Kramer American Series Stryker 600ST 1981 Red

$ 995.00

1981 Kramer American Series Stryker 600ST with Fender Gigbag.

Kramer Transition from Aluminum to Wooden Necks


Trademark pitchfork aluminum-reinforced necks — “Alumi-necks”

Ebonol fretboard

Schaller tuning keys and bridges

Schaller and DiMarzio pickups

Used exotic woods and hybrid wood/aluminum necks until 1982

Introduced in 1976, early models featured the trademark “pitchfork” aluminum-reinforced necks with a fret board made of ebonol—material similar to one used in bowling ball production. Unlike Travis Bean, Kramer went beyond the idea of a neck forged entirely out of aluminum, due to both its weight and its feel.

Instead, Kramer opted for wooden inserts in the aluminum necks. The inserts, set in epoxy, were usually walnut or maple. The bodies were made of fancy woods such as curly or Birdseye maple, walnut, and koa.

The hardware was top-notch as well: Schaller tuning keys and bridges; Schaller and DiMarzio pickups; custom-made strap pins; aluminum cavity covers. Kramer’s “alumi-neck” line lasted roughly until 1982.

Out of this early part of Kramer history were born some exquisite musical instruments; truly a fine example of American lutherie. Generally, the ratio of basses to guitars produced was about 4:1, primarily because bass players were more willing to experiment.

By 1981, Kramer had the tools, and the experience, to take guitar mass production to a new level. Switching to wooden-necked instruments both held the promise of keeping production costs low as well as being able to appeal to traditionally-minded guitar players.



Wooden Necks

Schaller tuning keys and bridges

Schaller and DiMarzio pickups

Wooden Necks – Offshore Rockinger – EVH

LATE 1981

Headstock changed to the “beak” style

Offshore production began in Eastern Asia

Fulcrum trems were made in Japan

Necks made in Japan

Guitars assembled and finished at Kramer/New Jersey

Partnered with German inventor, Helmut Rockinger and installed his tremolos, precursors to Floyd Rose® systems

Kramer first released wooden-neck models in late 1981, following Charvel’s lead on producing instruments that essentially copied the strathead headstock shape from Fender. Although it isn’t clear whether a lawsuit from Fender ever materialized, Kramer stopped releasing guitars with the trademark Fender headstock shape after only a thousand or so instruments were built. Instead, Kramer opted for a “beak” reminiscent of 1960s Kent guitar headstocks. Wooden-necked instruments represented Kramer’s first foray into offshoring the production of guitar components to Eastern Asia. Tuners and vintage fulcrum tremolos and necks were made in Japan and shipped to New Jersey for fretting and finishing. Kramer execs saw that the guitar techniques of the early 1980s demanded a high-performance tremolo system and partnered with a German inventor named Helmut Rockinger, using his tremolos as precursors to Floyd Rose systems, on its instruments.

A chance encounter between Dennis Berardi and the manager of Eddie Van Halen on an airplane flight set the foundation for Kramer’s meteoric rise in the 1980s. Eddie was interested in a tremolo that stayed in tune, which the Rockinger system offered. A meeting between Eddie Van Halen and Kramer execs took place, and Eddie was sold. At the meeting, he reportedly quipped that he would help make Kramer the “#1 guitar company in the world.”

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