As stated on the previous page, Hamer introduced the Blitz guitar and bass in 1982. These were "stripped-down" versions of the Standard guitar and bass. They were much less expensive to produce and could be made in relatively larger numbers. This would have had an impact on the demand for the Standards resulting in far fewer being produced after the introduction of the Blitz models. The Blitz differed in many ways to the Standard, many of the modifications responding to changing tastes in guitars rather than as a result of cost savings. They also used the regular Hamer serial numbering system rather than having four-digit numbers as used on the Standards.
|A 1983 Blitz guitar with sustain block trem. and three-a-side headstock. The pearl white finish is called "Ice Pearl". |
Click for full size image.
Shown above is a typical 1983 Blitz guitar. The Standard's "hockey-stick" headstock was replaced by the regular Hamer "snake-head" headstock as used on the Sunburst, Special, Prototype, Vector and comtemporary Phantoms. The three-piece neck was made of mahogany with a rosewood fretboard and 22-frets. The traditional stop tail-piece and tune-o-matic bridge were lost in favour of either the Sustain Block bridge, again as used on the other contemporaneous models, or by the newly developed Sustain Block Tremolo (non-locking); "Hamerlock" locking machineheads were also commonly fitted. Wild finishes were common for the Blitz. The Blitz would not usually have binding and many had three-piece mahogany bodies under the opaque finish, a compromise unheard of for the Standard. The neck-body joint was not sculpted as with the Standard (see below). The electronics varied little from the Standard although the three-way toggle switch was moved from the lower horn to by the volume/tone controls reducing the need for additional routing and wiring. The black humbuckers were called Hamer "Slammers" although these were in fact still essentially DiMarzio PAF pickups.
|Shown left is one of a limited run of Blitz guitars with a bound maple top. These are easily distinguished from a Standard by the Sustain-block bridge, three-a-side headstock and basic neck joint (see below). Also, note that the three-way switch is by the other controls rather than in a separate cavity.|
|Shown are the back views of the body of an early Standard (top) and a Blitz guitar (bottom). |
Note that the Standard has a sculpted heel, two control cavities and an oval backplate (although these are triangular on later examples). The Blitz lacks the sculpted neck-body joint, has a triangular back-plate, only one control cavity and a cover for the trem. springs.
The Blitz itself soon began evolving. Kahler and Floyd-Rose locking tremolos were soon being utilised. The "snake-head" headstock gave way to the "hockey-stick" headstock late in 1984 but this was mush broader and less elegant when compared to a Standard's headstock (see below) and the logo usually used was much larger. Bell-shaped truss-rod covers were replaced by a much simpler style cover. Maple became the usual material for the necks rather than mahogany. In 1986 the number of frets was increased to twenty four necessitating the pickups being moved closer together, although otherwise the construction remained unchanged.
|Examples of Headstocks from several Hamer Explorer-style instruments (from top to bottom) :-|
1977 Standard with Grover machineheads and very small logo
1984 Standard with Schaller "mini" machines and small logo towards the end of the headstock
1995 Standard reissue with mid-headstock logo
1987 Blitz fitted with Floyd-Rose locking nut.
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Hamer built a further variation on the Explorer theme, the Scepter. With a sharply bevelled body and headstock, Floyd-Rose, boomerang inlays and ebony fretboard, it was a very "eighties" Heavy Rock oriented variation on the Explorer theme. This model was introduced in 1985 and was one of the first to feature Hamer's trademark boomerang inlays. Shown left is 1985 Scepter in red/black, with 22 frets. Later Scepters would have 24 frets.
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The Blitz and Scepter also suffered a decline in popularity and by the beginning of the 1990's had disappeared from Hamer price lists. Hamer were no longer offering a production Explorer-styled instrument, the first time since the beginning of the company. 1995 was the twentieth anniversary of the start of the Standard's production and it was an ideal time for Hamer to take the decision to reissue the Standard, again to be made in limited numbers. There were a few minor modifications such as a slightly altered headstock (see above) that was broader (although not quite the same as a Blitz headstock) with a different logo position. Seymour Duncan pickups were fitted, as with the Archtop series of guitars. The Standard had returned!
Shown left is a 1995 reissue Standard with dot inlays in '59 Burst. The Custom version had crown inlays and a bound neck.
Click for larger image
|In 1996, a limited edition of less than one hundred Korina Standards was built;
these were basically replicas of the original Gibson Explorer of 1958 with a white scratchplate and covered pickups, one even had a "split-vee" headstock such as seen on the rarest of Gibson fifties originals.
Tom Dumont of No Doubt was featured holding a Korina Standard in contemporary advertising (see left). However, one hundred Korina Standards is a significant number given that the total number of original Standards produced between 1975 and 1985 was less than four hundred!
A new basic model Standard was introduced in 1997 (Click to see the Standard page from the 1997 and 1998 catalogues), the same as the Korina Limited Edition but built entirely from mahogany.
Although always available as a custom order, the
Standard has now returned to its rightful place among
Hamer's current models. This will come as no surprise to
anyone who has seen the latest Hamer catalog, which
features vintage Rick Nielson photographs as well as
beautiful renditions of the 1995 model.
