I have based the text below on an old photocopy sent to me from Germany. I
do not know who wrote the original text, but will of course acknowledge
the author if they make themselves known. I believe it is dated around
1977 due to the references including synthesizer guitars...
THE HAGSTROM GUITARS STORY
This is a potted history:
Hagstrom made some very
fine guitars. And that, as far as most of the world knows, is where the
story started and ended. But for musicians in Scandinavia Hagstrom was a
way of life.
In Britain and America,
guitarists had been offered various instruments bearing the Hagstrom name
over the last 20 years and by 1977 the name was associated with an
exceptionally fine range of instruments with the Hagstrom Guitar
Synthesizer as flagship of the fleet. But manufacturing only accounted for
about ten per cent of the Hagstrom operation.
In Scandinavia, Hagstrom
was principally known for a large chain of retail music stores. Almost
every major city in Norway, Sweden and Denmark had a Hagstrom store and
it’ had been that way for the previous 40 years.
The empire was founded
upon piano accordions. In the 1920’s a Swedish farm hand called Albin
Hagstrom found he had a talent for playing, making and selling piano
accordions. He went into business manufacturing the instruments at the
extremely tender age of 19 and within 10 years had built up a business
exporting to many parts of the world.
The business was founded
in his tiny mid-Sweden village of Älvdalen and as his fortune began to
mount, he opened retail shops in various parts of Scandinavia. During the
war the business contracted without severe loss and immediately peace was
restored he set about expanding the empire again. But he died suddenly at
the age of 46. About to go on a business trip to the USA, he was
inoculated against smallpox and complications set in following the
injection. He died soon afterwards.
His business did not
crumble. His widow appointed a Managing Director in a caretaker role until
her children were old enough to take over the business. By 1977 her eldest
son, Karl Eric Hagstrom was the head of the by now much expanded empire.
The 1950’s presented
Hagstrom with its first stagnant period. The long boom in piano accordions
was over and the Latin and French influence that had dominated popular
music for so long gave way to a new form of British and American popular
music. The instrument of the new music was the guitar.
During this slow period
more retail stores were opened and the company considered what to do with
its manufacturing facility. Karl Eric Hagstrom finished his education in
the USA and after looking very carefully at the market there, he decided
that guitar making should be the future concern of the Älvdalen plant.
From 1957 onwards
Hagstrom guitars became available. In the early years the company also
made instruments with various brand names and British guitarists may well
remember the Futurama models that were popular in the early sixties, in
the USA they produced some of the Kent brand for a short period.
Like the rest of the
world Northern Europe experienced a massive boom in “teenage orientated”
music in the sixties and Hagstrom benefited greatly from this.
Hagstrom amplifiers were
introduced and they gained the number one sales position in their home
market although they had yet to gain acceptance abroad.
Hagstrom were by now
more aggressive (in the nicest sense) than ever before. The day to day
running of the entire organisation was left in the hands of Roland
Beronious and Torgil Hagman who operated from the company’s head quarter
in Malmo, Sweden.
Karl Eric’s younger
sister Justine was also extremely active in developing the professional
end of the retail operation.
If there was one word
which summed up Hagstrom’s approach to guitar making it was quality. Many
of the hand-building operations carried out at the Älvdalen plant would be
considered “old fashioned” in other industries, but in high quality
instrument making there was absolutely no substitute for care and personal
Most of the craftsmen
working at the plant had been with the company for many years and their
dedication to quality was just as great as it was in the 1930’s.
Onto this background of
traditional workmanship had been blended the art of high technology as
applied by Pete Ollson. Pete was the electronics designer for Hagstrom and
he’d been with the company since 1964 developing some exceptionally good
amps and echo units. He contributed largely to the development of the
Guitar Synthesizer and he worked on electronic developments intended to
surface in future Hagstrom Products.
The retail side of
Hagstrom also changed. In Stockholm a new Orchestra Terminal had been
opened. A professional “drive-in” store designed to cater exclusively for
professional musicians. The equipment available was limited to top line
professional amps, guitars, drums and keyboards and the shop made a
special feature of large PA systems.
An unusual incentive
scheme operated in the retail arm of Hagstrom and it served to ensure
first class service in each of the company’s 48 outlets. Once a shop
manager proved his worth to the company, he was allowed to start his own
private business within the Hagstrom store - selling accessories. He was
responsible for buying and selling such items as picks, strings, straps,
mouth pieces and so on and if good at making the store attractive
and keeping the customer level up he stood to earn far more than usual
shop managers out of the operation.
The company had operated
the scheme for several years and said it was extremely successful.
The next big step for
Hagstrom was to increase their worldwide market for Hagstrom guitars.
