England me and me mates (we don’t say “my mates and I” up there) we always kicked around the local fair that visited the Town Moor race course (not Newcastle’s Town Moor a ref for the song along with Spanish City). So at 16 years old having suffered a few life blows already it gave me a real lift.

My Sunburst Schecter Strat Copy



Even though the red schecter strat was used for live shows and TV at the time like Whistle Test because the sunburst had been stolen during Making Movies tour rehearsals Sept-Oct 1980 I later came to discover the Tunnel Of Love (stolen) strat which in the past few years I succeeded in a holy quest to replicate.

So basically it’s half original Schecter and half a 2006 Eric Johnson Sunburst Strat which is based on a 57 strat with the improvements Eric made, not so much for better sound (any strat has the potential for sounding great) but more for playability and stability. I liked the two piece alder body as the join wasn’t noticable and the very thin nitrocellulous lacquer finish. The neck is a 1-Piece Quartersawn Maple, Soft ‘V’ Shape with a nitrocellulose finish. I added an original schecter brass pick guard fully loaded with schecter F500 tapped pickups and original untampered (still waxed) wiring harness. The exact same as used by Knopfler in his sunburst schecter strats (1980 – 86). Also an original Schecter brass bridge with brass block plus brass “bath tub” input jack.
I always loved those Californian Schecter guitars that Mark used early on in Dire Straits and still untill very recently. I remember the day I read the reply from Andys a guitar shop in Denmark street as I read somewhere that Mark used the store and I wrote to them on “real paper” asking for more information. They said Mark used Schecters not Fender strats – I was shocked.  But that soon changed when heard Making Movies was recorded with schecter strats.


Here’s a clip of me playing a few Knopfler licks.  Gear is my Schecter/Fender sunburst strat, 1977 Musicman 65W 212 amp. Also in the chain is a vintage Morley volume pedal, vintage MXR compressor, Boss Delay DDS-3 and an Aphex Aural Exciter.

Even though I have an old 1984 squier (The Popular) strat based on old 70’s fenders that I love this strat feels like a profession model, it’s well behaved, all the frets positions play well, but it is a fuller more smooth sounding strat – less brittle. I prefer the half tapped settings as they have a more open tone, the full bobbin is as a result more closed less harmonics but you can more easily get a pinched harmonic sound as is the case with humbuckers – I usually only use the untapped settings for blues or slide. In terms of matching the Tunnel of Love tones it’s pretty close, although I think my Music Man amp has a bigger part to play as any amp does in the tone mix, but this is the amp that was used on that album. The Schecter pickups can get some of the dynamics heard in that song especially the initial rhythm chops at the song start better than a bog standard strat. I’m still not sure whether Telegraph Road (played with the sunburst schecter replacement) uses the fully tapped or half tapped settings. Also an added plus is getting a great Walk Of Life tone as the pickups are the same as Marks Red tele and you can switch in the Neck and Bridge together.

What I like most about this strat apart from the looks of course is it’s ability to cover any type of style rock, blues different Dire Straits stuff over the years. It does a good impression of a Gibson Les Paul with neck/bridge non tapped and tone rolled off and as I just discovered yesterday with the bridge/mid non tapped you can get a good Ride Across the River tone – whereas sometime a std strat does only a few things well if your lucky. Thanks for reading.

FYI: The Eric Johnson Strat

9 thoughts on “My Sunburst Schecter Strat Copy

  1. Nice article, thanks for taking the time to write it! The guitar is beyond words, a fantastic replica. What is the neck is it the EJ standard neck or a replacement? How hard did you have to hunt for the Schecter pikups and assembly?? I won’t ask what you paid for them!

    Great knopfleresque playing too!

    So tempted to build my own now!!

  2. Lovely Strat and a nice article thanks for taking the time to write it.

    Is the neck just the standard EJ maple neck or a custom one? How long/hard did you have to hunt for the Schecter pups and harness? Bet that was a waiting game and a half!

    Great Knoppflereque playing too!

  3. Thanks. Yeah the neck is a standard EJ which has quite a few custom features. I collected a few schecter bits and parts as I went and then that one popped up on Ebay. There was a very good one recently on Ebay but it went for a very high price.

  4. Hi, My name is Atonio Rey im a spanish musician and i would like to know about schecter strat red guitar. I want to buy,. I would like to know thew specfic, price etc… sorry my english isnt very good.

  5. great article and site… let me add my own 2¢. I actually own a Schecter strat (s/n CS8258); the “C” is because it was made and bought at Chandler Guitars in South London. In 1982 (I was 19) I had been playing guitar for about 9 years, and inherited enough money from my grandmother (!) to get what I had been dreaming of for a while; a Strat like MK. Up to then I had wanted a pre’64 Fender (which I couldn’t afford, they were over 2 grand in those days), but I read an article in the summer of 1982 in Melody Maker about Chandler Guitars, where they described that the Schecter is what was played on Making Movies. Got on the train, went down to South London and spent an afternoon nervously playing a Schecter strat through a Mesa Boogie amp, obviously got hooked. They were making a “MK” strat, which was the candy apple/glitter red, plain maple neck (I think) with plain white scratch plate and chrome fittings. I didn’t like it that much and asked them to make mine the same red lacquer, but to skip the glitter underneath, use a figured maple neck, and put gold-anodised fittings instead (I guess I missed that Les Paul custom look?). When I went back to collect it a few weeks later, I had this perfect toffee-apple red guitar – and they told me everyone was ordering that now. It still looks beautiful.

    While I was there I bought a 2nd hand MusicMan 210HD, just for good measure. Lugging home on the train was quite an effort.

    I still have both the guitar and the amp, obviously they are a bit knocked about now especially since my son started to play (soon got him an Epiphone SG to damage instead), both totally original, both a part of my life that I would hate to part with.

    Reading your article I learn that MK’s guitars were made in New York (always thought they were made in Chandler’s) but what the heck, I still remember my hand shaking as I wrote out the cheque (£550 for the guitar btw).

  6. Please e.mail me and I’ll attach a photo of my almost identical Sunburst Schecter made by Charlie Chandler, June 1986. 2200+ gigs and bit battered and I still love it!

  7. Hi, I also have a Chandler Schecter Strat Serial No: 8322, which I absolutely love. It is the most fantastic guitar I’ve ever owned. If anyone wants to swap info, just email me.

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