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  • Writer's pictureJohn Barton


The Kramer guitar company was founded in the late 70s by Dennis Berardi and Gary Kramer. They produced their first guitar in 1976. Around that time Gary left the company.

Gary Kramer was a friend of Travis Bean who had been building successful aluminum necked guitars and the first Kramers employed a similar construction. In 1981, Ned Steinberger released the L2 headless composite bass to immediate world wide acclaim.

The Kramer folks responded with their own headless version the Aluminum necked “Duke” that had some resemblance to Ned’s instrument. The fret board, like those of all aluminum necks of that era was made of this material they called ebonol which is a composite material which looks like ebony, but is very similar to the stuff they make bowling balls out of.

This particular (or is it peculiar) instrument has two single coil Schaller pickups, Schaller tuning machines, a 31 inch scale and is very playable. The Steinberger had a 34 inch scale and EMG pickups.

One of the more interesting aspects of this instrument is the name, “Kramer Duke”. It seems unlikely that it was pure coincidence that guitar historian, long term Gretsch employee and a driving force behind the reemergence of the Gretsch Guitar Company was Charles “Duke” Kramer. Is it possible that Dennis Berardi named his instrument as a tribute to the great man or thought it was a terrific inside joke. We may never know the answer, but this bass makes for a rather interesting “Guitar Story.”

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