This post concerns a bit of travel, and a bit of musical history.
Please indulge me as I relay a bit of information related to a small historic building in New Hartford CT.
I first became aware of Hamer Guitars in the early 90’s. Being a guitar player for most of my life, I always sought out information on smaller guitar makers based in the USA.
That brought me to Hamer Guitars.
At the time they were located in Chicago, and had a reputation as a boutique guitar maker for pro musicians.
You could order a hand-made guitar from them, without having to take out a second mortgage on the house.
Their clientele at the time included Kiss, Wishbone Ash, Jethro Tull, Bad Company, and Savoy Brown. Quite an elite group.
Their first “production” model appeared in 1977, called the Sunburst.
At that time, they also had Rick Neilson of Cheap Trick as a client, and word began to spread.
They began to sell a few guitars and created quite a following. In 1980, They moved to a larger manufacturing site in Arlington Heights IL.
Kaman Music purchased Hamer in 1988.
I purchased my first Hamer in 1994. It was called a model T-51. Similar to the Fender Telecaster, but far superior. I still have it to this day.
In 1997 Kaman Music relocated the company to a small shop in New Hartford Connecticut, home of Ovation Guitars.
I was fortunate to be able to tour the factory in New Hartford in 2002, meeting several of the craftsmen who worked there, building the guitars that musicians will play for a lifetime.
In 2007, Hamer was acquired by Fender Guitars, and began to manufacture Guild acoustic guitars and Fender acoustic guitars.
I purchased two Guild USA acoustic guitars in 2013, and they are wonderful instruments. They are handmade by true craftsmen.
During this time, while Guild USA guitars were being manufactured in New Hartford, they also had a less expensive line being produced in China.
I also purchased one of the China made guitars, and I have to admit that the quality was excellent. But not on a par with the USA guitars made in New Hartford.
Just recently, Fender Guitars announced that the New Hartford CT facility would close, and production will be relocated to another location in the USA.
I guess it is a sign of the times. People are looking for a bargain, and that creates a challenge for premier USA guitar manufacturers.
Let’s hope that the craftsmen employed at the New Hartford facility land on their feet and find jobs within the industry.
Their talents are too important to waste. They represent the best of American creation and design, and deserve to continue to earn their living crafting instruments for the rest of us who love music, and respect their talents.
I am not a true Hamer historian, so I may have missed a few facts. But you get the point.
There is a great book available written by some true Hamer followers, and if you are so inclined, here is the link to purchase the book. It is a great read.