Guitar Lust: Hamer USA Chaparral (beater/modified)

Hamer USA guitars are all awesome.

One of the best things about Hamer USA guitars is that you can pretty much depend on getting a great-sounding, great-playing guitar that is solid and durable.  Beat the hell out of a Hamer USA guitar, and you just get “mojo” (that indefinable *it* that seems almost as if the Spirits of the Guitar Hero Pantheon have blessed the guitar).

I’m sure there are some Hamer USA guitars that fell apart under heavy use.  I’m sure there are a few Hamer USA guitars that were ruined from time, use, and the elements.

But I haven’t encountered one yet.

Case in point: the guitar in the pictures below (click to embiggen).

I picked up this guitar for $400 when I was in my Hamer Acquisition stage.  It was clearly advertised as a beater, and some of its problems are obvious at first glance: wear, scalloped fretboard, missing dot inlays, replaced bridge saddles of mis-matched color.

But I was willing to spend $400 because it was a set-neck Hamer USA Chaparral. Set-neck shredders aren’t exactly commonplace.  And the pickup switching options also seemed to promise good sonic flexibility.

I was also a little intrigued by the idea of a scalloped fretboard.

This was a gamble, because $400 can get you some decent mid-level guitars.  You could get a Hamer Slammer Series guitar, upgrade the pickups and electronics, and still have a good $50-%100 left over.

But this guitar was worth it.  It sustains for days.  The frets are silky smooth, and bends glide as if on melted butter.  The tone is rich and full and thick (although not as thick as the Centaura Deluxe w/ EMGs).  I’ve got other Hamer guitars, even other Hamer USA shredders, but this one has a tone all its own.

Interestingly, I don’t really notice the scallops.  It doesn’t seem to help me play faster, or more cleanly…at least, not that I can tell.  But it also doesn’t detract in any way, shape, or form. It may be that I have to be a better guitarist for it to really make that much of a difference.

In any case, this is a great guitar.  I recently asked my compatriots on the Hamer Fan Club Message Board if I should consider refurbishing it.  After all, just about the only thing better than a great-playing, beat-up Hamer USA set-neck Chaparral is a new-looking, great-playing Hamer USA set-neck Chaparral.

But the overwhelming consensus was: why mess with it?  If it plays great, play it.

Good advice, my friends.  Very good advice.  This guitar will not be refurbished until/unless it needs a refresh to maintain its excellent tone, ergonomics, and stability.

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Now I just gotta think of a name for her.

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