Bringing Myths to Life

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2012 by hamerblog

The mythical god Thor would surely embrace what has often been considered a mythical guitar. Often talked about but rarely seen, this bolt of lightning will add thunder to its anxiously waiting owner’s repertoire. Built from one solid piece of Limba, the body is vibrant and light weight.

Here Dave is routing this custom instrument. Note the soft tooling routing fixture that Dave fabricated from a mahogany cutoff.

Todd readying to flat sand and buff the Bolt.

The body shape is actually that of a V cut in the middle with a flipped wing. We custom machined and gold-plated the tailpiece.

The strings run through the body in the manner of our Sunburst guitars, though the array of grommets is unique indeed.

The existence of this model has long been a myth. We put an end to that.

Racing Power

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2012 by hamerblog

It seems that our customers can arrive at countless variations on a theme. Here, we took a long discontinued model and hot rodded it further. The engine is provided by the white Barden rail pickups, with the triple-coil housed in our proprietary surround.

The surprisingly simple electronics provide an array of sounds. The serious sustain driven by Hamer’s sustain block bridge has long been established.

String through the body construction further enhances sustain.

Sperzel machine heads are always a nice touch.

Then there are customizations such the tumbling mother of pearl Boomerang inlays and the grained ivoroid fingerboard and headstock binding. We applied a mondo Hamer logo back in the ’80s so that it would be visible from stadium seating. This customer requested that retro touch. Ferrari red completes the powerful package. We’re confident that this guitar will be well driven.

Can’t Stop The Music

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 27, 2012 by hamerblog

In our Ain’t That A Shame post we told you about the tragedy that was Ottawa and how it wreaked havoc on a number of Rick Nielsen’s guitars. We had previously repaired the headstock of the Checkerboard Standard on a number of occassions so the Ottawa storm took an especially hard toll on it.  The Checkerboard Standard now has another companion.

Can’t forget the checkerboard pickups!

Insuring that the pickup checks align with those on the guitar.

And they do!

The guitar wouldn’t be complete without matching knobs.


Mother of Pearl Bow Tie Inlays

The pickup surrounds have been cleaned up.

On this guitar we painted the Hamer logo in both black and white.

Can’t forget the neck.

Complete and ready to rock.

Slammin’ Chaparral

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2012 by hamerblog

You may remember when we last featured this guitar under the heading Exotica. We’ve done much since then and wanted to share this photo collage with you. We think that the guitar, its design and the luthiery that brought it to life speaks for itself.



Ain’t That A Shame

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 8, 2011 by hamerblog

Many of you may have heard about this summer’s Blues Fest in Ottawa where a violent storm erupted causing the collapse of the stage. Cheap Trick was playing at the time, barely escaping injury. The police cordoned off the area, treating it as a crime scene.

While the band was safe, the same cannot be said for the gear. That’s why we ended up with some of Rick’s guitars in need of TLC.

While the Hamer 5-Necks are known throughout the world, perhaps the most iconic of Rick’s Hamers is the Checkerboard Standard with bow tie inlays and that curious truss rod cover. Rick has always had a thing for the checkerboard design. When he first approached us in 1978 to build this guitar we knew it would be a daunting task. Naturally we took it on. At the time, the idea of a checkerboard guitar was a compelte novelty. Actually, it still is.

 Many of you have seen Cheap Trick in concert where Rick regularly changes guitars during the set. The checkerboard Standard was featured on the cover of Dream Police. This guitar is featured on stage when Dream Police is played.

The constant touring has taken the toll on this guitar. The weather in Ottawa compounded problems, resulting in the peghead splitting. We’ve since repaired the headstock and replaced all of the electronics (save the pickups). You’ll be seeing this most road tested guitar back in action in short order.

An iconic instrument.

We’ve done a number of Beatles themed guitars over the years. The Sgt. Peppers guitar was perhaps the most dramatic interpretation on the theme. Luckily, this guitar did not suffer extensive damage. It probably got the most exposure during Cheap Trick’s Sgt. Pepper’s run at the Paris Resort in Vegas. We were able to get it back on the road in time for the band’s Dream Police shows in Milwaukee.

We all know what song this guitar is featured on. The rain really took its toll on the Gonna Raise Hell Standard. The finish is flaking off of the back of the neck. We’re reapplying the original finish and coating over it to retain its original look. It’s a major project.

Uncle Dick is also back in the shop. This guitar was to be a caricature of Rick Nielsen (isn’t Rick Neilsen already a caricature of Rick Nielsen?). We built it to accept interchangeable heads but only got so far as completing Bun E. Carlos.

These guitars have traveled around the world and are still working hard. We think that it’s time for them to have some company. More on that later.

