Hagstrom H8 / F-800 Bass

Solid body eight string bass guitar

1968 Hagstrom H8 Eight-String Bass Guitar
1968 Hagstrom H8 Eight-String Bass Guitar - reverse view
1968 Hagstrom advertisement

H8 advertising circa 1968-69 by US distributor Unicord (above) and UK distributor Rosetti (below)

1969 Hagstrom advertisement
Model: Hagstrom H8 / F-800 Bass
Available: 1967-69
Pickups: Two Hagstrom single coil bass pickups
Scale: 30 5/8"
Body: Birch or mahogany
Neck: Birch or mahogany, with rosewood fretboard. Dot position markers. 21 frets. Width at nut 1 5/8"
Hardware: Van Ghent tuning keys, Hagstrom chrome plated bridge tailpiece

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. The pole pieces are wider than those on previous Hagstrom bass pickups, to allow for the additional string. In total 2,249 were made, in seven batches of between 100 and 600 instruments between 1967 and 1969.

Hagstrom H8 Eight-String Bass Pickups

Few instruments are as steeped in rock and roll folklore as the Eight 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.

Jimi Hendrx, Ed Gregory, and Curtis Knight at Studio 76

Then came Jimi's 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.

1968 Hagstrom catalogue

The Hagstrom 1968 catalogue was the first to feature the Hagstrom F-800

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. If you know of more, please leave a comment.

Sound Clips

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.

Clips below are from two different Hagstrom H8 Eight String Basses - the first two clips are from a 1967 bass fitted with round wound strings, and recorded directly into my sound card; ie no amplifier. The final clip is from a 1969 bass and played through a 1964 Ampeg B15 portaflex amplifier.


Both pickups, MUTE switch ON

Bridge pickup only

Through vintage Ampeg B15. Neck pickup only
Hagstrom H8 bass headstock detail
1968 Hagstrom H8 Bass  - Headstock detail
1968 Hagstrom H8 Bass - Reverse headstock detail

Instruments could be shipped with Natural, Black, Translucent Cherry, or Mahogany Burst headstocks. Note the exagerated 'open book' headstock profile, somewhat similar to that of a Gibson. The headstock branding is typically a raised plastic scripted Hagstrom logo, although on occasion a decal seems to have replaced this. Tuning keys look somewhat odd - there are actually two different sets of Van Ghent keys - the larger attach to the main bass strings, the smaller (as used in numerous other Hagstrom six strings of the time) attach to the octave strings. Note the 'Made in Sweden' decal at the top reverse of the headstock.

Hagstrom H8  Bass converted to a four string

Towards the end of production, the H8 was not selling well and many instruments from later batches were converted to 4 string basses - by blocking off the holes with black plastic plates on the back, as shown above

Back to the HAGSTROM INDEX | comment

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Peter Garlick Comment left 11th January 2017 14:02:01 reply
I had one of these, but it was stolen from my car many years ago. I am sure that somewhere I still have the splint of wood that I knocked from it by hitting the (very) low roof with the head-stock at the Cavern in Liverpool. So, if the guitar you have has a splint of wood missing from the head-stock, then give it back to me!!
Josh Comment left 26th December 2016 17:05:09 reply
Hello. I have a H8 (#723193) with the 4 string from the factory modification. Just looking for some dating info. Thanks!
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 21st January 2017 18:06:20 reply
Hi Josh, batch 723 is 1967-68. I am surprised that this has the 4 string mod - I always considered those to be on the later batches...
Dave Webb Comment left 21st November 2016 21:09:22 reply
Hi,I have a Hagstrom H8 thatI bought in the early 80s s/n723191, all is original except two of the neck screws. Very good cond. red, with only a couple of small dings. Just wondering what year/batch it is, and maybe current value. Thanks
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 21st January 2017 18:06:44 reply
Hi Dave - batch #723 was of 600 H8s made between 67 and 68. Prices have not changed significantly recently - and due to rarity it is hard to do more than guess. In good, complete condition probably 1000-1500 (dollars, pounds or euros!)
James Comment left 1st April 2016 22:10:01 reply
Good day, I inherited an 8 string Hagstrom with a serial number starting with 746. Just wondering what year this base was made in.
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 21st January 2017 18:06:22 reply
Hi James 746 was again 200 instruments, produced between 1968 and 1969
Mr D Comment left 7th January 2016 08:08:01 reply
Hi guys,I have had an H8 with all hardware intact and in very good condition. Wondered when it was made; serial no:748164. Due to this I got a P11 semi acoustic which is awesome to play and sounds great. Enjoying your articles. Love and peace xx
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 21st January 2017 18:06:29 reply
Batch 748 was of 200 H8s produced in 1969
zag Comment left 16th July 2015 19:07:44 reply
Hi, my hagstrom H8 serial number is 727033, cherry red, the neck is perfect, only tuners are not originals. What year aproximatly and value? thanx
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 16th July 2015 19:07:23 reply
Zag, batch 727 (the second batch produced) was also of 600 basses built between 1967 and 1968
Keith Christian Comment left 27th March 2015 09:09:03 reply
Are the H8s that left the factory converted back to 4 string basses any different in value? sn#748107
John Comment left 9th February 2015 11:11:52 reply
I just bought a Hagstrom 8-string bass, Serial# 723393. It's in nice condition, wondering what year it was produced, and it's potential current value. Thanks so much.
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 9th February 2015 11:11:04 reply
Hi John, batch 723 was of 600 H8 basses manufactured 1967-68, value $500-$1500 depending on all the usual criteria
ryan Jones Comment left 6th December 2014 19:07:42 reply
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 19:07:33 reply
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 19:07:09 reply
I have one that I bought in 1977 for $150 CDN. Noel signed it at Steve's Music in Toronto in 1997.
Mats Erdin Comment left 24th October 2014 22:10:05 reply
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 22:10:22 reply
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
hurryyall Comment left 7th July 2013 14:02:41 reply
Can anyone confirm John Paul Jones (led zep) used a hagstrom 8?
Aldo Interdonato Comment left 23rd January 2013 16:04:16 reply
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.
Randy Jordan Comment left 3rd January 2013 07:07:53 reply
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 :)
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 23rd January 2013 16:04:07 reply
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.
Bert Ohlsson Comment left 21st December 2012 09:09:23 reply
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..!
joy livingston Comment left 12th November 2012 21:09:04 reply
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?
Joe Cook Comment left 20th September 2012 21:09:03 reply
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 14:02:26 reply
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
Sean Pee Comment left 9th July 2012 10:10:52 reply
Where do you get the strings for these machines? I guess a better question is what gauge strings are used for the high strings? Thanks!
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 9th July 2012 10:10:10 reply
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.
brandon Comment left 24th June 2012 16:04:59 reply
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 21:09:39 reply
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.
karen denslow Comment left 25th April 2012 22:10:26 reply
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 19:07:29 reply
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