1975 Hamer Logo

The Hamer Standard

by Andrew Large


Hamer Guitars grew out of a repair shop in Wilmette, Illinois called Northern Praire Music. It was run by the two founders of Hamer, Jol Dantzig and Paul Hamer, and specialised in repair, restoration and sale of vintage guitars.

The first 'Hamer' instrument built was a short-scale Vee-shaped bass, built by Jol Dantzig for himself ( click for a photo of Jol with the bass). But the first guitar to carry the Hamer name on the headstock was an Explorer shaped guitar made in 1974, originally to be Paul Hamer's personal instrument. The aim of this guitar was to recapture the spirit of the classic Gibson guitars of the fifties. It was fitted with vintage hardware including original Gibson PAF pickups and nickel-plated tune-o-matic bridge. It had a flame maple top which was finished in cherry sunburst, much like the Les Paul Standards of the late fifties. The choice of the Explorer shape was surprising given that Gibson themselves had made so few, most musicians would not have been familiar with the Explorer in 1974. This first Hamer guitar was numbered #0000 and can be seen in Rick Nielson's book. Notable design features on this first Hamer include angled machine heads and the controls in line with the neck.

There was a favourable response to this guitar and before long several professional guitarists were inquiring about the Hamer guitar. At this stage there were no plans to produce Hamer guitars in any quantity. In 1975 the founders of Hamer started to produce a few Hamer guitars and basses, mostly Explorer style instruments. By the end of 1975, a catalogue was printed announcing the Hamer guitar (later to be called the Standard). The exterior is shown below. The supply of old PAF pickups was running out so Hamer turned to Larry DiMarzio to supply them with suitable pickups, the DiMarzio PAF's used by Hamer for many years. Early literature included an introduction to Hamer company and to the DiMarzio PAF (see below).

Shown left is a very early magazine ad. from 1976 which mentions Dimarzio. Note that there are just three retailers for Hamer not including Northern Prairie Music which was where Hamer was based at the time.

1975 Leaflet
1975 Leaflet
The 1975 Leaflet for the Hamer Guitar. Hamer was based at Greenbay Road, Wilmette IL. at this time.

Description from the 1975 catalogue

The Hamer guitar is entirely handmade. The body is one piece of select British Honduras Mahogany, avilable with or without a twopiece "bookmatched" curly maple top. The neck is carved from the same choice mahogany and is reinforced with a carbon steel trussrod that is fully adjustable. The fingerboard is available in rosewood or ebony, with a variety of fret styles to choose from. 22 frets on a 24.75 inch scale. The electronics consist of two powerful humbucking type pickups, three position toggle switch, two volume, and one master tone controls. The finish is available in several different styles and colors; tobacco or cherry sunburst, natural wood grain, or opaque black or white. Custom colors are available on request.

We believe that by using the finest materials and construction methods we have created an insrument that is special for the serious musician.
It is set apart from mass produced instruments in design as well as construction. It feels right. It balances both visually and physically. The components, neck, and body design give the guitar a sound and a playability that is unappraochable.
The Hamer guitar does not rely upon its name or past triumphs for its appeal. With the instrument comes our pride of workmanship and our attention to detail. These guitars are not built to schedules, nor are they marketing compromises. They are simply the finest instruments we can build.

Paul Hamer

Fall, 1975

Hamer and DiMarzio

In the fall of 1975 the Hamer company was born out of a workshop with a long list of achievements, owned by Paul Hamer. Over the years his shop had handled every repair, restoration, and customizing operation imaginable, and was acquiring a reputation for flawless refinishing that attracted collectors from around the world.
This intimate knowledge of guitar construction coupled with their love of vintage instruments led to the construction of a Flying "V" type bass in 1973. The results were so impressive that a second instrument was commissioned. It was to be a two piece maple top, bookmatched, over a mahogany body and sunbursted exactly like a 1959 Les Paul. This instrument was fitted with hardware identical to the original, including the old pickups. It was to be Hamer's personal guitar and he put his name on the peghead.
Within months the instrument had caused such an uproar amongst Hamer's clientele that several noted professionals came to the shop to inquire into the possibility of acquiring such a guitar. These first prototypes were all different and allowed Hamer's craftsmen to experiment with subtle changes in neck angle, pickup and bridge placement, as well as eliminate potential problems one by one.
By the time the tenth guitar had been christened Hamer's crew realized that they were in the guitar making business full time.
At this point in 1975 Hamer and his fellow craftsmen became partners to the Hamer company, which was dedicated to making the finest instruments possible.
It was determined that a pickup far superior to anything available would have to be developed to approach the Hamer's unapproachable construction. The answer came from a new manufacturer in New York whose fantastic pickups were the talk of the industry, L. P. DiMarzio. Working from the requirements set up by Hamer, DiMarzio submitted several types of pickup designs. To find the ultimate sound, each pickup was placed in a separate guitar and tested against each other. The most likely candidates were loaned to professional players for evaluation.
The design finally selected was designated "PAF".

Many thanks to our friends who through their purchase have helped the development of our instruments
Rick Nielson
Boz Burrell
Mick Ralphs
Martin Turner
Ian Anderson
Martin Barre
Al Kooper

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