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Got the Hamer bug...any aficionados to educate me?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Ian T, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Meister

    481
    Jan 11, 2013
    Tampa Bay
    I am helpless to my GAS addiction.

    It has turned to the acquisition of a USA Hamer (classic LP Junior style). Resistance is futile. I must purchase one within the next month or so.

    I've done a little research though remain a total noob. It seems like the company was sold a couple of times, and production was done at a few different places. I also gather at sometime in the mid 90s the necks seem to have gotten fatter (me likes).

    I'm looking for some information on what era of Hamer would seem to be the most desirable, from a long term investment vantage point, as well as quality standpoint.

    Any Hamer lovers that can give me the inside scoop on how to pick a winner?

    Cheers and thanks in advance!
     

  2. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    54
    Feb 16, 2014
    Auburn, California
    I had a '94 USA Hamer Special. It was a wonderful guitar. Seymour Duncan P90s. I'm thinking I'm gonna save up and get another. Only guitar I've gotten rid of that I really miss.


    [​IMG]
     

  3. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Meister

    481
    Jan 11, 2013
    Tampa Bay
    Yeah man the p90 ones, as well as the mini-humbucker ones are sweet! This could be trouble...
     
    jimash likes this.

  4. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    54
    Feb 16, 2014
    Auburn, California
    All the '80s and '90s Hamers can be had for relatively decent prices, probably because whoever bought them turned the brand to crap in the '00s. I know the Specials go for around $700 used. I've seen the Artists, which were Hamer's equivalent of a Les Paul, going for around $1000. I'd rather have a killer US Hamer Artist than a '90s Les Paul.
     
    Mr. Lumbergh likes this.

  5. Ian T

    Ian T Tele-Meister

    481
    Jan 11, 2013
    Tampa Bay
    I dunno man, I think the prices are going up; I haven't been seeing prices that low, the seem to be more like 1000-1500 and up.

    Stands to reason the prices will only be going up on these guitars now they aren't making them anymore.
     

  6. Tommy Biggs

    Tommy Biggs Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 17, 2010
    Northern NJ
    Love my Special - great P-90 guitar
     

  7. John C

    John C Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 20, 2005
    Kansas City
    I'm not as up on Hamer as I am on some other brands, but here's what I remember about them:

    The company is started by Paul Hamer, Jol Danzig and a couple of other people - they start out co-owning a music shop in a Chicago suburb and doing repairs, and eventually get into making instruments under the "Hamer" name circa 1973-74. By 1980 they have moved into a larger facility in Arlington Heights, IL (a different Chicago suburb than where they started); Danzig and Hamer are still there, but the original partners are gone they now have new partner named Frank Untermeyer.

    The original instruments are the "Standard" - a flame-topped Explorer guitar with LP Standard inlays/neck binding and body binding, followed by the "Sunburst", a flame-topped LP Jr. also with body binding (neck binding and LP Standard inlays were optional). They added more set-neck models through the early 1980s, and eventually added bolt-on models in the 1980s - this occurred right about the same time that the company was sold.

    In 1987 Hamer wanted out so Danzig & Untermeyer wound up eventually contacting Kaman Music - the parent company of Ovation and the USA importer of Takamine among many other lines (including a lot of products/supplies for band and orchestra instruments). Instead of just brokering a sale Kaman bought the entire company in 1988.

    From 1988-1992 they made a lot more bolt-on instruments than set-necks. Danzig left in 1993, leaving Untermeyer as the last of the main partners with the company. By 1997 the superstrat/shredder guitar market was in the tank, and Kaman decided to "downsize" Hamer and bring them to New Hartford, Connecticut in the same facility where they made the USA Ovation guitars as they were also downsizing their USA Ovation operations. Danzig was rehired; Untermeyer was placed over both lines in the facility. From that point on the bolt-neck line was retired and they only made their various set-neck lines. This is also the time that necks start getting fatter than they were in Arlington Heights (I owned a really nice 1996 USA Hamer Studio - no binding and dot-marked neck version that had both a wrap-tail bridge and a tummy cut - those options were only available roughly 1995-96 - one of the few guitars that I would like to have back after selling it off).

    At the end of 2007 Kaman got out of the music buisness and sold all their holdings to FMIC; FMIC would eventually shut down USA Ovation production and bring their Guild electrics operation to the New Hartford facility. FMIC really only wanted Kaman Music's supply business and distribution network, but the kept Hamer alive until 2012 (the last year or two as a custom shop only - no "regular production" models) when they shuttered it. Danzig left FMIC in 2010 and is a one-man custom shop; Untermeyer stuck around until the facility closed and now works for Martin.
     
