Monday, March 23, 2009

Yes, quite Stellar indeed

She's a Hamer Stellar 1, probably 99/00 time frame, with a crimson hued burst to black with some great lines and carves. It's unique and will fight its way into rotation with my other Hamers- a China goldtop P90 and a Korean Standard. It's got two nicks on the front edges, a little rash and some bumps on the back, but overall, a great looking guitar. And it's a Hamer. You know it plays just fantastic- beefy neck, not heavy, balanced, and resonant.

I didn't quite realize it when I hit the "buy it now" button at $150 (delivered), but upon arrival today I realized that I must be rescuing this fine piece from what can only be considered guitar abuse. A friend selling for a friend, so the story goes; regardless it made it here, luckily in one piece. Here's what greeted me opening the rather large shipping container:

Umm, why is it only one third filled with packing peanuts? Thank you, UPS, for treating it with care or it could have been a disaster.

Scissoring through the mummy-wrapped bubble plastic, it let out a whiff. "Smoker," I warned Cheryl. This thing was grimy, slimy, with rusty strings and, for some reason, black magic marker on the back. One knob was missing, the other was hanging on at an angle that made me worry about the shaft of the pot, but not a problem- the knob was an oversized mis-fit and the shaft was fine, the pickup switch tip was nowhere to be seen. There was a huge chunk on the edge of the fretboard. Crap! No, wait, it came off. Dirt. Whew!

I was pleasantly surprised that it contained a genuine Seymour Duncan (TB 4, it turns out) bridge pickup and a no name "Patent Applied For" neck pickup.

I stripped it down and spent the next 2-3 hours clearing the grime, cleaning off the magic marker, polishing the body to an incredible luster (this thing glows, you know?), oiling the neck, graphiting the nut, restringing with 10s, adjusting the truss (the neck was like a canoe until I snugged it up- straightened right out), adjusting the action, and setting the intonation which was, no surprise here, waaaay off.

How can one do this to a beautiful guitar? It's neglect, I tell you! Criminal neglect! Come here, little Hamer, I've got a home for you.

Here's a "before" photo. Notice the overall haze on the body and all the gunk around the pickups:

Here's an after:

I waited until after all this cleaning and restringing to plug her in . I couldn't bring myself to even touch the strings it came with. Bloom-floom, beautiful music from the neck pickup. Swapped over to the old SD bridge pickup to see what she could do and phlaaat-spizz. Super thin and a ton of noise/hum...

Opened up the cavity and whoa! Spaghetti!

That ain't right. I followed leads, scratched my head, did a little research on basic wiring patterns for a 3 way switch with only one volume and one tone, scratched my head some more, looked up Seymour's advice, and identified what was likely the problem. The wrong leads from the bridge pickup were soldered to the wrong stub of the pickup selector switch. Five minutes with a soldering iron and fat as shat she's alive!

I'm having a blast here because I rescued a beauty of 24 fretter, dual hummer, oak/lacewood mystic lava lamp topped, fine Korean built Hamer for the princely sum of a buck-fifty and it's a keeper. Can you believe the character in this top? It changes in the light from different angles. Like I said, it's a lava lamp.

Here are some shots of it"




1 comment:

  1. When we were dating, you'd write poetry about me. Oh well, at least guitars feel less threatening than other women.