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mike_levitt

New hamers, hello! And pickup question...

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Hi,

This is my first post here, hello....

I went to my local store last week, and came home with 2 hamers, a Korina JR, and a monaco superpro.

I had an old black and white special with a crazy paint job, but traded it away years ago, as the neck was so tiny that I was constantly bending it out of tune while playing....

I am a pretty dyed in the wool Gibson/Fender guy, but I wanted another humbucking guitar, and with all of the crap that Gibson has been pulling with their dealers, I have decided not to give them any more money until this is all sorted out. So I had decided to try some "other" brands.

I hadn't played a Hamer since my old special. And my dealer usually stashed them on the "top rack." But now with the Gibsons running low, the Hamers have been moved to the front row.

I was initially interested just in the Junior. I have several "real" ones, and they have become too valuable to take out of the house now, so I was looking for something I could relax with. I tried a Gibson historic, but it didn't do the trick. I actually traded it on the Hamer, which is just a better guitar in every way (except for the pickup).

I picked up the Monaco just because it was so cool.

So anyway, here's my question... I own a lot of guitars, and have a lot to compare to. My initial impression is that the Hamers are built and finished at least as well as the top-end Gibson historics. Better than most.

But I'm a bit baffled by the pickup choice (and my apologies to those of you who love ceramic pickups). The custom/custom-custom combo in the Monaco was to me just totally wrong! It just covered up the sound of the guitar and sounded totally generic. I swapped in a set of WCR crossroads, and it is a different guitar. I already knew it sounded great acoustically (that's how I pick them) but now it sounds great electrically too.

Ditto with the Jr. It came with a seymour "hot P-90" which is a 14k ceramic. I've got a real '57 P90 that I'm going to swap in this afternoon, along with a NOS bumblebee that I've been saving for something like this.

The hardware is also a bit odd. The stock stuff is very heavy, and I've found that lighter is better. Gibson has caugh on to this and lightened up their historic stuff.. I'm planning on putting either a vintage tailpiece or a pigtail on the JR. Not sure what to do with the Monaco yet....

So the question for you Hamer afficianados is this....

Do these guys seem kind of stuck in the 80s with their pickup and hardware selections? It just seems to me that with a more appropriate selection of pickups and hardware they would have a product that world beat a Gibson in every way. Even if you're using SD pickups, I think a set of seth lovers would be great on the monaco. Ditto a vintage p90 on the junior.

Anyway, I'm just a bit baffled (and my apologies to those of you again who love overwound ceramics) because I think these guitars would be much better with different pickups.

Or is this just the "Hamer sound" and something they are trying to do???

Thanks for the great site, and my apologies for the long and maybe silly post!

Mike

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Mike,

I think your comments are spot on.

See my post titled "not for the squeamish" for my solution to the Monaco pickup issue. I couldn't agree more about the inappropriateness of the Duncan Custom and Custom-Custom stock pickups on this guitar. They may work on a shredder, but are just wrong on the Monaco. My solution is a set of Harmonic Design Classics. I also installed a TonePros bridge and locking studs and replaced the tailpiece with a lightweight aluminum one. Oh, one more mod - the metal tuning buttons have been replaced with lighter ebony versions.

As for the Jr., mine sports a VooDoo P-90 and a pigtail stopbar.

I don't necessarily hate Duncan pickups, though most of his "hot" models sound harsh and unfocused to me. On the other hand, I have Seths and '59s in a couple of guitars and they sound great.

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Welcome to the club and congrats on TWO new Hamers. As far as the pickups, I think the stock SP and Special pickups sound great. I have two SP's amd wouldn't dream of changing the pups. As far as Hamer being stuck in the 80's, I think they try to remove themselves from the 80's as much as possible. Enjoy the board and members, it's a great place!

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Welcome to the board , were all newbies here :P I'd like a lower mass bridge on my superpro, the E strings touch the back of the bridge no matter how high the tailpiece is, this bugs me and I'm not sure if it's an ole wives tale or not but it bugs me. I just put a pair of 59's in my sprucetop superpro, like em alot

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Welcome to the board , were all newbies here :P I'd like a lower mass bridge on my superpro, the E strings touch the back of the bridge no matter how high the tailpiece is, this bugs me and I'm not sure if it's an ole wives tale or not but it bugs me. I just put a pair of 59's in my sprucetop superpro, like em alot

Hey Bill,

Have you tried top-wrapping your tailpiece? That was one of the first things I noticed, but the top wrap took care of it with no problem. There's not much of a break angle over the bridge now, but I don't like a lot of break angle anyway...

