I’ve always had a soft spot for USA Hamer Guitars – It is such a pity they are no longer available, but at least a few tasty used models crop up for sale from time to time – As such I’m pleased that I can currently offer for sale this, used, 2006 Hamer Monaco 111 – Any keen Hamer fans might well question the Sherwood Forest Green Metallic finish – At this stage I wish I had taken a few pics of the Monaco 111 as it was when I purchased – It was originally a red/cherry finish, that in parts had been stripped back to natural – So my early thought pattern was do we take it all back to natural, touch up in red/cherry or look at other options – Via the Fretboard Guitar Forum, I had heard about some sterling work by a contact in South Wales – He examined the guitar for me, so after a few chats and deliberation I choose a total refin in Sherwood Forest Green Metallic – It looks so cool – The quality of the re-fin is awesome – I know how good an original Hamer finish was, so I knew this had to be a serious grade finish – Glad to report it is and glad I choose this as an option – It is certainly distinctive and in my opinion so cool – Complete with the deluxe Hamer TKL case
Hamer Guitars employed a small team of dedicated luthiers, who only built around 2 or 3 guitars a day, so no corporate company here – Attention to detail, selection of tones woods, the premium grade hardware, coupled with impeccable workmanship, all combined to produce breath taking guitars – Hamer choose to use the more expensive and highly desirable Honduras mahogany for the semi hollow body, along with a carved solid spruce top, incorporating two f-holes – Whole guitar weighs a very respectable 8lbs 7oz – The body, fingerboard and headstock are bound with ivoroid, which possess a fine grained pattern that is more akin to Ivory – As such it looks more classy than the plastic binding used by many other guitar makers – The mahogany neck has a 25.5″ scale length, fitted with a dark and smooth rosewood fingerboard, which is then embellished with a set of mother of pearl “victory” inlays, whilst mother of pearl is again chosen for the Hamer logo, on the black headstock facia – Hardware includes a set of Schaller tuners, Tone Pros tune-o-matic style bridge, along with a Bigsby tremelo – In the electrical department you’ll find a 5 way rotary switch, custom tapered volume and tone controls, along with 3 Seymour Duncan P90 single coil pickups – They neck pick-up measures 11.55K, whilst the middle + bridge kick out 14.5K – The full C neck profile is similar to that of the PRS wide/fat, or Gibson Les Paul 50’s style – So yes it has some meat on it, but not to the point of being overly chunky, so a comfortable feel is clearly evident – It measures .897″ around the top nut end, then gently fills out to .983″ around the 12th fret – Due to the quality of the fret work, highly polished and correctly profiled, a wonderful playing action is achieved, which can be fined tuned from an ultra low fast fluid action, or a more middle ground blues based action, whichever you prefer – I’ve re-strung the guitar with a set of 10’s to give it a slinky feel, but a thicker set of strings might work better with this style of guitar and further enhances the tone, so your shout
Tonal character :- I suppose on first appearance the guitar has a somewhat cool, retro rock’n’roll/rockabilly image about it, but rest assured the guitar is so versatile, that it will easily cover a varied selection of playing styles – On clean amp settings, the guitar can gravitate from the warm, smooth tones loved by jazz and blues players from the neck pickup – Select the bridge pick up for more of a full bodied twang, to acquire a voice that is often required by rock’n’roll or country players – So some retro flavour, but the central sustain block, as per a Gibson ES335, will ensure a greater level of natural sustain, without any squealing feedback issues – The tonal quality of a single coil P90 pickup, as fitted to the Monaco 111, can easily be described as a Strat pickup on steroids – You’ll hear all the clarity, sparkle and warmth associated with a Strat single coil pickup, yet the nature of a P90 ensures a fuller bodied tone, with greater output, therefore more oooomph!!!! when you need it – The 5 way switching duplicates that of a Strat, so the out of phase ‘quack’ tones can be found on positions 2 and 4 – Therefore the Monaco 111 can easily work in a SRV style blues environment, producing both clean or slightly overdriven tones, with plenty of natural sustain – Furthermore, the semi hollow nature of this guitar allows for clear crisp tones, loved by the indie/brit pop styles of bands, especially with crunch rhythm settings on your amp – That is not the end of it – Dial in loads of dirt on your amp and a Punk-esq, Green Day, raw unadulterated tone is possible from the bridge pickup, delivered with plenty of energy and definition – And whilst I suppose the guitar will not appeal to many out and out rock players, the guitar is more than capable of gravitating into the classic rock mode if required – Do not think of it as a jack of all trades, master of none, it’s just that with the versatile nature of todays amps, this guitar, like a good Strat, is capable of delivering the goods from Albatross through to ZZ Top – Make sure you utilise the volume pot to maximize the guitars potential – It will clean up overdriven amp settings as required, to add so much soul, expression and emotion to your playing – I suppose in many ways, Hamer built a guitar that combined attributes from a 335, a Strat with a hint of a Gretsch 6120 thrown in, yet it has the playability of say a modern PRS guitar – I just can’t remembering having so much fun with such a guitar for a long time and trying out some new licks – Just a pity that we can no longer buy new Hamer Guitars
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