1984 Reissue Review
Mike Wolverton - May 1, 2003
Rating: 4.5 Bananas out of 5
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 -
1984 Guitar Pictures
(click on the small image to see a larger version)
Red, White, Black and Sealer Coat (To allow you to paint the guitar
Neck: One piece Hard Maple with integrated Hard Maple fingerboard
Neck Width: 1.65" at Nut
2.06" at 12th Fret
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
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
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.
Copyright 2003 Wolfe Productions
and Content © Copyright 2011 Infinite Sky Designs