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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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This set of pages is till under development. Latest Update 9th April 2004.
There is also 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)

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

Hagstrom Echoes
Indeed according to Karl-Erik Hagström, it was these first Hagstrom sparkle guitars which provided a model for later EKO guitars. One of the products sold through the Hagstrom Music stores was the echo device made by Binson. Binson, in turn was the Italian representative for Hagstrom's instruments. Quite a few were ordered by Binson, and shortly thereafter Pigini's EKO company was named as the Italian representative for Binson's echo units. Right after these two events, EKO introduced its own sparkle covered guitars. Since EKO was an accordion manufacturer, they had plenty of the sparkle celluloid. Hagstrom considered these new Italian designs a ripoff of its own concept. Since there was a direct connection running from Hagstrom through Binson to EKO, this view was probably justified. However it should be noted that Gretsch, which also manufactured sparkle plastic-covered drums began making sparkle-finished Duo-Jets in the mid-fifties, so the idea was not new. [In fact for every early EKO sparkle there was also competition from Crucianelli until these two companies moved in their own directions EKO with solids and acoustics, Crucianelli with semi-acoustics (España). Interesting that Pigini - who also died young, aged 44 - learned his trade working for Sante Crucianelli originally famous as an Italian accordion manufacturer - a tangled web eh? If it had not been for the temporary demise of EKO in '70 these two companies would have probably merged.

As for echo units themselves, there's more on this later, think Kent Thin Watkins Copicat... wait for it, later on].

Hagstrom Amplifiers
All these could be played through a strange beast of an amp - the hagstrom 510 Hi-Fi Amplifier, made by Hagstrom itself. The 510 Hi-Fi was a small rectangular amp, with the top covered in a dark, padded vinyl, the lower portion in a light vinyl. The grille was a light cloth with a rectangular Hagstrom logo plate on the upper right corner and a large plastic four point star attachment on the lower left. This came with a 10" speaker, six tubes, and 12 watts of output. It had chicken beak bakelite knobs, what appears to be 4 inputs and volume and tone, plus one other control. One knob selected the voltage: 110, 127, 220, and 240.

This was touted as also being useful for amplifying radios, phonograph players, and microphones, in addition to instruments. Availability dates are unknown, but it was probably at least available during the De Luxe/Standard run, if not before. [Interestingly the Hagstrom 510 and 614 amps were actually based on a British "Mullard 510 Hi Fidelity amplifier kit" - click the picture to open the page to reveal all]

Complete information on Hagstrom amps is not available, but apparently the company produced quite a few different models. We have information on at least two the BT-40 and PA-80, which were available later in the sixties. The PA-80 was one of the first public address system amps. It was a solid state head covered in dark tolex with a large chrome handlebar. This offered four separate channels, each with one output, volume, treble, middle, and bass controls. Each had a sliding on/off switch for echo. One master volume control sat in the middle of the faceplate. This offered 80 watts of output.

Unfortunately, when Karl-Erik tried to market these in the U.S., he was told clubs already had PA systems built into the stage, so the unit was not terribly successful. Presumably the BT-40 was a Bass unit with 40 watts output. Few other details are known, but you might be interested to know that these amplifiers were sold in the U.S. as Guild amplifiers!

[Two of the nicest combos the 310 - a super 15 watt valve, and the fabulous 39 are not covered yet, they are touched on later, along with the the larger 2x12 GA85 Reverb solid State amp. They can also be seen on the amps page by clicking one of the pictures above.  There are other items such as great PA systems, Hagstrom "Super Dynamic Echo Unit", plus.......... hey, just click a pic eh?   Oh yes the Guild amp is shown just for interest, I don't know if this model was anything to do with Hagstrom... I'm waiting for your info and pics - as always!]

 

Goya/Hershman
Hagstrom's initial De Luxe and Standard guitars were picked up for distribution in the U.S. by Hershman, New York, carrying the Goya name. Hershman had been using this name on acoustic guitars (also made in Sweden) by the Levin company. Announced in '59 in The Music Trades for the summer NAMM show and describing these guitars as solidbodies, the Goya Models 90 and 80 were, in fact, our friends the grand concert sized Hagstrom Deluxe and concert sized Standard hollowbodies. They were identical, except for a plastic script "G" logo on the head instead of the Hagstrom moniker on the upper shoulder. In one ad the Goya model 80 is shown with a slightly more rounded than seen on the ads for the Hagstrom Standard, which, like the De Luxe, had a point on the rear end.  There were a number of finish options. Both could be had with a mahogany plastic front with black back [solid mahogany lacquered front]  black front/black back, gold sparkle front with black, blue sparkle front with white back, and red sparkle front with white back. In addition a green sparkle model was available. The model 90 listed for $135, the model 80 for $90. Indeed the Goya guitars made for Hershman are among the rarest Hagstroms. Production lasted only a year from 1960 to '61, and only 177 model 90s and 370 Model 80s were built.

[since original publication it is known that these finishes could also be found on the Hagstrom models, the script "G" was not always used, mostly a Goya "moniker" directly replaced the Hagstrom one as is shown in the example from the Hagstrom UK collection - which has both. There were also Goya Basses produced we estimate about 150 at the end of the Hagstrom branded run referred to in the earlier section. Pictures are available on the the Hagstrom UK Visitors pages]

 

Merson
Between '57 and '67 Albin's son Karl-Erik Hagström, served as export manager for the company, and worked the U.S. market between '59 and '62. He did a pretty good job, because during the '60s about 90% of Hagstrom's guitars went to export markets. In addition to the U.S., export markets included the U.K., where they were sold by Selmer carrying the Futurama brand name [and Bell under the Hagstrom name] as well as in Germany, Mexico, Argentina and Italy. In any case, Karl Erik was busy preparing changes, learning a lot about guitar making during his years in the U.S.

