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ANOTHER VIKING?  YEP, BUT JUST TAKE A LOOK BELOW!
The cleanest 30yr old I've seen...

From: David Feight, Monday, September 08, 2003 8:39 PM
Subject: Hoping for a little info... Greetings from the States! I was hoping that you could lend a bit of assistance. I stumbled across your website today, as I was searching for information about my Hagstrom semi-acoustic guitar.

Prior to today, I didn't even know the model name/number, or how old my guitar is. I played for 15 years as a youth, but no longer play as I'm a busy 36 yr old husband and father of 3 daughters. My parents bought me this guitar from a shop called Zapf's in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania about halfway through my playing experience.

At first, I loved the guitar because of its beautiful red color, but I quickly grew away from it, and more fond of solid body guitars that the "hard rockers" of my youth were using more predominately. Anyway, the guitar in question here is (according to the info on your website) a 1971 Viking 1N in the same red color that you show on your "The Viking Has Landed" page. Mine is exactly like the one you show, and it has been stored in a (non-Hagstrom) hardshell case.

It is in superb condition with only one noticeable scuff on the front, and maybe a few other tiny ones overall. I didn't play it often, and it certainly looks like it. Thanks so much for your time, David S. Feight RI USA

David Feight contacted me initially about his old treasure...

 

...bought new for him by his mum... not much info in his possession, so like a guy possessed (with info) I reveal as much as I can about this 1973 Cherry Red beauty of a Viking 1N...

In return came such wonderful pictures...

I just had to make a dedicated presentation!

From: David Cox, Monday, September 08, 2003 6:04 PM To: 'Feight, David'
Subject: RE: Hoping for a little info... Hi David, First, thanks for the mail. Second let's give you some info. The Viking is a long standing favourite, which from 1965 through to 1979 went through a number of changes. Some subtle, and some quite distinct. You have seen the webpage, so hopefully the puzzle fits together in a reasonably sensible way. I was pleased to be able to untangle the details, as there was a fair amount of confusion at times.

Now to Hagstrom themselves. They were at worst a copycat company, at best a pioneering company, and above all a family led company from a country not associated with being the leaders in modern popular music! The Hagstrom Company also had sole rights to Fender throughout Scandinavia and other parts of Europe - so were no mere cheap copycat co. They traded a lot of brands in and out of USA and Canada, and sometimes the 'big guys' simply re-branded the guitars - example some acoustics to Fender in the sixties. Now there's the best way to re-value a Hagstrom supplied guitar!!! So that makes them interesting because yes they did take a lead from companies making guitars before them, but they tried new ideas too, and somehow they wanted to make a name for themselves as a quality manufacturer.

From the days of being one of the biggest accordion manufacturers, they had to make the switch to stay in business. This they did in 1958. The whole story can be found down the left hand side of the "History" page on the site. So what made them more than a copycat company? They made everything with the hand made attention to detail that was fast becoming unfashionable with the "big guys" yet sold the guitars at a sensible price. The only thing that stopped all that happening was when they refused to have their own models copied in the far east, deciding it was better to bow out than compromise.

That's why the big guys stayed in business with versions of the same guitar such as Epiphone and Gibson, Squier and Fender etc., as a family company that wasn't what Hagstrom was all about. They produced the world's first synthesized guitar. They produced the world's first solid state guitar amp. The truss rod was made with aerospace technology by SAAB. The list goes on, and if the guitars are kept well they will go on an on too! Yet, until a few short years ago, Hagstrom had become the name of a guitar company that died around 1982, and was slipping back into a perception more associated with the cheap copycat companies that finally caused their demise. So a few of us decided to raise the profile again - knowing there was a massive difference between the perception and reality.

As time goes by they will appreciate, but I doubt they will ever reach the silly prices that Gibson and Fender do (I do mean silly - given the example above). After all, Hagstrom also worked with the best Luthier of the 20th century - James D'Aquisto, who designed the tuner machines you have on your Viking. He also used the Hagstrom neck for some of his New York workshop models before working with, and ultimately licensing his New Yorker model design to Fender. So don't expect to get rich yet, but there will be plenty of people who will take an interest if it is as good as you say and with original hard case. I hope this helps to understand the Hagstrom brand and what is happening... Kind regards, David

Now let's go outside...

 
 

...and the original catalogue that came with the guitar and case...

 

All we need to know is the one flaw...

... how many had you had, take a look the upper "S" hole, just beyond...

apart from that - quite perfect, and probably the best I've seen!

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 From: David Feight, Tuesday, September 09, 2003 1:35 PM Subject: FW: Hoping for a little info...
David, Thanks for your reply! It was a pleasant surprise waiting for me when I arrived at work this morning at 6am. The production (serial) number of my Viking is 871176. I really do appreciate all of the interesting information that you graciously took the time to type. Since leaving work yesterday afternoon, I did more research into the topic on the internet.

