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The Hamer Prototype : Part Three

The Prototype is Reborn as the Phantom

It was somewhat inevitable that the Prototype, or a very similar guitar, would be made by Hamer again. In 1997 the Arlington Heights factory was closed, after seventeen years. Kaman, who had acquired Hamer in 1988, had made the decision to move Hamer production to Connecticut where Kaman itself is based. Jol Dantzig, one of the founders of Hamer, returned full-time to take charge of the new factory. Hamer U.S.A. would produce far fewer guitars than in the preceeding years, perhaps as few as five hundred a year. Most of the bolt-on neck designs would be deleted and Hamer would aim for the top end of the guitar market.

During 1997 the Prototype design was resurrected and a new run of these instruments would be ready for the 1998 Catalogue. As the design was no longer new the name Prototype was inappropriate and a new name sought. The name Phantom was chosen! Why? Hamer had already used this name on a previous model that had evolved to bear no relation to the Prototype (see the previous page) and will undoubtedly cause confusion to future collectors.

The new Phantom is not a slavish copy of the original Prototype but differs in several ways. The all mahogany construction is kept, as is the scratchplate and triple-coil pickup arrangement. The most significant change is the introduction of a stop-tail piece and tune-o-matic bridge rather than the sustain-block bridge with through-body stringing. The pickups are now by Seymour Duncan (who supplies most of Hamer's pickups now) but otherwise the standard model is easily recognisable as a Prototype.

In addition to the new Phantom, Hamer have also introduced a Custom version. This upgraded version has a flame-maple top, additional single-coil pickup on a tortoise-shell scratchplate and a rotary five-way switch for pickup selection.

I feel that most Hamer enthusiasts will welcome Hamer's return to some of their earliest designs. The reintroduction of the Standard began a process of celebrating their past, a process which is being continued by this new Prototype/Phantom model. The simple design of this model ensures that it is a timeless and practical instrument and is truly one of Hamer's classics. Snap up 1980s Prototypes now before they become collectible.

Taken from the 1998 catalogue and advertising, the Phantom (left) and Phantom Custom (right). (Click for full size images and descriptions)

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