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Hamer Guitars USA might be coming back soon.


BCR Greg

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This is the weirdest damn bunch of jaded moth**fu***rs I've ever seen: On The Hamer Fan Club message board - a HAMER forum dedicated to the devotees of Hamer guitars - a member suggests the return of THE BRAND WE'RE ALL HERE FOR, and we tear him a new one.

Anyone else think that's at least a little bit messed up?

 

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Actually, not really, but that's just MY personal opinion.  

Since it's a  forum for discussion on the topic, it's fair game - either way. I think I share the opinions of many here (including every single one of the founders/original stewards of the brand), that Hamer as we knew it, is dead.  Attempting to bring the brand back in 2017 would be a fool's errand for many of the reasons articulated in the thread above - no need to rehash here.  Hamer was known for top-quality wood, construction methods and having the best in the biz putting heart and soul into them.  Is that a romanticized view?  Again, not really.  If a Canadian company contracts with, say, Washburn or somebody, to try to reverse-engineer some of the classic Hamer designs in the USA, the formula would STILL be wrong.  Some of the most valuable assets Hamer USA had as a brand were the exquisite wood stash (it was better than what PRS had at the time), and the incredibly talented crew who knew the ins and outs of Hamer's unique construction methods, perfected over 40 years.  ALL of that is long gone now.  

Would the "Tommy Thayer" version of Hamer get it close, and maybe even generate new fans?  Sure is possible...but I'm an Ace guy, personally.

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I get that it wouldn't be the same. But what if it were better? Did it go down hill when Paul left? It certainly wasn't the same. Or when it went through the move or the super-Strat hair-band phase? That was definitely different. And then to the modern/vintage thing. Best guitars ever (IMO). And what if Paul or Jol were involved? While I'm pretty sure that's not the case, would that make new Hamers acceptable to the hardcore old-school fanatics?

Brands have to reinvent themselves all of the time. Sometimes it IS better. Having no details leaves it wide open to debate, but the pigpile on Greg for the suggestion isn't really necessary, is it? Hell, we should be happy that a hint at the revival of our brand exists, and be hopeful it could knock our dicks in the dirt.

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7 minutes ago, cmatthes said:

Hamer as we knew it, is dead

Agreed.  Yet, a new (not improved) Hamer as we don't know it could produce a quality guitar.  It's not as if the crew formerly known as Hamer were the only worthwhile builders out there.

Reviving the name of a "failed" brand invites additional challenges to a new business, but it also buys instant name recognition.  We all know Hamer was shuttered, but I'd wager there are as many (more?) potential customers that have no idea.

I don't agree that any attempt to bring the brand back is absolutely doomed or even foolish.  A good guitar at a reasonable price always has a chance.  I wouldn't be first in line to buy a new Hamer, but I wouldn't reject them out of hand.

 

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10 minutes ago, cynic said:

Agreed.  Yet, a new (not improved) Hamer as we don't know it could produce a quality guitar.  It's not as if the crew formerly known as Hamer were the only worthwhile builders out there.

Reviving the name of a "failed" brand invites additional challenges to a new business, but it also buys instant name recognition.  We all know Hamer was shuttered, but I'd wager there are as many (more?) potential customers that have no idea.

I don't agree that any attempt to bring the brand back is absolutely doomed or even foolish.  A good guitar at a reasonable price always has a chance.  I wouldn't be first in line to buy a new Hamer, but I wouldn't reject them out of hand.

 

Like this?

 

http://rebel-guitars.com/preorder-knaggs-guitars-steve-stevens-ssc-in-custom-leopard-print-with-bound-ebony-fretboard/

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Interesting thread to peruse and consume. I suspect that I am not the only one mildly curious about the tone of the banter on the first couple of pages. But, alas, that is others' history; not to be repeated. 

The business case for the rebirth of the Hamer brand is a tough one. To opine that one is uninterested is reasonable. To suggest such a venture would never succeed is a premature judgment. The boutique builders seem to have the high end custom order bases well covered. The import market seems saturated. 

