Hamer Guitars logo and guitars
(Salon de la Musique et du Son 2008)
|Headquarters||Arlington Heights, Illinois|
|Paul Hamer, Jol Dantzig and John Montgomery|
Hamer Guitars was an American manufacturer of electric guitars founded in 1973, in Wilmette, Illinois, by vintage guitar shop owners Paul Hamer, Jol Dantzig James Walker and John Montgomery. The company's early instruments featured guitar designs based on the Gibson Explorer (The Standard) and Gibson Flying V (Vector), before adding more traditional Gibson-inspired designs such as the Sunburst. Hamer Guitars is generally considered the first "boutique" electric guitar brand that specifically catered to professional musicians, and was one of the first guitar manufacturers to produce a 12 string bass guitar.
The company was incorporated in Illinois in 1976 by Montgomery, Dantzig, James Walker and Hamer. It was acquired by Kaman Music Corporation in 1988, which was purchased in turn by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in 2008. Hamer offered a wide array of electric guitars and electric basses, and, since its foundation placed an emphasis on producing high-quality instruments with vintage aesthetics as well as creative innovations.
Kaman marketed a lower-priced line of Asian-built instruments called the Hamer XT Series and Slammer by Hamer,, which was discontinued in 2009.
In February 2013 Fender announced that the Hamer brand was being discontinued after 40 years of production.
The first Hamer guitar, a Flying V bass, was built at Northern Prairie Music, a vintage instrument shop in Wilmette, Illinois, owned by Hamer and Dantzig. The shop catered to musicians who were interested in high-quality instruments. This first instrument served as the basis for a new company called Hamer Guitars. 
Hamer began publicizing its instruments in 1974, with small black-and-white ads in guitar magazines. Hamer Guitars Inc. was incorporated in Illinois in 1976 by Montgomery, Dantzig, Hamer and Walker. By 1977 the company employed up to seven workers. Most of the work up to that point had been one-off custom variations on the original "Standard" and "Flying V" guitars. During this period Hamer's customers were limited to big-name touring groups such as Kiss, Bad Company, Wishbone Ash, Jethro Tull and Savoy Brown. In the late 1970s to the mid-1980s Def Leppard used Hamer guitars and basses.
To appeal to a broader market, Hamer introduced its first production guitar, the Sunburst, 1977. Production was reportedly around 10 guitars per week. During that time, the company gained popularity due to the high-profile patronage of Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen and that group's use of Hamer eight- and 12-string basses. In 1978 Frank Untermyer joined the company as a partner and international sales manager as part of Hamer's attempted to expand its business worldwide.
In 1980, Hamer moved to larger quarters in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago. The staff had grown to 12 and Hamer Guitars continued to launch new models, such as the "Special, "Cruisebass, "Prototype, "Blitz" and "Phantom". Hamer, the company's president, left in 1987 to pursue a career in retail. Kaman Music was then approached to handle sales, while the remaining owners concentrated on manufacturing. Kaman Music agreed to purchase Hamer in late 1988.
After five years with Kaman, Dantzig left the company in 1993, moving to California to begin a design and consulting business.
In 1997 Kaman Music relocated Hamer to a small shop in New Hartford, Connecticut, home of Ovation Guitars. Ten of the top builders were relocated to New Hartford along with Dantzig, who was re-hired as technical director. Untermyer had the dual role of general manager of both Hamer and Ovation. Hamer then began concentrating on a core of high-quality designs targeted at the high-end and collector market. Brand Manager Frank Rindone assumed all marketing, advertising and sales responsibilities. Along with its parent company Kaman Music, Hamer was acquired by guitar giant Fender Musical Instruments on December 31, 2007.
Paul Hamer lives in Chicago, where he operates a retail framing business. Dantzig left Fender in 2010 to build instruments under the Jol Dantzig Guitar Design name. Untermyer left the company in 2012 and now oversees the global supply chain of guitar manufacturer C. F. Martin & Company.
- Steve Matthes, Joe Moffett (2013). The Ultimate Hamer Guitars: An Illustrated History. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7643-4352-0.
- Zachary R. Fjestad (ed.). Hamer Electric Guitar Values. Blue Book of guitar Values. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
- "Fender closes Hamer. Are more to follow?" by Ronnie Dungan, 28 Dec 2012
- "FMIC Suspends Hamer Production" on Premier Guitars website, 9 Jan 2013
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