The Neck Page

Classic Headstock Era
1982-84 - Serial #s B1000 through C5000

The 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 varied wildly.

Necks by serial/model number and by actual manufacturer

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" headstocks (C3000-C5000)
- 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

Strat Head
Classic Headstock
Classic Headstock w/o Series

Most 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:

There 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" radius.

Steve Z also has this to say about "Petillo Fret Wire"

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.

Kramer 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.

Once 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
1984-86 - Serials C5000-E2000 Barettas-(C3000 through E2000)

The 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.

The 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.

Although 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.

The 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.

Production Run non-angled
Variation 1
Variation 2

While 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.

Std Banana Head
Most common of all Bananas
Series Banana Head
Skinnier Banana head
Model Name Banana Head
(Canadian made)

While 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 Heads

Skunk Stripe
Truss Rod
possible transition
possible transition

Pegheads 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.

Some 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 rod cover.

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 problem.

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.

Glue up featuring a straight headstock-splice
Glue up featuring a 45 degree top peice
with lower headstock splice
Weird, transitional headstock with angled design,
but made with the truss rod adjustment at the bottom.

There 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.

Prototype or Transitional Necks

There 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 runs.

Standard 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.
Seen 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.
This 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.
The 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.

Helpful Banana Neck Hints

The banana headed necks of 84-85 are sometimes dated on the neck heel.
Some 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.
Maple 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

The 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.

There 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.

Stagemaster headstock, stripped, with Japanese characters under the paint. Thanks Stephen for the shot!!

Kramer 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:

Small block logo with dot neck
Small block logo with diamond inlays bound head and neck
24th fret logo

(Early flat-top Stagemasters and Ferringtons)
Small block logo with shart tooth inlays bound head and neck
(Early Archtop Stagemasters)
Large logo non-bound with dot neck bound headstock
Large logo bound head with dot neck
Large logo non-bound head with dot neck
Rectangular Kramer inlay at 12th fret
Large logo bound head and neck with standard dot inlays. (rare)
Large logo bound head with dot neck
Rectangular Kramer inlay at 12th fret
Large logo bound head and neck with shark tooth inlays

Note: 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 from the
mid-80s versions.

Signature Necks

Here's a quick run-through of some of the other necks used on signature models around 1988.

Nightswan 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.
Sambora 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.
Paul 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 Rod.

Headstock Summary

Early Strat Head
Classic Headstock
"Banana or Hockey Stick"
Lasido Made Hockey-stick
Block Logo Pointy Head
Big K small r Pointy Head
Reverse-Bound Pointy
Very Late Model Classic

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