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Hamer Guitars USA might be coming back soon.


BCR Greg

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3 hours ago, tobereeno said:

those aren't made in Korea, are they? not for $800? 20 years ago MIK was decent. Now it's at a whole new level, and Korean labor isn't as cheap as it used to be. I've bought two recent MIK guitars - a Schecter and a Steinberger, and at this point, the only limiting factor (if any) is the quality and age of the wood being used. I make it a point to try out Gibsons whenever I visit the mega guitar emporium and have yet to find one that was worth a damn.

Epiphones are now made in China; Korea got too expensive. Even with the same technology in their factories, you still have to pay for skilled labor.

And yet as impressive as the fit and finish is on these recent MIK guitars, you don't get what Mike Shishkov pointed out - "reading the wood". Concert violinist Joshua Bell has said that his $4 million Stradivarius adds about 10% over a well-made modern violin...but being a serious musician, that 10% matters a lot, so scraping up $4 million in a hurry was of utmost importance. For most hobbyists, and even a fair number of professional rock musicians, that extra 10% of synergy between the different pieces of wood in the instrument won't matter and it's hard to hear or feel. The kind of quality that Hamer epitomized in its heyday can really only be appreciated by, say, studio musicians, the Eric Johnsons of the world, TGP cork sniffers...

for what its worth, I've come to believe that the wood stash matters a great deal. In terms of mass-production guitars, brand new PRS electrics and Taylor acoustics have mojo. I'm sure their craftsmen are experienced and skilled, but they're also using exceptional wood. I've recently been considering buying a Taylor, and it'll be worth the $3500 or so it'll cost.

but we're here on this board because we are passionately in love with that Hamer mojo. That's why its reintroduction into the market has caused an emotional furor; those guitars are NOT Hamers, not the way we think of a musical instrument as a Hamer. I am thankful that Mike is continuing the tradition; Hamer (by our definition) was resurrected when he started making guitars and since he started accepting custom orders, "Hamer" is definitely alive and well...and it ain't hanging on a rack at NAMM.

You know, for what it's worth (and at this point I think we all know we are trolling dead horses in this thread) a friend is a concert cellist. Plays in a couple orchestras, does pit work, studio work, lessons. Music has been her only gig ever. Anyway, she knows Yo Yo Ma, and he let her play his Strad. She said it was a total bitch to play, and while he makes it work, it's not like this instrument just sings for anyone who tries it. She also digs carbon fiber instruments for durability and overall good tone and playability, becuase when you're doing some Independence Day concert on a humid summer evening, your 7-figure instrument is gonna be swelling and shrinking and shaking like a teenge boy who found a waterlogged porn mag in the woods.

My point being: there are a lot of ways to find mojo, your instrument, your voice. I keep saying it, but "classic rock" guitarists as a rule are the most reactionary bunch of grannies I've met. Those fuddie-duddies playing music written 200 years ago by dead white guys seem to be more open to new instruments and new ideas than the guys and gals playing the music of rebellious youth. I'm not really keen on buying Chinese out of my battered sense of "support your local farmer" ethics, but someone COULD decide to set a truckload of money on fire to make a new Hamer and still make good guitars. Yes, Mike is definitely carrying the DNA of the New Hartford Hamer and making killer guitars. But maybe someone will build Hamer-labeled guits out of bamboo or carbon fiber or unicorn shit or pine. Maybe they'll be AMAZING. From a business point of view I think we all agree it's a fool's errand, but from an instrument point of view, who knows?

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3 minutes ago, devrock said:

Agreed. This was a problem BEFORE they folded. What young, up-and-coming players even KNEW what a Hamer was?

You mean Hammer, don't you? :P

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2 hours ago, tobereeno said:

quite the opposite. mass-production can make a "perfect" guitar...in terms of an object. however, to get the whole thing working together and become a singular sum greater than its parts, you need an expert luthier and a much more hands-on construction method, as every piece of wood is different and it takes a sensitive human touch to discern the subtle differences. if musical instruments were made of 100% synthetic materials, I'd want it made by a high-precision machine. There are carbon fiber instruments and the more they're handbuilt, the more cost is unnecessarily built into them. But wood is still the material of choice (I recently did some research on this), and from an engineering point of view, composites approach the best woods but don't exceed them. So guys like Shish are still very much needed!

