Visit to Sweden - July
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Stockholm around 7.30pm we still wanted to be in Älvdalen before the end of the
The prospect of a five hour journey should have been daunting, but it was
made totally palatable by the destination we headed for. The air of anticipation
was strong, and the continued beautiful surroundings kept our spirits high.
We made up time by stopping only minutes along the way, otherwise (like in
the UK) there were strategically placed speed cameras to keep you on your toes.
Interestingly different to the UK, the camera has to catch your face photo to
make a prosecution, so I'm surprised everyone doesn't drive around wearing a
Passing out of dense forest we entered the county just
after 11.30pm, and realised we hadn't quite arrived yet, so followed the
road until we found something we might recognise for a meeting point...
|A little known fact is that
Älvdalen is the furthest point in Sweden from the Scandinavian coastline,
and even more, it has it's own language which goes back many centuries. Way back in history the area was largely
isolated from other parts of Sweden, thus creating this unique form of
communication. The area has moved - usually through conflicts - from being
in Norway or being in Sweden. The final change came in the 17th Century
when 200 Swedish peasants settled in the then Norwegian area, claiming it
(to date, ha-ha) for Sweden. Alvdalen is also one of the places in Sweden
where the old pagan beliefs and Aesir Gods survived longest.
There are four main versions of the Swedish language
commonly used, whereas Älvdalens or Övdalien is only spoken now by less
than 2000 people.
In the not so distant history there were strong efforts to outlaw the
language altogether, and people were forced to speak it only at home. So,
before you think of the passion of music, you've got something pretty
special in this little hideaway in the world. You can read more about the
language here: [External link:
note: it is a Norwegian project!] Part of the areas insignia is the
crossbow - signifying times of conflict many centuries ago.
All I can say is that Älvdalen is a beautiful part of
the world. I think Sweden is beautiful generally, but there are so many
different aspects to the Dalarna region and Älvdalen itself - Mountains for
Skiing, Forests for hunting and camping with moose, bears and wolves,
Ancient Cabins and Barns, Rocky climbs and waterfalls, gorgeous clean
rivers and lakes, great fishing, - I could go on for ages without even
mentioning music actually...
Today there isn't the pressure to wipe it
out, and for those who speak it, a special ethnicity to be proud of. How
long it will survive depends largely on the younger generation keeping it
alive of course, but with the pull of ever easier travel, only time will
We continued on to the outskirts and came across an information
stopping area a mile or so before the town of Älvdalen.
Chris was again avidly playing that guitar in the back
of the car, and it was just after midnight Wednesday morning.
Sleeping when it felt right was a perfect way to ensure
that even at the age of eleven, full interest and participation could take
place all the way through the week.
point gave us a pause to stretch the legs, enjoy the view and make a phone-call
that culminated in being met and greeted by that amazing guy called Stefan. He
arranged with the local restaurant to take out some great food for supper. Very
kindly he also afforded the hospitality of his home overnight. Any thought of
tiredness was gone despite the fact we had a full day coming - only a few hours
Stefan you may know has been a key person in keeping the link with many
musicians looking to obtain spares through the Musitech music store. No matter
how your order or enquiry has been placed, inevitably he would try to fulfil the
needs and know where to lay hands on stock if there is some held locally.
He has grown up with Hagstrom in his blood and knows many facts that have
passed people by, or have been forgotten in the passage of time. Historically
close to the family, Stefan is soon to travel and consider his own future, as
time moves on, he's now a man with a vision of possibilities, so heaven forbid,
but he may soon be another part of the Hagstrom history too.
Also a very accomplished musician, Stefan plays a wide variety of instruments
regularly appearing in local groups and revival 'Dansbands'. So after many phone
calls and emails over the past year or more this meeting was another special
pleasure for everyone present.
|Stefan's own collection is very selective, but then he's
grown up in a good position to decide what he wants to collect.
For example, a new one on me, a better than Bigsby floating
bridge tremolo system, that he demonstrated for us, on the Viking 1.
He's used this guitar often for recording locally, and it was a
revelation in accuracy and staying in tune!
So why did this configuration remain a prototype?
Expense! It is a major piece of precision engineering that could have
dramatically increased the cost of your guitar.
This enhancement is truly "the dogs treasures" if only it was
possible to make it the standard even today, we'd all have a better tune
|It's easy to cry out in retrospect, but believe me, making
your way into the major guitar markets was difficult enough from Sweden,
without being even more expensive than Gibson and Fender!
Now many of
you will know the differences in tone from different Vikings and Jimmys
and, well... any semi acoustic vintage Hagstrom model.
Frankly Stefan's Viking sounded twice as good as the Deluxe (Elvis
model) but of course it gets used on stage occasionally and still
cherished for it's obvious 'specialness'.
||This Jimmy too, an early Bjarton bodied model is made even
more special by the signature of Karl Erik Hagstrom across the pickguard.
Many thanks to Stefan for all the interest, all the
organisation and all the welcomes we received on entering this place of
fable and fabulous history.
Later that day after a few hours sleep we would far
exceed our expectations with a special version of a visit to the museum,
we truly hoped to meet the founder of the guitar business for
Hagstrom, Karl-Erik Hagstrom Senior himself afterwards, but we were only
too aware of his fragility these days.
Time would tell...
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