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Swedish musical instrument company Hagstrom was founded by Albin Hagström in 1925, largely dealing in imported accordions. By 1932 he had expanded into their manufacture, at a plant in a Swedish town, Älvdalen. In the second half of the 20th century, however, accordion sales were declining; but Hagstrom were there at the beginning of the new guitar boom, producing their first electric, the Hagstrom De Luxe in 1958. By this time, Albin had died (later to be replaced by his son Karl-Erik), but the companys many years experience of accordion manufacture massively influenced the early guitars, with the use of pearloid sparkle finishes and a preference for push-switches over potentiometers more widely used in American guitars.
Over the next two decades, Hagstrom produced a number of interesting and commercially sucessful guitars, many with a nod towards better known American designs, but some quite unique. One important innovation by Hagstrom, and arguably one of the key reasons for their sucess, was the low-action "fastest playing neck in the world" produced by their patented H-shaped "expander-stretcher" truss rod (rail).
In the early sixties, Hagstrom produced a number of solid bodies that were distributed by different companies worldwide, often given alternate model names and even different brands; for example Hershman in the US labelled some Hagstrom guitars as Goya, whilst Selmer in the UK used the marque Futurama. Guitars like the Corvette and Impala helped cemment Hagstrom's reputation as a quality builder, and by 1965 alternate branding was no longer necessary.
In the latter half of the decade solid bodies were selling well, particularly the Hagstrom II and III, as were the semi-acoustic Viking, finally appearing in the hands of Elvis Presley in 1968. Other famous users included Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix, with the legendary Eight-stringed bass.
Hagstrom pickups and tailpieces were, at times, also used by other manufacturers, most notably Guild, who widely fitted their mid/late 1960s guitars and basses with Hagstrom parts.
Hagstrom guitars of the 1970s did conform somewhat to an establishing consensus (admittedly Gibson's) of what a guitar should be.. i.e. potentiometers controlling tone and volume, a three-way pickup selector switch and humbucking pickups. But this was largely beneficial, the Les Paul-style Swede was, and still is, a very highly regarded guitar, perhaps the pinnacle of vintage Hagstrom guitars. But in true late seventies style, Hagstrom fused a guitar with the growing electronic innovation of the time to create the Patch 2000. But of course fashions change, and in many ways it was this electronic innovation that dealt the death blow to much of the guitar industry worldwide in the early 1980s. Hagstrom stopped producing guitars in 1983.
It is estimated that Hagstrom produced 130,000 guitars in the period 1958-1983. They were by no means the biggest guitar manufacturer of the 20th century, but still very significant. In the year 1965, Hagstrom produced between 10 and 11 thousand guitars and basses compared to almost 84 thousand produced by Gibson.
|There are 1 comments on this article so far. Add your comment|
|weirdskwid Comment left 26th February 2013 15:03:38|
Great site. i see lots of talk of hagstrom guitar dating through serial numbers using batch numbers. How does this work please. it isn't clear. Is the year embedded in the batch number? I have a couple Hagstroms to date, so help gratefully received