Truly the first Hamer instrument to gain international acceptance, the Standard was originally built by custom order for a handful of musicians beginning in 1974. The 1995 Standard reflects the same virtues as the original version, being hand-built in limited quantities to an even better level craftsmanship as the first examples! Starting with highest grade Honduran mahogany, the Standard's body is cut from a single two inch thick slab, which is then overlaid with a bookmatched veneer of ultimate grade figured maple. The entire body is then brought to a thickness of 1.75 inches to provide vibrational mass without being overly heavy.
The neck is carved from more of the same fine mahogany. First, three pieces are selected for grain direction and density then laminated together to form Hamer's famous "Stressed Neck System". This process of contrasting the grain direction makes each neck more rigid and resistant to twisting. The interactivity of the parts actually brings a heightened resonance to the neck, which benefits string response and natural sustain.
The neck is capped with a slab of 1/4 inch rosewood, and then carved to the classic Hamer shape. Dimensions are 1.68 inch at the nut, with a thickness taper of 0.85 inch at the first fret, to approximately 0.9 inch at the 12th fret. Twenty two frets are hand-laid into the fingerboard, which is curved to Hamer's comfortable and choke-free 14.5 inch radius. Each fret is individually set tight into the fingerboard then polished to provide smooth-bending, accurately intonating the instrument. The fretboard scale is 24.75 inch.
At the end of the strings, great attention is paid to the quality and operational efficiency of the components. At the headstock, the strings are guided across Hamer's exclusive lubritrak nut, which provides smooth tone, while its natural lubricity assures that the strings will never bind. Tuning is accomplished via Schaller's finest machines with a ratio of 12:1. A tune-o-matic style bridge and stop tailpiece are anchored to the body, and help create the classic sound of the Standard, as well as add an authentic vintage vibe to the instrument's appearance.
The neck and body are joined at the 19th fret with an oversize dovetail joint, which allows massive transfer of vibration, and makes the Standard one of the most responsive and "alive" guitars ever. Following the Hamer tradition, this flawless neck-to-body joint has 40% more contact area than the "tenon" type joints used on most other glue-in neck joints. The added area provides stability and sustain compared to mass-produced guitars. The Standard comes with pearl dot inlays or "crown" mother of pearl markers and ivoroid neck binding in the optional Custom version.
A pair of humbucking pickups by Seymour Duncan are used to deliver the big Standard sound to your amplifier's input. Keeping with the spirit of the first (and all) Hamer guitars, each pickup is tone-selected for its intended location. This practice of using different pickups for neck and bridge positions was first introduced by on the original Hamer Standard and makes the selection of available tones more varied, as well as optimizing each individual pickup sound. The bridge position pickup is a SH4 (Jeff Beck) model, which drives with a thick mid-range and shimmering, swirling highs. The neck pickup (in trademark black/white coil color) is based upon the original '59 humbucker design with a meaty tone that works well with clean and distorted settings. Controls for individual pickup volume are provided, along with the best tone control in the business. Hamer's eartuned tone control contour gives you an unmistakable palette of tonal shadings and never leaves you with mush. A trusty Switchcraft 3-way selector switch engages the pickups with the familiar tactile action of fine vintage instruments, while the output is a solidly mounted panel jack. The Standard's control cavity is meticulously wired and thoroughly shielded with metallic paint and covered with a grounded aluminium cover plate for complete RF shielding.
These fine instruments are offered in '59 burst. Natural or black finishes, each trimmed with grained ivoroid body binding.
Click for full size image
Rick Nielsen, Cheap Trick's innovative and influential
guitarist, made the Standard famous with his one-of-a-
kind checkerboard version. You'll dig the one piece
Honduras mahogany body, bookmatched figured maple top, 3-
piece stressed mahogany neck, oversized dovetail joint,
mother of pearl crown inlays and ivoroid binding. The
tone? It's exactly what you'd expect from one of the
finest guitars in the world : tone right down to the
bone. If you can't settle for anything less than the
one, the only, the Hamer Standard; hurry up and order one
today. Because we'll only make a very few of these
stunning beauties each year in order to keep in touch
with our past - and your future!
The Hamer Standard has proved to be a persistant model and is still in production. Many custom versions have been made with Floyd-Roses, unusual electronics and exotics finishes.
It appears that the Standard will persist for some time to come
Hamer Tone - vol. 1, no.2 (1992).
Hamer Tone - vol. 4, no.2 (1996).
Vintage Guitar Magazine - Hamer Guitars - A Conversation with Jol Dantzig by Dean Farley parts 1 and 2(Sept. 1996 (vol.9 no.12) and Oct. 1996 (vol.10 no.1))
Hamer catalogues from 1975 to 1998.
Guitars of the Stars Vol.1 - Rick Nielsen by Bill Rich and Rick Nielsen (1993)
Guitar Shop - Recent Relics - Early Hamer Guitars, parts I (Standard) and II (Sunburst) by Baker Rorick (1997) .