Archive for Custom Guitars

Black Beauty

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 25, 2010 by hamerblog

Our earlier post on this guitar detailed the woodworking that went into this beauty.  Jason Dumont is now taking this Standard through its final stages of sanding, buffing, assembly, wiring and set up.

We use random orbital sanders to sand, or level, the top and back.

We hand block the sides

and the peghead face.

Black is one of the most difficult colors to buff.  Every scratch shows with black so attaining a high gloss finish is vital. Having a hard rock maple top on this Standard provides a solid base for the finish and results in a flatter finish that will sink less over time.  With the hard rock maple top and lack of a sound chamber this guitar has some heft.

Like many at Hamer, Jason has a keen interest in guitars.  We welcome our luthiers building their own guitars as well.  There aren’t many jobs out there where you want to do the same thing at home that you do at work.  Such immersion is testament to the passion that our people have for guitar.

In Jason’s case, his  interest led him in a bit of a different direction, building lap steel guitars.  What started out as a project has become a top lap steel guitar line, Lap King.  Check out Jason’s website to see more:

As always, the electronics cavity is shielded and hand wired.

Jason installs the gold covered Jason Lollar Standard Imperial pickups called for on this guitar.

By tightening the machine head bushings by hand we are sure never to overtighten, which can cause finish imperfections.

The four ply .020″ binding, such as we use on the Improv, sets off the peghead.

This Standard is fitted with a black pickguard and lots of gold hardware.

The four ply binding extends around the fingerboard as well.  The genuine mother of pearl crown inlays look right on this Standard, providing a vivid contrast with the jet black ebony fingerboard.

Here Jason is hand cutting the nut for the string slots.

While we do measure for the string action, we also extensively play test every guitar.

This guitar actually sounds…

better than it looks.

That says alot

about this Black Beauty.



Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 14, 2010 by hamerblog

Here’s the bretheren spirit of the Artist Custom Tiger Eye that we just posted.  This lefty Studio Custom has been sprayed and leveled twice.  It now will dry, get its third level, go through buffing, be assembled and finally be set up.

We’ll start the third level after we return from our vacation shutdown on August 6th.

We hope that these shots will stabilize the future owner until we can complete this gem.

Come Together…The Two Ultimate Parts Become One

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 28, 2010 by hamerblog

We last brought you through the completion of the neck for Artist Ultimate #66 but still had much work to do on the body.  As with the neck, we use a nylon filler strip when binding the body.  We later remove the nylon strip, leaving a channel in which we set the mother of pearl purfling.

We use precision dentistry tools when inlaying the pearl.

Each piece of pearl is snugly fit against another.

We have six different sizes of pearl, each cut to a specific radius for different parts of the body.  We then custom cut those pieces to adjust for each individual body.  Fitting the pearl around the horns is a painstaking procedure.  

We are careful to retain the top “dish” when hand sanding the pearl to the figured maple top.

We hand sand to accentuate the peaks on the horns.

The sides too are hand sanded to be flush with body binding. 

The figure on this top is dramatic. 

We can’t overemphasize the amount of detail work that goes into an Artist Ultimate.

Most builders utilize plastic side position markers.  Hamer side dots are made from black mother of pearl.

The fossilized ivory nut is fit in anticipation of the neck being bonded to the body.

The matched pair is ready to be bonded together.

Our massive neck tenon supports the entire fingerboard while insuring unparalleled sound transmission between the body and the neck.

After the neck is set, we route the tenon to the floor of the neck pickup route.

The neck and the body are now one and ready for spray.

Each step we take brings the guitar closer to life.

What’s in a Name: Artist Ultimate

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 16, 2010 by hamerblog

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.

In the peghead area we inlay a small ebony truss rod spline to match the ebony peghead overlay, just one more of the many details that we care about at Hamer.

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.