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The Standard, the Blitz and the Reissue

As stated on the previous page, Hamer introduced the Blitz guitar and bass in 1982. These were "stripped-down" versions of the Standard guitar and bass. They were much less expensive to produce and could be made in relatively larger numbers. This would have had an impact on the demand for the Standards resulting in far fewer being produced after the introduction of the Blitz models. The Blitz differed in many ways to the Standard, many of the modifications responding to changing tastes in guitars rather than as a result of cost savings. They also used the regular Hamer serial numbering system rather than having four-digit numbers as used on the Standards.
1983 Blitz

A 1983 Blitz guitar with sustain block trem. and three-a-side headstock. The pearl white finish is called "Ice Pearl".
Click for full size image


Shown above is a typical 1983 Blitz guitar. The Standard's "hockey-stick" headstock was replaced by the regular Hamer "snake-head" headstock as used on the Sunburst, Special, Prototype, Vector and comtemporary Phantoms. The three-piece neck was made of mahogany with a rosewood fretboard and 22-frets. The traditional stop tail-piece and tune-o-matic bridge were lost in favour of either the Sustain Block bridge, again as used on the other contemporaneous models, or by the newly developed Sustain Block Tremolo (non-locking); "Hamerlock" locking machineheads were also commonly fitted. Wild finishes were common for the Blitz, and very few had a maple top. The Blitz would not usually have binding and many had three-piece mahogany bodies under the opaque finish, a compromise unheard of for the Standard. The neck-body joint was not sculpted as with the Standard (see below). The electronics varied little from the Standard although the three-way toggle switch was moved from the lower horn to by the v
Back view of Standard and Blitz

Shown are the back views of the body of an early Standard (top) and a Blitz guitar (bottom). Note that the Standard has a sculpted heel, two control cavities and an oval backplate (although these are triangular on later examples). The Blitz lacks the sculpted neck-body joint, has a triangular back-plate, only one control cavity and a cover for the trem. springs.


The Blitz itself soon began evolving. Kahler and Floyd-Rose locking tremolos were soon being utilised. The "snake-head" headstock gave way to the "hockey-stick" headstock late in 1984 but this was mush broader and less elegant when compared to a Standard's headstock (see below) and the logo usually used was much larger. Bell-shaped truss-rod covers were replaced by a much simpler style cover. Maple became the usual material for the necks rather than mahogany. In 1986 the number of frets was increased to twenty four necessitating the pickups being moved closer together, although otherwise the construction remained unchanged.

Hamer Headstocks

Examples of Headstocks form several Hamer Explorer-style instruments (from top to bottom) :-
1977 Standard with Grover machineheads and very small logo
1984 Standard with Schaller "mini" machines and small logo towards the end of the headstock
1995 Standard reissue with mid-headstock logo
1987 Blitz fitted with Floyd-Rose locking nut.


A further varaition on the Explorer theme, built by Hamer, was the Scepter, with a sharply bevelled body and headstock, Floyd-Rose, boomerang inlays and ebony fretboard. This model was introduced in 1985.

1985 Scepter

A 1985 Scepter in red/black, a very "eighties" Heavy Rock oriented variation on the Explorer theme.


The Blitz also suffered a decline in popularity and by the beginning of the 1990's had disappeared from Hamer price lists. Hamer were no longer offering a production Explorer-styled instrument, the first time since the beginning of the company. 1995 was the twentieth anniversary of the start of the Standard's production and it was an ideal time for Hamer to take the decision to reissue the Standard, again to be made in limited numbers. There were a few minor modifications such as a slightly altered headstock (see above) that was broader (although not quite the same as a Blitz headstock) with a different logo position. Seymour Duncan pickups are fitted, as with the current Archtop series of guitars. The Standard has returned!

In 1996, a limited edition of less than one hundred Korina Standard was built; these were basically replicas of the original Gibson Explorer of 1958 with a white scratchplate and covered pickups, one even had a "split-vee" headstock such as seen on the rarest of Gibson fifties originals. However, one hundred Korina Standards is a significant number given that the total number of original Standards produced between 1975 and 1985 was less than five hundred! A new basic Standard has just been introduced (1997), the same as the Korina Limited Edition but built entirely from mahogany.

1995 Standard Reissue

A Reissue Standard (1995) in "59 Burst" - dot inlays.




