Friday, 1 March 2013

Kramer KL8 bass - aluminium neck and eight strings
It always kind of annoyed me that no-one seriously took notice of Kramer guitars until Eddie Van Halen started using them, mainly because by this time - in my eyes - they had stopped being cool by abandoning the aluminium necks that made their early instruments so very interesting in the first place. The company was founded in the late 1970s by Dennis Berardi, Gary Kramer and Phillip J. Petillo and produced their first aluminium necked guitars in 1976 from a plant in Neptune, New Jersey. They switched to producing more generic wooden-necked guitars in 1981. Notably, Gary Kramer, had left the company by this point.

Unlike Travis Bean guitars and basses, Kramer's aluminium neck was basically a T-shape in cross section with a fillet of timber to either side so as the give warmth to the back of the neck against the player's hand. Kramer produced more basses in their early period of metal-necked instruments in a ratio of approximately 4:1, mainly because bassists for some reason seem to be more willing to experiment with new ideas than guitarists (which is something I have often complained about - c'mon guitarists, stop being so conservative!).

The above-pictured Kramer KL-8 bass is an 8-stringed beauty (OK, it's only strung with 4 strings in the photo, no need to point that out in the comments), has a pair of DiMarzio pickups and a whole bevy of switching options. Note the wooden inserts (looks to be walnut, maybe?) in the back of the neck. Note the four machine heads at the body end for the octave strings. This concept of tuners at both ends of the instrument was also used around the same time on 12-string guitars and 8-string basses built by the likes of Wasburn and BC Rich (also 10-string guitars in the latter case). Actually, speaking of BC Rich, the whole design is rather reminiscent of their guitars; only the forked headstock gives the game away that it's a Kramer.

The eBay seller has listed this bass as being from the 1980s, but I think it's more likely to be 1970s, although conceivably it may have been from the last year of production of aluminium necks in 1980.

Currently listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $1,500.

G L Wilson

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


  1. I had their "flying V" style bass w/ aluminum neck back in '81 I was 16 and it was my 1st bass (so not a good idea!). Anyway, it was pretty heavy in general, and neck heavy specifically. If there had been an upper horn, balance probably wouldn't have been an issue, but then it wouldn't have been a "V" would it?

  2. This is great. But out of my budget.

  3. I believe, from what I recall from the time, that the wooden inserts were also a response to a perceived problem with the solid aluminium necks expanding and contracting when the guitar was taken from cold to warm environments and vice versa. That caused the neck to become longer and shorter and thus out of tune.

    1. Oh there you go AGAIN David! ( Getting all 'technical' on us... )

      It must have been enough an issue they deemed it necessary. Any Valenti owners out there that can vouch to that? Great memory btw. The 70's were my '60's'.

  4. F-ing gorgeous! I experience the same problem as David describes with my alu body guitar( It baffles me, as aluminum should be more temperature stable than wood. Yet, it always seem to go slightly sharp on all strings...

  5. Rick James used one in the music video for "Loosey's rap" But I doubt it was used for the recording of that track since that bass sound sounds rather Synthy.



Related Posts with Thumbnails