Classic Headstock Era
- Serial #s B1000 through C5000
1982 year bought about the new "classic" or "modified
Strat" headstock shape probably due to the lawsuits that Fender
and Fennandez were going through at the time. Whether or not Fender
contacted Kramer about their version of Fender copy headstocks is unknown.
Like most of the Kramer headstock eras, details in the classic realm
Necks by serial/model number and by actual
1981-82 Strat copy headstocks (A8000s-B2000) - Made by ESP
1982-84 "Classic", "Chicken Beak" headstocks (B2000s-C5000s)
- Made by ESP, smaller batch made by Sports (usually 1 3/4 nut necks)
1983-84 Non-angled, Baretta, "Banana" or "Hockeystick"
- Made by ESP
1984-late 85 "Banana" or "Hockeystick' headstocks (C5000s-E2000s)
- Made by LaSiDo, Sports, and ESP
1986-90 "Pointy Droopy" or "Shark" headstocks(E2000s-G
series) - Made by ESP and LaSiDo
1990-"hockey stick" heads again (could have been sold as NOS
parts at the close out and mostly never associated with a serial number
or neckplate). Also used on Mick Mars signature models that were only
marketed and sold in Japan. - Made by ESP
Headstock w/o Series
early classic necks will be marked with "Kramer" with "Pacer
Series" underneath the "Kramer" and no patent pending
inclusion. The Patent Pending mark came later in the B serials assumably
in the B3000s on. The neck started out with a 1 5/8" nut width
as a standard basis. Mostly, you will find of the classic head era will
be of this measurement. In 1984, right before the banana head era (C3000s-5000s)
the standard was changed to a much wider 1 3/4 width while still retaining
the 1 5/8 as optional. 82-83 neck shapes were a "C" shape
reminiscent of old Strats. When the wider necks came, the shape obtained
a flatter boat style shape.Finishes were mostly very glossy although
there are several out there with a factory satin finish. These satin
finishes continued throughout the life of the classic as well as into
the banana head era. Also, these satin finished necks we've encountered
have but a lone "Kramer" logo with no "Pacer
Series". Also, some classic necks have been witnessed with
a glossy finish and amber colored stain.
Steve Z, a former Kramer employee says
this about quanity of rosewood vs. maple boards on Strat heads:
were definitely some rosewood stratheads but they were probably 1:10
ratio with the maple boards. The very early stratheads came with no
logo and they were put on at the factory and clear coat was sprayed
over it. I saw
one at a local music store and you can tell the finish was put on afterwards
since it is starting to lift. It's attached to an ash strat body with
a Kahler trem so I passed on it. The decals were put on by eye so don't
expect a lot of uniformity.
The classic head era was a one piece maple neck with a rosewood or maple
fretboard(some all maple necks were simply one piece with the face of
the neck being the fretboard itself). Maple boards sported a skunk stripe
of rosewood in the back. Note: Some rosewood boarded necks have a skunk
stripe also which is strange because usually the truss rod is employed
before putting the fretboard on the neck eliminating the need for a
skunk stripe. Tuners at the early stages were gold colored Schallers
or Gotohs which were unmarked. They were the size of Schaller Minis.
Later they became the marked Schallers made in West Germany in chrome.
The vintage style trem and ESP flicker models will have a brass or plastic
nut with 2 string trees on the headstock. The Rockinger
equipped guitars will have a brass nut and of course, the brass locking
nut by Rockinger. Floyd models will have the
Floyd nut and a string retainer bar. Fret wire in the early stages were
thin and med. tall. Not sure at this time on the number. Sometime in
the B serials the fret wire was changed to the jumbo wire and was the
mainstay for the rest of the course. Radii will vary to great degrees
from unit to unit. Mostly the radius will remain a curved 10".
Some models of the classic era have been seen with a flatter 15"
Steve Z also has this to say about "Petillo
The Petillo fret wire was designed to have a trianglular profile
as opposed to the more familiar dome shape. I think what is meant in
the description is that there is a very small and precise contact area
with the string.