:)

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I'll play a guitar I like regardless of the name on the headstock or the country of origin. 

My two main electric guitars and three main acoustic guitars are all asian made (Korea, Japan, and China). My Boss Katana 100 (made in Malaysia) is making a strong bid to be my #1 amp. I saved a ton of money and don't feel like I'm slumming. To the contrary, when I play a friend's new Fender, Gibson, or PRS, I'm not the least bit tempted to "upgrade" my electric guitars (a MIK Vox SSC 55 and a MIJ Fender Aerodyne Strat with Fishman Fluence Pickups and a Blade Runner bridge). To Polara's point, I am aware of the 10% quality improvement to be found over my Chinese made Bedell acoustics, and I hope someday to be in the position to afford the $2000+ upcharge to each.

FWIW, I sold off my Hamers because I like a longer scale on my G style guitars, and a smaller fretboard radius on my F styles.

The magic in the USA Hamers wasn't based on the country they were made in, or the nationality of the builders. It was the legacy of craftsmanship, the experienced hands, ears, and eyes, and the culture of putting quality first, that made Hamer USA guitars special (coupled with the prices made possible by a sugar daddy corporate owner). I don't think we'll see that particular combination again any time soon.

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45 minutes ago, polara said:

You know, for what it's worth (and at this point I think we all know we are trolling dead horses in this thread) a friend is a concert cellist. Plays in a couple orchestras, does pit work, studio work, lessons. Music has been her only gig ever. Anyway, she knows Yo Yo Ma, and he let her play his Strad. She said it was a total bitch to play, and while he makes it work, it's not like this instrument just sings for anyone who tries it. She also digs carbon fiber instruments for durability and overall good tone and playability, becuase when you're doing some Independence Day concert on a humid summer evening, your 7-figure instrument is gonna be swelling and shrinking and shaking like a teenge boy who found a waterlogged porn mag in the woods.

My point being: there are a lot of ways to find mojo, your instrument, your voice. I keep saying it, but "classic rock" guitarists as a rule are the most reactionary bunch of grannies I've met. Those fuddie-duddies playing music written 200 years ago by dead white guys seem to be more open to new instruments and new ideas than the guys and gals playing the music of rebellious youth. I'm not really keen on buying Chinese out of my battered sense of "support your local farmer" ethics, but someone COULD decide to set a truckload of money on fire to make a new Hamer and still make good guitars. Yes, Mike is definitely carrying the DNA of the New Hartford Hamer and making killer guitars. But maybe someone will build Hamer-labeled guits out of bamboo or carbon fiber or unicorn shit or pine. Maybe they'll be AMAZING. From a business point of view I think we all agree it's a fool's errand, but from an instrument point of view, who knows?

The Davidov Strad is notoriously difficult to play. I think you're right though - conventional wisdom would say that it's classical musicians who would be most resistant to change, but after taking up the cello seriously a couple months ago, I've found that string players (although Strads/Guaneris are still the gold standard) do seem a lot more open to change in recent times, especially with carbon fiber instruments. I just started working with a cello teacher, who remarked that my cello (a Steinberger, or "NS Design") unplugged has a remarkably evenness from string to string - I wouldn't know, this is my first real cello.

Even classical guitars have undergone fairly significant changes in the past couple of decades; carbon fiber/balsa bracing, and honeycomb sandwiched tops, as well as bevels shaped in for the right arm, different soundhole placement...the classical guitar is definitely not a fixed design and is undergoing a period of evolution for certain.

The electric guitar, so it seems to me, is nowhere near as popular as it was in the heyday of the rock era, and the market does seem to favor tradition versus technological innovation. Even my preferences can be considered far out of date; by now, Hamer Californians are 30 years old and when I started playing, 30 year old Strats and Les Pauls were considered "vintage". 