    Ian T likes this.

  8. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 18, 2009
    Hogtown,KY.
    I have been collecting USA Hamers for a few yrs. Great guitars, but they don't have the cache of Fender or Gibson. They have fantastic build quality with first rate materials. Do know that they have a flatter radius. 14". Some like it, some do not.
     
    jimash likes this.

  9. GuitarJonz

    GuitarJonz Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    MA
    Have had a few USA Hamers, a T-51 (T-style), Daytona (strat style), and a super cool early Cruise Bass, all great instruments. The T-51 was killer: super light Mary Kay blonde finish, shoulda kept that one.
     

  10. john kleeman

    john kleeman Tele-Holic

    633
    Jun 16, 2010
    Portland, Or.
    The Hamer USA group on the Facebook is active daily and has members ranging from rabid to dilettantes. I love mine!
     

  11. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 13, 2013
    Initech, Inc.
    It's a shame that FMIC shut down Hamer. Seems to be if they'd worked on it a little, it would have been a good way to get a little slice of the Gibby pie. As it stands now I'm actually looking to the Yamaha Revstar line to fill that need in my life.
     

  12. John C

    John C Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 20, 2005
    Kansas City
    It's my understanding that FMIC just really wanted Kaman Music's distribution network and their supply business; Hamer USA was such a tiny part of Kaman's business we should consider it lucky that they kept Hamer open for 4 years.
     

  13. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 13, 2013
    Initech, Inc.
    I get the logic, just not my preferred outcome. I would have loved it if FMIC put Hamer under their umbrella the way they did Jackson and Gretsch.
     
    beezerboy and SnidelyWhiplash like this.

  14. kookaburra

    kookaburra Tele-Holic

    793
    Nov 11, 2012
    Madison, WI, USA
    I have a 93, all black. Great axe, but boy, I do love that red better! Really a classic look.
     
    Tommy Biggs likes this.

  15. beezerboy

    beezerboy Tele-Meister

    Age:
    67
    308
    Sep 7, 2016
    AK
    I've owned I've owned 5, still have 2. the local music store has a Koa Mirage, new, they dropped the price to 1200 bucks. I want to buy it, but already have one.... actually thats kinda why I want it. its new and they ain't no more. its one of the best guitars I've ever played. among my friends there are... Gibson LP custom shop, a McCarty, a custom Kodiak... the Mirage holds its own quite well along side all those hi buck guitars. USA Hamers do not take a back seat to anything out there.
     

  16. BopT

    BopT Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 6, 2011
    Chicago
    I picked up a Steve Stevens for $5. No hardware at all that I may put together with a Floyd and three single coils.
    When they were made in the Chicago area I interviewed for a job there...they told me I was over qualified?
    They made pretty nice guitars. Get a US one if you can they are not much more used than an import.
     
    kookaburra likes this.

  17. Octave Doctor

    Octave Doctor Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 10, 2009
    Morgantown, WV.
    I got a first issue Slammer SBFT from 96, it's pretty close to the USA Hamers I've played except for the pups. Pretty much the same red as the p-90 Special, but with binding. Later import Hamers aren't nearly as nice.
     

  18. user34603

    user34603 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    67
    162
    Dec 5, 2016
    Richmond VA
    ... I just found a barely used Hamer SFX series doublecut with bevelled edges, but like yours with 2 HBs. Remarkable pickups and feel and was $75 in eBay. yeah.... insane cheap for a really well-made axe.
     

  19. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Aug 21, 2005
    Michigan
    I have a 1981/82 Hamer Sunburst. Its a really nice guitar, flamed maple red (though mine doesn't have a lot of flame) bound top, with the original Duncans and their string-through hardtail bridge. The bridge is what went away on all of the later Sunburst and Special models and was replaced with a Gibby style stop tail.

    I like the two volume/one tone setup with the pup selector down near the knobs. I think that the LP Special double-cut body looks great with the top binding. The US made Sunburst and Standards are probably the most sought after, with the early Specials not too far behind, as far as collectability goes. Probably because of the early bridge design and the fact that those are kind of what put Hamer on the map.

    I think the Special was made in larger numbers than the other two.
     

  20. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Aug 21, 2005
    Michigan
    Darn Zombies.
     
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