What’s in a Name: Artist Ultimate
Be it a custom instrument or a catalogued model, Hamer only builds guitars to order. Often, Hamer orders are custom in nature but just as often they are not. The Artist Ultimate falls somewhere in between. It is at once a stock model while at the same time one of the most difficult and complex Hamer guitars to build.
Shortly after relocating to New Hartford, Connecticut we decided to pull out all of the stops and introduce the Artist Ultimate. The first Ultimate was completed on September 16, 1997 and was finished in Cherry Transparent. The second was completed three days later and sprayed in Cognac, which has become the signature color for the Artist Ultimate. The third prototype of this model, again in a Cognac finish, was completed on January 23, 1998.
On April 7, 1998, we instituted a consecutive serial numbering system for the Artist Ultimates. The guitar that we are featuring today is #66 in the Artist Ultimate numbering system.
All Artist Ultimates feature an Ultimate, or AAAA, figured maple top. The customer for this guitar requested quilted maple. The first step is to select an Ultimate grade billet, bookmatch it and lay a template over it to insure that there will be high quality figure throughout the top.
We carve the underside of the guitar top to the same arch as we will later carve the top of the guitar itself. This results in a constant f-hole thickness dimension.
The f-hole is now ready for binding.
The f-hole is hand bound prior to bonding the figured maple top to the mahogany back.
After it’s bound, we hand sand the undercarve, removing any mill marks and bringing the binding flush to the underside of the guitar top.
Because we inlay mother of pearl purfling around the fingerboard, we have to hand route fret slots through the pearl itself.
This is what the pearl purfling looks like prior to fretting.
After fretting the fingerboard we will fit the celluloid binding to the neck. By following this process we do not need to notch the frets, which results in a better mechanical grip. What this translates into for the player is uniformly seated frets with very little crowning, or filing, to the frets.
We match the miter joints of the pearl with those of the celluloid binding.
The neck is going to sit and stabilize while we continue work on the body. On an Artist Ultimate we hand carve the entire top. We’ll show you some of those steps in a future post.