I talked about missing my premium (USA made) guitars here.
clickable thumbnails of the stable here.
Now it is time to talk about the imports. They aren’t really the B team, because there are two guitars I love to death and can’t imagine selling, and two guitars that I like for specific reasons, even if I don’t love them. Yet. Because I love guitars, and I love each of their individual idiosyncrasies.
Hamer XT Amberburst SATF
This is a wonderful, beautiful guitar. It has nice tiger striping and
an excellently-done burst paint job.
A little digression, if I may: Those who have been reading this blog for
a while know how I found Hamer. A Korean-made Hamer Stellar 1 (from the
era when the import Hamers could be identified by a headstock with only
“Hamer” on it…no “USA” or “Slammer Series” in smaller letters) stood
out in a pawn shop, I bought it for $200, and fell in love with its
appearance and sound. That led to me buying a number of other import
Hamer guitars, because they looked nice and at that time I couldn’t talk
myself into paying $600-1000 for any guitar to keep, no matter how good.
I did buy a Hamer USA Studio and a Hamer USA Artist for the purpose of
re-selling them for a profit…I made about $300 between the two. Among
the guitars I sold were the first Korean import Hamer Stellar 1, a
Slammer by Hamer import Centaura, and a Hamer XT SATF in tobacco burst.
This SATF (Sunburst Arch Top Flame) may not have wood as high quality as
a Hamer USA Studio. It may not have pickups as expensive/high quality
as a Hamer USA Studio. But it sounds and feels and looks so good that I
couldn’t justify even to myself keeping the Stellar 1 for nostalgic
reasons. It sounded just that little bit better, looked just that
little bit nicer. And it is so good that I have had zero GAS
(guitar/gear acquisition syndrome, also known as “guitar lust”) for a
Hamer USA Studio at all.
It has the warm, full, fat humbucker sound that you expect when you
think of ZZ Top, Santana, Neal Schon rather than the raspy, edgy
humbucker sound you get from shredder/metal guitars. Yeah, yeah, I know
those different sounds can be achieved with the same pickups in the same
guitar if you use the right settings…but there is a difference in my
mind, at least, and this guitar just feels like a blues-rock
guitar rather than metal guitar. Well worth the $180 I spent for it,
since it is 80-90% as good as a Studio, but less than 25% the price.
I can’t see myself ever selling this guitar.
Hamer Slammer Series Transparent Red Californian
This is an amazing guitar. This was the first guitar I’ve ever owned
with a trem that stays in tune (all of the trems on the premium guitars
in the earlier post stay in tune). When I pulled it out of the shipping
box, I couldn’t believe the quality was so high. The fretboard edge is
so smooth. The finish is so rich- and deep-looking. It has a really
nice sound, probably closer to the ZZ Top growl than the 80s rock rasp,
which could make for interesting uses. I haven’t played it much because
the first time I played it, the high E string broke, and I’ve never
changed strings on a locking trem before. And I know if you switch
string gauges you have to re-set up/intonate the guitar. So I’ll have to
be careful to use the same gauge strings, I guess. If so, it seems
straightforward enough to change the strings, the only annoyance being
cutting off the ball-end of the strings. It’s a really light guitar.
After buying the Hamer USA Diablo (with the same color finish, by the
way), I was struck by how similar the guitars are. The main differences
are that the Californian has the slanted fretboard edge giving you as
many as 27 frets, and its neck pickup is a single coil. The Diablo has
a regular 24-fret fretboard, a double coil in the neck position, and the
pickups are higher quality, of course. I haven’t played them right
after each other to determine how close the import Californian comes to
the Diablo in sound quality. I can’t imagine selling this guitar,
either. It is really awesome, and worth the $300 I paid for it.
Hamer (Korean) Black Californian Deluxe
Although I had the Slammer Series Californian, and even though this
import Hamer is generally lower quality than the Slammer Series imports,
I couldn’t resist getting this guitar because it has the special
boomerang inlays (“boomers”). I want a Hamer USA Californian, but I am
not willing to spend the $1800 that is probably required to buy one.
One with the “boomers” would be even more expensive. And Hamer USA
Centauras and Diablos with “boomers” are also more expensive than those
without, and rare/expensive enough that I haven’t had a chance at
winning the bid for one on eBay. So when I saw this one for a fairly
cheap price (I got it for less than $180) on eBay, I couldn’t resist.
It is in good shape. It has a bound fretboard, which I’ve never really
been a big fan of, but it didn’t stop me, either. Plain black is kind
of “blah.” The action seems fine/low, the sound is good, and the trem
seems to stay in tune. I haven’t played it enough to fall in love with
it yet. If it turns out to be significantly less fun to play than the
Slammer Series Cali, I could see myself selling it and resigning myself
to not having a Hamer w/ boomers.
Hamer XT Series Red Californian CX2
I bought this guitar because it was a guitar, an amp, and shipping
included for just $100. How can you pass that up? It has a blah red
finish, and a fairly big chunk of wood/paint taken out of it. On the
other hand, it has a great sound, is one of only 2 guitars with a maple
fretboard (which I’m slowly deciding I like better than rosewood), has
impressive sound (like the XT SATF), and perhaps most importantly, it is
my only fixed bridge 24-fret guitar. I like shredders….no, scratch
that: I love shredder guitars, but I have to admit that having played
for 18+ years without decent trems mean that I don’t really know how to
use them effectively. It’s a really good guitar, especially for the
price, but I did buy it to sell it. Since after I get back from this
deployment I’m considering getting a Jon Kammerer guitar with a fixed
bridge and a slanted/extended fretboard similar to the Californian, this
guitar may end up getting sold at some point. I like it, but it hasn’t
fully captured my heart yet. On the other hand, the Jon Kammerer guitar
has 3 single coils, and I’m a double-coil guy for the most part, so I
will keep this guitar as long as it continues to occupy a unique spot in