It’s fantastically easy to shift power chords and more complex
shapes up and down the neck at a CBGB-approved pace, thanks
to the comfortable, low-ish action and smaller frets.
with bean buttons
along its top edge. Other Mosrite-esque
details include narrow vintage frets, a zero
fret, and a plated-brass string guide. The
solid milled-brass, chrome-plated roller
bridge is a thing of beauty, too: Though
it’s inspired by the original Mosrite units,
it features improvements like fixed saddles
that result in better intonation and facilitate
easier string bending.
Beat on the Brat
Once you strap on the Johnny Ramone,
it’s easy to see why Johnny dug such a
setup. It’s an exceptionally well-balanced
guitar that feels very sturdy. Hit a big, first-position E chord and lean on the neck for a
little modulation, and it stays right in tune.
So if you’re inclined to use it as a fast-chug-ging, punk-rock battering ram, it’s likely to
withstand a heavy hand without flinching.
Holding a power chord and attacking
the guitar with fast downstrokes felt as
natural as you could imagine. It’s fantastically easy to shift power chords and more
complex shapes up and down the neck at a
CBGB-approved pace, thanks to the comfortable, low-ish action and smaller frets.
All that said, the Johnny Ramone
doesn’t invite just punk-style attack. The
same smooth action that makes hardcore
riffing a snap invites languid blues bends
and Eastern-flavored legato work. And the
narrow, C-shaped neck feels enough like a
combination of an early-’60s Telecaster and
Jaguar to make twang and surf licks second
nature. That doesn’t necessarily mean the
Hallmark’s tone is akin to those Fenders’
treble sting: With the volume rolled off a
notch or two on the alnico-magnet bridge
single-coil, the Johnny Ramone has a darker
personality. It should come as no surprise,
however, that the guitar comes alive when
paired with a Marshall head and a 4x12.
With a 100-watt Super Lead at the other
end of the cable, the Hallmark delivered the
grinding, muscular tones we all associate
with the Ramones—but without the clanging, spiky 2 kHz peaks you often get from
single-coils and a raging Marshall.
Lead lines sounded great, too, occasionally taking on a snorkel-y, Peter Green-like
quality—particularly in the middle position. It was hard to generate really biting
solo tones without the help of an overdrive
or fuzz, but, man, did this thing sound
good when I employed one—they felt like
The Verdict A spin with the Hallmark Guitars Johnny
Ramone offers a cool peek into the happy
accidents that can help a player craft a
signature sound. Even if the Hallmark
doesn’t nail every detail you’d find in a
vintage Ventures model, this guitar feels
unmistakably like a Mosrite in terms of
balance and playability. And given how
fast, light, and comfortable it is, you can
imagine why Johnny and his own Mosrites
were rarely apart. This is a great guitar for
chugging punk, garage rock, and fuzzy
indie rock. It might lack the nuances or
classic voice of certain blues and heavy
rock guitar staples, but chances are you
wouldn’t be reading this if that were your
musical fixation. If you’re on the prowl
for a distinctly different flavor that really
rocks, the Hallmark Johnny Ramone is all
revved up and ready to go.
a comfortable, light, fast, growling
guitar with vintage-Mosrite style and
feel is your ticket to musical bliss.
you lament the day punk killed prog.
or use a mobile device to download
audio clips of the Hallmark at