New electrics, even if made to traditional shapes, will have to incorporate more novel materials as traditional tonewoods become harder to source and that CITES treaty really putting the pinch on things. I think what's making people cringe is seeing Hamer designs and the Hamer name brought back to market, with no connection to the original crew. But then again, the MIK Steinberger I bought a couple years ago is a really nice guitar....and I bet you can't say that openly in the company of Steinberger purists.

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28 minutes ago, jwhitcomb3 said:

The magic in the USA Hamers wasn't based on the country they were made in, or the nationality of the builders. It was the legacy of craftsmanship, the experienced hands, ears, and eyes, and the culture of putting quality first, that made Hamer USA guitars special (coupled with the prices made possible by a sugar daddy corporate owner). I don't think we'll see that particular combination again any time soon.

IIRC there are some really great luthiers in Japan building by hand, and I just saw a documentary on a Chinese luthier who studied in Italy and is now bringing the tradition of Italian violin-making to Chinese workshops; he had been working in Cremona but by law the labels inside his violins had to say "made in Italy" and he wanted them to say "made in China" so he moved back home. Lots of craftsmanship and experience.....and high price tags.

I think we're fortunate to live in an era where machines can build better guitars than assembly lines of the past; owning a quality guitar with level frets and good hardware is more affordable than ever before. But handbuilt will always have its place (so long as wood is involved) for those seeking that extra 10% of mojo and are willing to pay for it.

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6 minutes ago, BCR Greg said:

They do not have any clear plans at all.

 

So....

 

 

Whatever.

Not surprising. Not meant as a slight to you, Greg, just that it's a pretty big challenge and people reconsider, hedge, flip-flop, and look in their bank accounts. Then think again.

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4 hours ago, tobereeno said:

The Davidov Strad is notoriously difficult to play. I think you're right though - conventional wisdom would say that it's classical musicians who would be most resistant to change, but after taking up the cello seriously a couple months ago, I've found that string players (although Strads/Guaneris are still the gold standard) do seem a lot more open to change in recent times, especially with carbon fiber instruments. I just started working with a cello teacher, who remarked that my cello (a Steinberger, or "NS Design") unplugged has a remarkably evenness from string to string - I wouldn't know, this is my first real cello.

Even classical guitars have undergone fairly significant changes in the past couple of decades; carbon fiber/balsa bracing, and honeycomb sandwiched tops, as well as bevels shaped in for the right arm, different soundhole placement...the classical guitar is definitely not a fixed design and is undergoing a period of evolution for certain.

The electric guitar, so it seems to me, is nowhere near as popular as it was in the heyday of the rock era, and the market does seem to favor tradition versus technological innovation. Even my preferences can be considered far out of date; by now, Hamer Californians are 30 years old and when I started playing, 30 year old Strats and Les Pauls were considered "vintage". 

New electrics, even if made to traditional shapes, will have to incorporate more novel materials as traditional tonewoods become harder to source and that CITES treaty really putting the pinch on things. I think what's making people cringe is seeing Hamer designs and the Hamer name brought back to market, with no connection to the original crew. But then again, the MIK Steinberger I bought a couple years ago is a really nice guitar....and I bet you can't say that openly in the company of Steinberger purists.

Total derail...but how is the cello going? Fun to play? Tough? I've thought about it, one of my favourite instrument sounds ever. 

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                                              Call me close minded...............least on this topic.............those are not "HAMER" guitars. That is they are NOT like my Hamer guitars.................and that IS a good thing!

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10 hours ago, BCR Greg said:

They do not have any clear plans at all.

 

So....

 

 

Whatever.

And you just forwarded there might be something happening.  Twenty one pages later in thirteen days.  Not sure what that means. 

