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keef

Which USA Hamer should I get?

Question

Hi everyone – my first post here. I need some honest advice on Hamers, since I really want to own one again, but don’t know which would suit me best (if any).

 I noticed that some diehard Hamer fans seem to go overboard in their praises – ‘fit and finish much better than any Gibson, beats a Les Paul in tone and playability’ and the like. I don’t believe in these (or any) hypes, and am only looking for those great/special guitars, regardless of their brand. I also never understood the workmanship kudos since so many older Hamers had binding or finish ('hameritis') issues which should not have been there in the first place, and should neither be pardoned. I add though that I do not have an issue with these flaws, as long as a guitar is a truly great playing and sounding instrument, and have always found Hamers to be totally cool designs. I currently own a variety of vintage and modern Gibsons, Fenders and Martins, plus some oddball stuff, but no Hamers, and that must change.;)

 I am thinking of going for either a 1980/1 Hamer Special, or a 1990s Hamer Artist, Archtop FM, or Special FM etc. I had a ’93 Archtop for a while, but sold it because it sounded a little too thin for my tastes  – I like a solid, full blooded rock tone a la Kossoff or Angus – plus the (3 piece) neck was too temperamental, and required adjustment during the seasons changes (never had this issue with any guitar I’ve owned, and there are/were many). I loved the lighter weight and nice playability though.

 So what is the best sounding Hamer of the above in your opinion – the early 80s ones with the Dimarzios, or the 1990s with the Duncans, or is there not really much of a difference, and would a Hamer’s lead tone always sounds less fat/authoritative than a decent Les Paul, or was I just unlucky with my Archtop?

And what about any tonal difference between 1) the sustain block bridge Specials, and the 1990s 2) tuneomatic/stop and 3) Wilkinson bridge versions? Talking me out of a Hamer is fine too – just be honest please! Thanks in advance for your views.

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9 hours ago, keef said:

 I noticed that some diehard Hamer fans seem to go overboard in their praises – ‘fit and finish much better than any Gibson, beats a Les Paul in tone and playability’ and the like. I don’t believe in these (or any) hypes, and am only looking for those great/special guitars, regardless of their brand.

It could be because Hamer's quality is consistently better than Gibson's every day of the week. Of course you'll run into a finish issue here or there, but it's not like weeding through a truckload of Les Pauls to find a decent one (and I currently own 3 LPs).  It's not 'overboard' and it's not hype. It's truth. You'll find out for yourself soon enough.

Good luck with your search.

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Posted (edited)

If you're looking for your entry into the Hamer USA fray, I recommend an early to mid 90s Special FM.

What David was to Goliath is how that era's typical Special FM compares to pretty much any good to great example of a Les Paul Standard.

The Special FM's are easy to find and they are typically not insanely priced on the used market for what they bring to the player's table. And they tend to be pretty gorgeous too - I've never seen one with a lackluster slab of figured maple.

Edited by Jeff R
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First: None of anything said about Hamer USA guitars is 'hype' as it's all true! You will do well to remember that (y)

Second: Welcome to the board...

Third: I work for the biggest importer of Heritage Guitars in the UK and the Heritage's are not as good as any USA Hamer I have owned and some of these Heritage guitars are top-notch (esp. the 555's)...

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The later the date of manufacture, the better the quality. 

Did you ever try changing pickups in your old Hamer?  That might have been all it took to thicken the tone. 

Hamers and Les Pauls are different instruments, so if you have to have a Les Paul tone then get a Les Paul.  Many of us have both. 

The "best sounding" is really a matter of what you like to hear. 

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Welcome to the coolest board on the ‘net!

The thing about Hamers is I can buy any Hamer sight unseen and know I’ll have a quality playing and built instrument. I know there are dogs out there, but I’ve never touched one.

I find the 3 piece stressed necks to require LESS adjustment compared to my maple necks, year after year....except this year. Both Hamers and the Shishkov need tweaks while my Fenders are partscasters remained solidly unmoved. Weird.

All your choices will yeild a great guitar. You may or may not require a pickup change to get the exact tone you want...as I am sure you know all that depends upon not only your guitar, but the a,ps you are playing, the speakers, pedals (if any), and the volume you are able to play at. Are you recording? Are you in a band? Are you a bedroom player, primarily? I can assure you that buckered  Hamers will get you a thick rock tone ala Koss or Angus. So will some single coils, but I digress.

Welcome again and enjoy the journey.

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Posted (edited)

Funny that you're referring to the Special FM - it was the sunburst Special pictured in THIS ad, plus a GP review at the time, that gave me an unbelievable case of GAS.. I must say though that I never found an equally happening color and top on these...

specfm.jpg

Edited by keef
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These are great. Seriously. Bang for buck - its Special FMs and Diablos that are just the winning Hamers very time :) Good luck!

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, hamerhead said:

It could be because Hamer's quality is consistently better than Gibson's every day of the week. Of course you'll run into a finish issue here or there, but it's not like weeding through a truckload of Les Pauls to find a decent one (and I currently own 3 LPs).  It's not 'overboard' and it's not hype. It's truth. You'll find out for yourself soon enough.

Good luck with your search.

Agreed. Some Hamers are better than others, but I’ve never found a bad Hamer. Gibson’s, yes, but not Hamer. 