He also developed his own alloy that is supposed to wear better. Here
is a story as it was told to me when I started in the fret room. It
may be one of those rumors but Here it is.
signed a license agreement with Phil, in exchange for his early design
work on the aluminum necks, that specified Petillo patented fret wire
had to be used on every neck. Problem was that most people didn't like
the feel of the Petillo frets. Nonetheless, every aluminum neck that
left the factory used Petillo fret wire. One piece for the zero fret.
We had a coil of that wire in the fret room that lasted the entire time
I was doing frets. If you want to see what his fretwire looks like just
check out the zero fret on any metal neck.
in awhile I would get a request for the whole neck in Petillo wire but
I had to knock them down lower than the zero fret which kind of defeated
the purpose. They were tough to install without denting the crown but
they did wear better. Sprinsteen uses them on all of his guitars since
Phil works on them all.
Banana Headstock Era
- Serials C5000-E2000
Barettas-(C3000 through E2000)
banana head era consisted almost entirely of Floyd equipped guitars
so all models will have a Floyd nut and be with or without a string
retainer bar. Schaller tuners were dominate and both the Floyd and Schallers
came in gold, chrome or black.
origin of the banana head is a rather interesting one. According
to former employee Steve Z, Kramer had made a Destroyer
like guitar for Ed when Eddie first came on board as a possible
endorsee. The guitar was modeled after his Ibanez
"Shark" Destroyer that had been mangled and abused.
The headstock on that particular guitar was modeled after Ed's Destroyer,
which Paul Unker created. Needless to say, Eddie was not satisfied
with that guitar, which eventually wound Eddie up in New Jersey
showing them the kind of the guitar he wanted. What emerged out
of that hard night's work was the Kramer
Ad Frankie. The neck from that original Destroyer copy Kramer
had made was used on the Kramer Ad Frankie. And so, as with everything
else that has to do with Kramer, the banana neck was born out of
a pure coincidence. As you can see in the picture to the right of
an original Ibanez Destroyer headstock, the head matches the 84'
non-tilt Baretta headstock. If you ever take a look at any of the
George Lynch signature ESP models, take a look at how closely that
head matches the Destroyer and Baretta headstocks (although most
of George's are reversed). The reason for this - ESP made those
necks for Kramer.
the flat-head banana neck was pretty much nailed down with Paul
Unker's Destroyer design, Kramer did go through a variety of prototypes
in order to come up with the "production run" non-tilt
banana head. Variations can be seen below in the pictures. An unconfirmed
fact is that the reason Kramer went through so many shapes is that
Edward was unpleased with production run Kramers looking like his
banana shaped neck on his guitars. Although it seems that this "could"
be true given Edward's track record with people copying his instruments,
it seems that this is just another rumor. More than likely the different
shapes are due to different manufacturers Kramer used during that
period to make necks. Note: The non-angled hockeys are TOTALLY different
necks in terms of radius, back shape, etc compared to the angled
series. These necks tend to feel more like the overseas Focus necks
of that era, which were also manufactured by ESP.
non-angled banana neck series were created in the C3000 serials to C5000.
Even though these numbers were used on other Kramers, these non-tilts
exist within that range. Some non-tilts have plates without a letter
identifier (number only). Non-angled banana necks do sometimes appear
on other instruments such as the Pacer, however, these are typically
rare and considered one off's in the Kramer realm. Edward's
red cloud ripley has a non-angled headstock, which closely resembles
the 2nd prototype below.
When purchasing or viewing non-tilt necks that
have strange appearances or have something such a maple fretboards,
DO NOT BE FOOLED. Some of these necks were sold by ESP in New York as
replacement necks, and some even featured maple fretboards. The best
way to tell if it is an actual non-tilt production Kramer neck, is to
first look at the neck heel to see if its stamped ESP. If that does
not exist, then check to see if the neck has a finish on the back. If
it is finished, it is very questionable as to it being used on a production
Kramer. Additionally, if base of the fretboard is squared off or if
the nut measurement is anything other than 1 3/4", it should be
questioned as well. Be very careful of those trying to pass those necks
off as original Kramer production used ESP necks. See pictures below
of what some would think of as a Holy Grail Maple neck, but it is actually
just an ESP produced neck that was never installed on a Kramer. To the
unsuspecting ebay buyer or collector, they might actually think this
was production used.
the initial banana heads were of the non-tilt back non-jointed type
found on the early Barettas starting with C3000 serials and an old style
logo on the peghead, the predominate heads found will be of the tilt-back
luthier jointed variety. These contained the "block" Kramer
logo. Dots were black or pearl depending on fretboard type.
