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It was the first day of February 2007, when music journalist Lars Mullen drove to our house to take a look at the Heritage of vintage Hagstrom guitars. I hadn't quite realised the impact of getting all of them together, opening them up, spread out in our house - as of course we don't have them all sitting here every day - my wife wouldn't put up with it for one thing, and we can't play them all everyday even if we'd like to! So a few hours went into getting them all together, and getting all the stands and cases sorted ready for action!
Lars headed out very early in the morning from the West Country and as he wrote in the article later, in his Volvo, Abba blaring in the stereo. He arrived here four hours later to find what was in his own words one of the most fascinating stories. Yes, sure his initial view may form part of the story, but there's so much more to it: The history, the engineering developments, the people of Sweden, where Hagström fitted into the world music scene, and of course the instruments themselves. He was surprised by the variety, the quality, and after playing a few - just how damn good they are!
He especially enjoyed my old BJ12 acoustic. So big and friendly, almost as friendly as Lars himself, something reflected in his introduction to the final published article.
Reviewing the different models gave rise to more and more positive discussion one way or another. Be it for the sheer ingenuity of the original switch over from accordions to guitars that sparkle, or the transitions of Swedish engineering, we knew when we were looking at quirky, or world class quality. Fun or fantastic, the designs can make the competition look ugly, and anyone who misunderstood Hagstrom needed to be enlightened!
The initiated have always appreciated that there's more to an original Hagström than a quirky first guitar, and at least those models had a true look, sound and identity of their own. Take a look at a PB-24-G and how it morphed into the H-III in such a short time. But when you look at the detail and style of most of the models you realise a lot of thought went into this brand along the years from 1958 to 1981. Anyone that disputes this simply lends to the alternative argument that they were naturally good at bringing the best ideas together and designing something very cool. So any way you look at it, vintage Hagström deserves the cult status it now enjoys.
Taking aver 100 photo's in six or seven hours, interspersed with "just say that bit again", or "remember that line for later" he checked his dictation machine or scribbled something down, and before we knew it we'd experienced a long but enjoyable day.
He hadn't realised just how long we'd been working on it, yet he did realise we'd only scratched the surface of the "Hagström bug" that gets you once you start to delve. We touched on my book project, and I showed him some of the work I'd put together a while back. "I really don't know how we're going the get this down to 2500 words" he said, "...this deserves more", but that was the remit, and of course it would be down to the magazine to decide how much they wanted to use.
Realising the time, and that he had another four hours drive to get back home Lars threw caution to the wind and really got caught up in the project. Just another story for the magazine maybe, but we were getting on like a house on fire, (he's a great guy to chat to) trying this and that, looking through bits and pieces I found to show him.
My son Chris wanted to play everything of course whilst this was going on. After all, this was a rare opportunity to play so many different guitars and basses. His phone was now packed with additional picture material if we needed it, but of course the official photo's were somewhat bigger than his phone could do.
Chris also wanted to show Lars the different sounds, and we had some fun while also maintaining some kind of focus on the job in hand. It would have been all too easy to turn this into an additional eight hour session of fun.
Lars kept mentioning the Batman. He loved that one, joking about how I'd have to see him off the premises personally when we finished, otherwise he might take a fancy to it himself.
We took the final group photos with darkness showing through the conservatory windows, and of course we had to 'turn the tables' on Lars - to have his "mug shot" for the website in return for my ugly mug in the magazine!
He couldn't decide which guitar to hold for his own photo, but finally decided it had to be the Viking II/Deluxe for the shot. (Must be the Elvis thing eh?)
After the photo's were completed we went to my study to put some of the day-long conversations into context again. The dictation machine primed and ready, I took Lars through the most extreme précis possible, and with his flair for expression, I felt comfortable that the article should be a story worth reading.
We also realised we hadn't even stopped for lunch - just a toasted ham sandwich made by Chris hours ago followed by regular top up's of coffee through the day. There was me thinking we'd chat a bit, take a few shots, then maybe pop down the pub for lunch or something. None of it, like I say it had been all too easy to feast on Hagström for eight hours and more.
So it must have been a simple decision for Lars to accept a roast dinner invitation from my wife despite his impending four hour return journey. He joined us at the table with sincere thanks and we had a good chat about his music (he plays in bands as well as writing great music articles), while devouring roast potatoes and sliced lamb covered in rich gravy... gracious me, I feel hungry again!
Of course when we finally called it a day, Lars had a different music compilation to enjoy while driving home. Like so many he really had no idea just how much of a mark Hagström made all that time ago.
It would be difficult to find a more friendly
guy to spend a guitar day with, so thanks to you Lars, and
So, Frank Zappa (another major
fan) was wrong when he generalised:
It's a pity the H-8 hadn't arrived here for the story, but you can't have everything!
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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