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With a name that evokes playboys and princes, but a price suggesting pub-rockers and paupers, the Monaco XT might be sending out mixed messages, but it’s always reassuring to see the Hamer logo on a headstock.
In our experience, the boys from Chicago don’t drop the ball and from first inspections this singlecut looks and feels like a heavyweight choice. We mean that literally: compared to its rivals, this beast is a back-breaker in the Les Paul tradition, with a deep-pan nato body that had better pay us back with never-ending sustain.
In truth, all that timber is irritating when you sit down, with the Monaco’s weight distribution meaning it fights desperately to slide off your lap. But stood up with an (industrial-strength) strap, you’ll find this an excellent choice if you’re stuck in the ‘50s and crave a chunky neck, an idiot-proof tailpiece and the most boneheaded pickup configuration known to man.
It’s not rocket science. It does sound good, though. Hamer’s good pickup reputation is upheld by these twin items, which don’t mess about with coil-taps and offer a ‘classic’ tone. It’s buttery and rounded when clean at the neck, with a toppy sandpaper bridge sneer as you push the gain. And, yes, the sustain is monstrous, letting you hang notes out there for ice ages.
It’s not quite a Hamer of the gods, then, but it is a watertight Les Paul substitute.