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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)

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

This month [page] we conclude the Hagstrom saga with a brief review. But first, a housekeeping point.

George Gruhn took exception to my opinion that Hagstrom was the first to offer a pushbutton pickup selector system, and he rightly pointed out that the triple-pickup Epiphone Emperor had a six-button system in 1952, and Guild introduced a virtually identical system in ’54 on its triple-pickup X-350 model. I had been focusing on ’60s solidbodies, primarily those by the Italian makers such as EKO, Gemelli, and Crucianelli, and wasn’t thinking backward. Actually, given the fact Hagstrom and Guild were quite close over the years (remember, Hagstrom built some Guild amps and supplied the vibrato used on ’60s Guild solidbodies), it’s quite possible Hagstrom was encouraged by the Guild, although pushbuttons are dear to the hearts of most accordion players, so we might not have to look any further than Hagstrom’s own squeezeboxes.

Okay, let’s review: the Hagstrom company was founded by Albin Hagström (1905-’52) in Alvdalen, Sweden, in 1921 as an accordion importer. In late ’31 or early ’32 Hagstrom began manufacturing Hagström accordions. Founder Albin Hagstrom passed away in ’52, but the company continued on. In ’58, Hagstrom began guitar and amplifier manufacturing. Hagstrom’s first guitars were the sparkle plastic-covered acoustic/electrics with replaceable pickup assemblies. These were introduced in the United States as Goya electrics marketed by Hershman in ’59. Hagstrom’s first bass appeared in ’61. In ’62 Hagstrom began selling acoustic guitars made by the Swedish manufacturer Bjarton, sold in the U.S. as Fender Tarrega and Buegeleisen & Jacobson Espana guitars. Also in ’62 Hagstrom dropped the sparkle guitars for the new vinyl-covered Kents with lucite fronts and the “swimming pool” pickup assembly.

The new Fender-style lucite/vinyl basses appeared in ’63, as did the glued-neck Impala and Corvette guitar and Coronado Bass, complete with vegematic [?] pushbuttons. A three-pickup Hagstrom debuted in ’64. In ’65 the Kent name and lucite guitars were transitioned to the Hagstrom name, and the new all-wood “SG” shape debuted. In that year the semi-hollow Viking thinlines also began. In ’66 Hagstrom-brand acoustics, still made by Bjarton, bowed. In ’67 Hagstrom introduced the first eight-string bass. In ’68 Jimmy D’Aquisto was hired to design some jazz guitars known as the Jimmy, though only a few were produced at that time. In ’69 the new “winged” headstock debuted, and ’70 saw of the introduction of Hagstrom’s “Les Paul,” called the Swede.

Lucite (See more)

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New Vikings
In ’72 the venerable Viking thinlines got a remake with the Viking I N. It’s not clear exactly what distinguished these from earlier or later Vikings, but the N argues for a new three-and-three headstock. [actually new electrics] Whether this was the winged head (like HIIN) or the newer D’Aquisto design. My guess is the latter, based on the presence of the Swede heads, and the fact that in ’76 these were replaced by the Jimmy jazzboxes and D’Aquisto-headed Vikings [the same Viking 1N's]. It seems unlikely Hagstrom would have stuck the ungainly winged head on a thinline. In any case, this probably featured the new metal-covered humbuckers, the twin volumes and tones, three-way select and probably three-way tone switch. [Yes, and the other distinction was the 'F' hole was now an 'S' hole] By the end of the run on the Viking I Ns in ’75, 1,845 had been made. These were called the Scandia in the U.S., by the way. [BTW: "Scandia", - not to be confused with "Scandi" - LOL!
Click: '75 AMPEG catalogue for "Scandia" (Viking 1N) plus all the other confusing alternative names that came out that year!!!

I also have to interject at this point "ungainly winged head"? This was more in line with the shape of a Gibson, and a sharper version of the mid way headstocks on some acoustic models. 'Ungainly' - a little harsh, could only have been appropriate if it had actually been used on the Viking - sorry Michael :-) 

As mentioned previously, there is a full / pictorial chronology of Viking model variants which sorts out the distinction between Viking, Viking II, Viking IN and the Viking Deluxe, click the link above!

There is also a page dedicated to the main inset on the right in this section. This stunning example was presented with equally stunning photography by David Feight. Click the picture to open the page.