Avenue Blue

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2011 by hamerblog

Those of you who have followed Hamer’s history know that we have been working with Jeff Golub for years now. He’s a great guitarist who is comfortable playing rock, jazz or blues.  Jeff first gained notoriety when playing with Billy Squier. Later followed a long stint with Rod Stewart. Jeff then rolled out Avenue Blue with a long run into the jazz world. Jeff’s latest album, Three Kings, is a soulful blues tribute. Jeff is joined on the album with the likes of Robben Ford and Sonny Landreth. Three Kings was just name one of Art Thompson’s “Top Three” in Guitar Player magazine.

Jeff favors the Hamer Artist, Daytona and Improv models, which cover the spectrum of his musical tastes. Unfortunately, Jeff’s Artist recently took a tumble.

Normally we would have opted to repair the headstock but the damage was too extensive. 

With the cracked peghead and neck heel we decided that a new guitar was in order. At least we could take solice that even with such severe damage the oversized Hamer neck joint stayed intact; it was the wood itself that broke. We used Jeff’s original hardware on the replacement guitar.

Here’s the Artist nearing completion.

Our man Todd Gencarella always takes care.

Side by side.

The old and the new.

The Artist needed the addition of just one small detail, the strap button extender. Through his years of playing, Jeff’s hands have gone through a lot of strain. Extending the strap button, which changes the balance of the guitar, relieves the pain in Jeff’s hands.

It looks unconventional but it works for Jeff.

Jeff has recently undergone even greater pain. This year he suffered from a degenerative eye disease, first losing sight in one eye. He has now lost sight in both eyes.

Jeff has always had an infectious personality, bringing laughter and smiles to those he meets. He has adjusted to this dramatic change in his life as well as one can. He reminds himself that the world continues out there in full color even though he cannot share the sights. He is hopeful that a remedy can be found to reverse his loss of sight.

Through it all, Jeff continues to play and tour. We feel that he has rightfully earned his musical seat beside the Three Kings.

Hot Pink? No Doubt!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 13, 2011 by hamerblog

You’re probably familiar with Tom Dumont’s arsenal of Hamer guitars. His Vectors, Standards, Newports, and Specials have been seen by hundreds of thousands as he has toured worldwide with Grammy award winning No Doubt.

We thought that we would take you behind the scenes and show the latest Hamer to join his arsenal. We just shipped out this beauty. We’re confident that you will see much more of it in the future. As Tom will tell you, he “like(s) playing Hamer guitars.”

Tom’s starting point was the Special K model, only Tom wanted it built from mahogany, not korina. Here we’re drilling for the electronics.  Note the pencil marking lines on the guitar.  All of the electronics were laid out and drilled or routed by hand. Tom asked that we relocate the toggle switch to position 1 (the normal volume location). The tone control was moved to where the 3-way toggle switch is normally found.

The “Special K” was offered with P-90 pickups. Tom requested Seymour Duncan Phat Cats, in effect single coil pickups in humbucking housings. This meant that the pickup routes also were hand routed.

The Special K usually is fitted with a wrap around bridge. Tom asked for the Hamer Sustain Block bridge. This entailed following the fingerboard taper to the bridge so that we could then determine the bridge center line.

Here we’re routing a 3/8″ roundover around the back perimeter of the guitar.

The famous Hamer neck joint that we take so much pride in.

Tom’s never been bashful with either his wardrobe or his guitars. We color matched a hot satin pink sample that Tom supplied.

This stage guitar definitely called for electronics shielding.

Hand wired as always.

The humbucker housings, in turn, dictated a custom made pickguard.

We continue to sequentially serialize our guitars. Nice Klusons.

The name says it all.


Very Cool.

No Doubt.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by hamerblog

Sometimes the biggest things come in the smallest packages.  That’s certainly the case with the Impact Bass.  Hamer started working with Kip Winger in 1989, creating the Impact Bass in collaboration with him. With such a small body style, the working name during the development phase was the “Compact Bass”.

The Impact bass was historically built with a solid mahogany body.  Kip initially specfied a white bass with grey bevels. The custom Impact Bass that we shipped to Kip in June 1989 was the trademark Copper color. 

The customer for this bass wanted none of that.  Rather, he requested a flame maple cap over the mahogany body with a cherry transparent finish.  One of our concerns was to maintain the maple cap with the beveled edges.  The customer agreed to beveling through the maple to the mahogany if need be.  We were able to execute the bevel without that occuring.

The 24 fret rosewood fingerboard on this instrument extends all the way to the end of the neck.  Yes, the customer requested a rosewood – rather than ebony – fingerboard but retained the Boomerang inlays. The tenon is hand fit into the neck route.

There’s still a good deal of carving to do to achieve the seamless blend between the neck and the body.

As with all Hamers, this neck was pitched by hand.

The blending process starts on the vertical sander.

