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Vintage Guitar magazine
"The Fastest Necks" - Originally a three part publication in
Vintage Guitar Magazine
- is reproduced here with permission from the respected author:
Michael Wright - "The Different Strummer"
- Vintage Guitar M
agazine.

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There is new information since the original publication,
[which will be added in brackets] to indicate an update note by Hagstrom UK.

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 copy is:
The Hagström Book - PLEASE DON'T JUST PUBLISH THE LIST (Info)

Latest update 7th March 2005

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Part FOUR of SEVEN! - [ ONE - TWO - THREE - FOUR - FIVE - SIX - SEVEN ]
     
Swedish Hagström Guitars -
by Michael Wright

Hagstrom’s “SG”
The vinyl Kent and vegematic Corvette/Impala/Coronado guitars and amps were arguably the most endearing Hagstroms and reflect the exuberance of the ’60s guitar boom. Signs that Hagstrom was beginning to change its image appeared in around ’65 with the introduction of the Hagstrom II and Hagstrom III guitars and Hagstrom II B basses. Basically, these were still offset double-cutaway solidbodies with shorter, pointed horns, more similar to a Gibson SG – almost presaging the Guild S-100 of the ’70s. The bodies were mahogany finished in red or blue (no more vinyl) and had a wide bevel around the outer edge – not quite a German carve. The bolt-on necks had the new Strat-style heads, rosewood boards, and dot inlays. Logos were either Hagstrom II or Hagstrom III decals on the heads.

Initially, pickups were the same as the old black oval Kent single-coils, either two or three mounted on metal surrounds which were then screwed onto a large white multi-ply pickguard that echoed the old Kent shape. Indeed, these even had the control stencil of the Kent. Controls were essentially the same as the Kent. The Hagstrom II was the same, whereas the Hagstrom III added the extra slider for the middle pickup, and yet another switch for something called “Top.” Another on/off sliding switch was placed above the strings, like a Gretsch standby. The jack was no longer part of the pickguard, but was now top mounted with chrome housing like a Stratocaster. Both still had the finetune bridge and Hagstrom vibrato. The bass, of course, lacked a vibrato. Beginning in around ’66 (if not earlier) the pickups changed to the new rectangular pickups, and the pickguard lost the old Kent stencils.

From ’65 to ’67, Hagstrom also made another of its more famous guitars, the Hagstrom 12(-string), which was endorsed in ads by Frank Zappa of the Mothers of Invention. These were identical to the Hagstrom II except there were no vibratos, the pickups were slightly larger rectangular single-coils, and the head was a large six-and-six with a Gibson-ish open-book crown. These were offered in red, blue, and sunburst.

The Hagstrom II and III lasted until ’72, though a few more IIs were made in ’75 and ’76 and some IIIs were revived in ’77; it’s unknown if these latter ones were identical; it’s almost certain that the ’70s models had different pickups, but this is a guess. These are referred to as H II and H III, by the way, as became common in the ’70s; whether this had any significance is unknown. A total of 9,015 Hagstrom IIs and 11,490 Hagstrom IIIs were produced. The Hagstrom II B bass bit the dust in ’70, after 6,767 were built. The Hagstrom 12 only lasted until ’67, after 3,484 were made. As mentioned, in the U.S., the Hagstrom II was known as the F-200 Futura, the Hagstrom III was the F-300 Futura, and the Hagstrom II B bass was the F-400.

[you may wish to open the Merson 1967 brochure page to see the Futura models CLICK HERE]

A hundred of one mystery model, the Hagstrom II/6 N.P., were made in ’70. No clue.

Mid-’60s amps and the 8-string bass
In ’65 Hagstrom offered five amplifiers, a couple cabinets and an echo chamber.

The amps included the Hagstrom 26, 210 Bass, 310, GA 85, and 620 amplifiers.

The Hagstrom 26 Tremolo amplifier was a nifty little portable self-contained in its own two-tone case, about the size of a small typewriter.

This had three tubes (EZ80, ECC83, EL84), one ticonal-magnet loudspeaker, two inputs, 10 watts output and tremolo. It weighed 9-3/4 pounds.

 

 

[As for the "chamber"...

Echo's of Watkins abound here, just to confuse things further
it was branded a Kent!

More pictures available on the amps page

 

This was in fact the early tube version Watkins (WEM) unit invented by
Charlie Watkins in 1958 and manufactured in England
- See the page BY CLICKING HERE]

 

The Hagstrom 210 Bass Amplifier was a piggyback covered in tweed. The head offered 10 watts of power with three tubes (two ECLL800, ECC83) and two diodes. [Actually the 210 had two tubes, one ECLL800 and on ECC83 - Many thanks to Claes Åkerlund from Sweden for supplying this correction]

The front control panel had two inputs, speaker jack, on/off switch, and volume and filter (tone) knobs. The cabinet was rectangular with a dark grille, white plastic logo on the upper right corner, and one 12” speaker.

