Hamer, Sunburst Archtop Custom, 1991 – played by Slash during concerts in 1991


Sunburst Archtop Custom
Serial Number: 
5A Flame Maple
Humbucking Pickups
The Story Behind



About the Guitar:

The first production model produced by Hamer (in 1975) was the explorer-shaped Standard (originally called just the Hamer Guitar). This was an expensive hand-made instrument made of mahogany with a bound flame maple top which was made in limited numbers. By 1977 Hamer wished to incorporate many of the features of the Standard in a more affordable guitar that was within the reach of the ordinary musician and not just for professionals. Therefore the double cut-away Sunburst was conceived. Jol Dantzig estimates that until the introduction of the Sunburst, Hamer had only made about seventy-five guitars in total, about fifty of these being Standards.

The Sunburst was constructed in the same way as the Standard with a single-piece mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The single-piece mahogany body had a bound curly maple overlay although the top was a single piece of maple and not book-matched in the same way as Standard. The stop-tail piece and tune-o-matic bridge were dispensed with in favor of an almost Fender style fixed bridge raised up on a wooden shim which allowed through body stringing. Originally the guitar was to be available only in cherry sunburst finish with the choice of a bound neck with crown inlays or unbound with dot inlays. Two different calibrated (to Hamer specs.) DiMarzio PAF pickups were fitted - a creme bridge and a zebra neck. A three-way pickup selector switch, two separate volumes and a master tone completed the electronics.

The first four prototype Sunbursts were built in time to be shown at the June 1977 NAMM Show and carried no serial number. One of them can be seen in Rick Nielson's book "Guitars of the Stars". The first "production" Sunburst (7 0001) has recently been on show at the Smithsonian (see the link to Jol Dantzig's Page). The Sunbursts had a numbering system that was separate from Standards and custom-order instruments and was inked rather than stamped on the rear of the headstock. The first digit represents the year of manufacture and the second four digits are the total number of guitars produced. The introduction of a "production" Hamer to be made in relatively large quantities meant their relocation to a larger workshop in Palatine, Illinois.

The Sunburst guitar was refined following its introduction and a number of details changed. A 1977 or early 1978 Sunburst is different in many respects to the later guitars. There were also many custom versions of the Sunburst.

Description from the 1990 catalogue:

Designed as a "modern vintage" instrument a decade ago, increasing demand has spawned the reissue of this working musician's axe. The classic look, feel and sweet sustain of the Sunburst model is available, correct in every important construction detail. In addition to the original Sustain Block Bridge, the Sunburst is now available with Hamer's modern locking tremolo. When the tremolo version is ordered, the mahogany neck is replaced by maple for added strength. The one-piece mahogany body is visually enhanced with a figured maple overlay and bound with grained ivoroid. Two specially calibrated Seymour Duncan humbuckers are fitted each with its own volume control. Additional controls include a three way toggle switch for pickup selection and a master tone contour. The non-tremolo version employs Hamer's famous Lubritrak nut, formed of a material whose lubricity exceeds that of graphite. The Sunburst is also available in either Standard or Custom configuration.

This guitar was built early in 1991 to lure Slash away from Gibson as an endorser. He took delivery of the guitar in April, Frank Untermyer and Jol were invited to the start of the "Use Your Illusion" tour. They watched soundcheck from stage-side and Slash was using the guitar...according to legend, he then did the show but did not use the Hamer. At the end of the show Frank walked up, took it off the stand put it in the case and took it home. It was a 1991 Sunburst Archtop Custom...it had the most exquisite flame top ever seen with a gorgeous color, a wide/shallow neck like a shredder. It also sported some lacquer cracks around the heel joint from Slash doing "dive bombs" by grabbing the headstock, and it still had the duct tape residue around the input where the cord was taped in.

Anyhow, this is a great guitar not only from the look but it has also an imposing sound.

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