I was able to find some very good info on the Hagstrom USA website, and the links contained within that site: http://www.hagstromusa.com/1972-73HagstromVikingIN.html  If my research is correct, it turns out that my particular Viking was manufactured in 1973. I found this link last night: http://www.vintage-guitars.se/00_gallery.htm  (Once you're there, click on "Thinbody Archtop Electrics" and scroll down to the (4) Hagstrom Viking N1 pictures, one for each year) It shows pictures of all 4 years of Viking N1's. There, you will see that the 1972 Viking N1 has an angled metal piece (sorry, the name of this piece escapes me - it's been a while) covering the strings at the head of the guitar, while the 1973 version has a straight one.

I have compared the two pictures, and that is the only difference I can see (at least on the 2 guitars pictured on that website). Let me know your thoughts on this, and if you agree or disagree. Also, on the website of the first link I listed above, it states that webmaster feels 1845 is the total number of Viking N1's made within that model's production years (1972-1975). Does that number sound reasonable or accurate to you? Is there a way to tell how many of each style (Viking I, Viking II, Viking N1, etc...) were produced each year? How about how many of each color within the style? If this guitar is that rare, I may just end up holding onto it, rather than selling it prematurely.

One other thing that I've noticed that may or may not be controversial is the wooden support block inside the guitar body. At the Hagstrom USA website above (on page 5), there is mention that the wooden block/support only exists in between where the pickups are positioned. I've looked inside mine as best as I can, and it appears that the wooden block/support extends close to if not fully down the middle length of the inside of the guitar's body. Is this a variation, or anything to be concerned about? Also, I have seen several pictures on the internet of Viking N1's that have rounded (very generic-looking) tuning keys (also on the Hagstrom USA website on Page 4), not the stairstep deco style (Van Ghent?) that are on mine. What's the story with that, any idea?

One thing I wanted to reiterate (from my original e-mail) was that this guitar is not in a Hagstrom hardshell case. I believe the case is just a generic hardshell that was available at that store at the time of purchase. It is of high quality, and has stood up extremely well over time. It has a soft, shiny orange/red "fur" inside. Put it this way, the guitar was on sale for $250, and the case cost $65, so my Mom spared nothing on the case. Is there a way to tell the brand name of the case? I don't see a name or tag anywhere on it. Of course, I haven't inspected it that closely yet, either. My focus has been on the Viking. Tell me David, if someday I were to sell this guitar and needed to ship it somewhere, what would be the normal procedure for this? Do you try to somehow box or wrap the case with material to protect the case exterior from being damaged during shipping and handling? That seems like a mighty task to undertake that I won't be looking forward to.

Speaking of focus, I realize I now need to send you pictures of this beauty. Unfortunately, I am at work for the rest of the day (8 more hours). Tonight, when I return home, I will take digital pictures, and will weed out the ones of poor quality. My camera is not the best around, and I usually only get one or two really clear pictures out of every 30-40 that I snap.  I was wondering if you could possibly let me know an estimation if you had to grade it on a scale of 1-10. I will try to include pictures of all scratches, dings, etc... that might detract from the value or grading, as well as pictures that show off its beauty. I wish to thank you again David for all of the extremely interesting info about Hagstrom, its history, and all of the research that is being done. It sounds like you have a true love affair with these guitars, and I want to commend you on a really great job that you've done on your website. There was lots of cool info and pictures which really helped me. Only someone who has played a Hagstrom understands that these guitars are obviously not "copycats", but original "masterpieces". You don't need to convince me of the high quality and craftsmanship. It is evident when you hold and or play the guitar.  Talk to you soon. Watch out for those pictures...... Thanks, Dave

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WE GOT THOSE PICTURES ALRIGHT - WOW!

Well I think you'll agree, despite the one "ding" this looks like a bright shiny 9 in a grade from 1-10

As for numbers - who's arguing with Kwinn eh?
Although the early transition (Canadian) model 1N's do blur the change from single coil to humbuckers.
Colours hmmm... no details now I'm afraid.

The blocks and variations are covered on the Viking Has Landed page, but there is
a difference to sound, feedback effects and strength in what ever combination you find.

Packing - Well inside the case cloth (and bubble wrap if necessary),
around the case two layers (double boxed) and only use UPS across the borders (from personal experience).

I'd have the 'ding' looked at maybe??
But only if absolutely sure - due to that 12 coats of polyester lacquering!

More stories to follow... including yours?

Keep them coming!

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There must be loads of stories (and pics) around from the last forty years, why not share them with us!   
Send stories and (jpg pics please*) to the e-mail address below

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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!