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Hamer Guitars is an American manufacturer of high quality guitars. Founded by guitar designer Jol Dantzig in the Chicagomarker area with his business partner Paul Hamer in 1973 and early instruments featured guitar designs created by Dantzig. Originating in the Chicagomarker area, Hamer Guitars is generally considered to be the first "boutique" electric guitar brand that specifically catered to pro musicians.

The company was acquired by Kaman Music Corporation in 1988. Hamer offers a wide array of electric guitars and electric bass, and, since its foundation placed an emphasis on producing high-end instruments with vintage aesthetics as well as creative innovations.

Hamer markets a semi-pro line of instruments called the "XT Series" and the entry-level brand Slammer by Hamer.

History

The first Hamer Guitar (a Flying V bass) was built by a vintage instrument shop owned by (designer) Jol Dantzig and his original business partner Paul Hamer (who served as sales manager) in Wilmette, Illinois called Northern Prairie Music. This 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 their instruments with small black and white ads in guitar magazines in 1974. By 1977 the company employed up to seven workers. Most of the work up to this 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 Bad Company, Wishbone Ash Jethro Tull and Savoy Brown. In order to appeal to a broader market, the first "production" Hamer called the "Sunburst" debuted in 1977. Production was reportedly set at around 10 guitars per week. During this time the company undoubtedly gained more popularity with the high profile patronage of Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen and the use of Hamer 8 and 12 string basses in their music.

1980 brought a move 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 left the company in 1987 in order to pursue a career in retail, leaving the company without a sales manager. Kaman Music was approached for sales and distribution as a result. Seizing the opportunity to expand into the high-end electric market, Kaman offered to purchase Hamer in 1988. During the 1990s a process of diversification at Hamer expanded the product offering into lower and lower price points which allowed other companies such as Paul Reed Smith Guitars to reap the benefits of Hamer's exit from the high-end of the market. This reportedly precipitated Dantzig's departure from the company in 1992.

As the mid-priced guitar market became saturated Hamer sought to return to its roots and regain its former brand identity. In 1997 the company relocated to a small shop in New Hartford, Connecticut. The top ten builders were relocated to New Hartford along with Dantzig, who was brought in as Technical Director.

Hamer then began concentrating on a core of high-quality designs targeted at the burgeoning upper-end and collector market. Production is currently set at 3 guitars per day by 10 builders.

In 2000 Hamer started selling a lower-priced lineup of imported guitars branded "XT" to supplement their brand. Under its parent company Kaman Music, Hamer was acquired by guitar giant Fender Musical Instruments on December 31st, 2007.

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