11/15/16 Guitar Lust: Hamer USA Diablo

The Hamer USA Diablo was one of its last Superstrats*; it came out near the end of the shredder era.

It may be one of the most perfect guitars ever. At least, it has so many things I like, but was relatively simple, and as such, relatively cheap.

They mostly came in red, yellow, and black. Most had black hardware, I think…that’s what I encountered the most, but it wasn’t difficult to find examples with chrome.

They also made some cherry sunburst:


And a very rare blue:


So what’s good about them?

Slab alder body (no expensive contours). Trem that stays in tune. Top notch Dimarzio or Seymour Duncan pickups for great tone. Flat fretboard radius that makes bends easy. Thin neck that makes it easy to play fast.

Every one I’ve ever owned felt wild. Like I could play fast and loose and sloppy and it would still make me sound good. I felt more like Eddie Van Halen playing a Hamer USA Diablo than on any other guitar I’ve ever touched.

It’s biggest limitation was a lack of coil splitting options, or it might be the perfect guitar for me.

So if it was so good, why have I owned at least 7 (and am trying to sell my last 2)?  Why did I sell the yellow one shown above with nearly-perfect after-market stainless steel frets, and coil-split push/pull pots with amazing-sounding Dimarzio 26th Anniversary pickups?

Because despite the guitars being awesome players, there are simply guitars I like more for various reasons.  Some guitars are prettier, or have ebony fretboards.  Over time, I’ve gotten to the point I trust Wilkinson 2-point trems with locking tuners (or sometimes even without them), so there is no reason to deal with the extra hassle of a double-locking system that needs to be unlocked and completely retuned every few weeks; a system that doesn’t allow you to drop to Eb easily, or go to drop-D tuning, or even deal with a song that was recorded slightly out of tune.

I still have the blue one.  I can’t get what I want for it, so I’ll probably hold on to it, let it be a case queen, pull it out once a year or so and be thoroughly impressed with it, and then put it back in its case for another year.  At some point, I may fall in love with double-locking trem systems. Or as original-condition Diablos become less available over the coming years, maybe I’ll get a decent price for it.

However, if you love dual-humbucker rock machines, see if you can try out a Hamer USA Diablo. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

*Superstrat: A 25.5″-scale guitar with a shape generally like a Stratocaster, but usually lacking a pickguard. Often has two humbuckers or even a humbucker-single-humbucker configuration, but must have at least one humbucker (in the bridge position). Must have a 2-point trem, usually double-locking.  Often has 24 frets. Often has a thin neck and flat fretboard radius for fast playing.




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