Most of you have already seen pics of this in other threads and/or The Fret Shack or Hamer USA pages on Facebook. For those that haven’t, I wanted to post a few more pics and fill in the story.
This journey started back in February when @bruce919 listed a well-used 1987 Chaparral for sale on the HFC. It was missing the Floyd and strap buttons, but was otherwise intact.
Something about it called to me, which is odd because I have never been able to bond with Hamer’s Super-Strat offerings. I reached out to @Jeff R at The Fret Shack to see if he would be interested in helping me bring it back to life. He was all in. The guitar arrived and it went straight to Jeff. In the meantime, I contacted @Stike with Rowyco Kustom Guitar Finishes to see if he could repaint the body for me. I had long admired Stike’s work and was stoked that he took the job. So, Jeff gets the Chap, disassembles everything and sends the body to Stike to do his thing.
While the neck was off, Jeff did a wicked-ass refret with Jescar 57/110s. You can view the finished product on The Fret Shack's FB page.
I was a little concerned about the fret size, but they are actually very similar to what PRS uses on their Custom 22, and I’ve always liked them. They look huge in a picture but in reality, feel great under your fingers. This was the biggest concern I had and that concern was unfounded because I love these frets.
With the re-fret complete, it was time to find a replacement Floyd Rose trem. I scoured Reverb and eBay and came up empty-handed on a period correct trem so (after another consult w/Jeff) I decided to go with the Floyd Rose “1984” reissue.
Fast-forward to early June. Stike had finished the paint and sent me a teaser pic. (If you look close you can see the master reflected in the paint.)
It is impossible to photograph how amazing this finish is. This was another decision that I went back and forth on. Do I leave it a genuine relic and just replace the necessities, or use this opportunity to have a “new” 1987 Hamer? In the end I decide to do a full-out resto using the best of what was available thirty years after it left the Hamer factory. Seafoam was a stock color so it was a win-win in my mind.
Stike sent the body back to Jeff and it was re-assembled.
Once the wiring was replaced I asked Jeff to give an honest tone report. “It’s not bad, but we can do better.” His suggestion was the Parallel Axis set with the Blues Saraceno HB Bridge and PA stacked singles. I had zero experience with these pickups. I told Jeff I wanted a slightly hotter bridge pickup, but not something super high-output. The Blues Saraceno is really like a beefy PAF, nice and crunchy without hitting the amp too hard. The singles are very fat and clear, with little quack in the mid-positions. You aren’t going to get real glassy with these, but I wasn’t looking for that – I wanted a matched single coil for the PA bridge. Not surprisingly, the PA “set” works extremely well in this guitar. When you switch from the HB only to any of the other 4 positions, there is very little volume loss.
The last line of business was a new case to ship it back home. Once again, I came up empty-handed trying to source a period correct Hamer case from either eBay or Reverb. Jeff took the time to take the finished guitar to GC and try out all of their offerings. The Gator case is fantastic. It fits the Chap perfectly and is nicely built without being overly heavy.
The week before last, I finally got to see this project in person. JeffR has found his calling. It’s hard for me to believe he has been doing this for roughly a year. The fretwork was as good as any I’ve seen. The setup was perfect. Before Jeff sent it back, he told me “you will not be able to put this down”. He was sooooo right. I am not a shredder by any stretch, but this thing feels so right, like it’s alive. My other Floyded guitar is a Music Man Axis (that I bought after playing Jeff’s Axis) and as great a guitar as the Axis is, the Chap eats it for breakfast. I am amazed, because I did not expect that at all. The Axis has been a fave since I bought it and now it pales next to the Chap. The body contours hit me in all the right places, and the electronics are amazing. The pots and cap(s) that Jeff put in gives a huge range of tone and NEVER get muddy. Unbelievable.
Bonus!! A strap that I already had that matched the body color perfectly. I’m one of those weirdos that likes a strap for each guitar.
Finally, I want to publicly thank Jeff and Stike for making this whole process so easy. I had so much fun working with them and the results speak for themselves.