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Kramer4lyfe

Stryker

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(Sorry, this got pretty long. Recalling my old Striker sent me on a nostalgia trip ;P) I had one back in the early 90s. Bought it from a newspaper ad while I was spending a month in the hospital as a paid guinea pig. They paid a group of us $1000 to stay 30 days in the hospital while they switched us back and forth between 2 different anti-depressants while they took our blood up to 8 times a day. The ad came up in the newspaper while I was in there, and I convinced them to advance me some of the money to pay for it. lol
Anyway, I didn't know enough about kramers at the time to realize that the strikers were plywood, and there was no internet for me to look up the model or anything, so i was just automatically expecting it to be a banana headstocked, floyd rosed, maple-fretboarded, one-volume-knobbed, single humbuckered eddie van halen special or something. Like, as if that's all kramer made, right? lol
But when it showed up, it actually had 2 humbuckers, a beak headstock, rosewood fingerboard, at least two knobs and a switch, and had an odd trem style I'd never seen that used to little blades riding in a long (it was the same width as the tremolo) metal piece with a groove cut into it. <--that actually worked quite well, and even had a nice little brass block instead of the pot metal blocks on other cheaper model guitars I'd come across at that point, but it had no fine tuners, and no locking nut.
So, i admit I was a little disappointed that it wasn't my dream guitar showing up for $150 from the wichita "mini-market" ads...
But only a little, because the guitar was *beautiful* as the guy slid it out of the gig bag to show it to me.
It was a deep flawless candy apple red, and other than a couple of wear spots on the bridge, it looked practically brand new.
And *it felt good in my hands*. Very comfortable and natural feeling, as if it was a guitar I'd owned my whole life or something or one that was made just to fit me.
The only thing that spoiled that illusion at all, was that the neck (it had a skunk stripe! hehe :D) felt a little narrow. That, again, wasn't really *bad* persay, it was just something I was vaguely aware of -just enough to remind me that this really *was* a new/different instrument than the ones I already knew.
But I tell ya, even though it wasn't quite what I was hoping for, I loved it *for what it was*.
I loved the slim body style (not as tall when sitting on it's side as a strat or most strat-style guitars), I even loved the tremolo (as much as possible for a non floyd) and the way I could do this really nice sort of sound effect by resting the heal of my hand on the rear of it and slightly/lightly rocking my hand against it to sort of "warble" the notes as I plucked them.
Sounded beautiful and a bit dark, almost hauntingly melancholy as I did that while plucking through what (at the time) i called "reversed barre chords" <<-- hey, we had no internet, and I had to train myself to play! lol I learned by ear, so I didn't know the names of notes or chords, except for the ones used while tuning, which I remembered with the phrase "Eat A Dam Good Breakfast Everyday) hehe:D
Eventually it started becoming common to have guitar tableture "tab" in magazines and books, and I was able to work with that, but for the first few years I was learning to play I was kinda screwed, because couldn't read the piano-style musical notation that was in all the books at our local small-town music store. They were labeled "for piano and guitar" and the biggest joke I ever played on myself, was to skrimp and save up my pennies and quarters to finally pay $19.95 (plus tax. That was more than 4 packs of strings! and I could barely afford those lol) for a Van Halen book that was, *ahem...* "Van Halen (van halen 1)- For Piano and Guitar", lol!
Omg, what an prank that was to play on a 15 year old kid trying to learn to play guitar without any sort of family support, musical training, or the internet or anything to help out.
Basically... every song had, like, 2 or 3 guitar chords expressed in vertical notation (6 vertical lines representing strings, a few horizontal "fret" markers, and a couple of dots to show finger positions -I'm pretty sure it had no numbers to show *which* fingers on which dots though), and then *everything else* was expressed using what I call "Piano Notation".
Which, I'm sure would have been a great help if I'd been trying to learn to play "Eruption" on a piano...
As it was, I was *not* lol
So that sort of musical notation was worse than useless for me. It didn't even have the *CORRECT* versions/fingerings of the chords as they were originally played. Instead it was what I called "mel bays chords" which -and I mean this as no offense to mr bay- sound more like roy orbison than metallica. and those mel bays chords thrown in there... That was like an additional insult-to-injury for me, because I'd already, previously, spent all the money I'd saved on a "Learn to play guitar" book that was a mel bay book, and I swear, learning chords from mr bay, is like, the quickest way to make "Enter Sandman" sound like "
Chantilly Lace".
😞  <<--big frowns. 😞 😞 😞 BIIIIIiiiig big frowns from my early "learn guitar" book experiences. lol
Anyway, I never have been able to really learn the names of chords, so I don't know what all chords fell into my "reversed barre chords" but I can sort of notate out the ones I ended up using in a song I wrote on that guitar right after I got it...

