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During a recent trip to visit my wife's family, she pointed out an old an electric guitar she'd saved up for as a teenager. It was a Hamer Slammer Diablo (this is not a picture of it; hers was in much worse condition after sitting in a barn for years).

Now this guitar isn't worth anything monetarily, but I thought it might be a fun project to restore it - I've been wanting an electric guitar ever since I started played an acoustic earlier this year. And playing a guitar that once meant something to my wife would be way cooler than buying an off-the-shelf factory made guitar.

Problem is, I only packed up the body, leaving the very weathered neck and bridge behind. Not sure if this was a big mistake.

So my question: how much pain am I in for if I wanted to attempt rebuild this guitar? New neck, new pickups, new bridge. Keeping in mind that I have no idea what I'm doing.

Specifics if anyone can answer them:

  1. How hard will it be to find a neck that fits this body?
  2. When looking for pickups, do I need to consider the angled pickup at the neck position?
  3. The bridge was a Floyd Rose, I don't think I'll have much trouble picking up a licensed version made in China or wherever, but not sure if that's a good move. However one aspect I'm aware of is that I'll need a notch in the neck for the nut.
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I personaly think this is a great project to work on it. This guitar is probably worth nothing, but this is good, if you screw up something, you won't regret it. But maybe you should use it as a guitar-building pratice instrument, not spending too much on really good components but just working on it for fun, to see how an instrument is built, what modifications you can do, etc. Then the day you'll want to do some modifications on a $1000 guitar you like, you'll be more confident on what you do. But sorry, as I don't have any experience in guitar building I can't answer your questions! –  Julien N Jul 16 '13 at 10:17
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New neck, new bridge, new pickup: it's not that guitar any more, I'm afraid. "But the driver side window crank handle is still from the original Mustang, doesn't that count?" Cheap Floyd knock-off in place of a real original? Double phooey ... –  Kaz Jul 23 '13 at 0:12
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If you are in the USA, call the Warmoth company and ask them if their replacement necks will fit a Hamer Slammer. They custom-build Fender-style bolt-on necks with a large range of options that you can order. warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/faq2.aspx –  Wheat Williams Oct 19 '13 at 12:05
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6 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Worth it" depends. I suspect you could buy a better guitar for less than you'll spend on bits for the project. But you might find the project rewarding for its own sake, and the sentimental value of the body is something only you can measure.

It looks like you still have the original pickups and electronics. For the first pass, keep them and see what they do. If they don't work, or you don't like their sound, that's when to replace them.

A Fender-style bolt-on neck should fit - but measure and check, and if you're buying online, make sure the vendor takes returns. The same goes for the bridge.

So your first pass at this is simply to check the electronics, resoldering where necessary; bolt on a neck and a bridge, string it and try it out.

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Note there may be corrosion on contacts inside the knobs and switches which can be worked off by merely using some contact cleaner and actuating them repetitively. –  horatio Jul 16 '13 at 21:05
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If the picture is of the guitar you actually have, it looks like it's well worth restoring. If at all possible, you should arrange for the rest of it to arrive soon.The original bits will be a better fit than any after market replacement. Best bet is to speak to Hamer for more definitive ideas, rather than find bits and end up with a Frankenstein.

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Short answer: No - this guitar is not worth the effort to try to restore. By your own admission, it sat in a barn for (how many?) decades. The Hamer Slammer is not a sought after collector item and you can find these used for $200 on CL. It has no providence. It is made of inexpensive components and unremarkable materials (which even if they were remarkable, (like an old growth mahogany or a missisipi swamp ash or some other, now protected species), will be most likely suffering serious rot and fungal growth. Same goes for the pickups which will probably have its potting in poor condition (not that the pups are worth mention on a slammer anyhow). The electronics will likely have intermittent contact and lots of oxidation. Not worth the contact cleaner fix mentioned above. Adding up a very conservative list of replacements: Neck $175, LFR $175 ($250 OFR), 2 pups (lets go with SD or something of note $160/pair), does the neck come with machine heads? ($30-50). Now you're in for $500+ for a guitar with dodgy body problems (is it delaminating at all? binding still good? (doubtful), etc). If you just like the git for sentimental value, then reassemble it, dry it out, maybe add a new top coat, and leave it hanging on the wall in your music room. Your restoration efforts to make it a player again will cost more than a good mid-level jackson or ibanez (or even an Epi) - all of which will be much more enjoyable to play. You mentioned being new to hardbody electric playing. Do you really want to learn on some POS that cant produce the tones you want, even IF your technique was correct (pinch harmonics as an example). As a new player you will never even know if you were doing the technique correctly if the instrument cant even generate the sounds. How frustrating! IMO - spend the money on a nice mid level electric and leave the junk in the barn where it belongs. The damage has been done and the guitar has no value to offset the cost of a resto. If this were a '59 Gibson Les Paul, my answer would be much different.

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Thanks for the thorough answer! Very nice indeed. FWIW, I ended up doing exactly as you suggest and spent the money on a new MIM Strat. I put this guitar back together as it was and left it my wife's little brother who seems to enjoy it. It still plays reasonably well - I was able to test it on a decent amp and the neck pup had some obvious electrical issues, but overall I was surprised by how it performed with its original parts. So, win-win :) –  Brent Dillingham Jan 10 at 20:10
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If I remember correctly (and I may not) The Hamer Slammer was a pretty low end guitar so it may not be worth spending the money on it. Again, IIRC they were among the first guitars made in Korea and Indonesia where Fender and a couple other companies have their very low end guitars made.

If you're after something to play metal, the mid to lower end Ibanez RG series are pretty nice and can be found for ~$250ish used.

The Squier telecaster (not the Affinity IMO, a step ot 2 up) also isn't too bad for its price range.

Or, if you just want something cheap that can possibly surprise you, look around on guitarfetish.com for the specials that run on occasion.

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Generally the allure of old guitars is the wood. It like a good wine matures with age. If the wood is of a high enough quality I would consider it worth looking at on that basis alone.

It may not be cheap to refurbish the instrument but if Norm can sell vintage teles for five to eight thousand dollar spending a grand on this may not be unreasonable.

It may have some serious intonation problems and frets may very easily have to be redone but if the core of the instrument is good enough I would still consider it.

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Sight unseen is impossible to answer clearly. First. leaving neck behind would make it cost ineffective. second, bridges,floyd roses add to cost. pickups add a whole lot more, unless you want low budget crap.My advice would be to buy a kit to start on, get the rest of the hamer and approach it after tackling a kit guitar.

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This is not a site for self promotion, so I have removed the spammy bit of your answer. You can put details about you and your services in your profile, which anyone can see. –  Dr Mayhem Oct 19 '13 at 9:51
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