Their overseas distributors — Fletcher, Coppock and Newman in the UK and
Selmer in the USA — were doing much to further the Hagstrom cause, and the
Swedish company were right behind their overseas agents giving them help
Hagstrom was a unique
force in the guitar market and history.
When the pressure increased from the far
eastern manufacturers, every traditional manufacturer was placed under
pressure. Some bought into this manufacturing source, and automated much
of the traditional production facilities.
Hagstrom did dabble with this idea at
the turn of the 1980's, but in the end decided to cease operating and
sadly the manufacturing story drew to a close.
This leaves us with some precious and
ever more collected examples of traditionally crafted instruments that
were often as adventurous and unique as they were special to play.
The association with names such as
Bjarton (acoustic guitar manufacturer), also the celebrated luthier James
D'Aquisto and his personalised Jimmy models, all add to the flair and
pioneering spirit that was the Hagstrom Company.
THE MICHAEL WRIGHT
(CLICK) THE '90S VINTAGE
GUITAR MAGAZINE SERIES ARE ALSO REPRODUCED ON THIS SITE (CLICK)
WITH KIND PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR, AND APPROVAL
FROM THE HAGSTRÖM FAMILY.
The details and text of a much fuller history above have been updated, with new
and pictures since the original publication - this page, below and left, is a
Where it all
Originally manufacturing accordions from the 1920's the
Hagstrom company moved into guitars just before 1958.
Initially some of the bright sparkle moved into the electric
guitars, here we see the legendary Deluxe Ä ny mod or Batman or Duckfoot
(and many other nicknames!), one of the most beautiful
guitars ever made.
Acoustic models were contracted alongside to the well
established and local Bjarton guitar Luthiers. Virtually all non-classical
guitars from then onwards employed the legendary Hagstrom thin fast neck, and
the patented 'H' expander rod, designed with the SAAB aerospace company.
Sure you haven't been able to buy a new Hagström since about
but anyone who's owned one, realises how special they are.
There is a heritage of skill, innovation and pioneering spirit!
Be they acoustic, electric or electric bass, those thin guitar
necks sport a patented 'H' expander-stretcher, allowing a very low action
combined with the fastest slimmest necks you can imagine.
This theme was maintained right through the company's history,
see this updated version of the "secret"
Over forty years later they're just as straight and true.
Later the "Patch 2000" - The
first synthesizer guitar, based around the
Hagstrom Swede, the package was sold in the
USA by AMPEG, and as a Hagstrom Ampeg bundle in other parts of the world.
See some pics courtesy of Ron from Canada: (Check out the
quality construction - would cost a fortune today!)
There is a SUPER example of a perfect condition Swede Patch
2000 system on the Hagstrom Electrics
page and I have added a full UK catalogue specification / description of the
Swede + Patch 2000 features.
Also see some pics
or read the details at the site
site, (a non-profit association for former Hagstrom employees).
See the feature page
for an EDP46, with an April 1995 "Guitarist" article reproduced, or view the
Hagstrom UK Goya
Kent, Goya, Levin, Bjarton, James L D'Aquisto (went on to
Martin) a few of the many names connected with Hagstrom at some time, either by
model / brand / association...
The Kent Branded instruments were extensively produced in
Korea and Japan circa 1960’s. The was no Kent Guitar company, it was a
distribution brand for the USA. Distributed in the US
by Distributors in New York, Texas, North Carolina and Massachusetts. Kent
was a trademark used on a full line of acoustic and solid body electric guitars,
banjos and mandolins imported into the US and Canadian markets in the 60’s - but
NOT MADE BY HAGSTROM. Some of the early Kent guitars (all types)
were made in Japan by either Teisco or Guyatone, at this time entry level
models. After this, Hagstrom produced versions of their Solid Electric
Hagstrom I, II and III and Electric Bass guitars as Kents also just for the US
market, as: 1) a way to get into the market with a brand that was at heard of in
the US, and 2) a way for the Kent brand to make a quality leap in an
increasingly discerning market. Hagstrom ceased to produce under the Kent brand
presumably because they became popular under their own name! I have no other
info on Kent, beyond the old “David Bowie once played a Kent Guitar” – now that
one WAS a Hagstrom!
See a non-Hagstrom semi-acoustic "Kent 822 on the
Other Brands page. ...to be continued...
Extract of a Hershman description for the versatile Goya
(pictured above); Brochure
"..Made in Sweden, the outstanding feature of the guitar is
the patented interchangeable pickup. These unique pickup units are self
contained and enclosed and are sold separately from the guitar. They are easily
plugged into the guitar body enabling the consumer and dealer to make any
combination of guitar and pickup to suit his needs.
… enables a guitarist to pick the body, size and color of his choice and use
the same instrument for as long as he plays guitar.