Dave has penciled out the parameters of the blend that he is looking to achieve. 

Dave Brown starts the neck blending process.

Tools of the trade. Luthiery at its finest.

Here we’re grainfilling the mahogany back in preparation for spray.  Due to its hard dense nature, the maple neck does not require filling.

Gary Pirro brings some color to this beauty.

Once it has dried for two weeks it was time to finish sand and buff out the compact bass.

Todd is fitting the bass with EMG P/J pickups, just like the original.

Dave’s carving paid off.  Check out the transition from neck heel to body.

It may have a compact body but this Impact Bass has a hammer of a sound.

Special So Special

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2011 by hamerblog

The Hamer Special is an outgrowth of the Sunburst, our original double cutaway model that we introduced in 1977.  Simple, straightforward and leaning heavily on heritage, the Special was designed to be a working musician’s guitar. When our long time friend Tommy Williams called asking if we could build him another Special for his upcoming Hooters European tour, we knew that it was a perfect fit for him.

The Special has been through a number incarnations.  It has been built from solid mahogany and from African Limba (Korina).  We’ve fitted it with humbuckers and soapbar P-90s.  It’s had a Tune-O-Matic style bridge with a stop tail piece and it’s sported a wrap around bridge.  We offered the Special FM, in effect a dot inlay Sunburst with the body binding stripped off. 

However, we’re especially happy with this particular version. It has a one piece slab Honduras mahogany body with our trademark mahogany three piece stressed neck system with a vintage neck carve.

Here we’re pitching the neck to the body. We pitch each neck individually.  This guitar has Pigtail wrap around bridge.  Our normal wrap around bridge neck pitch is 21/32″ from the top of the frets to the face of the body at the bridge. To accomodate the Pigtail, we pitched this neck just over that measurement.

We’re outifitting this guitar with a single pickup Jason Lollar dog eared P-90 pickup.

Recently many of the guitars that we’ve been building have been highly customized.  While they are both interesting to build and challenge our luthiery skills, it’s refreshing to reach back into our past and take on a basic and straight forward guitar that is simply made to be played. 

Maybe it’s the simplicity of this guitar that makes it so special.  Now it’s got to have some attention.


Posted in Uncategorized on February 10, 2011 by hamerblog

Typically Hamer necks are crafted from Honduran mahogany; the Talladega and our multi-string basses feature a rock maple neck.

We recently received an inquiry from a customer requesting us to build a very custom Chaparral Custom. His specifications included a neck made from Wenge wood.  Similar to Rosewood in nature, Wenge is a hard, stable wood often coming from Cameroon in Africa. Needless to say, this dense wood has some weight to it. 

Here’s the three piece Wenge neck blank. The opposing grain pattern that enhances stability is clearly visible.

Tom Maule is a high skilled woodworker. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy and studying carpentry, in 1977 Tom began his professional woodworking career, working in several architectural millwork firms with increasing responsiblity. When Tom applied for a job with Hamer in 2005, we knew that we could not pass him up. His woodworking skill level, attention to detail and upbeat demeanor are a very difficult combination to find in any one individual.

Tom is running the neck blank over the shaper to cut the truss rod channel. 

Here Tom is drilling the truss rod anchor hole.

Our neck blanks yield two necks. Tom has marked out the neck blank and is taking it to the band saw.

The neck blank band sawn into two usable rough necks.

Because the blanks are not wide enough to accomodate the entire peghead, we cut two “ears” from the same blank and bond them to the sides of the peghead.

We use pipe clamps to bond up the neck blanks as well as to bond the ears onto the blank. While other clamping methods may be more efficient, we have found the the use of multiple pipe clamps results in a tighter bond with absolutely no seam gaps. We actually use a total of nine pipe clamps to bond one three-piece neck blank.

This neck truly is custom. Add to the Wenge neck a Virtuouso reverse headstock! It’s a wild combination but we think that it will look good. Wait until you see the fingerboard…

The customer for this guitar did not stop with the neck. He also called out a figured Koa arched top to be bonded to a chambered mahogany body. He wanted the Koa to be exotic as well, a simple flame top would not do.

We were very fortunate for a period when we were able to bring in figured Koa from Hawaii for the Mirage models. While flame Koa for thin acoustic guitar tops can still be found, figured Koa in the two inch thickness that we need for an archtop guitar is increasingly difficult to locate.

We contacted a long time friend in Hawai who cuts some of the nicest Koa for discriminating luthiers and asked if he could help us. He said that he had a couple of choice Koa billets that he would shortly be putting in the kiln.  After about four weeks, we received them in the mail. We emailed photos of both billets to the customer. This is the one that he chose.

Beautiful dark Koa with unusual figure.

The bookmatched set is exquisite.

We’ll keep you updated as this Exotica continues to move through the Woodshop and into Finishing.