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12 hours ago, sonic1974 said:

Total derail...but how is the cello going? Fun to play? Tough? I've thought about it, one of my favourite instrument sounds ever. 

pretty well! starting on the Steinberger lends a couple advantages. First, it's an electric, so my shredder sensibilities straightened the truss rod and lowered the bridge for string action height you'd never see on an acoustic. and because the string deflection is less than on an acoustic cello due to my setup, the "fret markers" are pretty spot on. So I haven't had to go through any memorization of where notes are. On the other hand, I've realized just how much added power being able to change note intonation lends to melodic lines; you're not stuck with equal temperament. I just dove into the deep end straightaway and am working on the Elgar Cello Concerto (not the most technically challenging piece to be sure). It's a bunch of singing passionate melodic lines, and in a couple places I found I was out of tune, or so I thought. I checked the "sour" note with a Peterson Strobe tuner and nope, I wasn't out of tune. But to get these notes to sound right, I found I had to play certain notes slightly flat. Anyways, those dot markers for every note - every damned beginner cello ought to have those. Oh, and my pinky now has two callouses - a guitar callous and one on the side from the cello. lol.

Bowing is getting better, although I made the mistake of trying out a thousand dollar pernambuco bow - jeebus, it really does make a difference. so that's on this year's to-buy list.

I'm hoping that modeling technology will eventually allow my electric to sound like Yo-Yo Ma's Strad; I read somewhere that, similar to amp modeling, someone modeled a Guarneri Del Jesu violin. Kind of like the string instrument counterpart to a Variax guitar. If they can nail that modeling technology, the value will be immeasurable, because the instruments you'd want to model are truly unobtanium - you've got to have what, $10-20 million on hand AND luck out on timing.

Anyways, if you're really interested, I highly recommend an NS Design cello. They are a million times easier to play than any acoustic cello, nevermind the Yamaha electric cello. You can get them fretted as well, which is what I wanted, but I'm now glad I got the unfretted version. After playing the thing for three months, I've found that fretless basses are a lot easier to play, so the skill translates over to any unfretted instrument. It sounds great too - just make sure you've got some nice hall reverb going. It'll take any number of effects as well, but for a more authentic classical cello sound, all you need is reverb - if you listen to classical recordings, none of them are dry. I can't tell if it's natural reverb or added in, but it's pretty important!

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7 hours ago, The Shark said:

And you just forwarded there might be something happening.  Twenty one pages later in thirteen days.  Not sure what that means. 

lol

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To the point of both cellos and "going after that last 10%"......

("Bowing is getting better, although I made the mistake of trying out a thousand dollar pernambuco bow - jeebus, it really does make a difference. so that's on this year's to-buy last 10%").

Pernambuco is (some say) taking materials such as Brazilian Rosewood to the "next level". I gave in to the hype about 2 years ago and bought a guitar with a solid pernambuco NECK about 2 years ago. (From a limited run of 25 PRS DGT Private Stocks). Fortunately, found one used and avoided SOME of the original upcharge. As best I know, that is no longer even offered as an option, at any price.

I would have a hard time describing the difference between it and "similar" guitars with such materials as Brazilian necks. IMO, there is a certain magic to the sound that is not completely related to "unobtainium". Def worth the premium price to me.

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32 minutes ago, django49 said:

To the point of both cellos and "going after that last 10%"......

("Bowing is getting better, although I made the mistake of trying out a thousand dollar pernambuco bow - jeebus, it really does make a difference. so that's on this year's to-buy last 10%").

Pernambuco is (some say) taking materials such as Brazilian Rosewood to the "next level". I gave in to the hype about 2 years ago and bought a guitar with a solid pernambuco NECK about 2 years ago. (From a limited run of 25 PRS DGT Private Stocks). Fortunately, found one used and avoided SOME of the original upcharge. As best I know, that is no longer even offered as an option, at any price.

I would have a hard time describing the difference between it and "similar" guitars with such materials as Brazilian necks. IMO, there is a certain magic to the sound that is not completely related to "unobtainium". Def worth the premium price to me.

Owner of the guitar shop down the street is mostly a classical player, and tells me his cellist friend was excited about his $50,000 pernambuco bow.

Makes me feel better about dropping $500 on a perfect vintage Hagström last week.

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1 minute ago, polara said:

Owner of the guitar shop down the street is mostly a classical player, and tells me his cellist friend was excited about his $50,000 pernambuco bow.

Makes me feel better about dropping $500 on a perfect vintage Hagström last week.

