The Richie Sambora Signature Model

In 1986, Dennis Berardi, President of Kramer guitars approached Richie Sambora, the guitarist in Bon Jovi and asked if he wanted Kramer Kramer to produce him a signature guitar. Sambora agreed and the RS signature was put to the drawing board. The first models came out in early-mid 1987. Features were a body modeled around a cross of the older style Pacer and the new radiused body that Kramer had begun producing at the time. There was a star sticker on the body near the top horn. Some samples have two star stickers on the body.

Pickups were 3 hums. 2 J.B. Seymour duncans in the middle and bridge positions and a J.N. in the neck position (Sambora suggests the guitar originally had Dimarzios). Pickup surrounds were gold also. Electronics were a single volume control, 5 way switch that was perpendicular to the string direction and 2 coil tap switches.

Sambora Guitar from the 1987 Signature Series Catalog

Neck was a bolt on pointy head with ebony fretboard and star MOP inlays. Nut were a 1 11/16" width and all hardware including Floyd Rose was gold. Pegheads sported the "American" after the Kramer logo. Headstock also had a pearloid truss rod cover with "RS" engaved on it. Some heads had a star on the tip of the head while others did not.

First models will have the block(1986)logo. Most will have the large diminishing logo.

Colors for the Sambora were as follows from the 1987 Brochure

Black, white, violet, candy blue, candy red, flourescent pink and champagne flip flop white, flip flop red and flip flop blue.

Original price was $1,249 w/o case.

By 1989, optional features were black Floyd and hardware, maple or rosewood fretboard, and lefty versions.

The Kramer Sambora was dropped by the end of 1989 at which time he parted ways and went with Fender for a couple years doing different models. In 2002, he quit Fender and rumor is he is going with Gibson.

Custom Sambora Made for Sam Kinison

Japanese Assembled Samboras

Sometime in the run a Sambora with cheaper appointments was employed. Some samples of this guitar have "Japan" stamped in the back of the headstock and the gold tuners are unmarked Gotoh's. Some import models also feature no string retainer, and some of the serial numbers on these do not feature a letter prefix before the number. Also, some of the overseas models do not feature the star on the headstock.

2004 - Jersey Star Reissue by Musicyo-Kramer

In 2002, the Gibson owned version of Kramer resurrected the Sambora into the Jersey Star. Designs started to be generated around then, and many prototypes were built in order to determine which model the Kramer fans would really accept. In the end, it was decided that a real copy of Richie's original White with maple fretboard, Rod Schoepher made, custom Sambora be copied. After consulting with John Monteperto, who at one time had owned the actual guitar Richie used to play, they set out to make an exact duplicate. What resulted from all the planning is an outstanding instrument that many say (including VK) is better sounding tonally than the original models, with the added bonus of laser cut inlay work, and recessed inlays in both the headstock and the body. The model was released in 2004, and has been a record selling instrument for the GIbson owned Kramer Guitars.

Construction wise, these guitars are the first that Musicyo has produced that truly sound, and outplay better than original Vintage Kramers. More info can be found on these models by clicking on the following links:

Richard Akers Interview - Chief Designer and Engineer on the Jersey Star

Mike Mojabi of Kramermaniaxe fame reviews the Jersey Star.

The Jersey Star Reissue by Kramer/Musicyo

Taken from Vintage Guitar

Reflecting back, Sambora had this to say about the Kramer guitar:

"Dennis Berardi was doing extremely well with Kramer at that point thanks to Eddie Van Halen. We got to be friends, and he asked me if I wanted to do a model, and I said 'Sure'. So I tried to put something together that would give me the dexterity I needed. It had stars on the fretboard, a Floyd Rose, and DiMarzio pickups. I played them every night, too. A guy named Rod Schoepher, who had also made me a few custom instruments, would fix them to my liking when they came out of the factory, because Kramer's custom shop wasn't really up and running; the whole idea of custom shops wasn't happening yet."  

Custom Samboras

With that quote in mind, Kramer did produce Richie a few "one-off" Kramers that were not released as production run for the general public. Here's a few pictures of these guitars. Special thanks to John Montaperto (Monte) for the pictures of these Samboras that were formerly owned by Richie, now owned by Monte.

Check out the picture to the right of Richie with what I believe to be the White Sambora located directly below this text, to the left. Click on the thumbnail to view the larger version.

Click here for more Sambora pictures.

Richie's Whtie Sambora

Another shot of White Sambora
Richie's White Sambora
With Black Hardware
Richie's Black Sambora

Red Quilt-Top Sambora

Rare Burgandy Sambora
Black Schoepher Converted
Sambora (check headstock)
Richie's Cherry-burst Pacer?

Richie's Slippery When Wet

Richie's Bad Medicine Kramer
Another one of Richie's
(notice the graphic is a Sambora!)
Richie's Peace Sign Sambora
Richie's Purple Peace Sign Kramer
Another custom Sambora
Richie's Double-Neck Kramer

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