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Why all the animosity toward Jol?


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Ting, I'm not well-informed on this topic but I think there are some misgivings about the direction Jol took Hamer at some point, limiting offered models and marketing to high end and collector markets. Again, not well-informed on this.

 

 

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 I was not one to experience it, but I’ve heard of people asking for a custom edition or custom order and being told no and then someone else asking for the same thing and being told yes.

 

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I think Paul left the boat way before it sank irremediably. On the other hand, Jol remained its captain until the end —an end which was also caused by how the boat was... misled?

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I have no horse in this race, but my understanding after (GOOD GRIEF! REALLY?) TWELVE(!) years on this board is, what Diablo said, coupled with a capricious and arbitrary disdain for random custom order details, some of which mysteriously became standard options at a later date (e.g., the chambered standard).  Apparently approval of certain details had to do with astrological alignments, fiber intake and / or who was asking at the time.

Again, I have nothing but regard for the man's ability to build a guitar, and I never once interacted with him on any level.  Just an observation...

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Sometimes it seemed Hamer followed the whims of Jol and made mistakes – I don't think that's true, it's a bit of a myth.

Towards me, he's been generous and a gracious host. Okay, he comes over a little odd at times but he's pretty decent overall. And let's face it… we're here because we love the guitars he had a hand in creating.

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The man at the top always takes the biggest hit from the public for the failure of the company and that's how it should be. In the end it was his company that made things we all wanted and for known and unknown reason's he gave his customers and fans of his product's the big middle finger. So sometimes  people like to pee all over that middle finger. He had to know what would happen when he sold the Hamer brand and who he sold it too.

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2 hours ago, Ting Ho Dung said:

What about Paul? People angry at him too?

Paul Hamer is one of the nicest guys I have ever met.  

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I knew almost nothing about Hamer prior to my first purchase which was shortly before the move to CT. I had some relatively minor issues and dragged my guitar up to New Hartford. I was a nobody who Jol treated like a VIP as did Kim Keller. That was the first of many encounters with Jol, all of which were very pleasant. I never felt it was my prerogative to judge Jol's decisions ,he was running the company He started.For my own personal preferences the New Hartford guitars were my preference.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Paul but feel certain I would  like him. Based only on what I have read about him.Having been in a  business partnership I understand how priorities and interests can change.I have no idea what happened to their business relationship and aside from morbid curiosity don't care.There are 3sides to every story.

Jol has his idiosyncrasies as do we all.  Would enjoy seeing him again

arniez

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When an approachable custom guitar dude decides that he doesn't give a shit about what the peeps want, there's a perceived arrogance that doesn't forward a failing brand.  I've had clients that rode the pony all the way to the bottom because it was their way or no way.  They failed.  And their loyal customers were the most insulted.  A custom home builder comes to mind.  

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I always enjoyed my interactions with everyone at Hamer, including Jol, especially the open houses they graciously hosted. As a (tiny) builder who cares more about liking what I make than maximizing the bottom line, I kinda understand where Jol was coming from with his inflexibility on certain design choices and his unwillingness to play the promotional game that more successful makers play. It's a shame the market didn't go along.

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Jol has tons of passion for guitar building and a vision to go along with. Many customers, myself included, wanted a return to 80s Hamer with glorious Calis, boomers and custom BCR Vectors with locking trems. I think Jol was looking to build sophisticated guitars for sophisticated tastes and wanted to get away from something that could be used in a Night Ranger tribute band. Not many people would actually pony up $4-5K for one of those 80s creations and Jol knew that too. I appreciate Jol Danzig and his contributions to electric guitar. The CO they built for me under his leadership is just fantastic and went beyond what I expected.  

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15 hours ago, kizanski said:

Paul Hamer is one of the nicest guys I have ever met.  

This.

 

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On 4/28/2020 at 4:50 PM, Carl.B said:

The man at the top always takes the biggest hit from the public for the failure of the company and that's how it should be. In the end it was his company that made things we all wanted and for known and unknown reason's he gave his customers and fans of his product's the big middle finger. So sometimes  people like to pee all over that middle finger. He had to know what would happen when he sold the Hamer brand and who he sold it too.

