When we took this guitar on consignment from a good client in Texas, my immediate thought was, "What can we compare it to?" I wasn't even aware that Hamer made a handmade, custom Jazz guitar and my exposure to them was always in the realm of pointy, Metal guitars that reminded me of those great 80's, but here this piece was, right in front of us. I wasn't intimidated at all and told Lee as we were driving back to Georgia, "I'm gonna put that Improv up against every Jazz box we have in the Elkcave to see just what it's made of. He ignored me as usual because the ramblings of a bass player just don't hold much water to a guitarist when it comes to the world of Jazz guitars.
When we returned from our Arlington trip, I set everything up as promised. We have a '56 tweed Deluxe that sounds like the voice of God, so I thought it would make a nice test amp. Trust me- it does. I pulled out three guitars; a 2001 ES-175, our 2002 Benedetto Johnny Smith Award and this 2006 Improv. I figured if this Improv could hold its own against these two Jazz titans, then it would earn its stripes honestly.
I set everything up and when Lee got to the Elkcave, I sat him down for the test. He usually doesn't have much patience for these types of things, but I insisted in a very strong and Napoleon- type manner, meaning I just wasn't going to let up until I heard this guitar in action. First was the 175 and there was no surprise there- it sounded like you all would expect and that test run was quickly over. A 175 sounds like a 175. Next was the Benedetto and Lee took his time on it because he happens to really like those particular guitars. Warm and woody- those Benedettos are real sleepers in our opinion and the Johnny Smith received nods of approval from us both. Now came this Improv. It is a smaller- bodied guitar, so it sits comfortably and is lightweight. In my mind, I thought it would be reminiscent of a 1-pickup ES-175, but as Lee began to play it, I began to lean over towards the Benedetto side. This Improv had a very smooth and woody tone- articulate from low to high and I think he really liked the 1.65" nut width. The more he played this guitar, the more impressed I became with it and it dawned on me that, just when you think a guitar maker has pigeon-holed himself into being known for a certain type of guitar, something like this appears and blows that theory all to bits. Yep, we were both nodding our heads when he finished with his Hamer and I now had my story for it.
This Improv is # 10 of the 25 made and was displayed at the 2006 NAMM show. There are currently three of these guitars on the market and I promise anyone who is considering one of these rare guitars- ours is in virtually unplayed condition and the most aggressively and reasonably priced of them all. It's a great opportunity to own a piece that we feel may never be produced by Hamer again so we encourage you all to call or email with any requests regarding this rare guitar. As always, we also thank you for stopping by Elkland, where you never quite know what you'll bump into...