The Kramer Sustainer Page

In the later part of 1989, Kramer introduced a radical new invention and guitar to the lines - The Floyd Rose Sustainer guitar. The guitar itself was based on the 7/8" scale square cornered Soloist style double cutaway shape with a scalloped lower horn. The neck was a 3 piece pointy droopy head bolt-on variety with either dots and the Kramer block inlay at the 12th fret or shark-tooth "headstock" inlays throughout with the 12th fret inlay sporting the company name. Fretboards were maple or rosewood. All models of course had the Floyd Rose bridge and came in a double hum configuration. The neck pickup humbucker actually doubled as a built-in Ebow type unit. Developed by Floyd Rose, Rick Knotts and Steve Moore, the unit yielded a magnetic force that caused the string to vibrate(sustain) infinately. Futhermore, the sustaining pickup had the ability to hold a note for as long as the batteries would hold out. Click here for the Floyd Rose Sustainer users manual.

The pickup itself looked like a typical "blade" type unit (think X2N) with the electronics built into the body. The electronics of the guitar were listed as such: one volume, one tone, 3 way pickup switch, an LED for weak battery indication, sustainer on/off switch, and a 3-way sustainer function select which could be selected as, fundamental mode/harmonic mode/increased sensitivity harmonic mode. The sustainer function select switch effected sound in this manner:

Thanks to Mitchell at Mean Street Guitars for the Photo of this NOS Sustainer pickup (right)

Taken from Vintage Guitar magazine by Terry Boling and Michael Wright:

"In fundamental mode the frequency of the vibrating string is sustained. In addition, up to the fifth fret the the second and third harmonies are also present. Between the fifth and twelve fret only the second is added. After the octave only the fundamental sustains. In the harmonic mode, the notes transform to harmonics,basically second, third, fourth and sixth intervals depending on where you play on the neck. The harmonic mode with increased sensitivity mostly sustains odd-numbered harmonics."

The sustainer model came in black, creme, white, red stain, blue stain, candy blue, champagne, candy red, flip flop blue, flip flop red, flip flop white, seafoam green, flourescent pink, violet, and the 3 types of holoflash finishes before being reduced down to the four common colors; black, candy blue, candy red and white in 1990. Options were gold hardware, reverse head, lefty and graphics. The Sustainer guitar went down with the company that same year.

There is evidence that Kramer was planning to put the sustaining mechanism on the ProAxe with a new 5 way switch that would enable the sustaining function in all 5 positions. So far, none of these models have shown up so it may have been something planned but never put into production.

Additionally, earlier model Sustainer's do not have an extra battery cavity on the back of the body for the Sustainer system. The battery was housed in the standard control cavity.

Editors note: Many Sustainer guitars out there today you may find have the sustaining pickup/electronics removed and a regular humbucking pickup put in it's place. Reports are that the sustaining unit will fizzle out with age which is why many people will take them out and discard them and replace the pickup.

Today, Fernandez makes a superior sustaining pickup that basically does the same thing and perhaps a bit better if you are looking to get your Sustainer back and working. The original units are somewhat difficult to come by these
days in perfect working order.

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Sustainer Documentation

Here is a copy of the actual manual shipped with Sustainers back in the 80's. Additionally, theres some misc. schematics below that may help in your wiring process. Two are official Kramer schematics and one is an official schematic. Thanks go to Pat Kelley and Sean "Fuzzoid" for these drawings.

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