Hamer is also the only guitar I don’t wonder about when buying sight-unseen... Gibby’s are luck of the draw if you go that route.

Edited by DaveH
Dang spell check
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Those Special FMs are golden. I had a '94 for a number of years: perfect neck, killer tone straight up ...never should have sold it. Regerts!

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Just like the Snickers commercial, JG!

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To answer the OP question, I say simply, "Mine!"

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21 minutes ago, JGravelin said:

Those Special FMs are golden. I had a '94 for a number of years: perfect neck, killer tone straight up ...never should have sold it. Regerts!

Me too, had a 94 FM Special I bought used and had a mini toggle installed by the original owner to put the PUs out of phase. Regretted selling it back in 2001 when  I thought I had too many guitars, and I figured it would pop up again someday (here or on eBay, etc), but never saw it again. I recall I sold it for exactly what I paid for it three years previous too...$650.

Someone out  there knew a great guitar when he found it.  A keeper for sure.

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Pardon me.  I'll just leave these here:

 

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Thanks everyone! So those FM's are apparently a clear favorite.

 What about the earliest sustain block (1980) Specials, like this one?  Slimmer neck maybe, less maple - I guess these had veneer tops - but what about the sound?

sub_05-3153076121_l.jpg

 

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My '81 Special had such a little neck I couldn't really adjust to it. By the time you get to that vintage the pickups are probably swapped, so hard to say. It sounded great, but I'd put Dimarzio 36ths in it and they were a good match.

I dunno... that's odd that you had a wonky neck on your Archtop/Studio. My '94 Studio is a freakin' slab of steadiness, moving from NC to OH to GA I think I've never adjusted the truss rod, and I'm usually obsessive about setup. I'm usually not a big fan of the JB bridge pickup that Hamer insisted on sticking on nearly everything in the 90s, and when I tried a Special FM I found it had that usual JB shrillness. I'd recommend getting the chunk of wood you like, then...

  1. Swap the JB for a 59 bridge or...
  2. If you like em darker, a Rio BBX/TX pair or if you like em classic...
  3. A pair of Lollar Imperials or WCRs or frankly the good ol' Dimarzio 36ths

Enjoy!

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My 1980 Checkerboard Special was the most resonant guita I have ever had with the possible exception of 0006. It was a bright, killin’ RNR Machine....why did I sell? To acquire my Newport, of course. Those skinny necks are tough but I could fly on mine...it had big frets and a 1980 set of raspy Dimarzio PAFs. With the sustainblock it sounded rather Tele-like, in a beefy way!

You have lots of choices. All Hamer USA, all good!

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Posted (edited)

'Raspy Dimarzios' ..hmmm. I guess that would relate to the Super Distortion-like bridge pickup - the neck pickups were DM Pafs. But the fat Tele tone idea is nice..

I did not hear any votes for the Artist yet...but I would expect the solidbodies to have a little more beef tonally.

Found a pic of my Archtop (vintage orange, gold parts) - long gone now. I guess that in hindsight I did not warm up to the JB bridge pickup.

24.JPG

 

Edited by keef

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The correct answer to your original question:"Which USA Hamer should I get?"

is easy:One of each.

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I'd say get a five necked Hamer. Then you are covered. Welcome to the board!

hamer-5-neck-electric-guitar-xl.jpg?v=15

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2 hours ago, tommy p said:

The correct answer to your original question:"Which USA Hamer should I get?"

is easy:One of each.

Tommy gets it.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, hamerhead said:

Tommy gets it.

Indeed, maybe a little too well.  When I came here years ago, all I wanted was a Standard.  Now I have two Standards, a Daytona, a Special, and a Studio and I had another Daytona that I sold.  I also ended up with a Dean Cadillac from this board.

Edited to add: I also got an SG from someone here!

Edited by tommy p
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Posted (edited)

F**kin' enablers.

I came here with a simple question about a Studio Custom and have since owned at least one of almost every regular production model they made, plus 2 COs.

It's a sickness.

Edited by hamerhead
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2 hours ago, hamerhead said:

F**kin' enablers.

I came here with a simple question about a Studio Custom and have since owned at least one of almost every regular production model they made, plus 2 COs.

It's a sickness.

Admitting is the first step. 

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Posted (edited)

Can't comment on Custom Order Hamers, but I love my hog artist with P90s (Gibby custom shops) it is an unassuming guitar, black, and goes from nice to wicked quickly. The best thing about Hamers? I think it's little details, like the tone knobs... they work from 1.5 to 10 there are tones that are useful! The volume tone is tapered, it's really nice to have a quasi vol boost there! The wood. My fretboard is awesome. The frets are perfect too... always comfortable to play. too bad my Shishkov has made my Artist kinda redundant...

The only knock on Hamers for me, and it's subjective... the pickup selections for P90s SUCK for the most part... Always too hot...(Including the famed Phat Cats in my Newport, I despised em!), but they may work for others, but they ain't right!

I think of all the stupid little things that hassled Hamer (model names, hameritis, pizza day) and they don't affect playability or tone one bit... and it is a different culture, remember they were making history not following the crowd for a good portion of the time. Hameritis happens, but it's because they saw an upswing from Nitro... and it had to be worked out... They weren't like other H guitar companies "Always done this way!" was not in mix.

Oh yeah, the bastards here will have you broke in cash, but rich in geetars!

Edited by 0054

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