Kramer 1984 Reissue Review
Mike Wolverton - May 1, 2003
Rating: 4.5 Bananas out of 5

Seldom these days is a guitar that truly shocks you and sends you back to a time you remember as a kid. Well, that’s what happened when I opened the case from Musicyo that contained the new 1984 Reissue. I was instantly reminded of what it was like back in the 80’s when I bought my first guitar. The white paint sparkled, the chrome Floyd Rose jumped out at me, and the headstock reminded me of a time when Van Halen released albums once every two years… And that’s just my first impression, that’s not even counting how it plays and sounds.
Click on this image to buy a new 1984 Reissue!!!

This guitar takes you back – it reminds you of when guitars and guitar players were legends. I can’t tell you how bored and tired I am of seeing today’s players pick up a Fender, Gibson, or PRS. While they are nice guitars, we had guitar “style” in the 80’s. We watched music videos to see which guitars our heroes were playing, in addition to the paint schemes and custom work they had done to them. We were as enamored with the guitar as we were with the guitar player –every kid on the street wanted to be Edward Van Halen, and wanted a Kramer that looked like his. So where is this going you ask? The 1984 reminds me of everything I love about guitars, guitar playing and “in your face” rock and roll I loved as a kid.

I checked with Jim Rosenberg of Gibson Musical Instruments (owners of Kramer) about the origins of the guitar design. According to Jim, Mike Mojabi of Kramermaniaxe fame and Roland Hernandez of Rolsguitars both had a hand in the design of this guitar. Mike is the “godfather” of Kramer information. He was one of the first Kramer junkies to have a dedicated Kramer site on the web. Well, it was quite exciting to find out Mike and Rol had something to do with this guitar. Roland has always been a stickler for 5150 detail and Mike, well, he’s just Mike, he knows his Kramers. Jim informed me that Mike had sent Musicyo a neck made by Billy Connally, the man who was rumored to have constructed Edward Van Halen’s 5150. Mike also sent the “yo” guys a Pacer Special body, the same type body used on the infamous 5150. These two parts were the basis of what they started with.

The neck feels really chunky, the back shape fits in your hand perfectly. This is no thin profile neck, its beefy, and it lets you know it. The back shape is similar to a Peavey Wolfgang, although not asymmetrical, and more of a true “C” shape. The radius is 12”, but not quite as “flat” as a Wolfgang. The neck is also unfinished and lightly oiled – my favorite. Heck, it even has the old walnut skunk stripe just like the 5150. The frets are medium jumbos, just like I like them. One really nice feature that you don’t see often on guitars is a one-piece neck. The fretboard is actually part of the neck; it’s not a laminate. The headstock is banana shaped, and although it is not made to the original “factory run” banana headstock design, it looks like Ed’s. Overall, the neck is one of the highlights of this guitar - it plays like a dream.

The body looks identical to a Pacer Special. Originally, the 1984 body had a smaller “roundover” on the edges, and Musicyo corrected that at the request of Roland. Now, you would swear it was right off a Pacer from back in the day. The paint is immaculate too; I’m very impressed with the overall quality of the finish, even on the headstock. The body even sports the old truss-rod adjustment cut out, along with the original cannon input jack.

The Hardware is truly amazing. Finally, a guitar manufacturer that uses quality parts, at a reasonable price. The Original Floyd Rose trem is nearly identical to the ones used by Kramer in the 80’s, with the added upgrade of the collared tremolo bar insert and bushing fulcrum points in lieu of the old “screw type” posts. It’s also flush mounted to the body, which is what most die-hard Kramer nuts prefer. Edward Van Halen always stated that sustain and resonance were much better on flush mount tremolos, and I agree. The Schaller tuners are a nice added touch, and oh, did I mention, this is EXACTLY like the old 5150? Same parts, same body and same neck - you are playing Edward’s guitar.

My only critique of the entire guitar is the pickup. It’s just a little too “mild” for me, but then again, I’m used to the Duncan Customs and Wolfgang/Ernie Ball stock pickups, which are very hot compared to the older Barettas. Its sound is really close to a Duncan JB, which was stock equipment on Barettas after 1984. It is mounted directly to the body, which is another plus in the eyes of Edward Van Halen worshipers.

The setup from the factory is really good as well. It “could” be a tad lower, but compared to any guitar sitting on the shelf at your local guitar shop, it is low. Sustain is unbelievable on this thing too, along with good pinch harmonics. The harmonics would probably scream if the pickup were a tad bit hotter, but that’s an easy fix after purchasing a 1984. When playing rhythms, the pickup is really “phat” and chunky - it has a really nice sound. It is just in the lead area where I find weakness, but that’s reserved to personal opinion, you make your own judgment.

In conclusion, if I had to suggest a guitar for an intermediate rock player, I would whole-heartedly suggest the 1984 – without a doubt. It looks good, it plays good, and it feels like an old friend when you pick it up. The quality of the neck and body, along with the quality hardware makes this guitar a steal at $699 (and it even includes a very nice TKL case). I challenge anyone to find a brand new guitar with an original Floyd Rose, Schallers, and unfinished neck for that price. To quote a certain, famous guitarist from an 80’s Kramer Ad – “Its quite simply the best guitar you can buy today”, with my added line of… “for the money.”

Here's an additional review for those of you who want a second opinion...
Guitar for the Practicing Musician - Review 2004

Kramer 1984 Guitar Pictures
(click on the small image to see a larger version)


Color Options:
Red, White, Black and Sealer Coat (To allow you to paint the guitar yourself!)

Neck: One piece Hard Maple with integrated Hard Maple fingerboard
Neck Width: 1.65" at Nut
2.06" at 12th Fret
Scale: 25.5”
Neck Finish: Light Oil
Fingerboard Radius: 12"
Frets: Silver (18% Nickel/Silver Content)
(0.050mm wide x 1.40mm high)
Machine Heads: Schaller M6L, Chrome
Truss Rod: Single Action, Adjustable at Body
Skunk Stripe: Walnut
Body: Solid Alder

Strap Locks: Schaller #446 Chrome
Tremolo: FRT-100 Original Floyd Rose Double-Locking Made in Germany – Schaller
Wrench Holder: Schaller #233K Chrome
Nut: Neck-Through, R2 Made in Germany – Schaller

Pickup: 84T (Custom-Made to original specifications by Gibson USA)
Wire Gauge: 44 AWB
Turns: 6800
Magnet: Alnico-V
Resistance @ DC = 16.34Kohms
Resonant Freq. = 5.2Kohms
Inductance @ 1KHz = 8.3H
Mounted directly to body
Controls: 1-Master Volume
Potentiometer: CGE 500K Log (Audio Taper)
Output Jack: Switchcraft #151

Strings: Kramer USA
.009 - .011 - .016 - .024w - .032w - .042w

Hard Case Included: TKL Pro-form-II
Hand-Built in the USA

Note: Peavey Wolfgang, Ernie Ball, Edward Van Halen, and Seymour Duncan are all registered trademarks/patents/copyrights of their respective owners. Any and all references to Peavey, Ernie Ball, Edward Van Halen, and Seymour Duncan are for comparison purposes.

Any references to Eddie Van Halen or Van Halen are for historical and information purposes and do not imply any current association with or current endorsement of Kramer products by Eddie Van Halen or Van Halen.

Frankenstein Artwork © 2000-2003 Edward Van Halen. All rights reserved.

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