The pernambuco neck was less than 1/10th that......But I got the guitar for free. ;)

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2 minutes ago, polara said:

Owner of the guitar shop down the street is mostly a classical player, and tells me his cellist friend was excited about his $50,000 pernambuco bow.

Makes me feel better about dropping $500 on a perfect vintage Hagström last week.

Makes you wonder how much better their ears can be than ours.
Personally, my ears are terrible, but I can still tell a great guitar from a good one. That said, I can't tell a $300 pickup from a $75 one. I know what I like, and that's about it.

Or could it be that there's a certain amount of cork-sniffery going on with the classical orchestra players as well, but their stuff just costs a great deal more than even guitar players' stuff?

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3 minutes ago, kizanski said:

Or could it be that there's a certain amount of cork-sniffery going on with the classical orchestra players as well, but their stuff just costs a great deal more than even guitar players' stuff?

That shouldn't let us feel guilty on the GAS addiction.

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6 hours ago, tobereeno said:

pretty well! starting on the Steinberger lends a couple advantages. First, it's an electric, so my shredder sensibilities straightened the truss rod and lowered the bridge for string action height you'd never see on an acoustic. and because the string deflection is less than on an acoustic cello due to my setup, the "fret markers" are pretty spot on. So I haven't had to go through any memorization of where notes are. On the other hand, I've realized just how much added power being able to change note intonation lends to melodic lines; you're not stuck with equal temperament. I just dove into the deep end straightaway and am working on the Elgar Cello Concerto (not the most technically challenging piece to be sure). It's a bunch of singing passionate melodic lines, and in a couple places I found I was out of tune, or so I thought. I checked the "sour" note with a Peterson Strobe tuner and nope, I wasn't out of tune. But to get these notes to sound right, I found I had to play certain notes slightly flat. Anyways, those dot markers for every note - every damned beginner cello ought to have those. Oh, and my pinky now has two callouses - a guitar callous and one on the side from the cello. lol.

Bowing is getting better, although I made the mistake of trying out a thousand dollar pernambuco bow - jeebus, it really does make a difference. so that's on this year's to-buy list.

I'm hoping that modeling technology will eventually allow my electric to sound like Yo-Yo Ma's Strad; I read somewhere that, similar to amp modeling, someone modeled a Guarneri Del Jesu violin. Kind of like the string instrument counterpart to a Variax guitar. If they can nail that modeling technology, the value will be immeasurable, because the instruments you'd want to model are truly unobtanium - you've got to have what, $10-20 million on hand AND luck out on timing.

Anyways, if you're really interested, I highly recommend an NS Design cello. They are a million times easier to play than any acoustic cello, nevermind the Yamaha electric cello. You can get them fretted as well, which is what I wanted, but I'm now glad I got the unfretted version. After playing the thing for three months, I've found that fretless basses are a lot easier to play, so the skill translates over to any unfretted instrument. It sounds great too - just make sure you've got some nice hall reverb going. It'll take any number of effects as well, but for a more authentic classical cello sound, all you need is reverb - if you listen to classical recordings, none of them are dry. I can't tell if it's natural reverb or added in, but it's pretty important!

That sounds really cool! I wasn't aware that they made them with fret markers, seems like a no-brainer good idea to me! 

It's definitely on the "when I have more cash" list for me. Along with a million other things, ha. 

Right now, I'll make do with my computer program, Native Instruments. It's called a pretty good sound sampling of violins/cellos. I know it's not the real thing, but sounds very nice and is super fun to play. And easy lol. I hook up a midi keyboard to my computer. 

Still trying to figure out the best way to get it working live for some variety in our show, strings and horns on a couple of tunes would be nice. I need to pick up a laptop, one more thing to buy. 

Have fun with it! It's always admirable to me when someone picks up a new instrument and sticks with it. 

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1 hour ago, kizanski said:

Or could it be that there's a certain amount of cork-sniffery going on with the classical orchestra players as well, but their stuff just costs a great deal more than even guitar players' stuff?

Mos Def. So much cork sniffed, that some consider having their nasal passages lined with it. Classy.

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