Hamer Studio Custom vs. Huber - what say you?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by martie6621, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. martie6621

    martie6621 Silver Supporting Member

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    For those lucky to own (or have actually played both) a Hamer Studio Custom and a Huber Dolphin or Orca....how do they compare in tone and overall build quality? I know the Hamer resale is still low but is the quality and tone enough to offset the high initial price and potential resale rinse off? The Hamer Redwood looks stunning - wondering how it sounds? BCR Greg - chime in here man! Saw your post on the Hamer Forum on the Redwood. It looks mah-va-lus!!

    Thanks
     
  2. anderbird

    anderbird Member

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    I have played both. The Hamer is an excellent guitar, every one I have played was a great weight, comfortable neck, tone for days, and sustain. For me though, the difference comes in the fit and finish. In comparison to the Huber, the finish on the Hamer seems "glopped on" where the Huber almost seems dipped in glass with a thin coat of exceptionally well applied finish. Almost every Hamer I have played, has, or soon will have Hameritis where the finish has started to lift, especially around the frets. I have never seen any sign of this on a Huber. To be fair, I've probably seen twenty Huber guitars, and they were as close to perfect as I have seen, and well over a hundred Hamers. I really believe that Nik's attention to detail (the frets, the finish, the miter joints in the binding, the balance...) is light years ahead of most guitars that I have ever played.
    Just my $.02,
    Thanks,
    Steve
     
  3. VegasGreg

    VegasGreg Member

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    I know everybody hates generalizations, but I own and play both, and Hamers are nice, but there is no comparing the 2.

    Tone comparisions? I'd say the vast majority of people who play Hamer (and I'm one of them) swap out pickups right from jump street. I've yet to hear of somebody swapping pickups in a Huber. The Haussel pickups that go into his guitars are fantastic. For me, the versatilty of my Hubers is second to none (that I own)

    Build quality-the Huber. Hands down. I've never had a Huber come through my hands that needed anything or that wasn't set up great right out of the box. Which IMHO, is the way it should be. I unfortunately cannot say the same for SEVERAL custom built Hamers. Overall, nothing that I'd consider catastrophic, but some major problems with custom built guitars right from the factory.

    One of the things that drives me nuts about certain guitars is their balance on a strap (or lack thereof). This has been a continuous problem with Hamer doublecuts forever for me (Hamers Standards, on the other hand, balance beatifully). I shouldn't have to get a clingy strap and lighter tuning buttons just so a guitar doesn't headstock dive when I strap it on. I have no such problems with my Hubers. I use a smooth leather strap, and the guitar stays put.

    In fact-I'd go as far as saying this isn't even really a fair comparison. A "Boutique" builder that makes about 95 guitars a year compared to Hamer IMO just doesn't work...

    Having said all that, Hamer guitars offer a really good value for the dollar-An equivalent Redwood Dolphin will cost quite a bit more than a Hamer Redwood.

    Unfortunately, many of us (myself included) have to make choices based on the current state of our pocketbook. If that is the case-you will enjoy the Hamer guitar, and may not really be missing anything (until you play a Huber Redwood)

    I know of 3 people (of the top of my head) that have had major guitar selling sprees after getting their first HUber Redwoods-who knows, you may even become one of them.

    Disclaimer-the above post is nothing more than my opinion, garnered from playing and owning both brands in question. The usual YMMV rule certainly applies! :D
     
  4. martie6621

    martie6621 Silver Supporting Member

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    ....so in the bottom of the 1st, it is Nik 2, Hamer 0. :hiP
     
  5. Blauserk

    Blauserk Member

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    I have owned a bunch of Hamers, other high-end guitars (Baker, Lentz), and I have a Huber Orca on order that should be arriving shortly.

    A point that shouldn't be lost here is that, especially for their price-point, Hamers are exceptionally well finished guitars. I have owned scads of them, and they were without exception extremely well made and well finished guitars. My own impression is that the "Hameritis" problem (finish lifting near the neck heel and sometimes on fingerboard edge) has been licked, particularly on the later Connecticut-made instruments. In my impression, modern Hamers have much higher initial quality than most other readily available instruments (Gibson, Fender, Gretsch, etc.), and are on a par with non-private-stock PRS.

