Kramer The '84 Electric Guitar
By Chris Loeffler | (edited)
Kramer The '84 Electric Guitar
by Chris Loeffler
Guitars have come a long way, and trends come and go (and come back again?). While the sonic demands change with genre and evolution, there’s always nostalgia for the guitar we didn’t get back when we first got started. Whether it be the Jeff Beck strat or the Dimebag Darryl Dean, there’s a place for new gear designed to meet a genre that has long passed its moment in the sun.
Kramer guitars can be accused of falling into this category, evolving but refusing to shed their shredder, Glam-rock inspired roots in aesthetics and appointments. It is fitting, then, that the Kramer The ’84 electric guitar revels in everything that made Kramer a big deal back in the days when hair was big, pants were tight, and mascara ran rampant.
What You Need to Know
The ’84 is styled in tribute to the original Baretta, with the offset double-cutaway body and rounded, elongated headstock, that was first introduced in 1984. The Baretta was one of the guitars associated with “in his hay-day” Van Halen, and everything from the form factor to the colors screams the type of shred Kramer made its name on. For all that bling, the ’84 feeds but a single hot bridge position Seymour Duncan® JB™ humbucker pickup for powerful simplicity. Push/pull series parallel coil tapping opens up tonal flexibility, and the Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo system is custom-tuned for the sort of screaming dive-bombs that embody hard rock and metal solos of the 80’s.
From a construction standpoint, the ’84 stays period correct with a solid maple body (with a new Alder version available for those who want to trade period-accuracy for weight relief), bolt on neck, and a maple-on-maple neck/fretboard at 25 ½” scale. The slim profile and 22 medium-jumbo frets reflect that speed-tests of the time (without diving into the 90’s multi-octave, scalloped affairs). Of note is the review unit I was sent for evaluation had much more refined fret wire work than many new guitars that arrive at my door; the rounding and dressing were top notch.
The Seymour Duncan JB produced clarity with a bold low end and clear highs and the trademark upper-mid lift that plays well with heavily distorted amps. The output is “vintage hot”, by which I mean it will overdrive an amp much easier than a PAF humbucker without jumping so far out of the pale that I was battling a 20dB jump. The parallel wiring option opens three unique configurations; a true humbucking pickup, a split coil that uses the slug coil, and splitting the two coils independently as individual pickups. I found more tones (if less immediately identifiable) than I expected to enjoy with the various pickup configurations.
Tremolo work is understood but lost on me. My time pushing myself to embrace (and fail at finding) my inner shred did prove that hours of cranking on the Floyd Rose did nothing to impact the tuning stability and the arm’s travel was extremely consistent. Whereas my strat’s stock tremolo tends to work more on feel, I could predict the pitch I’d get on the ’84 before I’d even started the bend.
The Kramer ’84 has its own sound, and your enjoyment of that sound is 90% predicated on the Seymour Duncan JB pickup. This is true of most guitars, but limiting yourself to a single pickup may be more than some tone tweakers are willing to tolerate.
The Kramer The ’84 is a so fantastically “love-it-or-leave-it” offering that it’s hard to dislike it. Yes, it is limited. Yes, it is designed to appeal to a very specific type of player. Yes, it is amazingly fun to play. If you’ve played a vintage Kramer, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into, and if you haven’t, expect a speed machine with American-style metal appointments (comfort, warmth). -HC-
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.
Edited by Chris Loeffler