But...Gibson seems to be doing well selling mid-level, no frills USA models. No other brand, based my observations, has really challenged them in this segment, save for PRS with its S2 line (and those are really a few hundred above the various "Faded" Gibsons). With that in mind, it MIGHT be possible for a domestic facility to make profit building and distributing basic "Modern Vintage" Hamer guitars that slot in between the Faded series and the upper end S2 series. If the new owners got the wood curing, neck joints, and fret work right a la '90s era Arlington Heights, they could make those sub-$1K Gibsons look like shit in contrast.

The Gibson brand carries a million tons more punch in brand recognition, but playing is believing. It was for me and thousands of other buyers in the '90s. Frankly, if my only choice for a NEW Hamer--as a working musician--in the '90s had been a $3,000 New Hartford build, I would have never become an owner. To me, that was enviable, but totally impractical.  Those affordable, well-constructed, simple Hamers made in the high production era of the early/mid ''90s WERE emblematic of brand's golden era...to me. The move to New Hartford brought an incredible, almost unparalleled level of precision, quality, and detail, but the firm fundamentally changed into something that didn't really mesh with what I thought it always was. Not a bad development; just different. 

So...a working man's guitar...made in USA..."Modern Vintage" designs and attention to key details. It could succeed, sure. But it would not be an easy venture. 

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                       Regarding any resurrecting of Hamer guitars as a brand..................something is only original once and that time has come and gone for the original Hamer guitars. On the good side there are still many fine used USA Hamer guitars out there to be gotten.

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2 hours ago, Biz Prof said:

Those affordable, well-constructed, simple Hamers made in the high production era of the early/mid ''90s WERE emblematic of brand's golden era...to me.

Bingo. 

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Lots of good analysis/projection here. Good to see Hamer owners piping up on this topic. 

HamerUSA is not "our" brand, not even close. "Hamer" belongs to all the people hired/fired/old-timers who did their jobs to produce quality electric guitars and basses. This effort deserves respect, but it was a space in time. Hamer afficionados get "that thing", but trying to put the genie back in the bottle will be a fool's errand, at best. 

Dean made a GREAT comeback. Their 90s-2000s reissues are as good/better than their 70s output. From my perspective, they pushed the quality/playability forward, but DeanZ still bailed after a while. 

Maybe a new Hamer startup could employ amazing builders and make even BETTER guitars than what came before. OK, great. Far out. The question is who will line up to purchase said instruments?

Guitar Mi Is waning. Who will generate the buzz to push these out of stores and into the hands of musicians? 

I dig my Hamer guitars. I wish the world knew about them. It DID, at one time, but it ain't 1987 amymo', people. 

Hamer is dead. Long live Hamer. 

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9 hours ago, Biz Prof said:

So...a working man's guitar...made in USA..."Modern Vintage" designs and attention to key details. It could succeed, sure. But it would not be an easy venture. 

 

Spot-on. What do you say we become investors? (ducks and runs)

Seriously, yeah, I dig my 2106 Les Paul Studio Faded a LOT but I'd like it even better if it were a 2017 Hamer USA Special, also with:

  • Simple slab bdy of properly-seasoned wood
  • 3-piece neck of same wood
  • Super-basic, labor-saving thin finish
  • No frills
  • Duncan P90s
  • Built to last

If PRS, Godin and Gibson can do things along these lines, a Hamer with a few of the key people possessing the right attitude and history could do it for Hamer. They'd need a hell of a good marketing plan, some big capital investment up front, and a lot of luck, and even with THAT Id give 'em a 30% chance of keeping the doors open 3 years.

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2 hours ago, polara said:

Spot-on. What do you say we become investors? (ducks and runs)

I inquired about purchasing the brand at the time of the demise.   I also spoke to Jol about coming back to create that bridge backward.  The numbers just didn't work from my prospective.   If I were twenty years younger I might have given it a go, but I am in asset preservation mode nowadays.   

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21 hours ago, LucSulla said:




The whole genesis of the bolt-on neck without a headstock pitch was to enable mass production.  


 

I don't understand. How does no headstock pitch fit into mass production?

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Just now, Ting Ho Dung said:

I don't understand. How does no headstock pitch fit into mass production?