075x0x, 0540xx, 0420xx, then 0540xx before returning to the beginning with 075x0x.
Anyway, that doesn't represent the order all the notes were plucked/played in, just the finger shapes/chord shapes for the progression...
But it should give an idea of the tone I was talking about.
Those notes plucked at a sort of medium-slow pace in that progression, while slightly warbling the tremolo bridge with the palm of my hand (the one thing missing from the guitar, was it's tremolo arm. so I couldn't do dives. but since it was set up with the bridge floating, I could use the heal of my palm on the rear of the trem to bend notes sharp, or do that warble. Something I miss with the floyd, because the fine tuners and arm are in the way of where my palm would naturally rest. Always thought of redesigning one with the arm and tuners out of the way, but that's a different matter/story ;P) sounded *very* good on that guitar. very moody; very soulful.
And that tone and the sound of it inspired me enough that I ended up writing a new song on it almost immediately.
Anyway, I thought it was a great guitar, although it still didn't really fill that void of the "van halen special" I was really hoping to get.
Eventually I ended up passing that guitar on to my daughter, and my ex wife (her mother) sort of squirreled it away somewhere "for safe keeping".
She loved that guitar too. lol The first song I wrote on it was for her, and we got married not long after I got out of the hospital.
So she didn't keep me, but DID keep the guitar lol
In theory, my daughter could get it back... Buuuut not likely 😜
Anyway, it was a great little guitar. I've *heard* that strikers were short scale... But I don't think mine was. It's "in safe keeping" so I can't measure it, but I think it was a 25.5 inch scale like my other guitars.
The trem was a bit of a problem, since I had no bar for it, so I ended up grinding down a strat style trem, leaving the outer edges as the "blades" and then eventually drilled the base-plate on the strat-style bridge use a floyd-rose style tremolo arm (i hated screw-in arms), and that all worked fine, though I never had fine tuners or a locking nut on that guitar.
I do remember it being pretty heavy, but livable. I doubt it was *nearly* as heavy as the maple body of the baretta vintage i got a few weeks ago.
I did a bit of a silly thing with it, which I'd also done with my main guitar (a somewhat remodeled Cort Effector I'd been given by my sister for my 16th birthday), and that was taking a saw and cutting out the wood from where the tremolo was, on back, in a sort of V shape. Sort of like how how it is on the Ibanez Voyager guitars. <<--i'd seen some of those on the cover of a magazine and liked the style, so I went a bit crazy and got out the saw.
It actually looke pretty cool! at least to me. lol
That maaaaay have something to do with my ex-wife running off with the guitar for safe-keeping.
Like, afraid I'd come back to it with the saw again or something. I wouldn't have, I swear!
But yeah, much as I liked it modified, that little incident led me to finding out that apparently it was *her* guitar, and I was just being allowed to play it. or something like that.
The plywood thing always bothered me a bit, because of the stigma attached to it.
I'd only ever owned "cheap" guitars. Korean, indonesean, japanese, and all were plywood. Solid wood was supposed to have a better tone and sustain, and I *wanted that*.
Plus the rosewood fretboard bugged me. Everything had rosewood fretboards, and I really didn't like the look OR the feel of them. I wanted a maple neck bad, and even preferred the feel of the "Ebonal" fretboard on my cort to rosewood.
So some little things like that kept it from ever really being my main guitar.
Nowadays, I'd be able to get a cheap-but-decent floyd style trem for it, and mess with pickups and things to get a little more out of it.
It's not that it wasn't a good guitar, it really was.
But I've always been in search of my *perfect* guitar, and it wasn't quite that.
For what it's worth, I later got a Kramer Focus 2000, which had a floyd, and more of a banana-ish headstock.
I *think* my striker was a 200st btw.
So my striker 200 was a 2 humbucker model, and the focus 2000 was also a 2 humbucker model.
So I ended up with what was a lot like a solid wood +floyd version of my earlier striker. It's bridge pickup always sounded too thin for some reason, and may have been damaged by a previous owner. I'd actually seen it sitting in the workshop at a music store (for repairs) before later finding it for sale in a pawn shop, so that may be why.
Anyway, it was also a pretty good guitar, but still wasn't really the "van halen special" I was hoping for.
Too many pickups, too many knobs, no maple fretboard 😛
I didn't have both guitars at the same time, so I can't really *directly* compare them.
But I never really have been able to fully bond with the 2000, and ended up taking it apart to borrow the tremolo and pickups for another project guitar.
I've recently been working on rebuilding the focus though. I got the crazy idea of picking up an old Dean neck that had a *white* fretboard, which I thought might be really cool on my black focus guitar.
