Hamer, Prototype, 1981


Serial Number: 
1 4297
Humbucker and single-coil pickup
The Story Behind


About the Builder:

Hamer Guitars is a US manufacturer of electric guitars. Founded in 1973 by vintage guitar shop owners, Jol Dantzig and his business partner Paul Hamer. Early instruments featured guitar designs based on the Gibson Explorer and Flying V. Hamer Guitars is generally considered to be the first "boutique" electric guitar brand that specifically catered to pro musicians.

The company was incorporated in Illinois in 1976, and acquired by Kaman Music Corporation in 1988. Kaman has since been purchased by Fender Musical Instruments Corp (2008). Hamer offers a wide array of electric guitars andelectric basses, and, since its foundation placed an emphasis on producing high-quality instruments with vintage aesthetics as well as creative innovations.

The Hamer Prototype is an important guitar for Hamer enthusiasts. It represents the first completely original design Hamer to be put into full production. Earlier guitars had their origins in Gibson guitars of the fifties, albeit extensively redesigned by Hamer. The Standard was based on the Explorer but came with a bound flame-top to give the guitar a more opulent appearance. Both the Sunburst and Special were based on the double-cut Les Paul Junior, although again the design was heavily modified and has very little in common with the Gibson model other than the body shape. All these models came fitted with two DiMarzio PAF humbuckers, in keeping with the Gibson influence. Even the Eight-string bass of the late seventies shared the double cut body shape of the Sunburst and Special, with this instrument's design being somewhat influenced by the Hagstrom eight-string bass of the sixties.

The Prototype was launched at Madison Square Gardens late in 1980. The materials for the guitar were unremarkable, good quality Honduras mahogany for body and glued neck. The headstock shape was identical to the Sunburst and Special but the body shape was new, contoured back and front with unequal cutaways, although hardly radical. The Sunburst's sustain-block bridge with through-body stringing was the bridge option chosen (occasionally in black chrome, a new concept in 1980). A two-ply scratchplate (inscribed with the word PROTOTYPE) hides the neck joint, no neck pickup being fitted as on Hamer's other guitars.

It is hard to believe now but the Prototype was genuinely radical in 1980, including a humbucker and single-coil pickup on the same guitar. Musicians had customised their guitars to include both types of pickup and Fender had played with the idea on a few Telecasters but Hamer were the first company to design a guitar specifically to be a hybrid. Contemporary advertising for the Prototype made much of the new design triple coil pickup (sometimes wrongly nicknamed the Motherbucker) but this was in fact nothing more than a DiMarzio PAF (nearest the bridge) in the same mounting ring as a single-coil, again by DiMarzio. The three way switch gave you the Humbucker, both pickups or the single coil, although curiously the switch worked in opposite orientation to the pickup positions. A master volume and master tone control completed the electronics. The sounds available were described by Paul Hamer in an interview from 1982.

'It looks very simple with one pickup, one volume and tone control and a single toggle switch, but the sounds you can get are really quite incredible. The secret lies in the pickup which incorporates a single coil and a double coil, Humbucking type, so it's possible to get anthing from a sharp Stratocaster tone to a richer Les Paul sound with a good midrange Hamer sound in between. And it's only half the price of a new Strat.'. Andy Summers of the Police was an early Hamer endorsee, and he was credited with design input by Paul Hamer in the same interview.

More on: http://www.hamerfanclub.com/proto.html

About the Guitar:

This is a first year production guitar and is completely original. A roaring guitar!

If you have any questions, please contact us