… With a few basic bodies and colors the dealer can instantly change pickup to
satisfy the requirements of any customer…
There are many other features of the Goya guitar that make this instrument the
finest in the world. The fingerboards are made of super strong, warp-proof,
lightning smooth acrylite.
A super strong "H-rod" of a special alloy of Swedish airplane
metal means the neck cannot warp or twist out of shape..."
The broad history of the Electric, Semi Acoustic, and Bass
Guitar models runs like this:
Standard and DeLuxe 1958-1962
Kent, Kent I and Kent II 1962-1966
(The Hagström I and the 'branded' Kent are the same model)
Impala / Corvette and
Coronado / (and Futurama)
Hagström I, II and III and 12
Viking, Viking IN and Viking II 1965-1979
Jimmy 1969-1979 F-Hole and
Super Swede 1970-1982
Swede Patch and Patch 2000 1976-1979
Ultra Swede 1983 - (Prototypes made in Japan - not taken forward)
There were a few other 'futuristic' prototypes from Japan which all went to
Check Out the Hagstrom UK Model Index
for more details - Click on the beating heart at the base of any page, or visit
the Hagstrom UK Visitors and stories pages linked at the top.
There is also the
TOUR OF 1976 - extracts from a rare UK publication
showing models, players, methods of manufacture and lots of models at the time,
plus the only adverts I've seen for the Hagstrom SuperSwede!
Apart from branding some models for specific markets, (Kent
and Goya mainly for USA, Patch 2000 synthesized kit branded Ampeg in USA)
Hagstrom also manufactured for many other brands, Futurama connected with Selmer
and Hofner, and of course the "Jimmy" refers to James D´Aquisto possibly the
finest luthier who went on to work with Martin in USA. He worked on a number of
models with Hagstrom, also working for Fender, and used the best necks in the
world from Hagstrom, and some Hagstrom Jimmy bodies on
some of his own custom models! Unfortunately the necks were so well
appreciated, he also had a whole consignment stolen...
After John D'Angelico had taught James D´Aquisto the first experience in designing an instrument for
another company occurred in 1966 when Hagstrom requested a design for an
arch-top guitar they intended to build in Sweden...
1964 Selmer updated the Futurama range. An older Futurama II remained available
for some time under the name "Duo". These new models were manufactured by
Hagström in Sweden and sported the infamous "King's Neck", with the H
Expander-stretcher. Either a three pickup Futurama 3 De Luxe or two pickup
Futurama 2 De Luxe produced in "Glowing Red" or "Cool
Blue". These guitars offered lots of switches and a Hagström design tremolo,
and matching Bass De-Luxe Models. Hagström had produced export-only models including the Kent
for some time and combining features from the early Hagstrom II/III models. These guitars were
branded Futurama by Selmer. Indeed Hagström's pro' range
Corvette and the Coronado Bass models
completed the range, and special versions of these were made at Selmer's request. The Futurama
brand started life at Blatn in Czechoslovakia
by the Resonet Company.
Originally named the "Resonet" the model went through a
metamorphosis under a number of models before becoming a Hagström model. Early
Futurama guitars were popular in the UK, used by many famous names including
George Harrison from the Beatles.
The connection between Hagström and the Name Futurama continued until the big US
models came to the European shores and Japanese guitars flooded in hastening the
demise of Hagström manufacture in Sweden. There have been many rumours about
resurrecting the Hagström name just as Goya continues today. It's better to
never say never... but how could anyone be worthy enough to re-create such a
Sadly there are few specific details of
the true acoustic models available,
beyond that many acoustic models were contracted out to excellent manufacturers
such as Bjarton (SWE) and Landola (NOR).
Very early acoustics were less high spec and imported from another Norwegian
maker due to import / export restrictions following WWII
But we try to unpick this story from fragments from
people like you -
If you're 'down Sweden way' there is an excellent
museum of Hagstrom creations, from accordions, guitars, amps,
strings and many
accessories. Click the Pic for more info...
Or, see our own visit in July 2005 by following
THE MICHAEL WRIGHT ARTICLES FROM
THE '90S VINTAGE GUITAR MAGAZINE SERIES ARE ALSO
REPRODUCED ON THIS SITE WITH KIND PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR, AND APPROVAL
FROM THE HAGSTRÖM FAMILY.
The details and text of this full history have also been updated, with new
information since the original publication
SEE ALSO THE HAGSTROM
Anyone with Hagstrom
facts or photo's is very welcome.
Send them to me for posting. There's an e-mail link on virtually every page of
A story isn't absolutely necessary, but adds a little bit of what we like to add
to this site
- Appreciation and the appreciators!
So bung a pic of you too along with it.... Hell, past and present...
stage photo's...you, the dog and the Hag... It's up to you!
Take a browse through
the Catalogues Pages