Note: We will not be replicating the batch
history listings, as this detracts from the sale of the Hagström Gittarer Blue
Book, donated to Bälgdraget by Hagström in order to finance their activities in
association with former Hagström employees. The link to the site to your order
[The sequence of the original articles has been altered for continuity of reading rather than the separate published issues]
The initial Kents were available in Red or Baby Blue. We know that other colours including orange, black, grey and lavender were also made, but were probably later models. Some mystery surrounds these latter colours because the Hagströms don't remember making some of them, however examples keep popping up in original condition and their hues can not be easily explained by things such as fading or discoloration, though conceivably the orange and lavender models could be some strange environmental effect on red and grey plastics.
[Kent PB-24-G (Note indented body near jack socket)]
Some 8,766 Lucite faced (Lucite See
more) Kent guitars were made between '62 and '65. The
Lucite faced guitars were made through the end of '65 and were still present in
the '66 Merson catalog. By '67 the last of the plastic Hagstroms were gone.
There were, by the way, also some other models produced during this time that
were identical to the Kents but had other names, as we shall see.
Guild appear in association in a few places as we have
read, in the same year you see the Hagstrom tremolo on the Guild S100 Polara]
[CLICK to see the
Selmer UK 1964 catalogue pages]
[It has since been discovered that there was less
distinction between batches, and what "should be" a Kent may well be a Futurama.
The example body (shown above under 'Kents') comes from a batch of Kents but has
Futurama II Deluxe evident on the headstock! True Kent PB-24-G is the
first listing, but there are many overlaps in models.
If we look at this example closely you'll agree it is a Kent or Futurama, but in addition careful inspection shows it doesn't have the tapered edges to the body. In fact it is completely rounded. This is the model used by David Bowie.
That example was coloured red right up to the headstock, with the Kent logo and pearl topped tuners. This example is courtesy of Ed Brady, and by clicking on the picture, you will open the page where it is explored in more detail.
Final twist on this example: The neck doesn't say Futurama, Kent, or even Cromwell, it says Hagstrom-III on a black lacquered headstock shaped like the Futurama example shown above, indicative of the next step in this model's evolution!
Hey, something other than RED!
Bass [and new
The neck would be the new super-slim design. Earliest models had the oval pickups, replaced along the way with the new rectangular units.
[I have removed some sections of the article here, as there is new clearer information to replace the original published originally.
Note the wooden bridge on the models featured here, this was to remain for quite some time in the further evolution we will shortly read about...
We also see a Hagstrom IB from '66 with the squared Pickups]
In 1962 Hagstrom Rolled out the PB-24-BG ("BG for bass guitar) some 2545 of which were built though '64. These were Kents and took part in the name game that went on between the Kent and Hagstrom I guitars.
During that same period there were also 750 Kent New Model basses made. As with the Cromwell guitars, "new" meant laminated alder bodies and birch necks. Most were made in red and blue, but about 20 were shipped in grey.
In '65 Hagstrom shipped 500 Futurama basses to the U.K., with logs noting they, too, were "new." Between '64 and '66 another 2,425 Kent IB basses were made - again most likely a name change. Then in '65 - '66 the name was changed again to Hagstrom IB, and 3,314 were made. Probably at some point these changed from the stubby Kent head to a more Strat-style. Essentially all these Hagstrom IB's were the same and had the lucite front.
More importantly, these were neck-through-body guitars with natty colored
pushbutton controls mounted on a metal plate on the lower bout. The heads had a
slightly more pointed throat than the Strat-styles. These had deluxe covered Van
Ghent tuners. Plastic logos were on the body, like on the Kents.
Fingerboards were rosewood with dot inlays. Pickups were the black oval single-coils on metal surrounds screwed into the top, although at some point after ’65 these changed to the newer rectangular black single-coils. A little black laminated pickguard sat under the strings, but had the cool feature of a lever volume control plus a volume knob for presetting an accompaniment level. [See the mechanism in detail quite a way down Manfred Graeder's page]
[The name Corvette changed in the U.S.A. but not due to the General Motors reference above, indeed it was Gretsch that had registered the name. So those nice guys at Hagstrom changed the name to CONDOR... just in the U.S.A.]