After re-reading my own post I guess any frustrations have go more to Jol than Paul. 

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Never met the guy (Jol). Admire his shared vision and success with Paul and Frank.  Not surprised he is both revered and reviled. Every era of Hamer history bears his influence--both good and bad. I admit that I vicariously curse him for refusing to accept certain C.O.s, especially the request to revive the Electraglide design. Really, there was no logic in refusing such a request. 

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My .02.....

I worked for Jol during the early New Hartford years.   I can share the following:

1) Arlington Heights was run like a factory (a good one but still a factory).  New Hartford was run like a shop.  That was because of Jol’s presence in New Hartford.

2) I left Hamer in July 2000.  Most, if not all, of the customer order rejections I was aware of had a pretty good reason.  What people don’t understand is many fixtures, patterns, etc necessary to do the old models and custom orders were trashed in Illinois.  A lot had to be recreated.  It is very likely the first “no” was because it wasn’t possible.  If several requests were made then it was probably considered and tooling was made.  He was also particular about the way Hamers looked.  I wanted an all mahogany Archtop Custom goldtop.  Jol wouldn’t do gold over mahogany because it would sink (even though I worked there and Jol had an all mahogany 57 Gold top that he loved). I remember another order specifying ugly Korina was rejected because he didn’t want it to look like a factory second and no one “will remember the story three owners down the road” or something like that.

3) He could be opinionated and would sometimes act superior.  Most of the time he was a very pleasant person to be around.

4) I probably wouldn’t have moved to New Hartford if Jol didn’t go.  I think most of us felt that way.  If he didn’t go to New Hartford and a few of us decided to stay in Illinois they would have built Hamers on the Ovation line and the New Hartford golden age wouldn’t exist!

 

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36 minutes ago, mirrorimij said:

My .02.....

I worked for Jol during the early New Hartford years.   I can share the following:

1) Arlington Heights was run like a factory (a good one but still a factory).  New Hartford was run like a shop.  That was because of Jol’s presence in New Hartford.

2) I left Hamer in July 2000.  Most, if not all, of the customer order rejections I was aware of had a pretty good reason.  What people don’t understand is many fixtures, patterns, etc necessary to do the old models and custom orders were trashed in Illinois.  A lot had to be recreated.  It is very likely the first “no” was because it wasn’t possible.  If several requests were made then it was probably considered and tooling was made.  He was also particular about the way Hamers looked.  I wanted an all mahogany Archtop Custom goldtop.  Jol wouldn’t do gold over mahogany because it would sink (even though I worked there and Jol had an all mahogany 57 Gold top that he loved). I remember another order specifying ugly Korina was rejected because he didn’t want it to look like a factory second and no one “will remember the story three owners down the road” or something like that.

3) He could be opinionated and would sometimes act superior.  Most of the time he was a very pleasant person to be around.

4) I probably wouldn’t have moved to New Hartford if Jol didn’t go.  I think most of us felt that way.  If he didn’t go to New Hartford and a few of us decided to stay in Illinois they would have built Hamers on the Ovation line and the New Hartford golden age wouldn’t exist!

 

The U.S.S Voice of Reason sailing the seas of butt-hurt. Ahoy!

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On 4/29/2020 at 7:29 PM, mirrorimij said:

My .02.....

I worked for Jol during the early New Hartford years.   I can share the following:

1) Arlington Heights was run like a factory (a good one but still a factory).  New Hartford was run like a shop.  That was because of Jol’s presence in New Hartford.

2) I left Hamer in July 2000.  Most, if not all, of the customer order rejections I was aware of had a pretty good reason.  What people don’t understand is many fixtures, patterns, etc necessary to do the old models and custom orders were trashed in Illinois.  A lot had to be recreated.  It is very likely the first “no” was because it wasn’t possible.  If several requests were made then it was probably considered and tooling was made.  He was also particular about the way Hamers looked.  I wanted an all mahogany Archtop Custom goldtop.  Jol wouldn’t do gold over mahogany because it would sink (even though I worked there and Jol had an all mahogany 57 Gold top that he loved). I remember another order specifying ugly Korina was rejected because he didn’t want it to look like a factory second and no one “will remember the story three owners down the road” or something like that.

