Sunday, 13 January 2013

Hamilton Custom Guitar made for Raymond ... does anyone know anything about this guitar?

guitarz.blogspot.com:
When I first saw the photos of this Hamilton Custom guitar, I thought it was yet another obscure 1960s Japanese-made creation, but upon looking closer I have revised this opinion and I expect that it's probably a handmade American instrument. As to how prolific - or even professional - a manufacturer Hamilton was I cannot say, but I expect it was a very small part-time operation (perhaps in the vein of Harvey Thomas).

The script on the headstock is interesting. "Hamilton Guitars" looks as it could be a transfer-applied logo, but surely "Made for" and "Raymond" have been painted on by hand with the latter emulating the font used in the logo (or maybe the whole thing has been hand-painted?). This hints heavily at the small operation I was talking about.

Witness also the crude handmade bridge. I say crude, but note that the saddles are fully adjustable. Other interesting features include a heavily radiused fingerboard which puts me in mind of my own Jolana Disco guitar.

The seller knows little about this guitar saying that it was an estate find, and is currently listing it on eBay with a starting bid of $499.99.

G L Wilson

© 2013, Guitarz - The Original Guitar Blog - the blog that goes all the way to 11!

26 comments:

  1. The extreme taper of the neck and the fingerboard radius almost make it look like it was designed to be played with a bow. I know that electric Arpeggiones have been made - maybe this is such an instrument.

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    1. That's what I was talking about when I mentioned the neck radius being similar to that on my Jolana, and I'm sure that Jolanas weren't built to be played with a bow.

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  2. Fantastic! Whoever sketched this one out had a great eye for design.

    "Raymond" must have been a rhythm player, I would think, judging by the neck radius and the pickup location.

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    1. Nah, don't fall into that old trap of thinking that the bridge pickup is the "lead" pickup and the neck pickup is the "rhythm". It's complete nonsense. Hendrix, for example, played most his solos using the neck pickup on the Strat.

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    2. Agreed. Anyone that bought a Strat I'd owned essentially got a factory new bridge PU. Mostly for show. I've since had my tech wire the 2 together as a blended selector position, but only to keep the neck PU from getting too muddy. Funny how when I'm listening to others play, I just can't get enough treble, but when it's ME ( it just comes off as being too "tinny" and makes one feel like, some sort of attention whore..?

      Guitar/life is funny that way...

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    3. Barry,

      I love it too but the headstock has issues. There seems to be a crack running from the 1st capstan to that's run all the way to the head. The bridge, while 'adjustable', looks like a nightmare to work with. The string is directly over the locking screw.

      The design is stunning and I can almost picture say Johnny Winter blazing on this, just the execution is lacking. IMHO

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  3. Coolest pickguard shape ever and it's strung with flatwounds-whoever Raymond is, I like him.

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  4. That pickup looks familiar but I can't place it.

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    1. It's a DeArmond. Gretsch use them a lot and call them Dynasonics.

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  5. I think the pickup is a deArmond or a close copy.

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  6. Stunning design ,cool scratchplate and bridge.The tailpiece,though homemade is very cleverly built and could give ideas to many a manufacturer. And last but not least the headstock matching the body's horns (reverse); It indeed seems to be cracked but nothing to difficult to fix (probably the tuning peg was changed or fixed and screwed to hard). Nice find but the question remains: "Who is Raymond?"

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  7. I see Goya Rangemaster in this hot rod.

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  8. Love the design of this. There is some very nice touches that catch my eye. The way the bottom of the fret board follows the curve of the pickgaurd for instance and the slightly jaunty string tree is pretty cool too. I reckon that the plate under the bridge is an afterthought maybe to raise the action. It doesn't quite look right. The bridge does look ahead of it's time, although as marshall says maybe a bit impractical.

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    1. Genghis,

      Reminds me of the ( pre-digital ) analog ignition systems on a BSA Lightning. You needed a third hand to adjust the 'points'. Your friend can't be of any help as the access plate was only slightly larger than a silver dollar. As you tightened the screw, it changed the ( otherwise perfect ) adjustment.

      Judging by the mangled screw slots, it's been removed in anger more than once! But at some level exhibits this meant on balance it had attributes worthy of the aggravation. With all the after market options available today, replacing it should be a snap.

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  9. Very tempting to put in a bid!!

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  10. Hello all, interesting thread and some great comments and observations.
    I purchased the guitar on ebay.
    The guitar is much as you all noted. The head stock is not cracked as I thought would be too (at the top tuner post) ..it's just cracked laquer. The letters were hand painted on (no decals, no paint marker) The guitar looks and feels to be solid mohogany...weighing 9 lbs 6 oz. The wood is a dark brown, and was primered or undercoated in a slightly darker brown primer, then the red. It's a thin finish. The fret wire looks like vintage Fender style wire. The neck is very straight on it. The frets are even and only minor wear on the first few frets...needed a cleaning from tarnish. Curved radius, and a slab rosewood(?) fret board. I saved the strings and re-strung with 11's (those flats were probably heavier) Lowered the action / adjusted the bridge (thought some screws would be stuck but not the case...they all were free, none stripped. It actually plays well The pickup is a DeAromond as noted. The 1 meg pots are stacked pots which look like they're for 2 circuits, rythem and lead, switched by the toggle. Based on the made for it Lifton case, the flat head screws the "Reg US Pat Off" pickup, and other things, I would guess this guitar was hand made in the early 60's?

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    1. Thanks for the further info.

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  11. well ...looks like my comment wasn't approved.

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    1. Sorry, you just have to be patient as I cannot be online permanently. Unfortunately we cannot have unmoderated comments as we are occsionally (if someone doesn't like something we've written) liable to get "YouTube"-style brain-dead comments from barely literate teenagers who just swear and use the word "gay" a lot. I'm sorry but I am not prepared to put up with these kind of abusive messages, so the comments will remain moderated. I do not delete sensible comments, more often than not it's just spam that gets removed.

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  12. Hi All...I found another one! Same color, same parts, same case etc but this one just says "Hamilton Custom" on the headstock and it has Grover butterbean tuners cut to fit 6-in line. The case was full of music dated mid 1966. This one was found in the Boston area...where was the other one? Who is Hamilton? I gotta know more!

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    1. Do you have any photos?

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    2. where can I send photos of the Hamilton Custom?...pqk

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  13. Hi G. L. I have photos...how do I post them?...or can I send them to you?...

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    1. Please send to me at gavinlloydwilson@yahoo.com

      Thanks!

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  14. My father has a white one!! His doesn't have any markings on the head-stock, but he knew it was a Hamilton because he claimed that a fella named Jesse Hamilton built it specially for his 13th birthday present. In 1960 this guitar cost about two weeks pay, or so I've been told. My father was from Long Island. I hope this info helps and we can find more on these awesome guitars. Hopefully I convince him to send me some pictures so I can upload them here for all of our reference!

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    1. Hi Thomas - thanks for the info. We'd love to see the photos of your father's guitar if you are able to get hold of them.

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