Anyway, thanks for the responses. Pickups are always a matter of taste, and I enjoy tweaking them, maybe a bit too much, actually.

But it is more fun than working, that's for sure...

Mike

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Welcome to the board!

One thing to remember if you're going to change the hardware, I believe that Hamers use metric hardware.

I've been tempted to change the P-90s on my Artist Korina, but because I spend my pickup money putting new humbuckers on my Gibsons, I haven't gotten around to it. They sound more vintage with the volume turned down, but I will get around to swapping them out one of these days.

It may be that Hamer is under the impression that "kids these days" want their pickups hot, without appreciating that Hamer's target audience may be old farts like us who are AlNiCo types.

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Welcome to the board!

One thing to remember if you're going to change the hardware, I believe that Hamers use metric hardware.

I've been tempted to change the P-90s on my Artist Korina, but because I spend my pickup money putting new humbuckers on my Gibsons, I haven't gotten around to it. They sound more vintage with the volume turned down, but I will get around to swapping them out one of these days.

It may be that Hamer is under the impression that "kids these days" want their pickups hot, without appreciating that Hamer's target audience may be old farts like us who are AlNiCo types.

John,

Are you calling me an "Alnico old fart???"""

Boy you totally nailed it!!!!! I am a total alnico old fart...... And I think you might be right about the "kids these days" thing. I think the big guitar companies (G, F & Martin) have realized what a huge market is out there selling guitars to old guys like me, who couldn't afford them when they were actually working musicians!

The fender custom shop and Gibson historic lines have become a very big business, and very profitable I would guess at $2000 - 5000 a pop!

Regardless, I'm very impressed with the Hamers, and plan on getting another one, probably a Monaco elite. It would be nice to be able to specify pickups, but at the price that I paid for these guitars, they are a great bargain, even if I have to buy and install a set of pickups, which is something I enjoy a lot anyway!

Here's to the alnico old farts!!!!!

Mike

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I like the ceramic P90's on my Hamer Special. They have the power of humbuckers, but are "stringier" (if that makes any sense :P). Hamer probably isn't catering to those with vintage tastes as far as alot of their pickup choices go (which is a bit strange given the market I would guess they are shooting for), but I don't have vintage tastes, so that don't bother me none. Plus, obsessing about pickup changes is fun (and generally less expensive that obsessing over guitar changes :wub:).

-Austin

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The thing about USA Hamers is that they are so well made with such high quality tone woods, I think it often takes custom handwound pickups to bring out their best. There's no doubt in my mind that a Hamer USA Studio is a far better guitar than are the '59 and JB pickups from SD's assembly line.

But once you get into custom hand-wound pickups (or any high quality aftermarket pickup) you're getting into individual tastes.

Hamer makes great guitars and generally outfits them with pickups that will sound good with a variety of amps. It's my understanding that they use Mesa amps generally to voice their guitars.

There are exceptions: They do use Seth Lovers in the Artist series, and Phat Cats in the Newports; the Phat Cats were originally designed in SD's custom shop specifically for the Newport, and it is indeed a synergistic relationship (although a few on this board would disagree).

I suspect the Korina Jr. got a Duncan Hot to light up an amp to get that Leslie West grind into a large variety of amps.

As for the Monaco, Hamer took awhile sorting through a variety of pickups before settling on the Customs. I suspect it's not as easy picking a humbucker for a 25.5" scale as we're all so used to hearing SCs at that scale and HBs on 24-3/4" scale.

It may also be related to your amp and its settings unique to your situation.

Someone with refined or individual tastes might often want to swap their pickups and you have plenty of company on that matter in this fan club.

--JohnnyB

Gas-free since I got my Newport.

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The thing about USA Hamers is that they are so well made with such high quality tone woods, I think it often takes custom handwound pickups to bring out their best. There's no doubt in my mind that a Hamer USA Studio is a far better guitar than are the '59 and JB pickups from SD's assembly line.

But once you get into custom hand-wound pickups (or any high quality aftermarket pickup) you're getting into individual tastes.

Hamer makes great guitars and generally outfits them with pickups that will sound good with a variety of amps. It's my understanding that they use Mesa amps generally to voice their guitars.

There are exceptions: They do use Seth Lovers in the Artist series, and Phat Cats in the Newports; the Phat Cats were originally designed in SD's custom shop specifically for the Newport, and it is indeed a synergistic relationship (although a few on this board would disagree).

I suspect the Korina Jr. got a Duncan Hot to light up an amp to get that Leslie West grind into a large variety of amps.

