Claescaster

Tag: Frank Zappa

Hagstrom Viking

Hagstrom Viking, Tobacco Sunburst 2008Hagstrom Viking, Tobacco Sunburst 2008

It’s with a heavy heart that I have decided to part with my Hagstrom Viking. I bought the guitar back in 2010 and have unfortunately not had time to play it as much as I wanted, some Japanese Telecasters got in the way. I had three semi-hollow bodied guitars at one point and kept this the longest, I sold the other two last year. I guess the more guitars you have the more you realise what feels good for you to play. For me, fat necked Telecasters feels really nice to play, I’m a bit gay for old Greco Telecasters from the 1970’s. If you are interested in inherit this Hagstrom Viking from the Claes Collection then get in touch. You can read more about it here for sale, or in Spanish here.

Update: April 4, 2014 The Hagstrom Viking is now sold to Rafa from Cobarde.

Hagstrom, or Hagström as we call it back home, was founded in 1925 by Albin Hagström in Älvdalen, Sweden. They made amazing electric guitars from 1958 to 1983, played by guys like Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Joe Walsh, Dweezil and Frank Zappa to name a few. I have played on a lot of Hagstrom guitars and amps during my teenage years back in Sweden and learned to play bass on my stepdad Sten’s Hagstrom Jazz bass from 1976. I have an fairly mint Hagström HIIN OT from 1975 back in Sweden that I really like. I guess it was out of national pride that I got so excited and bought the Hagstrom Viking when they started to make them again in 2004. They have a few models that are made in the EU, but not in Sweden, and the rest is made in China. I have actually only played my Viking from 2008 so I can’t really comment on the quality of the Chinese Hagstroms today but mine is very well built for the price. I would say that they are better than Gretsch Electromatic, Epiphone and the Ibanez semi-hollow bodied, all in roughly the same price range.

Zappa plays Zappa, Hagstrom ad

Movie of the day

I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie

Araceli and I spend the Saturday night watching two awesome groupie documentaries. We had both read Pamela’s book, I’m with the band, so we kind of knew what to expect. We also saw Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel but I can’t seem to find that on Youtube, I had to download it.

 

Set neck or bolt on

A lot of people I have met over my 20 years of playing guitar have told me how horrible bolt on guitars are. This is the general opinion amongst guitar players and it can easily be seen in the second hand value of old Les Paul or SG copies for an example. “Oh it has a bolt on neck, well then I’m not interested.” I think it’s important to remember a few things. Most guitars were bolt on in the beginning, especially Japanese guitars up until 1973-74. It seems like it was only Gibson and the American makers that knew how to make set necks or maybe it was just too expensive to copy for brands in Europe and Asia. If you look at all the amazing German guitars from the Sixties like Hohner, Höfner or Italians like Eko, or even Swedish like Hagström, they will most likely be bolt on up until the early 70’s. My Hagström HIIN OT that was made in Sweden in 1975 has a bolt on neck, this was standard for a lot of brands back then. This was not a cheaply made instrument and back in the day it was good enough for both Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix. It’s an amazing guitar and I doubt it would be any better if it had a different neck joint. With a set neck I think they would have had to make both body and neck thicker, which would be hard for Hagström to sell since they were known for having the fastest necks in the world. A combination of thin necks, special H truss rods and amazing Swedish wood was their selling point when they broke in to the American market in the late Sixties. I don’t think that Frank Zappa thought his Hagström guitars were useless just because they had a bolt on neck.

Frank Zappa Hagstrom guitars

For me the quality of the guitar in general and what type of wood is being used is way more interesting than if the neck is screwed on or glued. There is a lot of discussions whether set necks has greater sustain or not and again, it’s probably more down to the wood than which type of neck joint the guitar has. I guess there could be a slight difference in sound depending on how the neck is joined together, at least if you are going to believe this Guitar Player article. Then again, it’s not really fair to compare a Gibson guitar with a Fender guitar. I think pickups, body shape and wood has more to do with why a Telecaster and a Les Paul sounds differently, not the fact that the necks are joined differently. It would make more sense to compare two Japanese Les Paul copies of equal age and quality, one with a set neck and one with a bolt on. I doubt that you could hear the difference.

If we are going to trust the old, set necks has more sustain, then all Fender instruments should have less sustain. I would have to say that I disagree since I have played and heard Stratocasters with amazing sustain. Again, I believe that the quality of the wood is causing the sustain, not the glue or screws. The most important part, as always, is to play what you like and don’t care what other people say. I’m 100% sure that a Japan made Les Paul copy from the 1970’s with bolt on neck that cost ¥50 000 back then sounds better than any modern far east made copy with a set neck. It’s all about the quality of the instrument, not how the neck is joined to the body.

Westone Les Paul Made in Japan MatsumokuMy bolt on Westone Les Paul copy from the 1970’s made by Matsumoku in Japan.