The 84 model is like stepping out of a time machine and on to the stage next to a prancing high-kicking singer and a drummer with more toms than Gordon Gekko had yachts.
Kramer generated a lot of buzz at 2019 Winter NAMM with a sort of re-launch by parent-company Gibson to demonstrate the new leadership is solidly backing the Kramer brand.
There are few Kramer models as mistaken or misunderstood as The 84 model. The lineage of The 84 goes back to about 2003, when it was called the 1984 Reissue. It’s been a staple of the Kramer offerings ever since. And the beginnings might be why it’s a little murky.
There was never a 1984 or a 84 model offered by Kramer in the 1980s. The 84 is simply a nod to the basic design of what Eddie was playing at the time. There are a few similarities to the Baretta model, but the are just not the same thing.
The 84 model is a single-cut bolt-on shred stick. If you like to keep it simple, this is for you. No extra switches or do-dads to get in the way. Maple neck, maple board, maple body (mine is from a previous year, the 2019 release will have an alder body), a single direct-mount Seymour Duncan JB Model humbucker.
But, all that maple! What about… ? Yeah, just hold up there. I’ve laid hands on a few of these and it’s not overly sharp or shrill. There is a little more balanced tone going on with the woods being used. Some people think the Asian selection of maple might less bright than some of the stateside selections.
The single volume knob is push-pull for series-parallel options and is wired with a treble-bleed mod. The double locking Floyd Rose tremolo is the OEM 1000 series and has the R2 nut. And it wouldn’t be a Kramer without the barrel jack. HaHa!
Out of the box, The 84 came set up pretty darned good. The neck arrived super straight. Just in case, the truss rod adjustment at the heel has a super convenient channel access. Who else doesn’t like popping the neck to tweak the truss? So 10 points to House Kramer for that one.
The Floyd Rose is top-mounted, but has plenty of clearance for pulling up. As with any direct-mount pup, it can take an extra minute or two to tweak any height adjustments. But it wouldn’t be a homage to Eddie if it had a pickup ring. LOL!
How does it feel? How does it play? Alright, alright! Keep your shorts on! HaHa! It feels fine. The body is your common double-cut shape with the regular contours for comfortable playing. And it plays good, too! Isn’t that what matters? LOL! Frets are well-groomed and the neck is comfortable.
And that is where things often come to a screeching halt with the purists. Neck thickness this and neck shape that and on and on. Tell ya what. Check out this video of Phoenix van der Weiden:
Looks and sounds like The 84 plays just fine for Phoenix. I’m guessing it will for you too. LOL! If you want to hear more of Phoenix, check out her smoking hot album Defying Destiny.
Additionally, it’s a great platform to upgrade. Most every EVH humbucker that I’ve reviewed has been through The 84. The Official Floyd Rose Original Fat Brass Tremolo Block fits just fine and allows full range of movement. And as always, I suggest Official Floyd Rose upgrades.
2019 models should be out in the Spring. The 84 models will be available in Alpine White, Radiant Red, Blue Metallic, Green Soda, and Matte White. Keep an eye on the Kramer website and social media for updates on the release schedule and which retailers will be carrying them in stores.
For reference, this Kramer Guitars The 84 Model evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs used were Marshall 1960B cabs loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s and G12M Greenbacks.