What follows is an edited excerpt from "The Ultimate" written by Andrew Large.
The first production model produced by Hamer in 1975 was the explorer-shaped Standard. This was an expensive hand-made instrument made of mahogany with a bound flame maple top which was made in limited numbers.
By 1977 Hamer wished to incorporate many of the features of the Standard in a more affordable guitar that was within the reach of the ordinary musician and not just for professionals. Therefore the double cut-away Sunburst was conceived. Jol Dantzig estimates that until the introduction of the Sunburst, Hamer had only made about seventy-five guitars in total, about fifty of these being Standards.
The Sunburst was constructed in the same way as the Standard with a single-piece mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The single-piece mahogany body had a bound curly maple overlay although the top was a single piece of maple and not book-matched in the same way as Standard. The stop-tail piece and tune-o-matic bridge were dispensed with in favour of an almost Fender style fixed bridge raised up on a wooden shim which allowed through body stringing.
Two different calibrated (to Hamer specs.) DiMarzio PAF pickups were fitted - a creme bridge and a zebra neck. A three-way pickup selector switch, two separate volumes and a master tone completed the electronics.
1980 was a significant year for Hamer. A new model called the Special had been introduced at the end of 1979. This was basically a "dot" Sunburst without the body binding and these guitars were numbered by the same system as the Sunbursts.
It is hard to estimate numbers but fewer Sunbursts were built in 1980 compared to 1979 as the Special was being produced in increasing numbers. This year saw a change to Schaller machineheads and the headstock "lip" top became slighly less pronounced. The two octave markers on "dot" necks were also moved closer together at the beginning of this year. Guitars from 1980 also have a quirk not seen on guitars from any other period in that the fingerboard side dots are extremely close together. 1980 also saw Hamer move to a new location at Arlington Heights where thay would stay until 1997.
Head to Toe Hamer
Cream Bridge and Zebra Neck Pickups
Three-way pickup selector switch, two separate volumes and a master tone
1980 Hamer Sunburst