Watsons Are Forever
Hamer started working with Jeff Watson in 1984. Jeff’s first Hamers were Vectors. Collaborating with Jeff, we soon thereafter introduced the Watson V, a sleek instrument with beveled wings coming to sharp points. The Watson Vs featured the 24 3/4″ (medium) scale length found on most Hamers at the time.
We built a a number of variations on the theme, including Watson V Doublenecks. We inlaid the fingerboards with Boomerangs. We installed LED lights in the fingerboards. We built in Nady wireless systems. It was the ’80s. Night Ranger was touring the globe, treating us to their big power ballad sound.
Ii wasn’t until 1988 that Jeff asked for an adaptation of our Sunburst Carved Top guitar (later re-named the Studio Custom). The changes to the Carved Top were numerous. The scale length drove many of these changes. Jeff asked for a 25 1/2″ scale but he also wanted 27 frets. The extended fingerboard created the need for a deepened treble cutaway. Jeff’s guitars generally featured crown inlays and a blended heel at the neck joint. PJ Marx were his pickups of choice at the time.
The ’80s have come and gone. Though we have not catalogued it for years, the Jeff Watson model just doesn’t go away. We recently received an order for a Watson model. We welcomed the order; they’re awesome guitars.
We started by sending the customer photos of a seven different flame maple billets to choose from.
Tom then bonds the bookmatched top to a one piece Honduran mahogany back. The body is shaped and mounted to a second piece of mahogany that serves as a template. The template sits on a pin that extends from the underside of the router bed. This allows us to locate and execute the various routes.
Now the routing process starts.
We route out the neck pocket, the single coil pickup and the humbucker from the face of the guitar.
We then route out the cavity for the rear mounted electronics.
This Watson is being bound with a single ply of Ivoroid binding.
We use a heat gun to render the celluloid binding more pliable.
This pliability is especially important when binding the tight radiuses in the cutaways.
The binding is bonded into the channel using a 3M adhesive specially developed to adhere to both wood and the celluloid material.
Once the body is bound, we begin carving the top. Like the Artist Ultimate, the Watson too is hand carved. We start with a hand held grinder and move on to scrapers and sandpaper.
Here’s another view of the rough carving process. You can see how we first sketch out the rough shape of the carve in pencil.
It’s time to change gears and do some work on that beautiful piece of jet black African ebony that will become the long scale 27 fret fingerboard. The customer asked for dots rather than crowns on this guitar so the ebony will really be featured.
We had completed the basic neck some days earlier.
The ebony fingerboard is matched to an ebony peghead overlay. The Hamer logo is inlaid into the ebony overlay.
We’ve made some real progress on this Watson. We’ll be sure to update you as it moves further along.