As for the Monaco, Hamer took awhile sorting through a variety of pickups before settling on the Customs. I suspect it's not as easy picking a humbucker for a 25.5" scale as we're all so used to hearing SCs at that scale and HBs on 24-3/4" scale.

It may also be related to your amp and its settings unique to your situation.

Someone with refined or individual tastes might often want to swap their pickups and you have plenty of company on that matter in this fan club.

--JohnnyB

Gas-free since I got my Newport.

Johnny,

Good points. I didn't think the Monaco was bad with the Customs, but thought there was more in it with some different pickups. I like to hear the wood, and the WCRs definitely deliver. I like a microphonic, low output alnico pickup in most things, and it works great in the Monaco.

I am sure that the Customs would sound good in a mesa, which kind of depends on a lot of output to light up that first gain stage. But I'm a big fan of vintage style amps, I've got 3 fenders, a badcat and a matcless, and the customs just sounded "blah" to me.

I've just pulled the pickup out of the junior, and interestingly enough, it's a "soapbar" style under a "dogear cover." I've never seen that before... I'm sticking in the '57 gibson P90 and it's going to be interesting to hear how it sounds next to the actual old juniors..

Thanks again!

Mike

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Hello everyone,

I noticed the post by Johnny B about the Seymour Duncan pickups on his Monaco and Jr. are not up to his liking. I had the same issues with the Seymour Duncan Custom and Custom Custom that was installed on my '95 Hamer Archtop Sunburst. I had them removed and installed a pair of Gibson Burstbucker Pro guitar pickups. I'm happy with them and it works for me. Pickups are kind of a subjective thing. It depends on the style of music you play, the type of amp you use and the kind of guitars you play.

Hopefully, your pickup sway will be one that fits your style of playing and have the tone you're looking for.

Guitar George

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First of all, welcome. Second of all, you are required to post pics of your new Hamers. :wub:

As far as the pickups go, without owning either the Jr. or the Monaco, I can say that I tend to prefer the hotter ceramic pickups. They just respond to my playing style a little bit better. There are only two guitars I own that still have the stock pickups, my Hamer Artist Korina HB and my Mirage I. Most of my others have a Duncan Distortion in the bridge, some have the Distortion in the neck as well. But that is neither here nor there.

My impression of Hamer's choice on pickups is this: pickups are a very individual kind of thing. It would be extremely difficult to provide a pickup in a guitar that is loved by everyone. After all, how many people have you heard of who swap the pickups out of the Historic Gibsons or the Custom PRS's. Hamer may just be trying to keep the cost down on the guitars by offering "assembly line" Duncans.

But what the hell do I know. I'm not an old fart who likes the AlNiCo pickups. :P

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I'll chime in here and join the concensus. I have always felt the Monaco pick-ups were overbearing. I'm changing my Mon III P90s to Lollars this week, but I am stuck with the SD buckers in the Monaco for a while. IMO, these are incredibly expressive guitars that require equally expressive pick-ups.

mike

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First of all, welcome. Second of all, you are required to post pics of your new Hamers. :P

As far as the pickups go, without owning either the Jr. or the Monaco, I can say that I tend to prefer the hotter ceramic pickups. They just respond to my playing style a little bit better. There are only two guitars I own that still have the stock pickups, my Hamer Artist Korina HB and my Mirage I. Most of my others have a Duncan Distortion in the bridge, some have the Distortion in the neck as well. But that is neither here nor there.

My impression of Hamer's choice on pickups is this: pickups are a very individual kind of thing. It would be extremely difficult to provide a pickup in a guitar that is loved by everyone. After all, how many people have you heard of who swap the pickups out of the Historic Gibsons or the Custom PRS's. Hamer may just be trying to keep the cost down on the guitars by offering "assembly line" Duncans.

But what the hell do I know. I'm not an old fart who likes the AlNiCo pickups. :P

I guess you can't join the old farts club! :wub:

Maybe as we lose our hearing, we require Alnico to compensate for the loss of highs....?

When I was younger, the louder the better - Super Distortions in everything! I even put hot rails in some of my strats (what was I thinking?????)

Now I can't stand any of them.

I think I am going deaf!!!!!!

Mike

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I haven't heard the P90's in the Jr. yet.

For my Artist, I was really pleased with the 59 combo it came with.

And I like the Seths in the Newport pro.

I can't stand the JB, never could, never will, it's like all harsh and no tone.

Only problem I have is I hate to spend money on pickups just to experiment, Lollars, WCR, Fralins just seem to cost too much if I'm uncertain about them.

