The Jimi Hendrix Experience posing for French TV, Noel Redding on Hagstrom 8-string bass - picture taken from 'The Hendrix Experience' by Mitch Mitchell and John Platt
1969 Hagstrom advertisement
Hagstrom was a Swedish Instrument manufacturer that started out making accordians, and by 1958 was making guitars too, though production finished in the early 1980s. In this time, they made many fine and inovative instruments, played by the likes of David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Brian Ferry and many more.
The H8 was the first eight string bass, and quickly spawned many multi-stringed bass rivals it was only manufactured for a brief period in the late 1960s. The strings were set in pairs, each tuned an octave apart, so it was played like a four string. It is of course possible to tune in 5ths or any other interval. In total 2,249 were made, in seven batches of between 100 and 600 instruments between 1967 and 1969.
Few instruments are as steeped in folklore as the 8 string basses used by Jimi Hendrix and Noel Redding of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The story goes that their bass (or possibly basses) was purchased in America in 1967 whilst the band was on tour. Noel used it on the 1967 album 'Axis Bold as Love' on the tracks Spanish Castle Magic, You've got me Floating and Little miss Lover. Then came Jimis turn. After quitting a tour with the Monkees the Experience had a few weeks to kill, so Jimi decided to hang out with his old band Curtis Knight and the Squires. Needless to say, they jammed and recorded some great, and some not so great tracks. The better tracks feature Jimi on guitar with some blinding wah-wah fuelled psychedelia, but he also plays 8-string bass on some tracks (along with some very funky 4 string bass played by the bands regular bassist - Ed 'Bugs' Gregory). Jimi's sound is slightly distorted, and in many ways he fills the role of rhythm guitarist rather than bassist - these tracks can be heard on 'The Summer of Love Sessions. Another album to feature the H-8 was the outastanding 1998 compilation of BBC sessions. It can be clearly heard on the tracks taken from the Alexis Korner 'Rhythm and Blues' show, and is in fact mentioned on the program. The outstanding Hoochie Coochie Man (also featuring Alexis Korner on slide guitar) really benefits from the 8 strings heaviness, and can really be heard in the breakdown just after half way through. Other users include Billy 'bass' Nelson of Funkadelic, Mike Rutherford (Genesis) on I know what I like, Andy Kulberg of the Blues Project, and Danny McCulloch of Eric Burden and the Animals
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This is one of those instruments with a really distinctive sound. Full and bassy yet somehow trebly at the same time - thats eight strings for you! The sound is so full, that it can substitute for a bass and rhythm guitar simultaneously - a natural choice for a three piece band. Likewise in a larger band, it can be too much, particularly with more than one guitarist.
Hagstrom H8 Eight String Bass both pickups (round wound strings, vol pot positioned at 9/10, MUTE switch ON, recorded directly into my sound card, with no pre-amp)
Hagstrom H8 Eight String Bass Bridge pickup (round wound strings, vol pot positioned at 9/10, recorded directly into my sound card, with no pre-amp)
karen denslow Comment left 25th April 2012 21:09:26 My Hagstrom 8-string serial no.748026 has the (tobbaco burst finish) What year aproximatly and value? The narrow neck and short scale is perfect.
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 14th May 2012 18:06:29 Hi Karen - batch 748 was from 1969 - yours was the 26th out of 200. These sell anywhere between $500 and $1500 depending on the usual criteria
brandon Comment left 24th June 2012 15:03:59
I have a 2 Hagstrom 8 string basses and I am trying to figure out what year they were made. the serial numbers are: 727534, 763108
I appreciate the help
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 12th November 2012 20:08:39 727 was a batch of 600 Hagstrom eight string bass guitars built between 1967-68. Yours, being number 534 out of 600 is most likely from 1968. Batch 763 is one of a smaller batch (just 250 instruments) produced in 1969.
Sean Pee Comment left 9th July 2012 09:09:52 Where do you get the strings for these machines? I guess a better question is what gauge strings are used for the high strings?
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 9th July 2012 09:09:10 Hi Sean, I'm not sure how easily (if at all) you can buy an off-the-shelf set. Last time I strung a Hagstrom eight string, I decided to use flats - so I used two different sets of Rotosounds that seemed to be pretty similar in build/materials - the bass strings were RS77M (medium scale Rotosound flats 40-90), whilst the octaves were flatwound guitar strings RS200 top tape flats (12-52, I use 24-52 only). I was very happy with the result, but then i've always preferred flatwound strings to roundwound.
Joe Cook Comment left 20th September 2012 20:08:03 Greetings. My Hagstrom 8-string bass has the serial number 763227. Can you advise on the year it was made? Also, can you advise on a hard case? The original eventually fell apart (yes, I use my Hag8) and Hagstrom do not currently make a case to fit the old Hag8... Thank you. Joe
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 21st September 2012 13:01:26 Hi Joe,
batch 763 was the very last run of Hagstrom eight string basses. It was a batch of 250 guitars made in 1969 - and as yours is number 227 out of 250 it is one of the very last made
joy livingston Comment left 12th November 2012 20:08:04 I am interested in a hagstrom 8 string base. serial number 727597. can you tell me the year and it's value in good condition?
Bert Ohlsson Comment left 21st December 2012 08:08:23 A friend of the owner of a former Hagström shop in Karlstad, in western Sweden, told me that Jimi had spotted his first 8 string Hagström bass there. He wanted to bring it with him and having them bill Fender in US. But the owner refused. Later Jimi bought two of these in Manhattan instead. The shop owner in Karlstad called Hagströms factory in Älvdalen and said there had been a crazy negro at their shop, trying to steal an 8 string bass..!
Randy Jordan Comment left 3rd January 2013 06:06:53 Hello, I have a Hagstrom 8-string bass. It is in great shape for the year although it seems to have diffeent machines for the octave strings. I heard that a lot of musicians changed them out because the originals just weren't that good. This bass plays like butter! it has a small screw hole near the bridge and some marks where there may have been a thumb rest. It is Cherry Red and serial number 746152. Can you tell me what year this bass is and how many were made from this batch? Thanks :)
Aldo Interdonato Comment left 23rd January 2013 15:03:16 I my Hagstrom 8 string is in great condition, 100% original, red color serial number 746008 can you tell me the year and the price in the market.
Thank you in advance.
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 23rd January 2013 15:03:07 Aldo, Randy,
batch 746 was just 200 H8s produced between 1968 and 1969. Value will be somewhere between $500 and $1500 depending on condition, and where and how you sell.
hurryyall Comment left 7th July 2013 13:01:41 Can anyone confirm John Paul Jones (led zep) used a hagstrom 8?
Mats Erdin Comment left 24th October 2014 21:09:05 I have a Hagstrom 8 string bass serial number 763247.. How old are this bass and what is the value?
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 24th October 2014 21:09:22 Hi Mats, batch 763 was of 250 guitars produced in 1969 - typical prices online vary between $500 and $1500 depending on completeness, originality and condition
ryan Jones Comment left 6th December 2014 18:06:42 758091 H8. Played lots in the studio and out on tour. Belonged to one of the Kinks I believe. I'm out of cash. Anybody interested? Cornwall, UK
Alejandro Comment left 6th December 2014 18:06:33 Donde puedo conseguir el plano de los circuitos del Hagstrom 8 cuerdas y algunos repuestos, como así tambien el encordado.
Mike McAllister Comment left 6th December 2014 18:06:09 I have one that I bought in 1977 for $150 CDN. Noel signed it at Steve's Music in Toronto in 1997.