Read a critical assessment of the Oct 1977 Viking by Stephen Delft
FULL THREE PAGE ARTICLE REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION

The red UK collection model comes from '71, the 128th true Viking IN ever made (thanks Rob), and alongside it an example of the transition batch made in '68 with the old Strat head but already with the new humbucking electrics, and the 'S' holes. This latter one was originally only sent to Canada, but have since reappeared as far and wide as New Zealand and Hagstrom UK! To see the Viking Visitors Page click on this underlined link.]

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Jazzbass
In ’73 Hagstrom introduced the Jazzbass. [The bass version of the Scandi,] this was a handsome variant on the Fender Jazz Bass, with an offset double-cutaway mahogany body with more pointed horns, contoured on the bass bout for your arm. Unlike the more typical Hagstrom IIBN and the majority of Hagstrom’s guitars, the body did not have a taper around the edge. The bolt-on neck was also Fender-style with a four-in-line head and little plastic Hagstrom logo. The 20-fret fingerboard was bound with block inlays. A laminated black pickguard carried one pickup with a cover, a fingerrest, plus two volumes and a master tone control. A second pickup sat by the bridge under a fancy Hagstrom crest-stamped cover. The Jazzbass lasted ’til ’77. Some 639 were made during the four-year run. [Plus the 373 named Scanbass. Much like the Scandi itself this has been a bit of a mystery model to many in USA and Canada, yet players today are amazed at the stealth and precision - owners are not so surprised!]

In ’75, three Jazzbass V five-string basses were made.

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Click To See an original Scandi and Scanbass Dealer Leaflet from 1978

Patch 2000 synthesizers
By ’76, synthesizer technology was beginning to grab the attention of guitar players, paced by Moog and ARP. This was still an analog world in the mid ’70s, with voltage control oscillators and other junk. Being an electronics company, Ampeg was interested in playing in the emerging technology. To cash in on the interest by guitarists, Ampeg developed the Patch 2000 synth interface/ controller pedal and placed more controller electronics into a Swede guitar, introducing the Swede Patch 2000 system in ’76, perhaps the first synth outfit specifically designed for the guitar as a controller.

The Swede Patch 2000 guitar could be played as a guitar, as a synth controller, or both. The synth circuitry operated independent of the traditional guitar electronics. Basically, the synth circuit had a digital location for each fret/string combination running through a special hex pickup in the bridge. It constantly scanned the frequencies until it sensed a changed contact. This frequency would then play until an new fret contact was sensed. The frets were regular frets (unlike, say, the Guitorgan, which had segmented frets). In essence, the synth function was not dependent upon string vibration or picking, so you could play it entirely with the left hand.

Click To See an original Patch 2000 Dealer Leaflet from 1978

The circuitry onboard the Swede Patch 2000 guitar connected to an Ampeg Patch 2000 pedal which had two pedals, for pitch and glide controls. The pitch pedal was a continuously variable control which allowed you to raise the pitch up a full octave over the range of the pedal. This let you change tuning as you played or use the pedal for “bending” effects. The glide pedal controlled the response of the fret changes, governing how much time it would take for the synth to “glide” from one note to another. In the middle of the unit was a footswitch which automatically retuned the synth tones to a fifth above the regular guitar tuning. This would let you play a straight guitar tuning out and accompany yourself a fifth above with the synth. Output from an analog synth was connected to the pedal, as was the guitar, and both were combined out to an amp. Some of the analog synths with which the Patch 2000 could work were made by Oberheim, Steiner-Parker, Micro Moog, EMS and some ARP models. The Patch 2000 came as both guitar and bass and was endorsed by performers including Larry Coryell, Frank Zappa, Steve Pacelli, Bob Walsh, Be Bop Deluxe’s Bill Nelson, Daryl Stuermer, and Herb Ellis.

Ampeg was anxious to launch the new combination and made a bunch of ballyhoo at the ’76 NAMM show, and Hagström recalls they received quite a bit of attention. The system was offered from ’76 through ’79, though only 509 were ever built. But they were surpassed in the horserace by the Roland systems, and when multiple-instrument digital interface (MIDI) became the standard in ’81, the concept was pretty much obsolete. In ’77 Hagstrom put the synth system into 200 Swede Bass Patches, followed in ’78 by another 75 Jazzbass Patch 2000s. That was the end of that idea. [You can read a full description of the Patch 2000 by opening this link]

[This was another example of pioneering spirit creating a nightmare for profit as well as servicing. I mentioned earlier (Page 4) about the problems with technology moving on, this was the ultimate 'kick in the ribs' for aiming high...]