3) He could be opinionated and would sometimes act superior.  Most of the time he was a very pleasant person to be around.

4) I probably wouldn’t have moved to New Hartford if Jol didn’t go.  I think most of us felt that way.  If he didn’t go to New Hartford and a few of us decided to stay in Illinois they would have built Hamers on the Ovation line and the New Hartford golden age wouldn’t exist!

 

Interesting perspective from an insider. It would seem that people relocated because of Jol not in spite of. I don’t know for fact but will speculate that that includes Mike  Shishkov. It is impossible to know what limitations existed financially or what limitations stemmed from “artistic” preferences.  I was never on the receiving end of news that was upsetting  to me and so I have no disappointments or regrets. I am not likely to be an owner of a Dantzig creation but that doesn't mean I can't recognize his contributions. I see no reason at this point to disparage him and I understand that m y opinion may not be yours!

 

arniez

Edited by ArnieZ
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18 hours ago, mirrorimij said:

1) Arlington Heights was run like a factory (a good one but still a factory).  New Hartford was run like a shop.  That was because of Jol’s presence in New Hartford.

2) I left Hamer in July 2000.  Most, if not all, of the customer order rejections I was aware of had a pretty good reason.  What people don’t understand is many fixtures, patterns, etc necessary to do the old models and custom orders were trashed in Illinois.  A lot had to be recreated.

Now that sucks. All those fixtures, tooling, and etc. That's a dang shame, as they are hard to recreate. Was there any reason they didn't make the move? I'm assuming it was a financial or other issue involved with being owned by Kaman music.

Having posted here a while, almost all of the gripes regarding Jol seem to be regarding things that he wouldn't do for custom orders, and/or some idea that someone had got rejected, but then he did it anyway.  But the man pretty much was there from the beginning, and also the reason it became so great in the first place. Reputation is a big thing in the guitar world, and I know of ANOTHER H-brand that would limit what was allowed to be built at the factory, even employee builds, if they wanted the company logo on it.

I guess the idea of a custom shop is different for some people.  Being able to get "whatever you want" is often just not possible.

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On 4/28/2020 at 5:50 PM, Carl.B said:

The man at the top always takes the biggest hit from the public for the failure of the company and that's how it should be. In the end it was his company that made things we all wanted and for known and unknown reason's he gave his customers and fans of his product's the big middle finger. So sometimes  people like to pee all over that middle finger. He had to know what would happen when he sold the Hamer brand and who he sold it too.

Fender purchased Kaman Music, who owned Hamer. Not sure how that gets laid at Jol's feet.

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28 minutes ago, tbonesullivan said:

Now that sucks. All those fixtures, tooling, and etc. That's a dang shame, as they are hard to recreate. Was there any reason they didn't make the move? I'm assuming it was a financial or other issue involved with being owned by Kaman music

My thought, as well. I'm guessing it had something to do with the company downsizing and simply not cataloging or building the immense array of designs they'd done in the larger facility at AH.  The strategic focus of the brand changed markedly in the downscaling process...and that's not a bad thing; just a change.  Still, it seems like there would have been some interest in salting away all the old tooling and templates somewhere. And, yes, I know that all of that stuff was the property of Kaman Music and (legally speaking) not for an individual employee to take home, but I would have liked to think someone might have risked a trip to the dumpster corral under the cloak of darkness to rescue it and store the cache.

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On 4/29/2020 at 9:56 AM, burningyen said:

I always enjoyed my interactions with everyone at Hamer, including Jol, especially the open houses they graciously hosted. As a (tiny) builder who cares more about liking what I make than maximizing the bottom line, I kinda understand where Jol was coming from with his inflexibility on certain design choices and his unwillingness to play the promotional game that more successful makers play. It's a shame the market didn't go along.

The market rarely goes along with such an approach. The Soup Nazi business model is an anomaly. 

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