Archive for Standard

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.


Setting the Standard

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 21, 2010 by hamerblog

For over 30 years Hamer has been setting the standard in electric guitars.  Over the years we have refined our earliest models while introducing many new ones.  Our first model was the Hamer Standard.  It has remained our flagship ever since.

Some may speculate that our glory years are behind us. Ohers may be misinformed as to our history. We look at Hamer as a continuum, learning and moving forward while remaining true to our heritage. 

This Standard epitomizes that philosophy and is very much like the original, a bound body with a dot unbound neck. A primary difference is that rather than bonding an eastern curly maple veneer to the body we use a massive big leaf (western) flame maple cap; we view this as an improvement.

What a phenomenal top.

We’ve also upgraded our wiring, paying as much attention to those parts of the guitar that you can’t see as those that are visible.

Quite a few years ago we changed pickups from DiMarzio to Seymour Duncan.  While we have collaborated with both companies to voice pickups specifically for Hamer, we have left the winding to them – it’s what they do best.

We like to show off our tight neck joints.  Our luthiery remains unsurpassed.

As our production is limited, we have the luxury of using only the highest grade Honduras mahogany. It has to be wide enough for a one piece Standard body.  We’re discriminating in our choice of woods –  just like you.

In the late 1970s we made a decision to change from Grover Rotomatics to Schaller machine heads.  Like Schaller, Grover has a storied history.  However, Schaller continues to manufacture their tuning gears in Germany, as they have all along. Sadly, neither Helmut nor Rene Schaller are still with us.

The logo on this Standard is like the originals, a paint transfer at the tip of the headstock.

Setting the standard with simple understated elegance brought to you with the highest level of craftsmanship. This Standard is ready to rock.

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.

Hard Rock Standard

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 26, 2010 by hamerblog

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.

Standard Custom with a Brazilian Twist

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 5, 2010 by hamerblog

The Brazilian rosewood peghead overlay is the first of some subtle (and some not so subtle) customizations to this Standard Custom.  Here’s a close up of one of our luthiers bringing the mitered celluoid ivoroid binding to the Brazilian peghead face.

Do you notice something different about the inlaid mother of pearl logo?  It’s been moved up to the tip of the peghead like early Standards.  The difference is the use of mother of pearl for the logo rather than the paint transfer process that we employed in earlier years.

To insure ultimate flatness, we hand block the peghead.  Using a block to sand the peghead results in superior flatness to a power sander.

Using a hand scraper, we flush cut the body binding to the top of the guitar.

Here we are hand fitting the fingerboard binding for a seamless transition to the peghead binding.  The fingerboard binding extends above the fret bead and then is filed flush with the fingerboard, another meticulous detail that we attend to. 

Here’s a shot of the binding after it’s been bonded to the fingerboard.

The neck heels on all Standards are hand carved into the body.  Using a rasp to blend the body and neck into one results in a high level of playing comfort at the upper frets.

Here we are filling the pores of the wood with paste wood filler.  After it is applied, we rub the filler cross grain into the pores of the wood. To insure that the wood pores are completely filled, we go through this entire filling process twice.  We refer to this practice as “double filling”.  We then let the filler dry for two days prior to bringing the guitar into the spraybooth.

This is a familiar site for Hamer afficianados: bonding the neck into the body cavity. Our neck tenons are massive, insuring unsurpased sound transmission between the neck and the body.

Because Hamer necks follow the taper of the fingerboard, they can only be fit into the body vertically, rather than slid into the neck route like so many other guitars.  An added benefit for this overengineered stability is that the entire fingerboard is supported by the neck.

The customer requested “wide randlom flame” maple.  He should be happy with this top.  Notice the mother of pearl crown fingerboard inlays, another tip of our hat to Hamer’s past.

We use a simple “C” clamp to hold the neck and body together during the bonding process.  Because our neck joints are so tight we don’t need anything elaborate.  Sometimes the tried and true methods work the best.

Wait until you see the finish on this guitar.  Unlike some of the other customizations, it’s not so subtle.

Standard with Kahler Tremolo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 11, 2010 by hamerblog

Here’s a hard rocking custom Standard that we recently completed. We painted it with an off white face with black back and sides. How about that maple fingerboard?

We fitted the Standard with a Kahler tremolo but without a locking nut. Instead, the Schaller clamp machine heads retain stable tuning.

With an EMG ’81 and ’85. this guitar is a blast from Hamer’s ’80s past.