Hagstrom Guitars Ha gström Gitar

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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 SEVEN of SEVEN! - [ ONE - TWO - THREE - FOUR - FIVE - SIX - SEVEN - AND NOW... EIGHT]
 
Swedish Hagström Guitars -
by Michael Wright

Super Swede
Following the D’Aquistos, Hagstrom introduced its last guitar in ’78, with a companion bass appearing in ’80, the Super Swedes. Actually, from ’78 to ’80 the first 500 Super Swedes were called the Swede De Luxe, before getting its proper name.

The Super Swede guitar was an upscale model with a glued-in neck, a crest inlay on the head matching the head shape, Schaller tuners, a bound ebony fingerboard with zero fret and blocks, and a three-way select on the upper shoulder. A coil-tap mini-toggle was mounted just under the pickguard. The result of three years of research, the Super Swede (or Superswede, both spellings are encountered), this guitar was designed with the help of a famous Swedish guitarist and repairman named Egil Strazdovskis. Significant differences from the plain Swede appear to be an optional maple body, a solid maple neck, a more rounded heel, wider and thinner fingerboard, and wider frets. The Super Swede was available with either a maple or mahogany body. Finish options on the maple guitar were golden sunburst, wine, tobacco brown, or white.

On the mahogany guitar finishes included cherry and natural. Requests for custom colors were welcome. Presumably the bass was similar. Some 1,566 guitars were produced until ’83 and 356 basses were made until ’81.

The Partner and The End
In ’79, Hagstrom produced a brief run of a guitar called the Partner. These were basically some inexpensive Hagstrom IIs assembled from leftover parts. And that was about all she wrote for Swedish-made Hagstroms. As attractive as the latter guitars were, they were slightly out of step with the times. Immediately following the end of the Copy Era in ’77 was a period in search of extra sustain and better sound. Neck-through-body construction, onboard effects, and active electronics by companies like Alembic, B.C. Rich, Ibanez, and Aria captured guitar buyers. Then in the early ’80s the U.S. slipped into a significant recession, characterized by accelerated exodus of manufacturing to cheaper labor markets and the now ubiquitous (and terrifying) practice of downsizing. The U.S. market for guitars took a temporary dive.


[Notice the Partner employs the same pickup as used on the other 'combination' guitar back in 1971 the Canada H-1 way back on page three of this presentation. Yet we do not know any other Hagstrom model that used these pickups!].

Japanese Hagstroms?
Hagstrom struggled on, but the end was in sight. Some reports suggest the company turned to Japan for supplies toward the end, but that’s not the case. In ’83 representatives of a Japanese manufacturer approached Karl-Erik Hagström with some guitars and basses, prototypes of a proposed rejuvenation of the brand, and they wanted to purchase the rights to the Hagstrom name. These carried the Hagstrom logo, but Hagström was not impressed with the quality and politely declined. These would be quite rare, since only 16 were made. [This model was known as the Ultra Swede] One of the basses is located in the Hagstrom museum. In ’84, the Hagstrom factory closed down, and that was the end of the saga. Between ’58 and ’83, Hagstrom produced a total of 128,583 guitars and basses.

[There is a presentation showing more detail of the UltraSwede HERE. In addition, there were other more radical prototypes presented to Hagstrom from Japan. Both Basses and Guitars, they were considered too different - not quite Hagstrom - so they were not taken forward to production.

The Canadian distributor purchased many of these missing link models, and they started to reappear following the closure of the distributor "ARC" in the late 1990's. Click the white bass (right) to open a page with much more detail.


courtesy Jim Bryan

 

Since then they too have appeared on eBay. Not your usual nostalgic purchase, they can only be seen as part of a collection telling the story. The bass sports a very different style of headstock machinery, the guitar shown here below has a similar look, but a more traditional tuner assembly.]

 

In March 2005, another Japanese prototype appeared. This time from Craig Strong. More traditional in body style, this one has been owned by Craig since 1983, purchased from Long & Mcquade of Winnipeg Canada, underlining the information above. This is a good looking guitar, if not a traditional Hagstrom, it does echo the old solid Hagstrom, and of course many other mainstream guitars before and since.

