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Terry Spurgeon takes us back to old España
                    ...via the Royal Canadian Air Force!

 

February 2004:
David: Here as promised is info about my España classical. The story also contains details of another España (wee bit older) belonging to my friend. A comparison of these two guitars is somewhat illuminating regarding España import history in N. America.  Cheers Terry

España Guitar Odyssey

This is the story of a well travelled España six string classical guitar. A second España classical belonging to my friend Peter is also involved. Both guitars dating from the 1960s survive in excellent condition and provide some insight into España guitars built by Bjarton in Sweden.

My España was purchased in Winnipeg, Manitoba sometime between April 1965 and July 1967. At the time I was in Winnipeg as a pilot flying Beechcraft C-45s (Beech 18) and Douglas C-47s (the DC-3)with the RCAF. My pilot logbooks help in detailing the history of my España. The guitar was purchased at a major department store but I cannot remember whether it was Eatons or The Bay (Hudson Bay Company). Eatons is now defunct and so far my research into archival copies of their ubiquitous seasonal catalogues has not born fruit but may yet. The Hudson Bay Company has extensive archives dating from the fur trade period in Canada (I’m not that old!) so maybe some info will yet emerge from this source. The indication elsewhere on the Internet by another owner who notes the purchase of his España from Eatons during a similar time may prove significant.

Regrettably, the other España belonging to my long-time friend is no help in so far as identifying the vendor. He simply cannot remember where he bought it except it also was purchased in Winnipeg. It was bought sometime in the year prior to my purchase and this proves significant insofar as serial numbers and marking are concerned. More on this aspect later. 

If my memory is at all reasonable I believe I paid $99.99 for my España. That was plenty of money at the time. It has resided for many years with me in barracks, a variety of apartments, homes and it got around a bit during this time too! It spent nine months in the Canadian Arctic at DEWLine sight FOX. I have a picture of my tiny barrack room in which the España is clearly visible. I was based at FOX from August 1967 to August 1968.  

After leaving the Arctic (yippee!) I flew the deHavilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo with the RCAF in Montreal, Quebec from whence we travelled the world quite a bit. The España accompanied me on a stay in Germany during 1969-70 where the soundboard was heavily scratched by an over-exuberant, inebriated pick user (not me) at a party. This led to the first refinishing job which removed the soundboard scratches. Subsequently the guitar has resided in Comox, British Columbia and finally in Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver, where it lives today.

The España guitar belonging to my friend Peter moved from Winnipeg in 1966 and has been located in Lions Bay, British Columbia since that time. This guitar has also been refinished once and lacks the characteristic gold lettered “Espana” on the headstock. It was sanded off but the interior labels and serial number remain intact.

My España is serial# 62721. The serial number is stamped on the label affixed inside the body. The circular label is gold foil with the usual “Espana” markings. The label reads: Imported by España Guitars,20 East 16th Street, New York 3, NY. It clearly indicates “Made in Sweden” with the statement “Finest Guaranteed Quality”. The single labelling seems to identify later guitars than the one belonging to my friend.

My friends’ guitar has three labels inside the body and no serial number inside. The serial number on his guitar is located on the top of the headstock. The number is stamped into the wood by a punch. The serial numbers, and there are two, read: H1459 and 48225. The former is read from the rear of the guitar and the latter from the front. The three inside labels from top to bottom include a small white rectangular label that reads: Imported by: España Guitars 20E, 15th Street, New York 3, New York. The middle label is the circular gold foil España Guitar label which also says Finest Guaranteed Quality. The lower label is a small gold sticker that reads Made in Sweden.

A comparison with the single label on my España to that of the assumed older version of my friend is instructive. It seems with the passage of time a more complete single label containing all the information emerged reducing the number of labels. This included the placing of the serial number inside rather than on the headstock. Identical in nearly all other respects there are several minor cosmetic differences between the two guitars. The frets on his have a brassy colour whereas mine are more silver coloured. The strap button on the body base on his is plain and white where mine is slightly more fancy. The circular soundhole rosette is similar but where mine has green colour segment in the alternating bits his has lighter dark brown alternating with dark and light bits.

The tuners on both guitars are the same with some minor triangle shaped incised patterning. The dimensions of both guitars are the same. The length from headstock tip to body bottom is 38 ½ inches(97.8cm), the width of the body upper bout is 11 inches (27.94 cm), the lower bout is 14 1/4 inches (36.2 cm) wide and the body has a constant depth of 3 11/16 inches (9.4 cm). The soundhole has a diameter of 3 ½ inches (8.9 cm).  The bridge is 7 ½ inches (19 cm) in length. My guitar has recently been refinished to remove the yellowish cast the 1970s refinish took on over the years. It is notable that this latest refinish has resulted in the guitar sounding better with greater sustain and a more ringing sound. All-in-all it remains an excellent instrument whose owner can in no way take full musical advantage of. Lessons are finally in the offing!

 

Terry Spurgeon

February 2004

From: David Cox at Home To: 'Terry Spurgeon' Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 2:36 PM Subject: RE: PS Dear Terry,   Thank you very much for the time and effort you have taken. It is very much appreciated, and will be featured very soon under a “Hagstrom Stories” under the Visitors section.
The personal insight and background is what makes more of a tapestry for the website… some call it a maze too, but hopefully fun as well as informative for all.   There is a new feature starting very soon, where the whole history of Hagstrom – including references to España – will be republished having received permission from Michael Wright of Vintage Guitars magazine, and the blessing of Messer’s Hagstrom and Hagstrom J:r.  (Now available to read)
Thank you for making contact, and again for your input, it is appreciated, being the only profit there is from this project!   Kind regards,   David

David:   Your welcome. Your site is a big help and got me moving with early and useful info. I will be looking forward to seeing the stuff you mentioned showing up. Also, glad to hear my stuff might see the light of day.   Sounds like this keeps you quite busy. My past experience with websites has sensitized me a bit to how much work is involved. In my case it helps to be retired, although I don't seem to have much time on my hands what with trying to catch up with amateur radio, archery, archaeology, rc aircraft and guitars all at the same time. All things I should have done when I was fuzzy cheeked.   Now all I have to find is an Electric Hagstrom. Electric being my next journey in the world of guitars. Of course finding one that I can afford might be a chore.   Cheers   Terry

See also the ESPANA CATALOGUE PAGE (Update Oct 04)    See also The Hagstrom Hub - (Who dealt with Who)

Comment / Contribution email Jul 2007:
Hi Folks, came across this article. The distributor in New york at the time for these guitars was B+J distributors (Buegelsen and Jacobsen) They also distributed Degas guitars. I have both an Espana acoustic and Hagstrom electric from the early 60's as well as other guitars. hope this helps. Andy Raio

There must be loads of stories (and pics) around from the last forty years, why not share them with us!

 

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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!