And I was able to get a good deal on a used seymour duncan custom-custom because the owner cut the cable too short.
So I'll be revisiting the old focus again sometime this summer, to try to bond with it again.
I dunno, there's just something about guitars... They can be *really good*, but still not be something you can completely *bond* with, ya know? Like, it really feels like it's *your guitar*; a sort of extension of yourself. It's your *instrument* for creativity, and a conduit for your soul.
When things aren't quite right, for whatever reason, it's like there's something between you, and being able to fully express yourself.
At least that's how it seems to me. lol
The new Baretta Vintage I got... It was damaged from the factory when it arrived. doh! and salmon pink?!? who the heck called this color "ruby red"?!?!? it's like the color some little girl might choose for lipstick on her barbie. lol
But I reeeeeeeally like playing it.
The maple is uncomfortably heavy, but the neck feels solid as heck. the trem works great now that I've fixed most of the mistakes that had been done at the factory:(
But, yeah, I really love playing it. I, uh... NEED to paint it. lol but it's a very nice guitar. I was going to get a special and add a floyd, but nobody had any red ones in stock, so I finally caved.
The neck is nice, I wish the hardware were chrome or satin chrome rather than black, the pickup is pretty fun 🙂
The neck feels a bit wider than the older kramer necks I've tried, which I like, but also a bit thicker/deeper, which isn't my preference, but since it's unfinished, I could easily just get some sandpaper and shave it down a bit shallower if i get the urge. But for now I'm enjoying it stock.
Anyway, as far as playability goes, I think the old striker I had *played* as good as any of the other kramers I got later on (within the limits of not having a locking tremolo).
The tuners worked great, the tremolo actually seemed to be pretty decent quality parts, steel and brass, compared to the pot metal parts on my other cheap ($200 or less) guitars, but couldn't really compare to a floyd since it had no locking nut or fine tuners.
The pickups sounded fine, as far as I can remember. Not necessarily better or worse than other pickups I was using at the time, so they didn't stand out in any ways that I remember, but also didn't annoy me or anything.
Quality on mine was actually really good on mine; fit and finish was better than some of the more expensive guitars I tried later on, and I can't really say whether the plywood was an *actual* detriment or not, because I owned it back before I knew as much about guitars, and I don't have it now to do any testing.
I probably wouldn't buy one again though.
Not because they aren't good guitars, but I pretty much swore off buying plywood guitars.
I just don't like the thought of having anything in my mind saying "I really like this guitar... It's too bad that it's plywood...".
I don't see any reason to have that feeling about any instrument I own.
And even though the 100st (single humbucker) strikers keep looking tempting because they *look* mostly like the sort of kramer I always wanted... I don't want to have that feeling.
The only exception that I think I'd make...
Is for a Kramer Starfighter.
It's also plywood, but...
It's a STARFIGHTER man!
Everybody's got barettas and pacers and strikers, but how many people can say "naw man... it's a STARFIGHTER!"
And maybe it's just the angles of the pictures I've seen, but i swear it looks like they are even a bit slimmer than the strikers, which I like the shape of.
So I would probably go for a starfighter if I ever see one come up again when I have the money for it, and I occasionally buy Cort Effectors because that was my first full-sized guitar, but other than that, I doubt I'd ever buy another plywood guitar.
Anyway, there I've talked about my old Striker, you should say something about yours! 🙂
Of course, if you don't already know, you will probably find that when it comes to how "valuable" they are, they fall into an unfortunate category of instruments that aren't particularly collectable -at least not yet. So it's value is in it's playability, not it's collectability. Which is good news if you want something of that style and can't afford a more expensive instrument, but could be bad news if you are trying to sell your instrument, since they are still available around the price I bought mine for back in the 90s, and with so many modern, reasonably priced, and well made instruments available today, there's not much reason to expect their collectability to go up any time soon.
Doesn't mean they can't be a great playing guitar though, and what's MOST important is how well you can channel your creativity through it 😄
 

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Thank you for your reply... kept my attention and while I'm typically a skim reader.... i read every bit of this. Striker brings back so many memories of sleeveless megadeath tshirts and playing the one string one finger smoke on the water! Great reply thx ! What do u play now? (Guitar(s))?

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