Hard Rock Standard

When we get an order for a black Standard, as this one will eventually be, we switch over from our usual AAAA flame top to a hard rock maple cap. The reason isn’t simply because we don’t want to spray an opaque color over a beautiful maple top (though we don’t).  Rather, it’s because we’ve found that hard rock maple provides the flattest wood surface over which to paint.  As a result there is very little finish sinking on the guitar top.

Here’s Dave Brown rounding over the back edge of the Standard to a 1/8″ radius on an inverted router.

Dave started with Hamer in November 1989, working in the Arlington Heights shop. He began his career working “in the carpentry field for a home builder.”  When things got slow, his old friends Chris Nichols (who worked in the Hamer Neck Department) and Annette Ostrowsky (a long term Hamer team member who started out in the Finishing Department and ended as our Administrative Assistant) told him to “stop by, we’re hiring.” Dave earlier “knew that there was a guitar company in Palatine” (our prior shop) where he grew up. Needless to say, we were impressed with Dave and he’s been with us ever since.

In this photo Dave is drilling for the output jack.

Dave has worked in every area within the Woodshop as well as performing some work in the Finishing Department. “I started off in the Neck Department” he reflects, continuing that he then learned the “Neck Mill, Rough Mill…I went to fingerboard production and then just worked in customs and stuff like that in Arlington.”  Dave has definitely made a name for himself as a Hamer custom builder.

Dave is running a sheet of celluloid binding material over the jointer. By joining the binding he will have a straight edge to fit to the binding route itself, insuring no gaps between the body and the binding.

Dave “wanted to stay in the biz and there weren’t too many guitar companies hiring in the Chicagoland area at that time.”  Little did he expect that the journey he commenced on would bring him to New Hartford, Connecticut.

This Standard calls for Improv style binding and purfling, which is a four ply black and white layup.  As such, Dave had to customize the binding route to accept the wider layup.  As Dave says tongue in cheek: “binding is always a fun adventure, especially pegheads and multiply.”

Though there will always be a sweet spot in his heart for Arlington Heights, Dave prefers the New Hartford shop because of the “lower production, more custom work and traveling with the guitar all the way through.”  That is, he is involved with nearly every woodworking stage when he builds a custom guitar.

Tom Maule is lending a hand on the Standard, inlaying the mother of pearl crown inlays.

Here’s a great view of piecing together the miter joint of the Improv binding and purfling that is dressing up this Standard. 

Dave’s favorite “adventure”: filing down the multi-ply fingerboard binding.

Dave has “always liked the Standards and Vs.”  “I guess I’m probably more traditional.  The Studio Series and the Artist Custom always had a place in my heart.  They’re badass guitars that have always been a personal favorite.”

We previously had two separate serial numbering systems, one for Standards/Customs and one for our production guitars.  The Standards/Customs were wood stamped while the production guitars were ink stamped.  We now have one sequential numbering system, all of which are wood stamped.  The first digit indicates the year that the guitar was built, in this case “0” for 2010.

The body and neck are finally ready for glue up.  It has become increasingly difficult to find the high quality mahogany wide enough for one-piece Standard bodies.  Regarding wood, Dave muses: “It will be interesting to see what direction the wood industry will take, flame maple and mahogany big time.”  Dave also thinks  it “nice to see that Brazilian is coming back.”

Having dedicated luthiers like Dave Brown on our team gives Hamer the ability to allow you to realize your dreams with custom guitars such as this Standard.


5 Responses to “Hard Rock Standard”

  1. Jim Falco Says:

    This Standard he’s building is going to be flawless.
    How do I know?
    Dave built my trans black 12-string standard bass.

    If there is a line on the Hamer custom order sheet that reads “prefered master builder”, I’ll check off “Dave Brown”.

  2. Dave is great, and can tell a crazy joke without cracking a smile.

    Don’t play poker with that man.

  3. That guitar looks beautiful. I love Hamer stuff, it’s serious quality.

  4. Twelve years in …and still filing binding? Need any help? Is Shishkov still there?

  5. Hamer is a American Original. When I think of all the Hamers I could have purchased in 80’s from second hand shops, mom and pop music stores and pawnshops, It makes my gut ache. Great pictures. Could never work there in any capacity, temptation would be far more than I could bare.

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