The H Expander Stretcher Homepage
Designed by SAAB, based on their aerospace experience regarding wing flexing and structural supports, this was a masterpiece typical of the pioneering Hagström company. It is effectively a lightweight H profile with the circular two way adjustment built into the top of the "H" profile.
It appeared on the very first Hagström electric guitars, just to prove the transition from accordions to guitars in the late 1950's wasn't simply a panic measure to transfer existing skills to new products.
Certainly the change came due to the swift decline in accordion popularity, but even under those circumstances, a lot of thought went into how to do it well.
In fact the patented system has never been improved, and its success is demonstrated everyday with the poorest examples of old Hagstrom guitars, maybe worn and bashed in every respect, but still enjoying a thin straight neck!
Its true, some people find the neck too thin compared to other makes, but if you grew up with it, or get used to it, you'll agree it easily supports the claim "The World's Fastest Neck".
The profile of the "H" remained the same in principle right the way through the whole production period from 1958 to 1983, however an "eagle-eyed" expert in the field, and good friend of our here, Anders Karlsson, recently spotted a modification between the HII-N and the late 1970's Scandi. His picture is shown below, (Click to see a larger version).
Quite why this modification was made to the lower part of the rail is undocumented here. However it would allow the rounding of the back of the neck to make a shallower rounding without coming too close to the profile.
Obviously looking end-on this doesn't look to be an issue, however way down towards the headstock this profile comes very close to the surface. It's just a thought...
Whatever the reason, there it is, and thanks to Anders for his attention to detail. You can see more on what led to this picture here
The patented system remains exclusive to Hagström, and indeed is a more complicated assembly for a manufacturer to employ correctly. I make no apology for the last link above!
You could buy the most expensive brand in the world, the best vintage prize, and yet potentially suffer from a warped neck unless your old guitar had been looked after. Not so for a Swedish Vintage Hagström.
I've heard stories of them being run over by a pickup truck, or laying dormant in the worst possible humidity changes yet still play perfectly afterwards at over 40 years old! So indeed if someone tries to sell an old Hagstrom that looks beat-up extolling the virtues of the straight neck, it is no surprise... what else didn't they tell you would be my question!
The best quote I've
ever heard was from Michael Tenney*:
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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