If you’ve been a follower of Steve Clark throughout his career, you will be aware that he had some connections with Hamer guitars right from the early days when the band was starting out all the way up to the Hysteria World Tour and beyond. The most popular Hamer models that Steve was photographed with were in the early 80’s and were the Hamer Standard and Hamer Special respectively. Click here for more information on those guitars. But here below are a couple of rarer-seen Hamer instruments that Clark owned…
Jol Dantzig was the Founder of Hamer Guitars and a fantastic guitar designer. He no longer works with Hamer today but he still designs and builds fine custom guitars.
It was Mr Dantzig who kindly provided me with most of the information about the guitars referred to on this page.
The guitar here to the left is a customized Hamer FB model. You will note that it bears a striking resemblance to Gibson’s Firebird reverse model and I initially thought that it was a Gibson when I first saw images of this guitar. Until I saw a photo where the name on the headstock could be clearly read, I was convinced this was a custom spec Gibson model.
A standard factory spec Hamer FBI or FBII guitar would come with either 1 or 2 humbucker (either OLB or Hamer) pick-ups. A body made from mahogany, 24-fret, glued in neck, ebony or rosewood fretboard with boomerang or dot inlays and steeply angled pegheads. The trem versions usually were fitted with a Floyd Rose unit. (see Hamer Fan Club.com).
The original FB Series ran from 1986 – 1987.
Here is what Jol Dantzig said to me about Steve’s FB guitar:
“The FB style guitar would have been based upon the FBIV model, with the addition of a middle pick-up. Looks like a very standard ebony fingerboard/pearl block treatment that mimics Steve’s Les Pauls. The Tremolo is a Kahler.”
It’s possible that Steve may have had selected specific pick-ups for this guitar as well, perhaps choosing a high-output bridge pick-up in the same vein as his Les Pauls or his custom-built red Gibson Firebird. I’m just not sure exactly what ones he had in this guitar.
THE PHANTOM DOUBLENECK MODEL:
This 18-string double-neck Hamer guitar is a one-of-a-kind custom model. I’ve never seen Steve pictured with this guitar live anywhere and so I assume that this was a guitar that he used in the studio only as pictured here at Wisseloord Studios in Amsterdam. This photo would’ve been taken during the Hysteria studio sessions and this guitar perhaps gave Steve a specific type of sound for certain pieces of music.
There’s not any information out there on one-of-a-kind models so again the information I have on this guitar comes from Jol Dantzig.
He says: “That’s a Phantom model doubleneck. It would have been a custo order, and normally has two pick-ups per neck. This guitar looks identical to one that was shown at a trade show except two of the pick-ups are missing – possibly the same one, covered up by a new pick guard. The controls are laid out for four pick-ups: Volume, Volume, Tone and 3-way selector for each pair. The third switch up higher and visible in the second photo (see below), although slightly blurred is for selecting one neck or the other.”
About Steve and his band, Jol Dantzig said:
“Steve was a very humble and nice guy, a joy to work with – as are the other guys in the band. I ran into them first when they were playing Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom as an opening act. They were keen to get some guitars so we started up a relationship. Whenever I went backstage to see them on tour, I was greeted like family. The entire band did a tour of our shop in Arlington Heights and it was a great boost for everyone, band and employees.”
THE TLE CUSTOM:
This is the only photo (copyright: Ross Halfin) I’ve ever seen of Steve with a Hamer TLE Custom. It’s style is modeled on the Fender Telecaster but sound-wise I believe they are quite different. The TLE was made from 1986 to 1992 and features a single-cutaway mahogany body with maple top. Custom models had binding around the body and came with ebony fingerboards and boomerang inlays. It features 24 frets on a glued-in neck and a boomerang-style angled headstock.with Grover tuners. Floyd Rose tremolo system and a Humbucker bridge pick-up and two single coil pick-ups. The pick-ups were usually either Hamer Slammer’s or OBL’s.
THE CALIFORNIAN ELITE:
And as with the TLE this photo on the left is the only photo I have ever seen of Steve with a Hamer Californian Elite. And in pink. A little unusual for Steve but typically late 80’s. The Californian was indeed the strat-style guitar. They would have either a mahogany or maple contoured body with scalloped offset double-cutaways and a bolt on maple neck. It has 27 frets on an ebony fingerboard with the boomerang inlays and a pointed boomerang-style headstock, again with the Grover tuners. The Elites were fitted with a high-output pick-up (OBL, Seymour Duncan or EMG) and a Floyd Rose Tremolo system.
WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO JOL DANTZIG FOR HIS INFORMATION AND TIME. CHECK OUT JOL on Facebook: www.facebook.com/guitardesigner