Hamer comes Full Circle

The Return of the Standard


From Hamer Tone vol.4, no.2 (1996)

Although always available as a custom order, the Standard has now returned to its rightful place among Hamer's current models. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the latest Hamer catalog, which features vintage Rick Nielson photographs as well as beautiful renditions of the 1995 model.
Truly the first Hamer instrument to gain international acceptance, the Standard was originally built by custom order for a handful of musicians beginning in 1974. The 1995 Standard reflects the same virtues as the original version, being hand-built in limited quantities to an even better level craftsmanship as the first examples! Starting with highest grade Honduran mahogany, the Standard's body is cut from a single two inch thick slab, which is then overlaid with a bookmatched veneer of ultimate grade figured maple. The entire body is then brought to a thickness of 1.75 inches to provide vibrational mass without being overly heavy.
The neck is carved from more of the same fine mahogany. First, three pieces are selected for grain direction and density then laminated together to form Hamer's famous "Stressed Neck System". This process of contrasting the grain direction makes each neck more rigid and resistant to twisting. The interactivity of the parts actually brings a heightened resonance to the neck, which benefits string response and natural sustain.
The neck is capped with a slab of 1/4 inch rosewood, and then carved to the classic Hamer shape. Dimensions are 1.68 inch at the nut, with a thickness taper of 0.85 inch at the first fret, to approximately 0.9 inch at the 12th fret. Twenty two frets are hand-laid into the fingerboard, which is curved to Hamer's comfortable and choke-free 14.5 inch radius. Each fret is individually set tight into the fingerboard then polished to provide smooth-bending, accurately intonating the instrument. The fretboard scale is 24.75 inch.
At the end of the strings, great attention is paid to the quality and operational efficiency of the components. At the headstock, the strings are guided across Hamer's exclusive lubritrak nut, which provides smooth tone, while its natural lubricity assures that the strings will never bind. Tuning is accomplished via Schaller's finest machines with a ratio of 12:1. A tune-o-matic style bridge and stop tailpiece are anchored to the body, and help create the classic sound of the Standard, as well as add an authentic vintage vibe to the instrument's appearance.
The neck and body are joined at the 19th fret with an oversize dovetail joint, which allows massive transfer of vibration, and makes the Standard one of the most responsive and "alive" guitars ever. Following the Hamer tradition, this flawless neck-to-body joint has 40% more contact area than the "tenon" type joints used on most other glue-in neck joints. The added area provides stability and sustain compared to mass-produced guitars. The Standard comes with pearl dot inlays or "crown" mother of pearl markers and ivoroid neck binding in the optional Custom version.
A pair of humbucking pickups by Seymour Duncan are used to deliver the big Standard sound to your amplifier's input. Keeping with the spirit of the first (and all) Hamer guitars, each pickup is tone-selected for its intended location. This practice of using different pickups for neck and bridge positions was first introduced by on the original Hamer Standard and makes the selection of available tones more varied, as well as optimizing each individual pickup sound. The bridge position pickup is a SH4 (Jeff Beck) model, which drives with a thick mid-range and shimmering, swirling highs. The neck pickup (in trademark black/white coil color) is based upon the original '59 humbucker design with a meaty tone that works well with clean and distorted settings. Controls for individual pickup volume are provided, along with the best tone control in the business. Hamer's eartuned tone control contour gives you an unmistakable palette of tonal shadings and never leaves you with mush. A trusty Switchcraft 3-way selector switch engages the pickups with the familiar tactile action of fine vintage instruments, while the output is a solidly mounted panel jack. The Standard's control cavity is meticulously wired and thoroughly shielded with metallic paint and covered with a grounded aluminium cover plate for complete RF shielding.
These fine instruments are offered in '59 burst. Natural or black finishes, each trimmed with grained ivoroid body binding.

Description from the 1995 and 1996 Catalogue

Standard Custom

Rick Nielson, Cheap Trick's innovative and influential guitarist, made the Standard famous with his one-of-a- kind checkerboard version. You'll dig the one piece Honduras mahogany body, bookmatched figured maple top, 3- piece stressed mahogany neck, oversized dovetail joint, mother of pearl crown inlays and ivoroid binding. The tone? It's exactly what you'd expect from one of the finest guitars in the world : tone right down to the bone. If you can't settle for anything less than the one, the only, the Hamer Standard; hurry up and order one today. Because we'll only make a very few of these stunning beauties each year in order to keep in touch with our past - and your future!
The Standard is also available with an unbound fingerboard and dot inlays.



Bibliography

Hamer Tone - vol. 1, no.2 (1992).

Hamer Tone - vol. 4, no.2 (1996).

Vintage Guitar Magazine - Hamer Guitars - A Conversatrion with Jol Dantzig by Dean Farley parts 1 and 2(Sept. 1996 (vol.9 no.12) and Oct. 1996 (vol.10 no.1))

Hamer catalogues from 1975 to 1995.

Guitars of the Stars Vol.1 - Rick Nielson by Bill Rich and Rick Nielson (1993)

Guitar Shop - Recent Relics - Early Hamer Guitars, parts I (Standard) and II (Sunburst) by Baker Rorick (1997) .



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