You have to use a bigger block of wood to cut a neck because it has to be thick enough to account for the headstock dipping down, and it took more skill.  The flat headstock angle meant more necks could be made faster using less wood. 

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Great! Wouldn't that be cool especially if the new shop's build quality is the same or if even possible better! My first real guitar was a Hamer so it was truly a sad day to see the shop go away. Wishing the best outcome for everyone with the talks and NAMM folks!!!

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15 hours ago, Biz Prof said:

So...a working man's guitar...made in USA..."Modern Vintage" designs and attention to key details. It could succeed, sure. But it would not be an easy venture. 

As you said, that's exactly what Hamer was in the early '90s. The brand wasn't successful then (or at least as successful as it could/should have been), why should anyone believe that it would be successful now?

As has been mentioned countless times on here before, at the end of the day it's all about marketing. You have to do what PRS did and, to invoke a non-guitar brand, what Under Armour did: Make your wares omnipresent and virtually impossible to ignore. 

Fender, Gibson and PRS are Nike, Adidas and UA. Hamer is Pony. A dead brand that would take way too many resources to resurrect (financial and otherwise) than any sane person (or any person who isn't in a position to set hay bales of cash on fire simply because they feel like it) would be willing to expend. 

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27 minutes ago, MCChris said:

As you said, that's exactly what Hamer was in the early '90s. The brand wasn't successful then (or at least as successful as it could/should have been)

I agree with most of what you said, but we'll have to disagree on the remark quoted above. I think the '90s version of Hamer was certainly successful. It was the the 21st century version of the firm that ultimately failed ito succeed in market; and that had nothing to do the quality of product. In fairness, "could/should have been" is up for debate, but the numbers they made/sold in the '90s cannot be disputed. The "Modern Vintage" era was a great one for Hamer.

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Some of you guys are acting like your Mom just got a new boyfriend.

Building a great set neck guitar isn't rocket science and there are many talented builders with whomever owns the brand could partner up. To do it right would be expensive in the end - but that is not unlike the Hamer everyone used to love used to be. However unlike others, I'm open-minded about this development since I don't feel the urge to protect Mike Shishkov's business interests. There's plenty of room in this space for both.  IMO a revitalized Hamer would be in everyone's best interests. 

I look forward to the news.

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18 hours ago, hamerhead said:

This is the weirdest damn bunch of jaded moth**fu***rs I've ever seen.

I actually probably am the weirdest, jaded motherfucker that you've ever seen. :lol: 

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Lots of good points here. Plenty of unnecessary venom spat. Entertaining though.

I'm willing to wait and see what happens. Mostly because I have no choice. 

There is likely a niche market interested in the cachet of the brand itself, but Hamer taught me one thing...fuck brand names and focus on the guitar itself. At the moment, I cannot afford a Shishkov. I hope to, but they're still a little fancy for practical, affordable use at this juncture. I would agree that Mike is carrying the flag of the upper echelon of what Hamer was producing before closing and does and will satisfy the custom order crowd. But I'm sure there's room for less fancy, less labour intensive models (Specials, Juniors,) with short list of options. Colour & Pickups. 

For now, I'm interested in a North American made, solidly built, simple no frills guitar (no figured tops or binding, or anything adding frivolous costs). If Hamer or whatever other brand can do something like that, then all the power to them. Might not be the "true" original Hamer, but that doesn't matter to me, personally. I'm all about the end product. 

Anyway...I'm interested to see what happens. Even if it's not "the same".

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33 minutes ago, Devnor said:

Some of you guys are acting like your Mom just got a new boyfriend.

Building a great set neck guitar isn't rocket science and there are many talented builders with whomever owns the brand could partner up. To do it right would be expensive in the end - but that is not unlike the Hamer everyone used to love used to be. However unlike others, I'm open-minded about this development since I don't feel the urge to protect Mike Shishkov's business interests. There's plenty of room in this space for both.  IMO a revitalized Hamer would be in everyone's best interests. 

I look forward to the news.

This has zero to do with Mike's business interests from my perspective.  He has the vision and talent do great things with or without anybody here.

