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soli'd

How'd you get into Hamer?

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Somebody asked me this the other day, and I was actually able to remember exactly how and when Hamer USA got on my radar and captured my interest.  

I was working with this Atlanta band called The Sundogs that were some buddies of mine, running their PA at gigs from time to time, shooting video, etc...  Their lead guitar player back then was a guy named Matt Ulmer, whom I've since lost touch with.  (Matt, if you come across this, reach out, I live in the same place).  He was a no-pick, gtr>cable>amp guy that had a really buttery left hand and GREAT guitar tone.  He played this 90's, natural Hamer studio, I don't think it was a Mirage, but I want to say it had a Koa top, or may even have been a one-piece body- I can't be sure... but straight into a Sovtek MIG50 head and a 1x12.  Listening to that dude's guitar tone started me down the path of chasing Hamer- I learned the distinction of USA vs imports, that they were better and cooler than what PRS or Gibson USA were putting out, that they were readily available and criminally undervalued on the used market, but a new one would set you back as much Gibson CS.  This was about 12 years ago. 

I remember we did this gig at Smith's Olde Bar here in ATL in 2007, I did a separate audio mix for video and ran a two camera shot, just helping put together some promo stuff for them.  Matt's Sovtek amp had developed some issues and he was using a Soldano 1x12 that I don't know any details on, but he ran his Hamer straight in and just rode the volume knob all night, and his tone was just sick.  They did a cover of Eminence Front, this old standard def video is pretty compressed but you can get the idea of how that guitar and amp sounded.  Solo starts around 4:15

edited to add: looking at the knobs on his guitar it looks like it was a Mirage after all.

 

Edited by soli'd
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I walked into a used equipment store back in the late-80s and there was a trans-red Californian Elite on the wall. I played around with it for a few minutes, but not having two dimes to rub against each other at the time, there was no way for me to entertain buying it. I remember it was one of the smoothest playing guitars I had ever picked up, though. I also remember an old-timer in there saying never to buy a Hamer as "they all got twisted necks".

Fast forward a few years and I'm in another store right before Christmas and they have an iridescent Cali Elite on a stand. I pick it up and man, what a guitar! The owner sees me lovin' it up and tells me I should get it. I tell him I really don't have the cash, it being right before Christmas, and all. He asks "what about a trade?" I tell him all have at the moment is my MIM Strat he had done a setup on for me a while back.

"So, what about that Strat and $400?"

"Can't do it"

"What about that Strat and $300?"

"Sorry, nope"

"What about that MIM Strat and $200? Man, I need to eat!"

Sold

Edited by Lockbody
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Simple answer for me.

Cheap Trick @Budokan

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In 1978 I was working in a music store in Bellevue, Washington called Bandstand East. We took a Sunburst in on trade. I was somewhat familiar with the brand from Cheap Trick and Jethro Tull and thought it was a great guitar. My then girlfriend (later wife) made a deal with the store manager without me knowing about it and presented it to me as a birthday gift. Sold the guitar in '82.

Here's a pic from 1979 with my first Hamer.

 

79hamer2.jpg

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I played a new vanguard at GC Hollywood when I was in college.  It was awesome but I was in college and broke.  Fast forward to  2 years ago and I see an excellent silver hamer studio for sale on Craigslist.  I decide to go look at it and the extremely nice gentleman who owns it (django49) also let’s me play a vanguard he has also and a cherry red mahogany artist or studio.  I left with the silver studio and have had 2 more hamers since.  Unfortunately I sold the first one.  Wish I hadn’t. The studio custom I have now is awesome and it’s already seen a few gigs. The quality of every USA hamer I’ve seen has caused me to have no problems buying one sight unseen. 

Edited by Ua D
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An older friend of mine had the coolest 80s graphic I've seen. A Prototype. Thought the graphic was mindblowing, and don't get me started on how cool it was with the triple coil. Then someone lent me his copy of Vital Idol, saw the back cover. The rest is history.

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I wanted to buy a Gibson LP DC, but then I found this forum.  Never bought that Gibby, but I bought a lot of Hamers subsequently. 

Edited by LucSulla
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Got the internet in 1996 as a teenager - Hamer was one of very few guitar companies that came up in the search results. Fell in love with them digitally, and eventually started importing them from the US when I came of age and had the means. The long distance relationship worked out, lol. 

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When I decided to get a guitar to play (singular, at the time) I thought back to the guitars I'd seen on albums and in videos in the early-mid 1980's.  I couldn't remember which guitar was what, because I never cared at the time, but I did remember some of the names from photos.  Hamer was one of the names I remembered, but I couldn't remember what it was attached to.  (Somehow I had associated the Hamer name with a Gibson SG though, neither of which had anything to do with the band that I thought I remembered it from, haha)  

 

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I used to do a lot of trading with McKenzie River Music in Eugene Oregon and wanted to burn up some store credit I had there so,

grabbed a snakeskin Cali standard and it was infatuation from that moment on. I could have gotten the guitar back recently but my bank account

woudn't allow it at the time..I really miss that guitar. Why it's no longer in my possession is a whole other long,gory story..lol!

