Hamer Tone newsletter
The Hamer Tone newsletters were published by Hamer Guitars between 1992 and 1996. Four volumes were published, each with three numbers, for a total of 12 total issues. All of the newsletters are 8 pages in length and include interviews with artists who play Hamer guitars, updates on concert tours and recording sessions, photos, details of construction techniques, and product information.
Reprinted with permission of Jol Dantzig
Volume 1, Number 1, 1992
The premiere issue of Hamer Tone included a header outlined in blue. The header was redesigned for subsequent issues with the Hamer logo larger and the outlining in red.
A photo of Jol Dantzig holding the “Elvis” B12A 12-string bass is included, with the note about Hamer’s innovations in guitar building that states, “Not to be overlooked was their invention of the 12-string bass and a 36-fret guitar that spanned five octaves.”
The Artist Action section includes three entries that include the 12:
“Damn Yankees are in the studio in Hollywood to record the follow-up to their multi-platinum debut. Jack Blades says he will be using a Hamer 12-string bass for the album.”
“The new King’s X CD features amazing 12-string bass sounds from Doug Pinnick. They should be touring by the summer, and Doug will be armed with 4, 8, and 12-string Hamer basses.”
“Enuff Z’Nuff is back in the studio after a signing a new deal with Arista. Chip Z’Nuff is working out his bottom-end with his numerous 12-string basses which have become his trademark.”
Volume 1, Number 2, 1992
There are two great 12-string bass features in this edition. You can read “A Sleeping Giant Awakens” in its entirety in the Articles section.
The second feature is an interview with Richie Zito, producer of Cheap Trick’s Lap of Luxury album. Also in the Articles section.
The Artist Action section includes: “AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams has ordered his second 12-string bass, to be delivered in time for the band’s rehearsals. This should be interesting!”
“If you caught King’s X on tour recently you were not only treated to the monster tones Doug Pinnick creates with his Hamers, but the opening act, Galactic Cowboys, featured Hamer 8- and 12-strings as well. Bassist Monty Colvin has been a Hamer devotee for several years, and has developed an original technique and style that really shows off the potential of Hamer’s unique basses.”
Volume 1, Number 3, 1993
An extensive interview with Pearl jam bassist Jeff Ament is the cover story, it can be read in its entirety in the Articles section.
This entry is in the Artist Action section: “Matthew Sweet is touring in support of his ‘Girlfriend’ album and, in addition to his Special model, while in Chicago, he picked up a 12-string bass. Bassist Brad Goode immediately employed it in the band’s set.”
A photo of Doug Pinnick of King’s X shows him checking out his new left-handed B12L 12-string bass. He used that bass on stage for many years.
Volume 2, Number 1, 1993
Several entries in the Artist Action section refer to the 12-string bass:
“Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony purchased a long-scale 12-string bass from Hamer’s North Hollywood dealer Make’n Music, just in time for the band’s European tour.”
“Queensryche bassist Eddie Jackson recently purchased a Hamer 12-string bass from Seattle, WA dealer American Music.”
“The newly released Curtis Mayfield tribute album entitled ‘People Get Ready’ features Jonathan Sanborn playing the title cut’s melody on a Hamer 12-string bass, along with his father David Sanborn on sax.”
Volume 2, Number 2, 1993
In his interview, Doug Pinnick recounts, “Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick was a big hero of mine because he was so primal and had such an aggressive sound. I really loved the way he played. In fact, to this day I still do this thing that I got from him. I recorded a live studio jam of theirs in Chicago. When they came on to play, I turned my tape player on and all of a sudden I heard this ‘chucka chucka’ on the bass and I’ve been doing that ever since. I walk on stage and I do it. It never fails. Even in the studio, if you listen to our takes before Jerry clicks us on to start playing, I’ll always do that. It’s just a habit.”
In the Artist Action section there is this note: “Everybody loves a winner, and that goes quadruple for Pearl Jam who walked away with a bushel full of MTV video awards, including Video of the Year. Our congratulations, and thanks to Jeff Ament for bringing the sound of the 12-string bass (Jeremy) into the ‘90’s.”
Volume 2, Number 3, 1994
Brett Eliason, the front of house sound engineer for Pearl jam’s live concerts, is asked, “How do you deal with the 12-string bass? It certainly covers a lot of sonic area.”
His response was, “Yeah it does. That’s a weird guitar to have to deal with, right off the bat. But once you get used to it… In the beginning and ending of ‘Jeremy’ it’s real chorusy, not much bottom end - a real chimey kind of sound. You always need to keep that high-end texture in there, whereas most of his bass sounds are not real high-endy, and I usually roll off some of the high-end and high-mids to keep the frettyness and string buzz out of there.”
Eliason continues, “The 12-string bass takes a completely different approach. You have to have that tone in there. It’s part of the whole 12=string theory. Get that natural string chorusy sound, while keeping the bottom end in there.”
This issue also includes a new product profile for the B12L 12-string bass. While this 12 had been available as a special order for several years, it wasn’t until 1994 that it became part of the standard product line. An additional photo of the B12L is included on the last page of the newsletter.
Volume 3, Number 1, 1994
In his “It’s in the Details” column, Jol Dantzig writes, “In 1978, Hamer created the world’s first 12-string bass for Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick. It was a logical evolution of the 8-string concept. However, the wiring was revolutionary. Each group of three strings had its own pickup, preamp, EQ, and output. Soon after, an 8-string electric Mandocello was delivered to Rick Nielsen. Both instruments were examples of Hamer’s penchant for modernizing traditional concepts.”
Volume 3, Number 2, 1994
In the interview with guitarist Dweezil Zappa, he is asked what turned him on to the 12-string bass. He answered, “I played it for two seconds and I said, ‘I think I can do something with this’. In fact, I’ve written a song called ‘Pure’ completely around the 12-string bass. It’s almost like Metallica or something. I played it with a pick, so it would make the biggest amount of noise. When we just sit in a room and play that song - it’s so huge. I’m playing it full-on distorted through a 5150. It’s somewhere in between a Zeppelin song and a Metallica song. It’s ultra heavy, but it’s still got good definition to what’s going on.”
Volume 4, Number 1, 1995
The Artist Action section includes:
“Will Lee has been kicking out some 12-string bass jams on Letterman’s show lately. After all, if you’re going to cover Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’ you’ve got to have the right tools. Lee’s big twelve is the ‘Acoustic’ (B12A) model, which he received earlier this year.”
Volume 4, Number 2, 1996
The Artist Action section includes:
“It’s been 100% fun for Matthew Sweet since he bought his new Hamer Eclipse. No stranger to the famous Hamer frets, Sweet is touring with his collection of Hamers which includes a Duo-Tone, an Eclipse 12-string, an Archtop Artist and a 12-string bass.”
“Voted Nashville’s studio musician of the year, Michael Rhodes is a veteran on stage as well, touring with major acts such as Steve Winwood. Michael has added a Chaparral 8-string bass to his collection in order to expand his tonal choices into new areas.”
Volume 4, Number 3, 1996
Editor’s note: The issue that isn’t included here, Vol 3 No 3, does not include any 12-string bass content.