You guys are missing (or ignorant of) the fact that Hamer was KAMAN's loss leader for well over 12-15 years.  THE HAMER BRAND LOST THE COMPANY MONEY.   The techniques and quality wood and artisans that put those guitars together are going to be prohibitively expensive for anybody but a behemoth to take on, and they're going to be in the hole for years before they even come close to breaking even, if that's even possible.  It is simply does not make any reasonable fiscal sense to produce something of that quality with a Hamer name on it in the current environment on that scale - it's not as simple as many here seem to think.  There is nothing left of the former operation.  NOTHING.  No CNC programs, no body forms, no production manuals/documents, no raw materials, no up to date machinery, no know-how...not a scrap of it.  I agree that guitar building is not as complex as designing vehicles for space travel, but there IS an art to it, and what we are all accustomed to here as "HAMER", won't be built cheaply (or even affordably) in my opinion.  I wouldn't pay $4k for a reissued, re-engineered, Washburn (or other) built Standard or Californian, and I doubt anybody here can honestly say they would - especially when there are plenty of NOS and mint examples available at the touch of a button online 365/24/7.  Anybody thinking of bringing back this brand in the USA will have to charge that per unit to keep the lights on for a week.

The only way to really make a go of it is through a cheaper import line or else doing something in the USA that is SO stripped down and pedestrian that few (even of us rabid fans here) would shell out less than the going rate for a lower end Fender, Gibson or PRS to acquire them - nobody is going to pay what Hamer was charging for the last decade plus for something less.

Starting or resurrecting a large scale guitar line in 2017 should make any investor queasy, at best.  The audience is shrinking.  Boomers are SELLING guitars and downsizing, and guess what?  There's not a lot of room for electric guitars in Nursing Homes/Assisted Living facilities these days.  Guitar music isn't leading the charts, and as has been discussed to death here, there are no up-and-coming guitar heroes that are household names.  Who knows where the global economy is headed over the next decade or two, but all signs seem to point to more extended downturns.  Consumer buying habits across the world changed in 2008, and haven't rebounded.  That was a large reason that Hamer went away - the buyers just weren't spending that kind of cheddar on luxury items.  A smaller, independent builder has the advantage of managing scale (and not having to answer to shareholders/investors), but a larger corporation is going to demand what I think is an unattainable return on investment, and if being prudent, will look more than 24 months into the future at the bigger picture.

This isn't coming from the heart or the gut...this is coming from knowing a lot about the MI business, business in general and how things were at Hamer.  I evaluate companies and orgs on a daily basis, and am not talking out of my ass on this.  This has nothing to do with any pissing matches in this thread or others - I'm staying out of all that.  This is based on the facts as I see them.  Period.

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28 minutes ago, Biz Prof said:

I agree with most of what you said, but we'll have to disagree on the remark quoted above. I think the '90s version of Hamer was certainly successful. It was the the 21st century version of the firm that ultimately failed ito succeed in market; and that had nothing to do the quality of product. In fairness, "could/should have been" is up for debate, but the numbers they made/sold in the '90s cannot be disputed. The "Modern Vintage" era was a great one for Hamer.

Then it should have been the era that set Hamer up to prosper and flourish (or at the very least stay in business) in the next millennium. There are lots of reasons why that didn't happen, of course, but with Hamer it always comes back to marketing. One of the most signature sonic elements of the grunge era (the opening of "Jeremy") was played on a Hamer, so it's not like the brand should have lost all of its relevance during the '90s in the wake of the Floyd-ed superstrat's demise.

These also aren't the '90s anymore. The younger set's notion of "Modern Vintage" looks like Jaguars, Jazzmasters and non-reverse Firebirds, so if Hamer is gonna make a comeback, those had better be the new Daytonas, T51s and FBs.

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33 minutes ago, cmatthes said:

 

You guys are missing (or ignorant of) the fact that Hamer was KAMAN's loss leader for well over 12-15 years.  THE HAMER BRAND LOST THE COMPANY MONEY.   

Why did Kaman keep them going for that period of time when they were losing money? Kind of a "showcase" brand or something along those lines? 

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