    Hubers by and large are a good deal more expensive than Hamers. My Orca is, for example, probably $1500 or $2,000 more than any Hamer I custom ordered (even including Hamer's upcharges for custom colors and neck carves). Even though Hamer produces small numbers of instruments (15 per week) by Gibson standards, it is not a boutique producer the way Huber or Gustavsson or Lentz or the new Baker/B3 is. But you can buy a top-shelf Hamer used in mint condition for under $1500 any day of the week, and you can't do that with any of those boutique brands I mentioned.

    And for tone, my Hamer Korina Artist (which is readily available at $850 on eBay)--even with stock Duncan ceramic P90s--can hang with anything I've played. It's phenomenal quality for that price-point, but no one is going to say it is a $4000 guitar (or even a $2500 one, which is about the price of a one-pickup flat-top Huber).
     
  6. arniez

    arniez Supporting Member

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    I have never played a Huber, of course I'd like to, but the comparison is really apples to oranges because of the price differential. Hameritis is definitely a thing of the past. There were some issues with this at the neck joint and at the fingerboard neck junction. Sometimes finish lifting exclusively over the fret ends is a product of poor storage re humidity, where the finish has moved from swelling and shrinkage of the fingerboard.
    I would expect that a Huber would be noticeably better.
    ArnieZ
     
  7. cSuttle

    cSuttle Member

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    I have to chime in and agree with the consensus. The Hammer is a really good guitar for $1700. The Hubers are much more expensive. The term "you get what you pay for" really seems to apply here. I played a number of Huber and REALLY liked them.
     
  8. Mrgearguy

    Mrgearguy Member

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    Good points all! I have several Hamers and one Huber Orca, all of which I purchased 2nd hand. Without a doubt, the Hamers were better bargains due to the bang for buck factor. I honestly do not see the build-quality difference that others have mentioned, if anything, the Huber seems to have a more "wavy" finish than the Hamers which are like a sheet of glass. I do not "swap out" pickups on new guitars any more than I'd think of doing it on a vintage axe... I like the ones in my guitars just fine.

    The Huber has a different tone from the Hamers, but I wouldn't say it's worse or better. Each has its own "vibe" and I use them acordingly. The Huber always gets the most attention, but that's because they are more unknown to people, so they are always curious.

    If I HAD to choose, which I don't, I'd keep my Monaco 3, which simply rules when it comes to versatility, pure tone inspiration and general mojo.

    Like I said, I love em all...

    Gearguy
     
  9. martie6621

    martie6621 Silver Supporting Member

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    Looks like the Gold is going to be won by the German team:eek: in a landslide

    Bronze to the USA.:)
     
  10. JingleJungle

    JingleJungle Member

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    Hmmm...
    Let's put it this way.
    Hamer US is a Huber on a budget (as long as you don't over-customize).
    I don't really dig the stock pups, and I do have some reserves with the 14 hands of hand-glossed (glopped?) finish - which does look nice and glossy but for many feels too "plastic-y".
    Despite my current liaison with Niklaus Huber :D I will be on the hunt for an old Studio Custom, maybe an Artist and a Newport too (I've seen some pretty sexxxy stuff on the Hamer Gallery).

    JJ
     
  11. Karmateria

    Karmateria Member

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    According to Hamer's Jol Dantzig, the Hamer finish is nitro based and is approx .011" thick. This is roughly the same as what you will find on a Collings acoustic. Most electrics are much thicker.

    The flatness and gloss is created by a special and time consuming finishing process which takes 15 days to complete. There may be a lot of coats, but they all get sanded down until the lacquer is thin and flat. This is how Hamer can have a thin nitro finish that looks so "glassy".

    Karma
     
  12. Blauserk

    Blauserk Member

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    I'm an idiot, so take what I am about to say with a grain of salt. But my understanding is that the color coats are nitro, and the top clearcoats are urethane-based. But I agree that the finish is quite thin; if you've ever seen a Hamer with a chip on the finish down to the wood, you appreciate that it is definitely NOT "glopped" on.
     