Controls were the same for both guitars, with 0=standby, 1=neck pickup, 2=bridge pickup, Hi, Mid, Low, Solo, and Accompaniment. Both had a finetune bridge and Hagstrom vibrato, and were available in mahogany sunburst or red sunburst. The Impala and Corvette were made until ’67, by which time 1,123 and 1,078 were made of each, respectively.
[The Corvette has slightly different switiching: There are separate Solo (Lead) and Acc (Rhythm) buttons with their own volume adjustment; The Slider Control is the master, the (grey/silver) pot is the ACC VOLUME (Accompaniment / Rhythm) Red buttons marked L/M/H (Low Med High) 1/2/3 (Pickups) - 27 different Tone effects or combinations they say]
In ’63 Ben Davis, the owner of the Selmer Company in London, devised a cross between the Corvette and the Impala called the Automatic. Accommodating his wishes, Hagstrom produced the Automatic [Futurama] exclusively for Selmer, London, between ’63 and ’65.
Then there was a continental European Auto version too
- different again! See
["One of the rarest Hags ever, 199 recorded made. The two upper switches are a bit special, the inner is for standby and the outer one is for activation/deactivation of the tone control! The three lower switches are for selection of pickup. In a way much safer than the Corvette/Condor/Impala layout where it is quite easy to stand there with no signal output because you hit the wrong-, or too many switches accidentally." Details courtesy Anders Karlsson, guitar courtesy Peter Vreede]
Joining the Impala and Corvette in ’63 was the Coronado 1 bass. These were essentially the same, with a slightly rounder headstock and two rectangular Bi-Sonic pickups with eight poles* each on metal surrounds. Pickups were mounted on a center pickguard. The jack was still incorporated into the pickguard design, which was attached, by the way, with noticeably large screws. These had (of course) a bridge/tailpiece assembly. [*The Bisconics were actually poles and screws in shielded pairs, so the four string model has four poles with four adjusters (not eight poles) click the link in the above paragraph to read more about the high quality output this Hagstrom design provided. Thanks to Kurt for noticing this one]
There were four black pushbuttons, one for the neck pickup, the second for the bridge, and both could be pushed in for both pickups. The third and fourth buttons were filters designed “...to be adjusted to match input of connected amplifier.” A long bar that ran all across the bottom of both pickups appeared to be a fingerrest.
A rheostat lever volume control completed the picture. This bass was called the Coronado 1 until ’65, at which time the name was changed to the Coronado IV, and the bass became a bolt-neck. These lasted until ’70, and 1,010 were produced.
Six-string bass and three-pickup guitars
Except for the extra strings, this was identical to the Coronado I and was renamed the Coronado VI in ’65. Between then and ’66 another 50 were built.
[This family of guitars and basses has become one of the highest prized pro-player range on the vintage market for smooth and precise players.
The Bi-Sonic bass pickup was used by Guild on the Starfire and Guild m-85 basses for a while, and is now being re-manufactured - follow the link in the text above.]
From ’64 to ’65, Hagstrom produced another 2,001 Hagstrom De Luxe IIIs and 1,000 Hagstrom De Luxe IIs. Again, if the De Luxe pattern holds, that would indicate binding and block inlays, but this is far from certain.
One example of what is probably a Hagstrom De Luxe III fits with what we know about the transition from Kent to Kent I to Hagstrom I. This guitar had the new Strat-style head, finished in natural. It also had the old Kent mini-Strat body, but it was not covered in plastic and vinyl, but rather finished in a solid color. It still had the logo on the upper horn, which fits with the Kent I, and it still had the old oval single-coils, now three, of course. It also had a new metal compensated bridge, by the way.
