HAMER
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HAMER
Instruments previously produced in Arlington Heights, IL between 1974 and 1996 and in New Hartford, CT between 1997 and 2012. Import instruments were produced in Korea, China, and Indonesia between circa 1990 and 2012. Hamer USA was distributed by KMC Music in Bloomfield, CT, and the Hamer XT Series was distributed by Musicorp in North Charleston, SC.
Hamer Guitars was co-founded by Paul Hamer and Jol Dantzig in 1976. In the early 1970s, the two were partners in Northern Prairie Music, a Chicago-based store that specialized in stringed instrument repair and used guitars. The repair section had been ordering so many supplies and parts from the Gibson facilities that the two were invited to a tour of the Kalamazoo plant. Later, Northern Prairie was made the first American Gibson authorized warranty repair shop.
Hamer, a regular gigging musician at the time, built a Les Paul-shaped short scale bass with Gibson parts that attracted enough attention for custom orders. By 1973, the shop was taking orders from some professional musicians as well. Hamer and Dantzig were both Gibson enthusiasts. Their early custom guitars were Flying V-based in design, and then later they branched out in Explorer-styled guitars. These early models were basically prototypes for the later production guitars, and featured Gibson hardware, Larry DiMarzio-wound pickups, figured tops, and lacquer finishes.
In the mid-1970s, the prices of used (beginning to be vintage) Fenders and Gibsons began to rise. The instruments offered by those same companies was perceived as being of lesser quality (and at higher prices). Hamer and Dantzig saw a market that was ignored by the major companies, so they incorporated Hamer USA. The first shop was set up in Palatine, Illinois. The first Hamer catalog from Fall 1975 shows only an Explorer-shaped guitar dubbed The Hamer Guitar (later, it became the Standard model) for the retail list price of $799. Hamer USA built perhaps fifty Standards between 1975 and 1978, an amount estimated to be ten to fifteen a year. In contrast, Gibson reissued the Explorer from 1976 to 1978 and shipped 3,300 of them! In 1978, Hamer debuted their second model, the Les Paul-ish Sunburst. While the Standard had jumped up to a retail price of $1,199, the SunburstĀ“s lower price created new demands. In 1980, the company expanded into larger facilities in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
Paul Hamer left Hamer USA in 1987. A year later, Hamer was acquired by the Kaman Music Corporation. In March of 1997, Hamer production was shifted to new facilities in New Hartford, Connecticut. The Hamer company was given their own workspace, re-installed their same machinery (moved in from Illinois), and they operate their own finishing booth.
The Hamer company was first to offer black chrome hardware and double locking tremolos (right from Floyd Rose's basement!) on production guitars. During the 1980s, customized Hamer guitars sported LED position markers, built-in wireless transmitters, custom colors, custom graphics (like snake or "dragon" skin).
In the early 2000s, Hamer introduced the XT Series line of guitars that are produced originally in Korea and now in China. These instruments are mostly inexpensive versions of Hamer USA models. Hamer also offers an entry-level series that are branded Slammer (see Slammer for more information). In late 2007, the Fender Musical Instrument Corporation (FMIC) acquired Kaman Music, which included Hamer. In 2008, Kaman Music changed the name of their company to KMC Music. In 2009, Hamer ceased standard production and began only offering custom orders. In 2010, Dantzig left Hamer and began designing and building guitars under his own name Dantzig Guitar Design. In February, 2013, FMIC announced that they were discontinuing the Hamer brand altogether. For more information, visit Hamer's website or contact them directly.

From Blue Book Publications:


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