Gary Kramer, of Kramer Guitars,
had no idea the impact he would have on the evolution of rock and roll music history the day he first agreed to partner with Travis Bean in the early 1970s to manufacture the first renowned aluminum neck guitar.
While Bean provided the initial designs of these guitars, Kramer managed the company's overall administration and financial aspects, quickly establishing relationships with countless dealers worldwide. The company's unexpected success led to an absolutely astonishing and immediate increase in sales, so much so that these guitars simply began to sell themselves — not only with their aesthetics, but with their performances, too.
Bean eventually filed for and secured the original patent for the guitar under only his name rather than the pair's partnership. At this point, Kramer broke out on his own.
Although Bean's guitars were at the time the most highly demanded on the market, artists were experiencing some technical difficulties. Though far and few between, the aluminum neck itself generated a very debilitating flaw with Bean's guitars. The physical pieces of aluminum were too heavy, increasing the instrument's weight, which ultimately resulted in musicians tiring more quickly when performing.
Kramer noticed this loophole and without infringing upon Bean's patent, filed for his own patent in the early 1980s. He introduced a lighter guitar, one with wooden neck inserts instead. Making this switch allowed Kramer to better manage production costs as well as simultaneously appeal to a larger population of traditionally minded guitar players.
With experience in design and production and help from several close friends and companies along the way, Kramer Guitars soon became the biggest, most successful guitar company in the country.
Having spent a majority of his career living on the East Coast, Kramer and his wife eventually relocated back to the West Coast in Southern California. In sunny Los Angeles, he once again furthered his guitar vision in 2005
Gary Kramer from Guitar Cellars
when he introduced a new line named Gary Kramer Guitars, one of the most sought out guitar producers in the world.
Unfortunately, financial problems with overwhelming advertising and endorsement expenses eventually consumed the original Kramer brand. The company was ultimately sold out of bankruptcy to Gibson Guitar Corporation.
Today, Kramer and his wife call Paso Robles home. The pair live on an estate where they grow their own grapes for the recently opened Gary Kramer Guitar Cellars, a contemporary and soon-to-be revolutionary wine and olive oil bar and lounge. Their estate includes a beautiful vacation rental, with the sole purpose of providing travelers with the opportunity to experience life on a Central Coast vineyard.
"I've transitioned between many industries throughout my lifetime — some related, some not," said Kramer. "My goal for all of them though has been to promote a sense of camaraderie."
Gary Kramer would not have gotten as far as he did in the guitar manufacturing business without the countless helping hands he was offered throughout the years. The experiences he endured and loads of struggles he faced were made lighter due to the relationships he formed along the way.
Throughout his electric guitar and basses manufacturing career, Kramer has been fortunate enough to work and form close friendships with many musical artists, including Eddie Van Halen, Mick Jagger, Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead and Jean Simmons of Kiss.
Today, Kramer hopes to display that same amicableness toward all those he encounters. In fact, this move away from a rivalry-based mindset is beyond evident at Gary Kramer Guitar Cellars.
"I enjoy a feel-good atmosphere just as much as the next person, and honestly I think that's all anyone could ever ask for," said Kramer. "This is not supposed to be about competition."
Like Kramer said, we are all here for the same thing, and that is to just have a good time.