The Greer Amps Hammer is kind of an oddity: A dirt box based that isn’t based on—or trying to emulate—anything. That’s not to say it can’t cop traditional or conventional tones, but it’s built to give the user a lot of options for generating a wide variety of distortion.
The many tones available in this box are essentially derived from two controls: “Gain” and “Grunt.” The Gain control acts as a fairly traditional drive, adding hair to the clean signal. On its own, the effect is simple but the range is broad, with settings from 9 o’clock to noon producing a nice baseline of dirt for low-gain overdrive, settings from noon to 3 o’clock providing a richer overdrive, and then from approximately 3 o’clock on you’re in distortion land.
I found that, without the Grunt control, the Gain worked really nicely with humbuckers, offering a very natural overdrive before giving way to a still-natural distortion. With single coils, one might find the drive to be pleasantly greasy; I found it to be somewhat reminiscent of Ronnie Wood’s tone in the Rolling Stones, which is to say a little too thin for my tastes. Fortunately, the Grunt control was there to help.
The Grunt function seems to add compression and volume, which leads to more low end and, when cranked, gating as you (presumably) push the circuit. When used with the Gain control, a wide variety of textures are available, and this is where the Hammer really shines. Whenever I found the right amount of dirt with my single coils, I used the Grunt control as a tone control, dialing the low end of my signal back in. Bringing the Grunt control close to noon and putting the gain control around 11 o’clock, I dialed in a Keef-on-a-Tweed type tone (no Blackface or Ampeg tones here—the grits a little too . . . gritty). Moving both controls to around noon, I started getting my go-to overdrive tone, which is to say a throaty, meaty distortion that suggests very hot tubes and compressed speakers. Articulation was strong, but better was the very lively tone of the pedal in general.
Greer suggests that maxing out the Hammer will deliver fuzz-like tones, and he’s right. When fully cranked, Fuzzrite-like clipping ensues with single coils in the neck, but the overall tone is much richer. Move over to a humbucker neck pick up and there’s a full-on 8-bit-synth effect, with wonderfully thick, squelchy tones that are still musical, and suggest just a hint of octave overtone. Because the Hammer is incredibly dynamic, players can pretty much run the pedal’s full gain range via your volume knob. But I also appreciated the pedal’s range when using it as a traditional (but excellent) low-gain overdrive, where I was able to clean up and dig in just using my picking hand.
I think it says a lot about the range of this pedal that my two favorite uses for it were as a dynamic low-gainer and a blown out fuzz, so if you’ve got a hole on your board and you need to fill it with some dirt, you might want to try using a Hammer.
What we like: Big, open sound, something I’m starting to recognize as a Greer trademark. The variety of dirt makes this pedal very handy.
Concerns: It can be somewhat difficult to dial in, and the overall voicing of the pedal can be a little thin for single coils (although the Grunt control can be used to compensate).