Let’s talk briefly about bridges, because this might also be some sort of clue to what “De Luxe” meant at the time. The earliest Kents had a wooden bridge, a simple affair on a wooden bass with bits of fretwire to provide intonation compensation. By ’65, at least, a metal compensated bridge was employed. These can be seen on Hagstrom IIs and the just-mentioned probable Hagstrom De Luxe III. Finally, some Hagstrom models from the mid ’60s are seen with finetune adjustable bridges. There is always a possibility these were player modifications, but some were used on Corvettes and Impalas, so we know Hagstrom employed some finetune bridges around this time. Could it be that the De Luxe appellation indicated better hardware during this transitional period? Maybe better hardware and the opaque finish, rather than lucite and vinyl?
Well, we have to leave some mysteries for future researchers to solve, don’t we?
From Kent to Hagstrom I
We also know from existing examples that at some point after ’65 and before ’67 the pickups changed to a newer, slightly wider rectangular black single-coil, like that found on later Corvettes, Hagstrom IIs, and most other models. The Hagstrom 12, introduced in ’65, is almost always seen with these newer rectangular models. In the production logs the first batch of Hagstrom I’s were made between ’65 and ’66, and my guess is that these carried the old oval pickups. [Some of this batch certainly had rectangular pickups, but were still effectively the PB-24-G style complete with swimming pool - probably to use up stock!] Two more large batches were produced in ’66-’67 and it’s quite probable these carried the new rectangular pickups. The rectangular pickups were available by ’65 on the Viking, although some examples of these are seen with metal covers with screen holes, not plastic covers. Thus we can probably point to late ’65 or ’66 as the year when the oval pickups were replaced by the rectangular ones.
Several other changes probably pertain to the Hagstrom I. While the earliest models were undoubtedly the lucite/vinyl Kent-style guitars, it’s not certain they made it to the end with this finish. It’s hard to believe the vinyl lasted to ’71. Some other guitars made a transition to solid colors at this time.
A handful of other guitars should be mentioned while we’re on the subject. Between ’64 and ’65 Hagstrom produced some 2,000 guitars called the Hagstrom De Luxe. Unlike later guitars with the DeLuxe designation, which was given to guitars with bound fingerboards and block inlays, these were standard Hagstrom guitars ordered by Merson/Unicord with the DeLuxe name.
Basically these were the Hagstrom II and III. Hagstrom didn’t like this model designation, and after some discussion these became the Hagstrom II and III in Europe and the F-200 and F-300 in the U.S. Between ’65 and ’66, 2,049 Hagstrom De Luxe basses were also made, like the guitars, for Merson/Unicord. This dizzying use of different model names and number designations in different markets accounts for a great deal of confusion among Hagstrom enthusiasts.
[For a view of a page from the 66 catalogue F200 F300 etc, click the 66 catalogue cover to open the exact page for '66]
Finally, in ’68 and ’69 some 200 Hagstrom 1-0 guitars were made. These were specially made for Hagstrom’s Canadian distributor, ARC Sound in Toronto. The 1 meant that they had only one pickup, and the 0 indicated that they were stoptails, with no Tremar vibrato.
Around ’66, the vinyl was abandoned for opaque colors. Another 4,824 Hagstrom Is were made until ’71, when the model bit the dust.
[The last HI batch made ('71) was was also a special batch for Canada. They used the tailpiece from their sparkle tops, also the same Humbucker pu that is used on the Partner (later). The red colour is the same on the back of the neck Notice just a Volume and Tone control. details courtesy of Bernie Van]
Finally, logs suggest the Hagstrom IB was revived between '71 and '73, however, it seems strange the lucite and vinyl instruments of the '60s would have been hip enough to market to the '70s crowd. Whether these simply shared the name or were actually the same is unknown.
[Fortunately we can update this last paragraph now. Here we see one of the new era HIB's, also known as an F100B in the Canadian catalogues of the time.
It was special, in that it was originally all sent to Canada, had unexpected variations that would have been specifically noted with other models. Some pass this model off as a bit of a "job lot", others swear by a special tone, declaring a personal "holy grail" when they get a good one...
The pickup seem to vary between (as here)
the wide pole as used in an 8 string model (getting ahead of ourselves
here...) But even more fascinating was the simple neck plate - no,
stay with me now... it really is an interesting point...
So what caused the swap?
Next Time: Eight Strings, Twelve, Amps, Vikings and ELVIS!
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