  13. Supasso

    Supasso Member

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    No, it's not. It's pure nitro.
     
  14. cmatthes

    cmatthes Member

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    Sorry, that statement is incorrect. Hamer does not use "pure nitro". It is a blended finish, probably closest that comes to mind is a Urelac. I'll let somebody who can describe it better than me chime in here, but Blauserk is more correct.

    By the way, I've NEVER seen a factory original Hamer with a "glopped" on finish! Also note that the "Hameritis" issue primarily effects Hamers from a certain production period in the mid-90s. That has really not been an issue in the production years prior nor since then.

    For the record, I am a huge fan of both Hamers and Hubers - do not own a Huber, but would like to down the road. I own or have owned massive amounts of Hamers over the last 20+ years. I don't think they are an "apples-to-apples" comparison however. A Huber and PRS would be closer from a style or feature standpoint, and although I love my PRS, outside of Private Stock pieces, there is NO comparison in my opinion.
     
  15. alpep

    alpep Member

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    I have owned and sold many Hamers. The majority of them were stellar guitars. There were some with minor issues and a couple with Hameritis but I don't think it is fair to compare them to Nik who makes only 90 guitars a year. maybe in 30 years where there are a ton of Hubers out there you can make a fair comparision.

    I have played several Hubers and met Nik and think his guitars are wonderful, they play and sound fantastic. Will I ever own one, I don't know, it is very possible.

    I don't swap out the pickups in my Hamers, I generally like the Duncan pickups.

    I prefer the finishes on the Hamers. Not that Nik's finishes are bad, I just prefer Hamer's.

    This is a tough comparision when you like both products.
     
  16. ceeb

    ceeb Member

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    I've seen Hamers (hanging in stores) in the past couple of years of production with the clearcoat lifting away from the edge of unbound rosewood fingerboards, at the nut, and at the neck join. I've heard the reason you may see it at the neck join is it got bumped in shipping, but I'm not sure I buy that. It doesn't seem to be as bad as some of the mid 90s guitars I've seen, but we'll have to wait and see what these current guitars look like in 10 years.
     
  17. Stike

    Stike Member

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    Nope, it's not. No nitro at all. I toured the shop a couple years back and being the paint geek I am I asked their finish man loads of detailed questions. Somewhere around 1991-1992 they switched from nitrocellulose lacquer clear coats to the actetate based lacquer/Urelac/McFaddens Urethane Guitar Lacquer/whatever you wanna call it but they were still shooting the toners with lacquer. Not sure when but the lac. has been replaced with acrylic colors, PPG's DBU line IIRC.
     
  18. edgarallanpoe

    edgarallanpoe Member

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    Before and after pic...

    Before...

    [​IMG]

    After....

    [​IMG]

    There are some killer guitars in that first pic...including a Korina Baker B1H, early PRS, LP Class5 and Historic SG, and several Hamers. I don't miss a single one.
     
  19. pirateflynn

    pirateflynn Supporting Member

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    I haven't yet played a Huber so I cannot make a direct comparison but the several Hamer's that I have had over the years stood out in their beauty, tone and playability. The finishes have been consistantly excellent and aside from two that had hameritis I have found no flaws whatsoever. Never have I seen a Hamer finish that looked glopped on and so I would recommend you take that description with a grain of salt.

    I really like the styling of the Huber guitars and the color blend on Vegasgreg's axe is outstanding.
     
  20. Karmateria

    Karmateria Member

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    Stike, you're almost correct. According to the person I spoke to at Hamer:

    "Hamer's first coats are pure nitro from the Valspar (the same stuff Gibson used in the day) which is the base upon which the color is built.

    Color coats are either SEM or PPG shaders suspended in nitro or clear PPG from the DBC family. Color coats are approx .003" thick.

    Top coats are the cellulose acetate hybrid from McFadden. It is catalyzed using a urethane binder that allows it to cross link. Top coat build is done over a period of six days and build is approx .007" before sanding. Finish build is about .012" overall."

    I have three Hamers ('97, '02, '05) and none have any problems despite my dragging tham across the country repeatedly in gig bags. That '97 is coming up on 10 years now...

    Karma
     

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