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D’Aquisto line, Mach 2
’76 also saw the true debut of the guitars designed by Jimmy D’Aquisto. D’Aquisto was rehired by Hagström to oversee final refinements of his initial designs. Initially there was just the Jimmy jazzbox, an f-hole guitar that represented the original run of ’69. This guitar was joined by a version with a round soundhole in ’77, followed by a Viking in ’78.

The ’76 Jimmy was a medium-depth single round cutaway f-hole jazz guitar with a laminated birch body, arched top and back, and glued-in laminated birch neck (with a 10-year guarantee!). The head was the asymmetrical design with a matching inlay.

The 20-fret ebony fingerboard was bound with block inlays, double at the octave. The top carried two metal-covered humbuckers mounted on black plastic surrounds, with an adjustable ebony bridge and fancy heavy cast trapeze tail. The guitar had an elevated pickguard, three-way select on the treble horn, two volume, and two tone controls.

It was available in cherry, sunburst, golden sunburst, white, and natural. Between ’76 and ’79 some 1,207 f-hole Jimmies were built.

[480 F or S hole in 1969 using Bjarton Bodies; then 727 from '76 to '79 with new dedicated tooling made entirely within the Hagstrom workshops]

Following the f-hole Jimmy the next year (’77) was another Jimmy with a single oval soundhole replacing the f-holes. Other than the soundhole, all the specs were identical. [Unless you count one less PU and no need for a toggle switch] These are much rarer, however; by ’79 only 356 were made.

[There are a number of accounts from Jimmy owners dotted around, none better than Ron Chapman's long-time love affair with two very special examples - CLICK HERE to open the page.

It is interesting to read about Bjärton's demise so early on, but as we know now, there were new versions of the folk-rock acoustics in 1978 (See comment above). I have it on good authority that yes these later Jimmies were produced by Hagström, also as mentioned earlier, sales of the 1968 Jimmies was affected by a distribution mix up in the U.S.A. What also must be considered is that the original bodies were aged and selected spruce, where the new Hagstrom production was ply laminate, albeit Hagstrom did make their own high grade ply laminate in-house!

Now, before you all race around looking for early bodies, bear in mind that the HN Custom version which mostly has this old timber had a set bridge too, and some of those were out of scale alignment! Hmmm, yes that was a silly mistake in the early production of quality timber bodies. Maybe worth plugging and repositioning though just for the incredible acoustic tone of those rare originals.

All credit again to Kwinn who was the first to openly state that he'd heard about D'Aquisto buying bodies and necks through Hagstrom then using them on some of his own electric acoustics. That was Kwinn's big story for the world to hear, and maybe a slight dent for the occasional D'Aquisto custom USA owner concerning the master making everything himself!

Also as pointed out before, the facts are a little skewed in places about Bjärton's input. Why such trade secrets are still necessary is uncertain, as it is perfectly acceptable for specialist contracting in any industry, from the most complex products through to the biggest brand names. We read earlier how Bjärton supplied the first batch of bodies for the Jimmies until Hagstrom tooled up for the '76 run, but Bjärton had been making high quality semi-acoustic bodies and complete Hagstrom branded acoustics and electro-acoustics for many years. So the Jimmy tooling was a major investment for Hagstrom, but the Viking came first, and was introduced in 1965 going on until 1979.

To Recap:
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.

We also hear from many accounts that James D'Aquisto started the Jimmy project in Sweden working with the experienced luthiers at Bjarton.

YOU MUST CLICK HERE and just take a considered look at something 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 the Hagstrom made Viking in 1965.]

Now associated with the D’Aquisto creations beginning in ’78 was the venerable double-cutaway Viking thinline. Whether or not these were simply continuations of previous Vikings or reflected new changes is unknown, [OPEN THIS LINK] but they had much in common with the Jimmies. These were also made of laminated birch. [They also returned to (sometimes fully bound) 'F' not 'S' holes]

 Essentially, except for the thin body, bound Jacaranda rosewood fingerboard, dot inlays, fine-tune bridge, extra three-way tone toggle, and more rounded oval harp trapeze (with Hagstrom lion crest), they were like the Jimmies. Finish options included sunburst, golden sunburst, white, natural, cherry, and a cool bubinga, the latter a ribbon mahogany veneer. These last Vikings met Valhalla in ’79 along with the Jimmies.

Read a critical assessment of the Oct 1977 Viking by Stephen Delft
FULL THREE PAGE ARTICLE REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION

 

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)

NEXT: THE END?....but we all know the story continues!

Part SIX 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!