Most common of all Bananas
Skinnier Banana head
Name Banana Head
Kramer still listed the standard nut width at this time to be 1 5/8",
evidence shows us that there are more out there with a wider width,
mostly 1 3/4". Neck back contours were slimmed down to present
more of a flatter "boat" shape. One other thing to note with
the block logos, they do differ in "print". Some look more
"fuzzy" and some have
faded with their current age while others have remained almost mint.
Manufacturers and Details of the Banana
were mostly black with the gold Kramer block logo some showing a
distinctive brownish stain outline on the edges of the headstock
itself. The stain is found on about half of the necks, many did
not have the brown outline (see picture). Additionally, the brown
"stain" line generally wears very easily and its difficult
to find lines in "mint" condition.
heads paint were matched to that of
the body. Tuners were still Schallers but now could be had in gold,
black or chrome. Some banana heads will state the model of the guitar
directly on the headstock after the Kramer logo, (e.g. "Kramer
Baretta", "Kramer Vanguard"), etc. Most others of the
banana head era will have the model designation engraved on the truss
Banana heads had mostly rosewood fretboards although some maple were
made. Maple boards are fairly rare in the Kramer world. Radiuses were
of a flatter variety in the banana head era than the classic era also.
Fret wire remained jumbo type throughout.
There are 4 different neckplates in the USA
banana head realm. The first and most common being the chrome "Made
in USA" plates which had the old Kramer OUTLINE stamp, serial number
and Made in USA stamp. Second, the black variety with the deep old style
logo Kramer stamp, serial # and Made in USA stamp. Third, another black
type same as the other WITHOUT the Made in USA stamp and lastly, the
smaller-sized, banana-logoed, cast chrome Neptune, NJ type found mostly
on the pointy head era.
You'll find that the NJ plated bananas
DROPPED the luthier's joint and went with the 3 piece necks found
on the pointy heads. These NJ-plated/banana head guitars only lasted
for 1500 or so units before going into the pointy head era. The
reason for dropping the luthier joint is the "infamous"
glue problem. Many of the luthier joint necks were sent back for
warranty work because of splitting in the joint. This has been researched
and was determined that Kramer used an improper clamping procedure,
glue type, or a bad batch of epoxy was used. One other thing to
note, when Kramer received these necks in for warranty work, many
customers were disappointed because Kramer sent them back pointy
neck headstock necks! Generally though, most of these necks if found
today can be repaired, and many never experienced the splitting
There are also some rarer "custom"
numbered plates out there, which in reality, making there actually
5 types of plates. These were black with no "USA" markings
and had the deep Kramer logo stamp and 5 digit serial number with
no letter prefix. We've found these began with the number "0"
and "6" as the second digit, e.g. "06543". These
plates were reserved for custom orders.
up featuring a straight headstock-splice
up featuring a 45 degree top peice
with lower headstock splice
transitional headstock with angled design,
but made with the truss rod adjustment at the bottom.
are also several different banana headstock shapes. Besides the non-tilt
back first Baretta heads, the shapes of some uthier jointed heads were
of a skinnier variety almost like
a Focus 1000 type. The heads then went onto a fatter,
shorter production style head most commonly seen on old Kramers today.
There will also be subtle shape differences off this type of head. This
may be due to the different manufacturer's that Kramer subcontracted or
simply just evolutional inconsistencies. One more additional feature is
a skunk stripe featured on some banana head necks. Additionally, other
headstock scarf/splice/glue ups (seen above) were used. This same headstock
splices were used on early pointy headstock necks as well. This eventually
moved over into the 3 peice glue up
model that Kramer maintained up until the end, which were made by ESP.
or Transitional Necks
are also some prototype or transitional headstocks that have appeared
from time to time out there. In fact, many are similiar to production
run necks, but were more than likely "experiments" into a different
direction that Kramer did not go to production with. This section is dedicated
to the perpetual "trans/proto necks" that appear to not be production
angled banana shape, on a non-angled neck. However, it has binding
down the sides and continues around the fretboard on the bottom.
