Hagstrom Guitars: Showstoppers on stage and in film

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Hagstrom Guitars: Showstoppers on stage and in film

Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Hagstrom guitars and basses are seen on stages the world over

Since the company pivoted to electric guitars in the late ‘50s, having built up a hugely respected reputation for accordions, Hagstrom has always designed and produced modern and forward-thinking guitar designs. Their history in accordion design becomes more evident in their guitars both aesthetically and sonically the deeper you go. Their designs are unique, feature an unparalleled list of tonal options, as well as looking great on stage, played by the likes of the Foo Fighters, Paramore, and Ghost to name a few. 

More recently, Hagstrom’s Viking ‘67 II made its pictorial debut in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, the exact guitar in the film having been supplied by Hagstrom’s Australian distributor, Pro Music Australia. The Viking ‘67 II is one of the more recent additions to the Viking range, Hagstrom’s ‘all-rounder’ semi-hollow guitars which are available with a variety of pickups, scale lengths, and colours.

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The Viking ‘67 II is available in both a Gloss Black finish or Wild Cherry Transparent red, the latter really highlighting the Canadian Flame maple ply that glistens on the guitar’s top. The neck is constructed from the similar Canadian Hard maple and bolted onto the semi-hollow body. 

Hagstrom’s unique designs don’t stop at their aesthetics, the neck features Hagstrom’s H-Expander truss rod along its entire length, providing superior strength and allowing for more accurate adjustment and a thinner neck. The strength of the H-Expander truss rod, coupled with the composite Resinator wood fretboard make for a distinctly articulate and balanced tone from the guitar. The Resinator wood is more uniform than more natural materials like rosewood or even ebony, so you’re at less risk of imperfections or weaker points of the fretboard affecting the tone across different frets. 

Adding to the unique sounds of the Hagstrom Viking ‘67 II are the H-52 AlNiCo 5 pickups and Gold Mini Humbuckers for that perfect balance between modern hum-cancelling and vintage warmth and breakup. Both pickups have coil splits available, and have an independent volume and tone, so you can tweak each and toggle between them via the three-way switch on the lower horn. 

The Viking ‘67 II is all bark and bite, the gold Hagstrom Trapeze Tail Piece looking great on stage, and the unique six-in-line headstock being an eye-catching but functional addition.

While the Viking range, with the Baritone, 12-string, and tremolo-equipped Deluxe models available, are plenty to drool at, Hagstrom produces a larger range of both solid and semi-hollow guitars. 

Some Artist Series models include Impala and Viking models tied to Justin York of Paramore fame, while the Fantomen is a uniquely offset, double-humbucker rock machine that’s slung across the shoulders of Ghost’s Nameless Ghouls. Maybe most famous of all is the Pat Smear Signature, a re-worked incarnation of Hagstrom’s H-Series guitars. More famous standard production models are the Swede and Super Swede, a single cutaway electric available in either solid body or semi-hollow incarnations, while the Impala is a throwback to the ‘60s where guitar builders wanted to give players more tonal options at their fingertips.

In addition to rock and blues, Hagstrom is no stranger to jazz, producing a range of Jazz Models with either one or two humbuckers and a single cutaway design for access to those higher frets for chords and voicings that require those giant steps.

Most of these guitars feature Hagstrom’s own Resinator wood fretboards, providing balanced sonics and aesthetics across the fretboard. Hagstrom’s H-Expander truss rod keeps your frets level and action as low as you need it! While pickups vary between models, they’re all of Hagstrom’s own design and you can usually find some crafty wiring, routing, or splitting available if the tones produced by Hagstrom’s guitars and basses aren’t unique enough already! 

Hagstrom manages to pick tonewoods that provide the subtle nuances you need from their massive range, the Jazz and Swede models being warm mahogany while the Viking are various species of maple. Models like the Ultra Max are a mix of both, featuring a maple cap across a mahogany body. More unique additions include bridges and tailpieces of Hagstrom’s own design, coupled with their own tuners, trem arms, and bridges.

Hagstrom is a unique company producing unique guitars. So unique in fact, that a Hagstrom Viking ‘67 II was selected as the biggest star of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis (in my mind at least) because of its unique and show-stopping good looks. While the Viking ‘67 II is a particularly beautiful guitar, under the hood it features the same design and construction elements that you’ll find across the entire Hagstrom range. Revised truss rod design and refined fretboard materials fill holes in our tone that we never knew we had. 

A lot of guitar companies produce consistently good guitars, albeit revising the same tried-and-tested body shapes and hardware designs. Hagstrom buck this trend by pulling the best of all designs, and revising anything that they decide doesn’t work and overhauling it. 

This results in consistently good guitars with features you’ll find welcoming and modern, all bundled up into some of the coolest retro-styled guitars on the market.

Head to Hagstrom Guitars for more information. For local enquiries on Hagstrom products, reach out to Pro Music Australia.