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Quick clarification on the TonePros modification:

You need the narrow post TOM style bridge and metric posts for the tailpiece studs. I never use the TonePros supplied bridge posts, but I seem to recall that metric bridge posts will not fit the Hamer bridge ferrules. The bridge supplied with the TonePros metric set will, however, fit perfectly on the stock Hamer bridge posts.

Good info and insight re: testing pickups through a Mesa boogie amp. That makes sense.

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Welcome, and thanks for your well written post!

Not all Hamers come stock with hot pickups. The Phat Cats (stock on the Newport) certainly aren't very hot, and the 30th Anniversary LTD had Duncan "Custom Customs" which have a more vintage output.

I did remove the stock Duncan P-90s on my Archtop GT in favor of Gibson Deluxe mini-hum reissues.

One thing about Hamers that you should also be aware of (if you aren't already) is that the tone and volume controls are extremely well voiced. So if the output of the pickups is just too hot, roll back on the volume/tone controls. Before I became a Hamer nut I always played my guitars with the controls full tilt because they sounded like mush when I rolled them back. Now I typically start with the volume and tone controls at 60% on my Hamers and adjust as needed for the sound I'm going for. It is nice to have the headroom for that occasional shred moment!

-Jonathan

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I haven't heard the P90's in the Jr. yet.

For my Artist, I was really pleased with the 59 combo it came with.

And I like the Seths in the Newport pro.

I can't stand the JB, never could, never will, it's like all harsh and no tone.

Only problem I have is I hate to spend money on pickups just to experiment, Lollars, WCR, Fralins just seem to cost too much if I'm uncertain about them.

I think I would have left the guitar alone if it had seths or 59s, but the customs were just too much for me.

The thing is that I came into this without any preconceptions or expectations - beyond knowing that if the guitar sounds good acoustically, you can always capture that with the right pickup.

I love screwing around with pickups. It's not cheap, but when it works, it really works. I've been able to turn around some total dogs with the right pickups.

But it's better when it just works from the factory!

Mike

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Welcome, and thanks for your well written post!

Not all Hamers come stock with hot pickups. The Phat Cats (stock on the Newport) certainly aren't very hot, and the 30th Anniversary LTD had Duncan "Custom Customs" which have a more vintage output.

I did remove the stock Duncan P-90s on my Archtop GT in favor of Gibson Deluxe mini-hum reissues.

One thing about Hamers that you should also be aware of (if you aren't already) is that the tone and volume controls are extremely well voiced. So if the output of the pickups is just too hot, roll back on the volume/tone controls. Before I became a Hamer nut I always played my guitars with the controls full tilt because they sounded like mush when I rolled them back. Now I typically start with the volume and tone controls at 60% on my Hamers and adjust as needed for the sound I'm going for. It is nice to have the headroom for that occasional shred moment!

-Jonathan

Well, the Custom Customs are still 14.1 K, which is pretty hot compared to the seths at 8.1!

I did notice that the pots are really nice. Really smooth transition between 3 - 10, kind of like an audio taper extreme.

Thanks for the welcome. This seems like a really friendly and positive place, compared to some of the other forums I visit!

Thanks everybody for the info!!

Mike

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My 2 cents (worth perhaps 1.5 cent accounting for inflation). I don't like the hot pups that are in the new Monaco. Having compared an older one loaded with 59-JB to brand spankin new, the old combo gets my vote. I'll classify myself as an "old ceramic bastard".

Joe

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Mike try adjusting the pickup height on the Monaco superpro you might be surprised how much of a change that will make. As for the Junior change away. Welcome and let us know how it works out. BTW you have two excellent guitars.

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Well, the Custom Customs are still 14.1 K, which is pretty hot compared to the seths at 8.1!

Whoops...the 30th Anniversary LTD has Duncan Antiquities, not Custom Customs. As you can tell, I don't shop pickups much!

-Jonathan

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Well, here's an update...

With the 50's gibson pickup and bumblebee cap in the Korina junior, it's got the junior tone nailed. I have 3 50s juniors here, and the hamer is right there tone wise. I'm very happy with it, especially compared to the '57 historic gibson, which was not even in the ball park.

The Monaco sounds great with the WCRs in it.

I am very happy with both of these guitars.

Thanks to everybody for the suggestions!!!

Mike

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Just for clarification Tonepros warparound bridge metric posts do not fit in '96 Studio.I did a mistake and ordered a metric warp and I had to let old stocks posts(not locking).Great improvement tough,higly recomended.

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