Notice the rounded feature at the bottom of the fretboard, and the
aluminum side dots.
here is a transitional Stagemaster with the standard angled banana
head, but with binding down the fretboard and around the headstock.
Quite a rare bird.
transitional neck features an "Explorer" type headstock.
It is non-angled, and also has the mysterious globe logo next to
the Kramer imprint. This neck was also finished with thick lacquer,
unlike the production non-angled headstock Barettas.
pointy head shown here is not too wildy out of proportion with the
rest of the pointies around this era, however, this one features
a single block logo without the American Script. This was confirmed
to be on an American Series Kramer, and has the 90 degree splice.
Banana Neck Hints
banana headed necks of 84-85 are sometimes dated on the neck heel.
banana heads will have a stamp in French writing in red ink on the
heel on the neck. These are believed to be LaSiDo made because LaSiDo,
also known as Larrivee, was/is located in Canada.
fretboarded banana heads from the C5000s to the D1000s era will
have ALUMINUM side dots and black face dots. Later ones have the
normal black dots.
Pointy Head Era
1986-90 Serial E1000s through G1000s
pointy-droopy variety is probably the era that Kramer is remembered
for the most simply because tons of them were sold compared to the other
head eras. The Kramer lines at this time were switched to Japanese production
by Electric Sound Products(ESP), with some early ones made by sports.
In fact, some early pointy's may have been leftover, non-luthier joint
banana necks cut into pointy necks. Parts were then sent back to the
States and assembled in NJ for distribution. It's been said that Kramer
changed to this head to compete with Jackson/Charvel. Surely, most guitar
manufacturers had their own version of the pointy by this time.
are both bolt on necks and neck-through styles in the pointy head
era (see Guitar pages for more info on these individually). The
Pointy head was clearly just a trimmed down version of the banana
head and was a three-pieced (early pointies were headstock
spliced, see that section above), tilt-back maple neck with
rosewood, ebony or maple fretboard. Maple fretboards being much
more available now. Some models had the model designation on the
headstock, e.g. Stagemaster, Pro-Axe, etc. Some had the engraving
on the truss rod cover.
Like all Kramer head eras, necks again varied wildly in radius,
shapes and nut widths. No two are alike. These bolt on necks had
the smaller-sized die cast chrome neckplates with the Kramer banana
logo, serial number and "Neptune, NJ" stamp.
headstock, stripped, with Japanese characters under the paint.
Thanks Stephen for the shot!!
stamped Neptune, NJ to give the illusion of a domestic made instrument.
Also, the neck-through models had, of course, NO neckplate so the serial
numbers were stamped on the back of the headstock. On earlier neck-throughs,
there simply is NO serial number.
The pointy began with the same small block Kramer logo as the banana
head had. Sometime assumably in the E5000s-6000s, the logo was changed
to the larger "diminishing" style in gold. Some headstocks
were painted to match the body also.
There are at least 8 types of detail differentiating necks in the pointy
era. These can be broken down by this list in order of appearance:
Also, Kramer as a last ditch effort to save the company, re-released
the banana head neck. Though not many made it on guitars, it could be
had in maple or rosewood boards and were just about indistinguishable
a quick run-through of some of the other necks used on signature models
Neck - Ebony fretboard, 24 3/4" scale, diagonal "ping-pong"
inlays, R1 nut, reverse headstock. Some
Aztec graphic Nightswans featured a
white headstock with a black logo, while others had black headstocks.
Neck - Rosewood fretboard,
25 1/2" scale, "Star" inlays, RS trussrod cover and
some featured a star on the headstock. Available in maple and rosewood
as an option. Headstock also was available as black with gold logo
or white with gold logo.
Dean Neck - Rosewood fretboard,
25 1/2" scale, neck-thru construction. Fretboard radius differs
from other American necks. Additionally, block
logo models featured a "Paul Dean" inscription after
the logo on the headstock, later models have the label on the Truss
or Hockey Stick"
Logo Pointy Head
K small r Pointy Head
Late Model Classic
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