My thanks to Craig for sending pictures. There is more detail of some of the prototype models on other pages. Check by clicking on the pictures.

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Much to many people's surprise, the Canadian distribution company ended up with these guitars for a very good reason. They were actually the company behind them! They were trying to prolong the Hagstrom story at the time. The new designs that came out of Japan were produced in collaboration, and presented through this long standing partner - who if you remember way back in the early seventies gave rise to the name "Swede" for the Hagstrom LP. That name stuck, but these new ideas simply became stuck in time.

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As mentioned, after Hagstrom ceased production, Karl-Eric, Sr. donated the production logs to a book, the profits from which go to supporting a retirement fund for former Hagstrom employees. This slim volume, Hagstrom Guitars: The Fastest Playing Neck In the World, is still available and will be enormously useful to anyone seeking to identify their own instruments.

Technically speaking, the Hagstrom Company continues to exist, with Hagström managing a number of warehouses. Several companies are also related. Musitech, run by former Hagstrom employee Rolf Lindhamn, distributes Guild and Aria guitars in Sweden. Another company operated by former Hagstrom employees, Amtech, manufactures PA equipment.

So there you have it. A rather remarkable run of pretty good guitars. From the beginning the instruments were innovative. The modular pickups of the sparkles were a cool, if not too practical, idea. It would wait until Player guitars of the mid ’80s for this idea to resurface. In the ’60s the thin necks were also ahead of their time. The Patch 2000 was an early excursion into the world of synths. And guitars like the Swede were just darned good. Hey, and they were good enough for the King! Many thanks to Mikael Jansson, Karl-Eric Hagström, Sr., and Karl-Eric Hagström, Jr. for their invaluable help. A good amount of detailed information can be gleaned from the pages of the book, Hagstrom Guitars: The Fastest Playing Neck In the World. All profits from the sale of the book go to that fund. You can find out more about how to get a copy on the website: www.albinhagstrom.se  under the Hagstrom book page, [or by clicking the direct link near the bottom of the page]

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THANK YOU TO MICHAEL WRIGHT, VINTAGE GUITAR MAGAZINE,
TO YOU FOR TAKING AN INTEREST IN THE PROJECT HERE AT HAGSTROM UK
(MY LITTLE PIECE OF APPRECIATION FOR "THE FASTEST NECKS"),
A GREAT FAMILY STORY OF PIONEERING; A PASSION FOR QUALITY.
THIS IS SORELY MISSED IN THIS AGE OF IMPERSONAL GREED, AND QUICK BUCKS.

You want a left handed one? - they made it for you
You want it in pink? - they made it for you!
This is because they were crafted by hand, not by machine.

[The Tour of '76 brings you a range of articles and pictures from the FCN brochure / Newsletter, including Patch models, Scanbass, folk-rock acoustics, how they made the pickups and other quality points, a write up by Larry Coryell, worldwide distribution information and a picture of the 'venerable' SuperSwede - the finest model Hagstrom ever made. CLICK HERE to open the Catalogues page, review the front and back covers, then take The Tour of '76.] 

To see other areas, visitors pics, Hagstrom toolkits,
Hagstrom accessories, Hagstrom Memorabilia
Check out the Menu Pages or start from the
Home page to any of the other ramblings
I am now known for in this quest!
THERE ARE ALSO HIDDEN PAGES FOR THE KEEN EYE !

Good pics and stories always welcome!


My first used Hagstrom, bought 1974 (not me playing), I know... it's been done before...
(pic taken 1995) He's changed a bit since then!!!

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)

THE END?....but we all know the story continues!     PAGE EIGHT

 

Part SEVEN of SEVEN! - [ ONE - TWO - THREE - FOUR - FIVE - SIX - SEVEN - AND NOW... EIGHTHOMEPAGE

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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Last site modification: January 02, 2014 22:22 UK Time (Individual pages update more frequently)
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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!