IN '61, Hagstrom changed agents from Hershman to Merson, the NYC-based distributor founded by Bernie Mersky and run by Ernie Briefel, which would later merge with Sid Hack's Unicord be associated with brand names like Univox, Westbury, Giannini, Tempo, and Stage amplifiers, and would eventually transmogrify into the modern Korg company (another story) Merson would sell Hagstroms under the Hagstrom moniker. The Goya name belonged to Hershman, which continued to sell the brand on acoustics; some later Goya solidbodies would come from Italy, but no relation to our Swedish subject. Immediately following Hagstrom's switch to Merson, Hershman picked up distribution of the new sparkle-covered EKO guitars, by the way. Apparently, the move from Herman to Merson was accompanied by some bad feelings.

While working out his new deal for Hagstrom, Karl-Erik also managed to snare the contract for Hagstrom Musik stores to sell Fender guitars in Scandinavia. Hagstrom also distributed Gibson and Guild guitars, by the way, explaining the vibrato relationship with Guild. That Hagström's subsequent mini Strat-shaped Kents followed the official relationship with Fender is a curious coincidence.

 

[During this period a few more developments of the sparkle genre continued with the Deluxe and infamous Deluxe Ä which adopted many aliases such as "Duckfoot" or - my favourite...  "The Batman!"

This model with it's apparent one piece solid body was in fact the first Hagstrom set neck guitar, produced in a very small batch of 225. These models are now one of the highest prized collector item to the Hagstrom enthusiast, and this neck style (not the headstock shape though) was soon to feature on a very pro-style model, and one of the best guitars they ever produced...  later, later! ] :-)

 

Classical Guitars
Karl-Erik had intended to remain in the U.S., however in 1962 he returned to Sweden to help run the company. Wisen's death in '67 gave Karl-Erik full control of A.B. Hagstrom, and his extensive observation of the American market would greatly influence the evolution of the Hagstrom line.

One thing Karl-Erik noted in America (and further evidence of friction after the separation) was Hershman's success with the Levin-made Goya acoustics. This inspired Karl-Erik to return to Sweden and strike a deal with a small stringed instrument maker in Bjarnum, a small village outside of Hassleholm [in the Malmo region of Sweden]. The result was a line of acoustic guitars bowing in around '63 which were sold through Buegeleisen and Jacobson in New York carrying the España brand name, as Karl-Erik comments, to the great annoyance of Hershman.

These were also sold to Fender carrying the Tarrega brand name, and in London carrying the Rosetti brand name. These appear to be nylon-stringed classical guitars, since the scarce references refer to them as "Classic Guitars," and all illustrations are for classicals. These seem to have lasted only about a year; in '64 B&J [introduced, and then] switched to the Landola factory for its España guitars.

Little detailed information is available on the '63 classicals, but they were basically Spanish-shaped (not dreadnoughts), distinguished by size and materials. These had marquetry rosettes and various amounts of binding. All featured fan bracing. Some may have carved relief on the headstocks. The first batch of España guitars for B&J included the concert sized SL1 ($99.50 list), SL2 ($179.50), SL3 ($199.50), and SL4 ($309.50). No descriptions are available, but figure them to be mahogany, walnut, and rosewood. Also these probably had solid spruce tops. The initial concert sized SLs  were soon joined by two new models, the SL11 ($99.50), and SL12 ($139.50). The SL11 was a concert in blonde maple. The SL12 was a larger bodied grand concert in the same materials as the SL1. At least one other España the SL22 would appear, a grand concert with a maple body. The slotted headstocks on the Españas had a large centre hump with a small squiggle on either side.

The Fender Tarrega guitars debuted in '63 and were essentially the same as España Guitars, but had a different headstock design, with two smaller humps on either side of a centre dip. At least three different grand concert models were offered. the FT-116, FT-114, and FT-113 although there were undoubtedly other concert sizes too. The FT-116 was rosewood with maple purfling, rosewood head facing and bridge, ebony fingerboard, and gold-plated tuners with pearl buttons.  The FT-113 featured matched walnut back and sides, with ebony fingerboard and nickel-plated hardware. The FT-114 was the same except for a blond maple body. The Tarregas were offered until '69.

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[It should also be noted that Bjärton had been working with Hagstrom before '63, utilising it's acoustic body expertise.

In 1962 Bjärton adopted the Hagstrom plug-in rectangular pu unit, and placed it inside a few prototype semi-acoustics. One of these had a very familiar 'teardrop' soundhole style.

 Karl-Erik Hagstrom senior recently kindly advised me about another Bjarton semi-acoustic we assume to be of around the same time: " it was made at the Bjärton guitar factory in a very small amount. I didn't know that we exported any of this model. It is shown on the last inner page in the BB."*   The two early versions of Bjarton semi-acoustics come from around 1962, before the advent of a Hagstrom branded semi-acoustic in 1965.]

 *the BB: The Hagström Book - PLEASE DON'T JUST PUBLISH THE LIST (Info)

Next Time: New Bass, Kents, Guild Cromwells, Futurama and much more!

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

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!