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First exposure was "Enola" on the back cover of "Dream Police." My 11-year old mind was enamored.

First in-person exposure was a used and cosmetically beat to shit boo-berry ice metallic pearl rosewood/dots SS1 years later at a consignment gear store, mid to late 90s. Loved the guitar, loved Steve Stevens, loved Floyds, had $$$ my pocket and always wanted a Hamer so I hit it. I liked it but didn't bond with it (balance on a strap) so I traded it towards a Boogie head about a year later. But I have had Hamers bouncing in and out of my stable ever since. Mostly Floyded superstrats, like the guitars I played during my young formulative years. My favorite for my hands, ears and body have always been Centauras.

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My foray into the world of Hamer was purely happenstance. I walked into my local guitar shop and up on the wall was this sexy Korina Vector. Being a huge Albert King fan, I had always wanted a Korina Flying V but would never be able to afford a real one. Once I played it, I knew I had to have it. The store agreed to let me take it home and make payments to them. I knew nothing about Hamer at the time but by the way it looked and played, I knew it was a quality instrument. The rest is history. 

Hamer Vector.jpg

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Guitar Player ad with a Flametop "Explorer". Are You KIDDING me??????  I was hooked. Middle school library had a Cool librarian that got the school a subscription to Guitar Player 1974 until I left June 1976.

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Nothing very intriguing- I had seen numerous ads for Hamer in GFTPM, Guitar Player and Guitar World as well as noted that Rick Nielsen, KK and Glenn of JP and Vernon Reid were playing Hamers. Couldn't afford a new one and used USA's were pretty scarce at that time. Finally, I got a chance to play a bitchin' Cent and months later,  stumbled on a used import Slammer Cent in an Upstate NY music store and bought it. Loved it! This prompted me to eventually get a used USA Diablo and then a nicely upgraded import Cali on eBay. Finally, I made the decision to acquire a USA Cali right around the time I joined here and my addiction/obsession has been enabled/perpetuated ever since.

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Saw Jethro Tull back in the late 70's and Martin Barre was playing his black, bound and crowned Sunburst.   'Nuff said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I saw an Aztec gold Californian Elite in a Soho guitar shop in London when I was about 14 and that was it for me.  The guitar shop owner once took it off the wall and let me have a play.  The exotic quality, aesthetics, boomerang inlays and sound ticked every box.

Until I was in my late 20's I couldn't afford one.  By the time I could the slippery slope had started.

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I bought two, thinking they were PRS one-offs. Imagine my chagrin when I finally realized the awful truth. 

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I had of course seen them all over with Nielsen, Downing, Tipton, Reid etc. When I was learning, no place nearby even had any.  They would've been too expensive for my parents to buy then.  About 5 years-ish ago, a acquired this import from a buddy who was going to replace the electronics etc., but lost interest.  I replaced the electronics and it plays well.  Since then, I've gotten some USA models on Reverb - really just opportunity buys - I have cash and see a good price.  Times will need to be really hard for me to sell them.  

Still have the Sunburst style import and picked up a Monaco XT for some experimentation.  

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My first Hamer was a Phantom Custom that had been modded and abused.  Sent it to BCR Greg who made it right again.  I fell in love with the look and once it was in my hands I realized the level of quality was off the charts, especially for what I paid for it.  Unfortunately, it was heavy as sin as well, so it is no longer with me.  However, many Hamer's have been through my hands since and I am sure I will always have at least one Hamer instrument kicking around.

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Neil Zaza. We grew up at the same time in the Cleveland suburbs. Saw him sometimes 3-4 weeks in a row in the late ''80's. I don't know him personally. Friend of a friend of a friend. Kind of that six degrees of separation.  Have buddies who took lessons from him. I was mesmerized by the "Spidey" Cali.

 

-Bobby

Edited by hamerboy_
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I was looking for some type of P-90 guitar, and a poster at the Carvin Museum forums named Russ (he posts here too) said 'check out this guitar" and linked me to a Candy Apple red P90 special at Dave's guitars.  Got that, and then someone posted a Studio For sale, and I grabbed that too. Then the sickness set in.

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Easy. Standards that showed up on TV shows in the '70s in the hands of Rick Nielsen, Dave Hlubeck, Ricky Medlocke; then the gorgeous double cutaway Sunburst that began showing up in LOTS of pros' hands by 1980. Gibson had nothing to compete with that. 

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Cheap Trick for sure...  The Budokan album had all those sweet photos of the first Standard and Tom's killer basses, and when Enola made an appearance on the back cover of Dream Police I was a goner.  There was a music store in the Denver area called ProSound and they carried Hamers starting in the late 1970's and I recall getting a bunch of literature from them that I still have stashed somewhere. 

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