[There is a wide range of amps and PA equipment detailed on the amps page, some schematics are also available - click any picture to open the page

Hagstrom wishing to be pioneering or at least different created some problems for themselves too. By diving 'head first' into the solid state transistor age, they found themselves with a moving target more akin to the modern evolution of Personal computers today. Karl Erik is known to have said they could have made more money importing manure from China and exporting it all over the world at least it's always needed, and it doesn't change! Too often they made something new then technology moved on, and the very next order for components meant a change of spec too. Imagine the fun when it came to requests for spares and servicing even then, let alone now when we scour the likes of eBay for that elusive part!]

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Hagstrom holds the distinction (I believe) of building the world’s first production 8-string bass with its Hagstrom 8-string Bass, with 2,199 produced from ’67 to ’69. This was basically the Hagstrom II B with a strange four-and-four head with a kind of winged design which would soon appear on other guitars. These were more like a 12-string in concept, with string pairs in octaves, so there were still four courses.

   

HEAR AN MP3 SPECIALLY RECORDED BY SVEN BORNEMARK USING AN H8 BASS
Credits: Bass recorded in a hurry by Sven Bornemark. Drums by Groove Agent.
[EXTERNAL LINK TO THE GROOVE AGENT DRUM SYSTEM]

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Viking semi-hollowbodies
In ’65 Hagstrom also expanded its repertoire into semi-hollowbody electric guitars with the Viking. These were basically bolt-neck versions of the Gibson ES-335s.

These had a neck with a Strat-style six-in-line headstock, rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays, two pickups, elevated pickguard, f-holes, a narrow metal finetune bridge and harp trapeze tailpiece with a Hagstrom lion crest at the bottom.

The sides on these early Vikings appear to have been flamed maple, probably a laminate. Electronics included new-style rectangular single-coil pickups with a three-way select on the treble horn and two volume and two tone controls down hear the lower f-hole.

Indeed, these pickups appear to have been developed for the Viking, later migrating to other models.

Hagstrom production logs refer to this guitar variously as plain Viking or Viking I (9,241 total made). In ’67 a second Viking model was added to the line, a more upscale Viking II. Fingerboards on these were bound ebony with block inlays, a natty double-line at the octave. Headstock and f-holes were also bound. Hardware was gold plated. A thousand Viking IIs were made through ’68. Both Vikings were available with a Bigsby option. These were shipped to Merson/Unicord without tails and a real Bigsby “Golden Tone” vibrato with Hagstrom and an H cast into the base was mounted onto the guitar. In ’67 Hagstrom made 651 Viking 12-strings. Viking color options included mahogany sunburst, golden mahogany sunburst, and cherry red.

[There is a pictorial chronology for the Viking Model on the Hagstrom UK Viking Page]
 

There are a multitude of colours and finishes on Hagstrom guitars, but have you seen the Bubinga Viking? Also known as African rosewood, Bubinga is medium red-brown with purple veining, native to the African continent. Go and see the view!  Also to see the Viking Visitors Page click on the underlined link.]

From ’65 to ’71 Hagstrom also made a bass version of the Viking called the Concord or Concord 1. This had a bound body, f-holes, two rectangular single-coils (four poles), a metal finetune bridge and the fancy harp trapeze tailpiece with lion crest.

This had the conventional switching system, with a three-way select down on the treble horn and two volume and two tone controls. This had a Fender-style head, rosewood fingerboard, and dot inlays. It was available at least in sunburst. Some 2,749 of these were built.

Finally, in ’67 Hagstrom introduced its most famous Viking, the Viking De Luxe. This was pretty much similar to the Viking II.

It’s from this guitar that we know that the De Luxe nomination was given to some guitars with bound fingerboards and headstocks and block inlays, although as we see throughout this tale, the term was used on other instruments without all these features.

Pickups were the new rectangular single-coils, with metal covers and black plastic surrounds.

The Viking De Luxe had gold hardware, including a finetune bridge mounted on an ebony base.

The fingerboard was bound ebony with blocks, including the split or double block at the octave. This had an elevated pickguard, three-way select on the treble horn, two volume, and two tone controls.

The tail was an oval harp trapeze with a red Hagstrom lion crest at the bottom. It was this guitar which Elvis chose to play on his wildly successful ’68 TV comeback special. Only 350 of these were made.

In ’67-’68 Hagstrom also made 150 De Luxe basses, presumably with the same fancy appointments.  [Yep]

 

[There is also another undocumented batch of Concord Deluxe Basses, working from serial numbers it appears be a follow on from a batch of Viking Deluxe also around 1968. The same year a batch of Viking 1N was produced with the Strat style head, but we will go into that later eh?]

 

 

 

Next Time: includes Scandis, Jimmys, Bjarton, and Swede!

Part FOUR of SEVEN! - [ ONE - TWO - THREE - FOUR - FIVE - SIX - SEVEN ]   HOMEPAGE

Vintage Guitar magazine
"The Fastest Necks" - Originally a three part publication in
Vintage Guitar Magazine
- is reproduced here with permission from the respected author:
Michael Wright - "The Different Strummer"
- Vintage Guitar M
agazine.

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There's nothing like a REAL original Swedish made Hagstrom (and there are loads around), but if it 'floats your boat', or you can't find an original then who are we to say?

Plenty has been said already and
will be said forever forward probably.
Only you know what's right for you!