Hey guys, it’s Brian here with World Music Supply again, to bring you another dose of gear and guitar reviews, and today I am pleased to bring you some more tasty treats from our good friends over at Hamer. As I’ve mentioned before, Hamer guitars was founded by three guys in Illinois during the early half of the 1970s, all united by their shared love of vintage instruments. They all worked to revive the craft of guitar making in a time when the art of making guitars had fallen to the lowest point it has ever been in electric guitar history. So for today’s review, I want to take some time and look at three finely crafted guitars all crafted with the same love for fine guitars that made Hamer so famous all those years ago.
First up on that list of finely crafted guitars is the SATP90-GT, which is a classic double cut design, with a vintage styled gold top body and two Hamer designed Soapbar style P-90s. The SATP90 has a lot of very vintage style to it, with a body that conjures up the classic double cut LP shape that is so iconic, but with a style and craftsmanship that can only come from Hamer. The body features a nicely carved maple top, which is always smooth and comfortable, and covered in that vintage gold top finish that is so endearing. All of that is mated to the Mahogany body, and that is fitted with a set mahogany neck which is just about the perfect size, not too big that it’s too hard to play lead, and not so thin that it’s uncomfortable to chord on.
Plugged in, this guitar has a sound that is about as vintage sounding as possible. The P-90 pickups have a plenty of bite to them, but never sacrificing the body that you would expect from a guitar like this. Clean this guitar has all of the sounds you expect out of a double P-90 guitar, with plenty of fat single coil tones, but with the added body and resonance of a maple topped mahogany body. The sparkle and jangle of the P-90s is always something that you really have to play to understand, as the added girth that a P-90 adds to that sparkle that you get from a single coil is really amazing. The neck pickup had a very acoustic sounding speaking voice as well, but with a slightly warmer tone than you would expect from say, a tele in the same position.
Running into a dirty amp however proves this to be a very different beast, suddenly this guitars real voice really starts to show itself, having the added body of a p-90, the chunk and power that you can drag out of this guitar is impressive to say the least. Suddenly I was able to get thick singing sustain, and big, bouncing rhythms, the added output of a P-90 really does wonders for an overdriven amp, as it just adds so many extra harmonics than a standard strat style single coil, or a typical humbucker. It’s because of this ability to do everything from the most sparkling of cleans, to the raunchiest distortion that the SATP90-GT earns a respectable 9 out of 10, simply because I know the vintage vibe won’t float everyone’s boat.
Next up on the block is the SFX2-BK, which is a variation on the double cut design just like the SATP90-GT was, except this time, they’ve replaced the standard maple topped mahogany body and mahogany neck, for a basswood body, and a maple neck. This does a lot to the tone of the instrument, first and foremost being, Basswood has a much different sound than mahogany with a much more focused midrange, with a softened high end response, and a much tighter bass response than its mahogany cousin. The maple neck, while sharing a similar shape to the SATP-90’s neck, has a vastly different tone. Maple imparts a snappy and almost twangy feeling to notes, while mahogany tends to have a much warmer, softer attack. Add to that the set of hot Hamer designed humbuckers and you start to get the picture that the SFX2 is a much more focused sounding guitar.
This becomes readily apparent when plugged into an amp. The SFX2 has a much dryer, more funky sound than the SATP-90, which had an almost acoustic tone. The tone of the SFX2 was more akin to what you assume an electric guitar will sound like clean, with very jazzy clean sounds, as opposed to acoustic sounding, which is actually pretty cool. The sound was warm, with just enough bite to really cut through the mix. The basswood really did lend something nice to the two Hamer humbuckers as they had a very modern sound, with plenty of snap and jangle, albeit with a very electric voice. The bridge pickup was nice and full without being overly bright, with just enough snap to really do what a bridge pickup needs to do, and the neck pickup was dark and jazzy, without being so dark that it becomes bland and droning.
Switching to a dirtier setting, the SFX2 suddenly had a very modern rock sound. Basswood has been a favorite for making super strat style guitars since the mid to late 80s as it adds a lot of mids, which Floyd Rose tremolos tend to lack, but on a guitar like this which is already rather mid heavy, the basswood gives it a lot of cut, and power without over doing it. This translated to rock tones that were clear, and present in the mix, without dominating the mix, which makes it great for rhythm guitar tracks, or leads that don’t need to be super in your face. The maple neck added a nice little twang to the sound, which was helpful at keeping the sound ever present in the mix, and keeping it from getting muddy. Overall the SFX2-Bk is a great guitar, with plenty of modern tones, and vintage style vibe, and it’s great for a guitarist who wants to keep one foot in the past, and one in the future, it’s for that do it all attitude that the SFX2-Bk gets itself a nice 9 out of 10.
Last up on today’s blog, is the STD-CS which is one of the shapes that made Hamer famous. The STD-CS is a stunning looking guitar, with its flamed maple top, mated to an alder body. Alder has a warm sound, with a deep, and tight low end, this makes for a really full sounding guitar when it’s mated to the maple top, and set maple neck. The combination of the sparkling highs that are added by the maple top, and the warm and distinct sound you get from alder is rather unusual, but it works for this guitar as the added density and mass of the body also create long, long sustain.
Plugging in the STD-CS, the raw power of this guitar immediately makes itself apparent. The clean tones, supplied by the duncan designed humbuckers, are big, and bold, as subtlety isn’t really this guitars forte. Chords are big, and in your face with a power that a clean guitar tone doesn’t tend to have, lead lines are glassy and smooth, and running through a few U2 tunes with this guitar was just awesome. The tones are all there, but this guitars strange combo of maple and alder result in a guitar that has sustain for days, on top of having a very distinct sound.
Playing through an overdriven channel however was a treat. This guitar has a fullness and body to its tone that is familiar and foreign at the same time, as the sound of alder and maple really is a little different than the standard mahogany and maple in a number of ways, especially when overdriven. While they have a similar speaking voice, the feel of the sustain, and the way the guitar articulates the midrange and low end is a lot tighter than normal, this resulted in far more punch in a mix, which is always nice to have. The guitar was a joy to play, and the neck was that same near perfect shape, making shredding simple, and chords comfortable. The STD-CS is a gem of a guitar, with tones from the cleanest of shimmering cleans, and distorted barks that can run with even the biggest of names, and its for that power that this guitar gets a solid 10 out of 10.